Up for something a bit different today? I read a lot – for my job and for pleasure, for learning and growing and catching glimpses into worlds different from my own. After all, as novelist George R. R. Martin said, “a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” If you’re anything like me, I’m guessing you want to be transported to other worlds, that you want to live a thousand lives, that you want to learn how to color outside the lines. And reading is best way I know how to do that.
So, I’ve got a handful of books for you, all of which I read in 2018: eight non-fiction, four fiction. Some of them were written by men, although the majority were penned by women; half of them were written by people of color, the other half by white folks.
And in its own way, every single one of these books taught me to color outside the lines.
All the Colors We Will See (Patrice Gopo): “With an eloquence born of pain and longing, Patrice’s reflections guide us as we consider our own journeys toward belonging, challenging us to wonder if the very differences dividing us might bring us together after all.”
Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved (Kate Bowler): “Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate Bowler pulls the reader deeply into her life in an account she populates affectionately with a colorful, often hilarious retinue of friends, mega-church preachers, relatives, and doctors.” Also, at time of publication, this is on Kindle sale for $2.99!
Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation (Linda Kay Klein): “From a woman who has been there and back, the first inside look at the devastating effects evangelical Christianity’s purity culture has had on a generation of young women—in a potent combination of journalism, cultural commentary, and memoir.”
Educated (Tara Westover): “Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.”
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row (Anthony Ray Hinton): “A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, justice, and the power of reading by a man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.”
If Nuns Ruled the World: Ten Sisters on a Mission (Jo Piazza): “Veteran reporter Jo Piazza overthrows the popular perception of nuns as killjoy schoolmarms, instead revealing them as the most vigorous catalysts of change in an otherwise repressive society.” Also, at time of publication, this is on Kindle sale for $1.99!
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Trevor Noah): “The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.”
There, There (Tommy Orange): “Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force.” Side note: I loved learning more about the Native American experience in my hometown.
The Power (Naomi Alderman): “A vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power–they can cause agonizing pain and even death.” Another side note: even though I didn’t actually love this novel, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it …so that says something.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler): This is “a tale of loving but fallible people whose well-intentioned actions lead to heartbreaking consequences.” But whatever you do, try not to read the premise beforehand!
The Dovekeepers (Alice Hoffman): “Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived.” I’m a sucker for historical fiction and Hoffman’s book was no exception.
Books hold a unique power to change a reader and these 12 reads were no exception …although I must say that there are several more I neglected to highlight, so perhaps we’ll have another post in another week or two.
What books helped YOU color outside the lines in 2018? Do tell! Also, let’s connect on Goodreads if we’re not friends on that reading platform yet!
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