Sunday Salon: Bookish Panic, Read-a-thons, and Read-Ins

sunday salonGood morning! It’s a rainy day here in Southern California, a perfect excuse to stay in the house and curl up with a book or two. On Friday, I realized that I only have ten days before the next semester starts. Talk about bookish panic. There are still so many books that I want to read, I realized that the only way for me to read them all is to have my own little read-a-thon. So that’s what I’m doing. From now until February 4th, I’m going to read as much as I possibly can.

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Yesterday I read The Bird King: An Artist’s Notebook by Shaun Tan. It was really nice to look at the creative process of an artist. Today I’m finishing up The Procrastination Equation: How To Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done by Piers Steel. I’m finding the book to be very insightful. A few weeks ago, Evelyn from Librarian’s Dreams recommended Carlos Maria Dominguez’s The House of Paper, a book about well, books. Evelyn pretty much recommended it to everyone she knows which piqued my interested in this otherwise unknown book.

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If you’ve seen my profile so far this year on Goodreads, you would swear I’ve forgotten about the tbr challenges I’ve signed up for. Not exactly. I’ve been reading so many of the library books I’ve checked out back in 2012 or even books I’ve just bought instead. Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage will be my first official tbr read. So many bloggers have recommended this book about a rat that lives in a bookstore and learns to read.

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Two three more books that I’m hoping to read includes: Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco’s Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt whose format I can only describe as a graphic novel hybrid, Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers by Kwame Anthony Appiah after seeing him speak in the documentary Examined Life.

The results are in for next month’s African American Read-In!

poll results

Click to enlarge.

The winner is Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.

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Excerpt:

My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist. He was already married ten years when he first clamped eyes on my mother. In 1968, she was working at the gift-wrap counter at Davison’s downtown when my father asked her to wrap the carving knife he had bought his wife for their wedding anniversary. Mother said she knew that something wasn’t right between a man and a woman when the gift was a blade. I said that maybe it means there was a kind of trust between them. I love my mother, but we tend to see things a little bit differently. The point is that James’s marriage was never hidden from us. James is what I call him. His other daughter, Chaurisse, the one who grew up in the house with him, she calls him Daddy, even now.

Isn’t that a great opening? The book discussion will start Monday, February 25th.  Now I’m off to read. What are you reading today?

Sunday Salon: 2013 African American Read-In

sunday salonWe have more than a week before February gets here but it’s still plenty of time to figure out what to read for The 2013 National African American Read-In. It’s a yearly event that’s been going on for the past twenty four years and is hosted by the Black Caucus of NCTE and NCTE itself. Throughout the month of February, people all over the country get together to discuss and celebrate books written by African Americans.

Last year’s online read-in here on 1330v was a lot of fun. I think the event is a great tradition and so I’m hoping you guys will join me once again this year.

I found seven very different books that I think would appeal to a wide range of people. Below is a list of the books along with a small description of each one along with links for more information.

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Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat.  Non-fiction/memoir. 2007 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. Family memoir about the author’s complicated childhood in Haiti and America while reflecting on the lives of her father and his older brother and her relationship with the two. The memoir’s first line: “I found out I was pregnant the same day that my father’s rapid weight loss and chronic shortness of breath were positively diagnosed as end-stage pulmonary fibrosis”.

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Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. Fiction. Silver Sparrow is a book that once you read it, you need to discuss it with someone right away. You’ll probably start talking about it before you even finish it. I know I did. Dana Yarboro is the secret child of James Witherspoon, a bigamist who keeps Dana and her mother hidden in plain view while he spends most of his time with his “first” family. Told from the viewpoint of both daughters, Silver Sparrow is a page-turner that leaves readers wanting to pick up everything Jones has published.

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The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle – Fiction/ fantasy. When Pepper finds himself locked up in a mental institution, accused of a crime that he doesn’t remember committing, he’s knows he’s in trouble. Things go from bad to worse when a strange creature visits his room and nearly kills him. Can this creature be stopped?

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Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer – Fiction/short stories. ZZ Packer is an author whose work has been on my reading list forever and with good reason. Her short story, “Brownies” has been anthologized in magazines and books for years. After reading “Brownies” for myself, I knew this was an author who deserves all the attention she receives.

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How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston. Non-fiction/Humor. What it is: a hilarious, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking look back on the author’s life growing up in D.C. and what being black (and white) means to not only the author but a number of people he interviews. Part guidebook/memoir/mediation, How To be Black is a book you can easily re-read over and over again. M from Buried in Print wrote a review of this.

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The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities by Will Allen. Non-fiction. In the past year when I’ve read books about farming in the United States, Will Allen’s name has popped up numerous times. Allen, the son of sharecroppers, cashed in his retirement fund to start farming. In The Good Food Revolution, Allen writes about his journey from corporate America to farming and how the need for good healthy food affects us all.

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A Woman Like Me by Bettye LaVette. Non-fiction, memoir. I had no idea who Bettye LaVette was until I saw her on the news last year. LaVette is a singer who was a part of the Motown scene decades ago but only recently became famous. Her memoir is a no-holds-barred account of her life that includes sex, drugs, and plenty of music.

Note: You can vote for up to three books. I’m closing the poll next Saturday, January 27th and will announce the top pick next Sunday. The book discussion will go on Monday, February 25th. Probably with the exception of A Woman Like Me, you should be able to find every book I’ve listed at your local library. I hope you decide to vote and join in next month’s discussion.