A few years ago I started tracking the books I read on the notes app on my phone.
Out of curiosity, I looked at how many of those books are by or about black lives.
It is a short list:
- Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
- Half a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- King Leopold’s Ghost, by Adam Hochschild
- Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Year of Yes, Shondra Rhimes
Of the 75 books I read in the last 3-4 years, only 6 are by or about black lives.
It appears I am not as well-read as I like to think.
While this information isn’t flattering, it is highly actionable. I will read more works by black writers.
The internet is full of recommended reading lists related to Black Lives Matter.
There’s nothing like a long list of “should reads” to take the fun out of reading.
So I’m taking Austin Kleon’s advice in Steal Like an Artist. I’m going to pick a writer that I really love, and then read works that they loved.
Chew on one thinker–writer, artist, activist, role model–you really love. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people that thinker loved, and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can. Climb up the tree as far as you can go. Once you build your tree, it’s time to start your own branch.
Steal Like An Artist, p. 15
My current obsession is Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways.
By following him on Twitter, I learned that he is participating in an online group reading of Lauret Savoy’s Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape.
Savoy is a black nature writer I have never heard of, but I love her already because Macfarlane loves her and wants to talk about her work with online groupies like me.
On the fiction side, I looked up Chimamanda Adichie’s favorite books.
Two of her recommendations appeal to me:
- Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (I know! I can’t believe I’ve never read it, either)
- Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God (This is the second of his trilogy, taking up where Things Fall Apart ends)
What’s on your reading list?
I’d love to know! Drop a line in the comments and let’s see what books Whoop Jenny! readers love to read.