All right, I may have been a bit overzealous.
I tend to do that, I think we all tend to do that – to reach too far and too high and come up short. It’s what eventually leads to the end of trying. Our bodies break down, our will breaks down, our patience breaks down, and we stop trying to move forward.
Let’s look back on a year of slowing to a halt through the lens of this proverbial bookshelf!
These are the books I read in 2019:
And these are the ones that meant the most to me:
More and more, I got the feeling that people who needed government assistance were assumed to be a very uneducated bunch and were treated accordingly. How degrading, to learn that since I needed money, I must not know how to keep my utility costs low.
The sooner we realize that a heel is on our throats, the sooner we can make change. Unfortunately, for those of us that realize that we are being held in a place of poverty and pain, we also understand that the very systems that are advertised to “help” those in need are actually preventing any sort of positive movement. Stephanie Land takes her own experiences and holds them high overhead, revealing her capabilities and our own failings. Find Maid at your local bookstore on Indiebound.
We have failed to fully appreciate how deeply housing is implicated in the creation of poverty. Not everyone living in a distressed neighborhood is associated with gang members, parole officers, employers, social workers, or pastors. But nearly all of them have a landlord.
We have a housing crisis. That’s just a point of fact at this point. But what do we do to fight the denial? Much like Stephanie Land does in Maid, Matthew Desmond brings us inside the real people who are dealing with poverty, this time with a focus on finding, keeping, struggling with, and losing housing. Evicted follows a variety of individuals and families and explores their circumstances, but it always comes back to one thing: the systems in place are meant to keep us in place. Find Evicted at your local bookstore on Indiebound.
“The system has many hands and can place those hands around many necks at once.”
A Tribe Called Quest is one of my favorite bands, and the one-two punch of losing Phife Dawg and receiving We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service in the span of eight months was a hard hit to reconcile. Thankfully, Hanif Abdurraqib brought some ice for the wound. The way he breaks down exactly how it felt to discover the band, to grow alongside their albums, to watch their breakup and how their comeback was tenderly, understandably softer than it could have been. The emotions he coats the pages with as he addresses each member, Q-Tip, Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi White, even Phife’s mom. Go Ahead in the Rain was the wrap up to A Tribe Called Quest that I needed. Find Go Ahead in the Rain at your local bookstore on Indiebound.
But most important, he gave us the notion that being a grown-up didn’t mean you’d have to give up. You can live many different lives in your one life as You.
I was on my lunch break in the mall when I heard that MCA had died. I ran back into the game store and interrupted my coworker with the news, and we both kinda shuffled stuff around while listening to Hello Nasty for the rest of the shift.
Beastie Boys Book is, as expected, considerably more than just a memoir by two guys who used to be in a band. Trading off, Mike D and Ad-Rock go through everything, from the first time they laid eyes on each other and MCA, right on through to the end. Along the way, they include photos, notes, reviews, and anecdotes from friends and collaborators. Towards the end of the book they have Roy Choi step up to the mic with a cookbook inspired by their albums. It’s honest, it’s touching, and it cements Beastie Boys as one of the top musical groups of all time. Find Beastie Boys Book at your local bookstore on Indiebound.
In 2020, I’m setting a goal of 50 books. I’m four deep right now. You can keep up with my Goodreads profile, but I encourage you most to visit your local library, and your local bookstore, and fill your arms with some books. Maybe read a few, too.