Monday, September 01, 2014

Booklight in August

I was pleased to be able to realize two reading goals this month: Finish the Maya Angelou memoirs and finally read The Well of Loneliness.

1. Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas - Maya Angelou. (memoir)  In the third volume of her memoirs, Maya, now in her early 20s, gets a job in a music store and meets a Greek-American who she is married to briefly.  After her divorce, she makes her living as a performer.  Her big break comes when she joins the cast of Porgy and Bess, which embarks on a European tour.

2. The Heart of a Woman - Maya Angelou. (memoir)  Maya meets a dazzling array of 20th century icons: Billie Holiday, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King.  She also begins to develop her skills as a writer as she moves to New York City and joins the Harlem Writer's Guild. After working for Dr. King for a while, she falls in love with a South African freedom fighter, Vusumzi Make. She and her son move with him to Cairo.  When Maya and Make separate, she goes on to Ghana.

3. All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes - Maya Angelou. (memoir) The story of Maya Angelou's years in Ghana. Among other things, she ponders on the differences between Africans and African-Americans. During this time, she tours in a revival of the Jean Genet play The Blacks, and goes to Germany and Italy. While in Berlin, there is a horrible, yet almost hilarious scene in which she and a Jewish friend have breakfast with a wealthy German family that is unashamedly racist.

4. A Song Flung Up to Heaven - Maya Angelou. (memoir) This volume takes place in the years between the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.  In an eerie coincidence, both men asked Maya Angelou to come work for them.  In both cases, she accepted, but postponed for personal reasons.  In the times during the postponements, both men were killed.  I read this book on Kindle, but it is probably best experienced on audiobook.  Narrated by the author, it won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album.

5. Mom & Me & Mom - Maya Angelou. (memoir) - Maya Angelou's tribute to her mother, Vivian Baxter, "Lady B".

6. Financial Peace Revisited - Dave Ramsey. This book seems like a warm-up for The Total Money Makeover.  

7. Food Rules: An Eater's Manual - Michael Pollan.  Pollan boils down his previous writing into a list of rules for sane and healthy eating.  This small volume would be ideal for your Readathon stack.

8. The Well of Loneliness - Radclyffe Hall.  (novel) This classic and groundbreaking novel about lesbianism from 1928 is a bit melodramatic, but gets so many things right.  Although there is nothing graphic like one sees in Lady Chatterley's Lover, The Well was banned probably because of Hall's insistence that "inverts" are born, not made.  Also, Hall maintains that people like her should be able to live openly and proudly.  She asserts that their time will come, and the novel ends with a demand for sooner, rather than later.  I'm so glad this book was written and wasn't completely quashed.  I imagine it's been a comfort to many generations of readers.

9. Landline - Rainbow Rowell.  (novel) Over the course of three novels, Rowell wrote characters that are funny, lively, engaging, attractive and alive.  Then there's Landline.  Oh, Rainbow.

10. Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay.  I read this book of essays to take out the bad taste after reading Landline.  Roxane Gay is a marvelous writer.  Her mastery of the essay makes me want to fall at her feet.  In addition to feminism, she also covers race, gender, entertainment and Sweet Valley High.  I was hooked from the first page, but she truly won me over when she wrote about her participation in Scrabble tournaments.

On to September!  For starters, I'm back with George Gissing, reading his 1891 novel, New Grub Street.

1 comment:

Unruly Reader said...

Uffda -- way to read up a storm! Nice Angelou spree. I really like her narrative voice.

Roxane Gay is going on my TBR list.