Tuesday, November 24, 2020

When No One Is Watching

Rejuvenation. There’s something fishy about the gentrification in progress in a Brooklyn neighborhood, and Alyssa Cole pulls us into a complicated scheme in her novel titled, When No One Is Watching. Protagonists Sydney and Theo represent the contrasts in the neighborhood as they alternate as narrators: the longtime resident and the newcomer. Both narrators face major challenges that become complicated as they uncover the unsavory and illegal ways in which neighborhood rejuvenation has accelerated. There’s crime and exploitation afoot, and Cole keeps thickening the muck in which the characters find themselves as we watch the scheme unfold. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase When No One Is Watching from amazon.com.

If I Had Two Wings

Authenticity. Readers who enjoy finely written short stories are those most likely to enjoy the collection by Randall Kenan titled, If I Had Two Wings. Set mostly in a fictional North Carolina town, the ten stories present interesting and complex characters, full of life, and behaving in ways that are totally true to themselves. Over the course of just a few pages, Kenan enlivens his prose with finely chosen words, and pulls readers into authentic lives with great efficiency and skill. There’s humor, invention, and overall empathy for how we make our way in the world. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase If I Had Two Wings from amazon.com.

We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy

Inspirational. The memoir by the late Congressman Elijah Cummings titled, We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy, provides an inspirational call to action for those readers who want to make our country better. After we read of his life of serving others, most of us will want to be of some form of service to others. This is the story of an honorable man, rooted in faith, who did his best in building a stronger society. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase We’re Better Than This from amazon.com.

Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now

Resolute. Whatever you think you know about President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr., you’re likely to learn something new if you read Evan Osnos’ brief book titled, Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now. I always look for Evan Osnos’ writing in The New Yorker, and in this book, he draws on extensive interviews with Biden and many others. While I found ample examples of Biden’s leadership, strategy, empathy and morality throughout this book, I finished reading it with a deeper understanding of how resolute this man is, and in what good hands the United States Presidency will be in during his tenure. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Joe Biden from amazon.com.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

A Very Punchable Face

Range. The title of Colin Jost’s memoir, A Very Punchable Face, leads a reader to anticipate self-deprecating humor, and the narrative delivers that and more. From Staten Island to Harvard to Saturday Night Live, Jost delivers readers a range of vignettes and life lessons that will appeal to many readers, whether fans of Jost and SNL or not. It takes vulnerability to succeed in comedy, and Jost finds lots of ways to express that in this entertaining book. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase A Very Punchable Face from amazon.com.

The Cat and the City

Tokyo. Nick Bradley’s versatility shines in his book titled, The Cat and the City. Set in Tokyo, we follow a cat in a changing landscape through tattoos, manga, footnotes and other unusual locations. We find ourselves connected at one section and estranged in another. We long to belong and then we desire an escape. There’s always more to city life than a casual observer can ever see, and Bradley takes us to places in Tokyo that we might have never imagined, let alone visited. Along this journey, the vignettes explore many aspects of living at its best and worst. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Cat and the City from amazon.com.

You Can Keep That to Yourself

Humor. I laughed a lot as I read Adam Smyer’s book titled, You Can Keep That to Yourself: A Comprehensive List of What Not to Say to Black People, for Well-Intentioned People of Pallor. I quickly thought of the gift possibilities for this book to a lot of different people. I can imagine a large number of corporate training sessions in which this book could be used to facilitate conversations about race relations. I am one of the well-intentioned people of pallor for whom this book should find a receptive audience. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase You Can Keep That to Yourself from amazon.com.