A Short List of Books I haven’t Finished this Year
A personal shaming and recommendations based on books I’ve only half-read.
When the pandemic kicked into high gear and we were all nestled scarily in our homes I, like many of us, resolved to take the time to do some self-improvement. Workout more (or at all), take up a hobby (photography was the ultimate winner), write more (ta-daaa!), and read. That last one…
Reading has often been a difficult thing for me to do. Physically I have been battling with eyesight issues for years. I have had three separate eye operations with two more on the way (that’s a story for another day). Beyond that, finding time to read when you are dealing with instabilities like housing and mental health can be a challenge.
We often forget that there is a confluence of circumstances that dictate if and when we can do something as simple as reading a book.
Reading is as much a luxury as it is a necessity.
This year I found myself in a position where my hierarchy of needs has been addressed to a point where reading was a viable option. Home, food, and clothing? Check. Vision? I started reading on my tablet in dark mode. So much easier on the eyes than paper and ink. Though I do miss the tactile feeling of a book in my hand.
Time though. Time is an evasive wench.
The heap of hours I anticipated littered away with two children who were homeschooling, working on various projects, assisting with others, and later on, a pandemic puppy (if you haven’t heard it was very much a thing,
So, as a means to recommit to getting the reading I started done, and to maybe give some incomplete book recommendations I submit the list of books I have half-read this year.
I’ll spare you my synopsis as they would obviously be incomplete. Instead, I’ll explain why I sorely want to get back to these books.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker by Damon Young
If I were a pre-middle aged Black man in America and decided to write a book it would be something like Damon Young’s memoir. Wait I am a… never mind. If you aren’t familiar with Damon’s writing style it is both incredibly casual and insightful. He is your uncle, or your barber, or your uncle barber. He weaves stories and drops gems in a way that opens your eyes to just how fascinating life is when you slow down and really take it all in.
I’m Lying But I’m Telling The Truth by Bassey Ikpi
Bassey has lived enough experiences to last three lifetimes. To meet her in person you immediately feel the gravity of all those experiences. Her frank conversations about her journey towards mental health are stark and honest in a way that few dare to be. Her book is a must-read if you or someone you love are navigating any kind of mental illness.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
My wife to be often refers to me as a feminist/womanist. I have rejected this idea for years. Mostly because I don’t feel like I have earned the distinction in action or education. Enter Hood Feminism. The book does a fantastic job at taking very high-level conversations and bringing them down to eye-opening, real world examples that so far have greatly resonated with me. It’s part memoir, part study, and part treatise. It’s a necessary read for sure.
Incognegro Renaissance by Matt Johnson and Warren Pleece
The second of the series Incognegro is the story of a 1920’s Black, light-skinned writer in the who’s superpower is passing for white. He uses this power to go deep cover and reveal the inner workings of white supremacists organizations. The series is a quick (despite my not finishing) and enjoyable read. Especially for those looking for something other than Marvel and DC titles.
Beyond Hashtags by Sarah Florini
I met Sarah in 2015. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and others hung in the air as we began to see a burgeoning movement we now know as Black Lives Matter gain steam. The role of independent Black media and the communities forged on social media were key components for information gathering and direct support. This book is a great window into how grassroots digital networking built a movement.
Bonus: Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham
This one isn’t out until December first but it’s been on my list ever since I interviewed Jeanna Wortham. Black Futures is a collection of essays, poems, recipes, tweets, and more. As Jenna explains “The idea is just really creating an archive that we have some kind of control over.”
With the holidays fast approaching and what seems like an all too imminent second shut down all of these books are solid end of the year reads. Let me know what books you want to knock out before the new year.
Sidenote: I have not been asked to promote any of these books nor do I make money from the proceeds of any sale. If you do care to support you can start by clapping and sharing this post. If you're an editor an assignment or two wouldn’t hurt either.