418 Buttermilk Graffiti

buttermilkgraffitiby Edward Lee, 2018

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a food memoir by an author of color.

I’ll admit that I knew nothing of Edward Lee before hearing about Buttermilk Graffiti on All the Books. The idea of a chef tracing American culture through immigrant food was an intriguing one. As anti-immigrant as the country can be, most of our beloved foods came from different countries and we’ve made them our own. You can’t get much more American than hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza, yet we wouldn’t have any of those if it weren’t for immigration. I was interested to learn more about how cultures evolve and how immigration necessitates deviation from tradition. No longer having access to certain ingredients means new ones will be incorporated, and an entirely new dish will be born, no less part of a tradition than the original concoction. Had Lee actually pursued that line of investigation, I think this book would have been quite interesting. Alas, he doesn’t, and it kind of isn’t.

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417 Sweet Tooth Book Three

sweettoothbook3by Jeff Lemire, 2016

Finally, we get to learn the origin of the virus that has taken over the world and resulted in the birth of a new type of human-animal hybrid. Alas, as we’ll probably find out with our own pandemic, that reveal is less satisfying than we might have wished.

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416 Sweet Tooth Vol. 2: In Captivity

sweettoothvol2by Jeff Lemire, 2010

After going back and forth with my library and finally convincing them that Book Two of the deluxe edition of this series was not, in fact, the same as Volume Two, and having gotten the wrong book on hold three times, I finally got to see what I missed in between Volume One and Volume Three, where Book Two picks up. This part of the series puts a lot of the focus on Jeppard, the mysterious big man who comes to save Gus after his father dies and promises to deliver him to a sanctuary with other hybrid children like him. Of course, as can be expected, that sanctuary is far from what it purports to be, and Gus remains in just as much danger as ever.

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Coming Soon: Nonfiction November

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Nonfiction November is almost upon us, and I’m happy to announce that, this year, I’ll serve as one of the hosts! Throughout November, we encourage you to engage in some nonfiction reading with us and share what you’ve read and learned. Fellow hosts include Rennie (What’s Nonfiction), Katie (Doing Dewey), Christopher (Plucked from the Stacks), and Jaymi (OC Book Girl). Each Monday, the corresponding host will post a prompt on their blog with a link-up so you can link your post to that week’s topic. Here’s the upcoming schedule:

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Week 1: (November 1-5) – Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?  

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Week 2: (November 8-12) – Book Pairing  with Katie at Doing Dewey: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story. 

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Week 3: (November 15-19) – Be The Expert/ Ask the Expert/ Become the Expert with Veronica (me!) at The Thousand Book Project: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). 

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Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that *almost* don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world—basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.

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Week 5: (November 29-December 3) — New to My TBR with Jaymi at OCBookgirl.com: It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book! 

🎉Instagram Nonfiction Book Party 🎉 
Photo Challenge & Giveaway 

This year we’re excited to have a new host for our Instagram friends with giveaways, daily photo challenges and more! Jaymi over at @theocbookgirl is running the month-long Instagram festivities. If you’re interested in participating in Nonfiction on your page AND on Instagram follow along check Jaymi’s page at https://www.instagram.com/theocbookgirl/ for all the details!

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I look forward to learning about all of the nonfiction you’ve read and putting some of those titles on my own TBR list. Happy reading!

415 Sister Outsider

bsisteroutsidery Audre Lorde, 1984

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read an LGBTQ+ history book.

I’m not certain that this book truly qualifies as a history of LGBTQ people or the movement, but as Audre Lorde was certainly one of the most outspoken voices on sexuality, race, and gender and, therefore, highly important to the movement, I feel this book fulfills the spirit of the task, if not the specifics of it. I was first introduced to Audre Lorde when I was in grad school, but I sadly remember nothing of what I read, and she has remained a blind spot in my knowledge of feminist writers. When I saw this book as a suggestion for the task on the Goodreads thread, I jumped at the chance to get to know more about this pivotal writer and what her teachings could offer us today. The book is a collection of essays and speeches, spanning from 1976 through 1984, and covering a wide range of topics that deal with blackness, womanhood, lesbianism, motherhood, classism, and the need for allyship among all who are oppressed. Much of what she says is surprisingly still relevant, as we continue to deal with the same problems of inequality that have plagued us for centuries.

