Our Book Club read for March was Toni Morrison’s The Source of Self Regard . I was really eager to get into it because of everyone’s reaction when she passed away in 2019, there was such sadness at the loss of a great literary mind YET, I had struggled to really get into her writing. Prior to this read, I had only read God Help The Child and I quite enjoyed it.
Her command of language and how she uses it to say what she says. I felt like I was in primary school turning to my dictionary for every second word but it was worth it. As a wordsmith she contorts language to do and say exactly what she needs to do and impart the feeling she needs.
Her writing confirmed that you can’t be such an accomplished writer and not read widely. Girl reads. Widely.
How she talks about language and what it can and can’t achieve. You feel it and you enjoy the experience of it all.
I enjoyed her talking about her writing process and how she thinks of it / approaches it.
Now to some specific themes and quotes that I loved from each of them.
The Foreign / Being Foreign
In the second essay she talks through Camara Laye’s book of how a white man would migrate back to Africa and how he prepares himself. Even then, there is still some caucasity.
The idea of home and how layered it is. No one knows this more than me, what is home and what makes it home?
She refers to James Baldwin in her tribute to him as follows: “your life refuses summation … and invites contemplation.”
Frederick Douglass talking about his grandmother, and James Baldwin talking about his father, and Simone de Beauvoir talking about her mother, these people are my access to me; they are my entrance into my own interior life. And that is so true, we understand ourselves best by looking at our families and those nearest and dearest to us.
But writing is not simply recollecting or reminiscing or even epiphany. It is doing, creating a narrative infused [ …] with legitimate and authentic characteristics of the culture.
the Afro-American presence in American literature
The so called every day life of black people is certainly lovely to live, but whoever is living it must know that each day of his “everyday” black life is a triumph of matter over mind and sentiment over common sense. And if he doesn’t know that, then he doesn’t know anything at all.
I began the year with no reading goal and I hoped that along the way I would read some good books and boy did I. Also, I read some duds along the way and by about September, I figured that I might hit a book a week target – this I did and surpassed slightly. Previous year lists are available here: 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Some overall thoughts, I got into audio books for the first time and since I also read ebooks, I don’t really care how the material is presented, books are books. I got into some new Australian authors (and podcasts but that’s another post altogether). I tried to read the Women’s Prize shortlist and got through 4.25 out of 6 of them. I also read some non-fiction, sometimes for work and others just out of interest.
Key: *** Highly Recommend ** Yeah, why not read it *Nah, only read if you have nothing else (No star) I have no feelings on the book
See the chronological list below and some thoughts I had as I finished the books.
Sex and Vanity – Kevin Kwan *
Destination Wedding – Diksha Basu – **
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows: A novel – Balli Kaur Jaswal ***
The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters – Balli Kaur Jaswal **
Dreamland – Sam Quinones ***
A Bollywood Affair – Sonali Dev
Pride and Prejudice, and other flavours – Sonali Dev **
The Wedding Party – Jasmine Guillory *** LOVE ALL HER WORK
Recipe for Persuasion- Sonali Dev **
The Prenup: A Love Story – Lauren Layne
The Windfall – Diksha Basu. HARD PASS. The book did not start, get better or finish. The only interesting side note is that she is the daughter of a superstar Economist, Kaushik Basu.
Talking to Strangers – Malcolm Gladwell. Look I love Malcom’s books, all of them but this is THE WORST of his books. Wouldn’t recommend it.
Nothing Ventured – Jeffrey Archer
Hidden in Plain sight – Jeffrey Archer
The Family Gift – Cathy Kelly
The Fifth Letter – Nicola Moriarty ***
Those Other Women – Nicola Moriarty ***
Becoming Men – Malose Langa ***. Possibly one of the best non-fiction reads for 2021.
The Perfect Mother – Aimee Molloy **
The Hundred Wells of Salaga – Aysha Harun Atta **
Grown Ups – Marian Keyes ***. LOVED IT. Therapeutic.
Manchester Happened – Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. *** Best Short Stories.
Eating from one Pot: dynamics of survival in poor households in South Africa – Sarah Mosoetsa ***.
How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House – Cherie Jones*. Didn’t like or get the story. I also think it could have been a short story.
The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman ***. Lovely little read.
Yellow Means Stay: An Anthology of Love Stores from Africa. DO NOT READ. Problematic collection that included a paedophile’s “love” as one of these love stories. Yuck, yuck and yuck. Reached out to the editors and their response was lukewarm at best.
Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi ***
Unsettled Ground – Claire Fuller ***. Loved it! Finished it and immediately smiled. The book starts so slowly and there is build up but you can’t quite see it. I was rooting for Jeanie all along and it was nice seeing her develop through the course of the book.
The Wives – Tarryn Fisher *. It’s like two books in one. First half great! The second, confused, hurried. Still not sure what actually happened at the end there.
That Summer – Jennifer Weiner ***. It really got under my skin in a good way.
