It’s that time of year when I look back on what I’ve been reading. Today, I’d like to share a few of my recent favourites in case you’re looking for a book to read or a gift for someone you love. My selections are a little eclectic because I had two main interests this past year – books by black writers and memoirs.
 

Books by Black Writers

 
At the end of 2016, I took a fantastic online class facilitated by Patti Digh, called Hard Conversations: An Introduction to Racism. I highly recommend this course, as the topic is certainly timely. However, it is currently in session, so you would probably have to wait until next fall if you’re interested. What came out of that course for me is that I was severely lacking in reading by black writers. I needed to read more about the experience of blacks, especially in the United States. So, I set out to read as much as I could in 2017. Here are a few of the most impactful.

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates is a journalist and writer for The Atlantic. He’s considered one of the most important writers on race today. This book is written as a letter to his teenaged son, where he shares the story of his own awakening to the truth about his place in the world.

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie A beautiful novel about race and identity from the award-winning author of We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele.

“Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time.”

Born A Crime – Trevor Noah The fascinating story of Trevor Noah, current host of The Daily Show, who began life in apartheid South Africa.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X – by Malcolm X and Alex Haley Considered one of the ten most important books of the 20th century. If you haven’t read this book, please do. That’s all I can say.

See my full list of books on racism.


 

Memoir

 
I’ve always enjoyed reading biographies and memoirs, but never considered writing my own. That is, until I read Julia Cameron’s book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. The book is divided into 12 sections, designed for weekly exploration. One of the weekly assignments is to write about a specific period of your life. You divided your age by 12 and then write about a different timeframe every week. By the time you’re finished the book, you have an outline of the significant moments in your life. I decided to expand on what I’d written and create a memoir just for my kids. In the meantime, I read a few excellent memoirs and a book on how to write your story. I also attended a writing workshop with Dani Shapiro, the author of Hourglass, cited below.

Insomniac City – Bill Hayes The famed neuroscientist Oliver Sacks was one of my favourite people and his book, On the Move, was on my best list for 2015. Bill Hayes was Sacks’ partner in life, as well as an excellent writer and photographer. This book is a celebration of life in New York City and a glimpse into his relationship with Sacks.

Hourglass – Dani Shapiro I really enjoyed this memoir of Dani Shapiro’s twenty years (and still going) marriage. It is a poetic meditation on time, memory, and commitment.

The Situation and the Story – Vivian Gornick If you’re interested at all in telling your own personal stories, this book is a must. How do you move from writing a linear list of events and get to the heart of your story. Gornick shows how some of the best memoirs and essays of the past century do just this.

See my full list of Biography/Memoir books.


 

Other Recommendations

 

Minor White: Rites and Passages The only photography book that I read this year, yet it is an all-time favourite. I really resonate with Minor White’s way of looking at the world.

The Daily Stoic Journal – Ryan Holiday

I’ve also been studying stoicism this year and purchased this journal to write in during 2018.


 

What was your favourite book of 2017?

 
For more categories of books, check out my Book Recommendations Page.

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