My Year in Books

It has been an eventful year for me in the world of reading. This is the first year I participated and completed the Goodreads challenge, and I have since read some amazing books. I first discussed my reading in this postΒ and updated you guys on my progress later on. Now as we have 2 weeks left in 2017, I’d like to share the books I read to close out the year.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This was a fantastic book. The characters were relatable, the subject matter was serious yet conveyed in a way that readers could understand. I can’t give a full review because I do not want to spoil it. Certainly a must read for readers of any age. There is a film in the works as well.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

If you are not familiar with the Henrietta Lacks story, you should read this book. Skloot tells Henrietta’s story with the help of the Lacks family and friends. It is a story about race, class, deceit, and medical breakthroughs. Henrietta’s legacy lives on in medical research labs across the world and her contributions to medicine, although hotly contested, should be discussed for years to come.

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This was a good book. The story centers around our policies and perceptions about illegal immigration and the ways to obtain the American Dream. I had been wanting to read this since it debuted earlier in the year, so I was glad to finally have it in paperback. Certainly everyone sees the premise of the American Dream differently, but reading this book will give you a different perspective that you may not have thought of.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

In the similar vein of Lucky Boy, Behold the Dreamers tells the story of an immigrant family and their pursuit of the American Dream. Set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis, the characters are faced with tough decisions that will impact their lives and the lives of others. Oprah picked this book as a book club selection, and she was right to do so. This was a great story.

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This was a really good book. Jesymn Ward bared her soul in this brilliant memoir that tackled poverty, racism, grief, and loss. In the span of four years, she lost five young men dear to her, including her younger brother. Jesymn chronicles her life alongside their deaths as she moves through her history and the history of her hometown DeLisle, Mississippi. She asks questions that are not always easily answered and presents her life and the lives of those she lost as a testimonial and memorial. This was a great book and I look forward to reading more from her in the new year.

Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching by Mychal Denzel Smith

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Mychal Denzel Smith’s memoir was a recollection of events that I remember from my own childhood and teen years. We are only a few years apart in age, and I remember many of the events he highlighted in his book. Mychal tells the story of his upbringing and how music from Tupac, Biggie, WuTang, Kanye West, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Mos Def impacted his life; as well as how events such as Jena Six, Hurricane Katrina, Lebron leaving Cleveland, and Barack Obama’s election shaped his political views. He details how aspects of Black life often intersect and how the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of police speaks to a larger, rarely discussed part of American history. I enjoyed this book a lot and I felt Mychal talked about issues we in the Black community tend to shy away from.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Similar in storyline to The Hate U Give & All American Boys, this book tells the story of Justyce McAllister and his life at the moment. Justyce is a high school senior on his way to the prestigious Yale University. He is attempting to navigate the world as one of maybe four Black kids at his mostly Caucasian high school and is trying to not follow down the path of many of the boys in his neighborhood. An incident with an ex girlfriend and an overzealous cop leads him to begin writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Justyce is doing all he can to stay afloat when another incident rocks him and his community to the core with him at the center. Nic Stone does a beautiful job in her debut. This book was short, but the story was captivating. I enjoyed her presentation of the characters and the situations they went through.

My Life as A Foreign Country by Brian Turner

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟

Yeah this book was OK. It just was not what I expected. Presented as a series of untitled journal entries, Brian Turner tells the story of his time as an ArmyΒ Infantryman. He talks about his family history of military service and the situations he faced in the deserts of Mosul at the height of the second Iraq War. Turner is a poet and that was evident in the way he write this book. I have read many fiction and nonfiction stories regarding the war in Iraq this year, and this one just did not do it for me. It was alright, but not as good as some of the other military books I read this year.

So that is a recap of the books that closed out 2017 for me. In total I read 34 books this year. I look forward to reading in 2018 and I already have some books on my TBR. 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate, and Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres are on the list currently. I will als probably visit Barnes & Noble again befire the year ends.

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