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Archive for the tag “Reading”

Work, School, Book Club Too?

On top of everything else going on in my life, working full-time, being a graduate school student, I’ve added a book club to the list.
It started off innocently enough. Some very smart, sweet, creative and conscious women from my former job had been meeting with each other to discuss books and art and culture and to just unwind and share goodies (hand-made and store bought) for some time.
A dear co-worker of mine mentioned that they were reading one of my new favorites “Americanah” and I was very curious about the perspective of this very diverse group of women. So I crashed the party.
After having a very wonderful time– they were excited to see me since I’d recently left that job– I was invited to return anytime and to read the next book.
So despite homework, assignments, class and work, I took on the next selection, which was massive “The Goldfinch” and although I stayed up all hours of the night to complete it in time for the next gathering, I enjoyed the book a great deal, and enjoyed talking about it with this group even more.
Our next meeting is coming around the first of the month and have I started the book yet?
Of course not. I plan to this week for sure.
Should I be taking on any other extra activities, common sense says no, but my intellectual and creative side says yes.
For some reason, it’s worth it to me not only to read these books, that I may not have otherwise selected for myself and voluntarily spend a Saturday morning being the youngest in a group of women of different backgrounds and cultures, married and single, mothers and childless.
It enriches my soul in a time where I’m racing to get things done. It allows me to slow down, and be nurtured by other women who’ve been there and done that and who get my yearning for education and beautiful things and humanity.
I enjoy how they show pride in all of the things I’m trying to accomplish and encourage me that I can in fact, pull it off.
They are like doting aunties who want me to find Prince Charming, but are relieved it’s not an obsession. They understand how important the expanding of my mind is to me and they share that vision in their own personal lives.
I appreciate their honesty and confusion about issues of race and sexuality and what it is to be a woman in the world. It’s refreshing to discuss these things in a civilized way with people who are outside of my usual circle.
What I appreciate the most is knowing how different we are, but seeing just how similar we are too. We are curious, we love sweets, we appreciate art and music and culture, we love books and we love talking about them.
The most wonderful thing about a great book is the tangential life discussions and real anecdotes that arise from a fictitious character’s struggle or triumph.
As a black woman, I’ve often stayed away from book clubs because many black women want to read books by only black authors. I can understand why. When you escape, you want to be in a world that looks like you and talks like you and thinks like you. For me, I only want that sometimes, and not every book by every black author is good. So what excites me about the book group I’m in is the value the non-black members place in reading books about black people as well as people of all races, genders or sexuality. Their acceptance of Americanah, made me more interested in their book choices that involved non-black characters because I was confident, they were simply picking really great books, period. When they suggested books by international authors, I knew I was in the right place.
Reading great books makes us smarter, makes us critical thinkers, exercises our imagination and gives us access to worlds that may be impenetrable in real life.
The book club is just as essential as my studies or my job because it feeds my soul. Staying up later to do some extra reading is only a small sacrifice to make for what I’ve gained in return as a human.

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Summer Bucket List

I have been searching frantically for the blog post that inspired my post today. If you are reading this and you recently wrote a post about a summer bucket list, please announce yourself so I can link it and give you proper credit!

I’ve decided it is a good idea to create a summer bucket list so without a whole lot of jibber jabber, let’s just get to it.

1. Visit my apartment complex pool at least twice. I hardly ever take advantage and it’s a shame. Now if only they’d give me my passes. (Changed my mind. See this post.)

2. Go to the beach more. Be it a local beach or someplace else, I need a few more trips in the sand and surf.

3. Read at least two books. I’ve got a long list of things I’m itching to read.  Bossypants and Hunger Games! I’m going to read two more now.

4. Have a water fight. This is old school, but I think it is necessary to have some sort of water fight from time to time no matter how old you are.

5. Spend more time on my balcony. Although it faces a parking lot, the one time I went out in the evening to read, it was actually pleasant.

6. Hula hoop. I see people doing it more at outdoor festivals and concerts and it just looks like loads of fun. So simple.

7. Visit Luray Caverns. It’s a short trip to some very cool massive caverns in the Shenadoah valley.

8. Go to an outdoor concert. They are so much fun. I can dress like I’m going to Coachella or something. Chrisette Michele, Eric Benet and Ledisi at Pier Six!