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414 Infectious Madness

infectiousmadnessby Harriet A. Washington, 2015

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness.

I found this book on a whim and was drawn to it by its premise. What if all the diseases we considered to be faults of the mind are actually the result of infectious pathogens? How would that change our understanding of mental illness? Would that finally give some legitimacy to those who are maligned for being mentally unwell? How would this change the healthcare industry as well as our own individual perceptions? The idea is fascinating, especially since science has already proven some previously thought mental ailments to be symptoms of viral or bacterial infections—Washington notes right away that the disease of paresis, which is characterized by dementia and paralysis, is absent in the developed world, as it is not a psychological illness in and of itself but a symptom of late-stage syphilis, for which we now have an easy and readily available cure. Washington attempts to investigate what else might be cloaked under the stigma of mental illness and whose origins might be located in a treatable infection. While the idea is a bold and necessary one, the manner in which she reports her findings in this book is, well, less than convincing.

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413 I Am Not Your Negro

iamnotyournegrobookby James Baldwin, edited by Raoul Peck, 2017

I Am Not Your Negro is Raoul Peck’s Academy Award-nominated documentary based on the writings of James Baldwin. In 1979, Baldwin began working on a book about America as told through the deaths of three of his friends: Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. The book was to be called Remember This House, but Baldwin never got past thirty pages of notes before his death in 1987. Twenty years later, Peck wrote to the Baldwin estate to ask for the rights to produce a film on the writer’s life and work. He wasn’t yet sure what form that film would take until Baldwin’s sister Gloria Karefa-Smart gave him the notes to her brother’s unfinished project, saying, “You’ll know what to do with these.” From this, Peck developed the idea to finish this book through the medium of film, with the three men and Baldwin serving as a means by which to tell the story of America.

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412 The Cross of Redemption

crossofredemptionby James Baldwin, edited by Randall Kenan, 2010

As I’m nearing the end of the Baldwin catalog, I’ve reached the posthumously published works. The Cross of Redemption is a collection of Baldwin’s published writings that were previously uncollected in any one book. These include various essays, speeches, letters, forewords and afterwords to other books, book reviews, and even a piece of short fiction. While there are some real gems to be found here, the problem with a collection like this is that it treats Baldwin’s work as a cohesive whole. His previous collections of essays were curated, and they were meant to tell a story together. That’s not the case here. There’s no thread that ties all of these together, other than the fact that Baldwin wrote them and the editor has decided that each piece of his writing is of equal importance and must be read. It’s not for the casual Baldwin reader or someone looking for an introduction to his works. I’d only recommend it for those who are trying to read everything he’s written or who are embarking on some sort of research project. That said, I did enjoy encountering some of Baldwin’s typical knock-out writing in this volume.

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411 Y: The Last Man, Vol. 4—Safeword

ythelastman4by Brian K. Vaughn & Pia Guerra, 2004

This volume of the series opens with Yorick, 355, and Dr. Mann on the search for something to cure the ailing monkey, Ampersand, who is sick from…well, I don’t actually remember if that was even mentioned in the previous volume, but it’s a convenient excuse to leave Yorick with 355’s fellow agent 711 and introduce a little BDSM into our storyline. Yorick quickly finds himself drugged and tied up, at the whims of a scantily clad, whip-wielding former agent of the Culper Ring. And, it seems, in order to determine the level of Yorkick’s desire to live, it is necessary to launch some homophobic slurs in his direction and question his “manhood” because he hasn’t taken the opportunity to screw every woman in sight and, instead, has remained loyal to his girlfriend, Beth. It’s a bizarre plot line, seemingly more intent on shocking the reader than providing any real plot development, but here we are.

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410 I, Robot

irobotby Isaac Asimov, 1950

Recently, I discovered that Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz have a podcast about science fiction, called Our Opinions Are Correct, and I’ve been binge-listening the episodes on my morning walks/runs. Science fiction is very much comfort reading for me. It’s like getting in bed under a ton of blankets on a cold night or going for a run on a cool day and coming back to a hot cup of coffee. It’s what I get lost in. Listening to the podcast has got me yearning to pick up some classic reads, and I felt that I could not go wrong with Isaac Asimov’s robot series. Now, I have already read I, Robot, and I didn’t particularly love it the first time, but I’m so glad I picked it up again and gave it another try. It was just the sort of quintessential robots-vs.-humans story I needed.

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