Here Comes the Sun – Nicole Dennis-Benn *** This book sat in my heart really painfully. It was tragic, it felt like poverty porn, relentlessly painful.
Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at Saint Paul’s School – Shamus Rahman Khan *** . A serious contender for Best Non-Fiction.
The Weekend – Charlotte Wood ***. WOW. I did not expect to be enchanted by this book as much as I was. Please read it.
Good Company – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney ***
The Nest – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney *
Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments – Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler ***
Love in Colour – Bolu Babalola *. This was one of those Bookstagram made me read this and it was honestly CRAP.
People we meet on vacation – Emily Henry ***
The Other Black Girl – Zakiya Dalila Harris *. I wanted to love this book but nah, I don’t get the hype.
The Kindest Lie – Nancy Johnson *** READ IT, JUST READ IT.
491 Days – Winnie Madikizela Mandela. Another non-fiction read that was a total education for me, I realised I never understood or made up my own mind about Winnie Mandela.
The Rose Code – Kate Quinn ***
Snapped – Alexa Martin **
The Huntress – Kate Quinn *
Other Women – Cathy Kelly
All Gomorrahs are the Same – Thenjiwe Mswane **
How we get free – Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor *
Apples Never Fall – Liane Moriarty *** (Definitely a top read contender)
And I’ll testify of the battles You’ve won How You were my portion when there wasn’t enough (That’s right) And I’ll testify of the seas that we’ve crossed The waters You parted, the waves that I’ve walked
I am having a tough week and this song has been challenging and speaking to me. Hope you are blessed through it.
This being Day 8902 of lockdown (not really, it’s Day 54 here) and working remotely as we take care of the 14-month old. I wanted to share the one thing I have learnt about my Mr and new work mate:
He is really passionate about his work. He is genial and well liked and regarded by his workmates. They really respect him too. He is also very serious when at work. Less positively, he hates to do any kind of project admin. Oh and his day involves being in so many meetings / calls.
It’s been interesting to see this side of him as the last time we worked so closely together was back at Varsity.
What have you learnt about yourself or your partner / housemate(s) as you worked from home? If you and your partner regularly work from home, what have you learnt from each other at this time?
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a] 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
The verses in bold are the ones that are ministering to me in a special way. God is watching out for us and protecting us. He is Sovereign and even the current uncertainty does not diminish His hugeness.
A friend is waiting to have her first baby any time now and a popular blog I read often asks participants what advice they would give a first time mama and only now am I kind of ready to attempt answering that.
Over the holiday I got a bit tired of listening to the same subscribed podcast content so I challenged myself to listen to shows I wouldn’t normally do or I had heard but did not want to commit to full subscription just yet. So here are some of those fantastic episodes.
I felt my back stand up when I first listened to her views on infidelity so I wasn’t open at all but I liked it so much I listened to this other episode on sexlessness.
Radio Diaries’ Teenage Diariesrevisited. I love that kind of radio soooo much. I was hanging on the edge of my seat listening. Definitely subscribing. As a teen I would have loved to participate in such an activity, to be honest, even now I would.
At Church we are covering a series on Grace and so far the study has reminded me of two things that I would like to share today.
The definition of grace is “unearned, unmerited and undeserved kindness and favour of God.” Grace is free and has all to do with God and His love for us a sinful, unfaithful and undeserving people.
Sometimes we forget this meaning and so it’s the third thing that we often forget and so I thought it wise to begin there. Now onto the things that I have actually learnt.
No sin is bigger than God’s grace. There is nothing that we can do that will set us apart from the grace of God. Because if there were, it would negate the very definition of grace.
We have to accept this grace on our own behalf. In that sense it’s personal but it’s also possible that you can reject it and miss out because we choose the penalty (death – the wage for sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ [Rom 6:23]) over and over again.
Lastly, due to our nature, we can get very transactional with God. If you do this, I will …. I thought I didn’t do this but I see that I quite often do this I still bargain and negotiate and try to “please” God so I am slowly learning to rest in His completed work and to be still.
I pray that I continue to meditate on these truths always.
I love podcasts and on my commute to work and back home, I have been catching up on some good episodes this week.
I love Ear Hustle and this week they had a Q&A session, I particularly loved the bit where they went round asking the guys what their prison theme song would be. If this is you first time, the boom boom room is definitely my all-time favourite episode.
This is Uncomfortable, a new podcast I got into was talking about class anxiety. Something that I can definitely associate with. Well, I loved how the lady in question just broke it down in a way that made me think of my own discomfort with money.
Aminatou and Ann also talked about all the money feelings we have. One of their subjects was saying how they sit with a group of their friends and everyone writes down their annual salary, they jumble them up and pick them out say them aloud so even if you do not know who earns that much, you at least know they are in your friendship circle. Mind-blowing, would love to see the same from my friends.
Woman’s Hour talked about period sex – the good, the dirty and freaky J