9. Ride a bicycle. I already did this, but it was so much fun, I’m going to have to do it again.

10. Turn off the t.v. and just play music. It’s really soothing and relaxing.

11. Eat a funnel cake (already did this, but it’s a great summer thing to do).

12. Make my own lemonade and sweet tea.

13. Eat something from a charcoal grill (Been there done that. It’s so awesome).

14. Take walks.

15. Storyboard, plan and shoot the photo shoot for the t-shirt brand… ooh it’s going to be hot!

16. Work toward finishing my novel.

17. Visit places I’ve never been whether near or far (thankfully, I’ve done that already. Don’t want to stop).

18. Check out my favorite museums and find new ones.

* In other news, I had a wonderful time on my date! We shut down the restaurant. That’s really good. No awkward pauses, laughter, the exchange of relationship and dating disaster stories. It was good. Nice long hug but no good night kiss. Just not ready. Got to work up to this sort of thing. But it was just in the right speed for the first date.

Revisiting the Summer Reading List

Welp. I’ve fallen in love with reading again.

As a child, a was a voracious reader. During my long summer vacations, I stayed at the library. I always took out the maximum amount of books (8) and usually returned them all within a week. One summer I declared I was going to read every single book in the Babysitter’s Club Series and I did. I even read the Super Specials, mysteries and a few of the Little Sister’s spinoffs (totally not as wonderful). I was devastated when Claudia’s grandmother died.

I won contests for reading 200 books in a summer. During the school year, I was the kid who stayed getting those coupons for a small kid’s pizza at Pizza Hut for meeting the reading goals for the program they had in partnership with my elementary school. (Yes, I was/am a nerd. I still have my rejection letter from the Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego game show. I’m still pissed about it. I would have killed it! I wanted that loud ass jacket and a trip “anywhere in the continental U.S.” soooo bad. LOL!! I’m cracking up at myself right now. No Hawaii? No Alaska? That’s bootleg. To be a show about tracking a fictional villaness all around the world, PBS couldn’t spring for an international vacay for the kid and at least one parent/guardian? Damn!)

It seemed once I got thrust into the work world full time as an adult, I stopped reading for leisure completely. But I’m starting to get my groove back. I have an entire list of books I want to read/finish in the coming months. I forgot how much I loved reading. And as a writer, how inspiring it can be, and if you are reading great writers, you are going to become an even better writer. Most recently, I’ve read The Human Stain, Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock, Haiku for the Single Girl (friggin hysterical), and one of my all time favorites: The Warmth of Other Suns.

What I hope to tackle this summer:

The Art of War (currently reading)

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Let It Go by TD Jakes

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot

That new freaky book, Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James

Son of A Witch by Gregory Maguire (I loved reading Wicked)

The Legs are the Last to Go by Diahann Carroll

Audition by Barbara Walters

I’m Still Here: Confessions of A Sex Kitten by Eartha Kitt (I’m obsessed with her since a friend showed me a pic of her riding a bike presumably in her 20s, taken by Gordon Parks; which kind of looked like me!)

Lately, I’ve been most interested in non-fiction and autobiographies. I guess my background in journalism is a part of that, because honestly real life stories can be just as fascinating and even more complicated than things people make up.

If I read a fiction book, someone has to recommend it to me and it has to be awesome. The Human Stain falls into this category and after reading that, I don’t know how to find something to top it. I’m sure there’s more great work out there, I’m just too lazy. If you have suggestions, please share!

I’m also interested in rereading some of the classics I read in high school, and revisiting them as an adult. I read “Streetcar Named Desire” in high school and I went to see the play on Broadway last weekend.

It was absolutely amazing! Amazing! Amazing!

There were sly jokes and comments that I would have never caught as a teen, that I caught and adored. I had a new love for the material because I’ve spent time in New Orleans and it is my favorite city. I had a special sympathy for Blanche and Stella as a woman who went through my own personal pains. I especially felt for Blanche in a new way, because I saw a radiant woman I love dearly unravel in mental illness.

So I think I need to revisit The Great Gatsby and Vanity Fair and Jane Eyre again as an adult. I enjoyed those books back then, but I’m sure seeing it through adult eyes, will heighten the experience. Just like streetcar, I’m going to see something new this time around and it’s going to excite me and remind me of my evolution in my thinking and absorbing of material and my evolution as a person.

In honor of my recommittment to literacy, I bring you this hilarious parody. Bitches in Bookshops:

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