This month I have completed 4 books, and am in-progress on two, though I don’t know if I’ll finish them before the month is out. As for my goal to read 50 books this year, I’m 4 books ahead which is great! I’m surprised I’ve kept up the pace, even though I’ve been quite busy. Spring break definitely helped–I finished three books during that week.
I first completed The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson, which was a pick for my book club. I had been wanting to read this for awhile, and the ebook was on sale earlier in the month, so I was really excited to read this. The Blood of Emmett Till tells of the lynching of Emmet Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago, in Mississippi by multiple white men. These men claimed that Till had insulted and sexually assaulted their family member, a young women who was working at the family grocery. While this account was blatantly false, it, and racial prejudices in the South, helped the white men escape jail time, and instead be acquitted by the jury.
This is by no means a fast read. Tyson goes over Till’s killing many times, in gripping detail, as well as similar acts of violence, protest and activism in the South during the 1950s and 60s. Tyson does an expert job at tying the events of 1955 to the growth of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He brings in many different moments of activism, in specific detail, and weaves them together in a complex history of civil rights and racism in America. In the end, Tyson weaves in his own opinion, and writes in a fiery, passionate tone of our past and current racial prejudices, and what we must do to incite change in American society. I think this is a great read for anyone interested in topics of race, equality and civil rights in America. While Tyson brings up many topics and names, I didn’t feel too lost, or that I was lacking some previous knowledge to understand and learn from this book.
I then read Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields, which I read only for class. I didn’t end up liking it much at all, mainly due to Shields’ poor writing. This tells of her quest for a baby and the aftermath of the birth of her first child, when she struggled with postpartum depression. This is quite a serious issue, and I think there could have been a more in-depth analysis of depression and how it affected her, and others. However, Shields’s writing remains surface-level and many of her observations are rather privileged and, at times, insensitive. While I don’t want to trivialize what Shields struggled with, I don’t think this was a very well-written book. I think the only people who would truly enjoy this are fans of Shields. However, I would be interested in reading other, more engaging, memoirs on this topic.
Then it was Spring Break, and I finished two books on the train to and from Chicago! I first read Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, which I have been meaning to read forever. Annihilation tells of an unknown boundary which is slowly expanding and taking up more land. The land inside this border is called Area X, and mysterious, crazy things seem to be happening inside. A biologist, our nameless narrator, join a team of other women specialists to journey inside and study what is occurring. While the journey begins with only hints at the otherworldly, it soon turns quite crazy. I won’t spoil anything, but I must admit I had to read this in daylight on the train. It is a little too creepy for nighttime reading (for me, at least). I really love VanderMeer’s writing style, and I am currently reading Borne, which I’m enjoying a lot. His stories are very unique and clever, and his writing is very insightful. It is a delightful combination for science-fiction, which can sometimes be less ‘literary.’
I finished March with Lauren Groff’s new short story collection, Florida. Thank you to Riverhead and Edelweiss for providing me with a digital review copy. This collection comes out in June, and I am so excited for everyone to get their hands on it! This is a beautiful, varied collection of stories which all center around Florida and it’s unique and dangerous environment. Each story seems to have an undercurrent of dread or fear, and I enjoyed the different ways in which Groff understood and incorporated these emotions. Each story is a new experience, and even the two stories I didn’t take to as much were really engaging. I highly recommend this collection, and the cover is gorgeous!
Happy reading to everyone in April, and let me know what you loved reading in March! 🙂