Read 100 Books in a Year, First 2017 Check-in (& Black History Month Books)

I 'resolved' to read 100 books in 2017.

I've been keeping pace with reading 3 books a week, or phrased differently: reading a new book every 2 days. (I'll explain how I do this in a future blog post. My strategy is realistic—I don't sit down and read for hours).

For February I decided to only read books by people of color or that were about people of color.

I started the month reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, for no reason other than it was next on my list, but when that book shook me to my core, I decided I needed to spend this month — Black History Month — learning and exposing myself to new viewpoints, attitudes, ideas, and cultures.

These books have shifted my perspective, and as cliche as it is, "opened my eyes." I don't want to compare this to veganism but the experience is similar in that I never realized how oblivious I was or how apathetic privilege can make you.

If you think you are colorblind, these books will test you.

They tested me, angered me, shocked me, humbled me, and yet made me believe we can and will do better as a society if we can keep having difficult discussions.

I see now that my reality and human experience is not the reality and human experience of so many other people. I wish it wasn't that way, but I am thankful to finally be aware of this difference.

Be the change, yes, but can't change what you don't know.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Saying "fantastic" feels wrong given the subject matter but this story is one we need to share with everyone. It'll change how you think about cancer, medical research, your biology, and American history.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This novel is terrific if you want to ease yourself into the difficult discussions of race and prefer fiction over non-fiction. I devoured this book and highly recommend the audible version. This was only my second experience with Picoult (I read Leaving Time in 2015 since it was a story about elephants) and I have such incredible respect for her for writing this book as well as her personal commentary at the end of the book.

On a personal note, this book also reminded me why I stopped practicing law. I was the type of lawyer (medical defense attorney) that would have represented Ruth. Her story reminded me that even when you "win" you can't truly celebrate because a tragedy still happened. (So thanks for all your support! I love my new job a lot more!)

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This was the perfect non-fiction follow-up to Small Great Things. It's a rather short book but covers the difficult discussions we need to have. Consider it a must-read if you want to change your perspective and understand at the most fundamental level what it is like to be black in America.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I loved this book. The story is fantastically captivating (though admittedly starts a bit slow) and ties in actual events from our recent history so perfectly that you have to keep reminding yourself it's a novel and not a memoir.

The best part, however, is the subtle yet poignant observations of race in America and the descriptions of what it is like to be black in America, from both the viewpoint of black Americans and immigrants.

Currently Reading / Will Read:

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King

The Good Negress by A. J. Verdelle

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Color Purple

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt

Hidden Figures was my favorite film in 2016, which is also a book.

I also listened to Malcolm Gladwell's podcast in January and recommend it.

Goodreads (you can follow me there) has a great list of BHM books too.

That's it for now... I'll do a longer recap post when I get to 25 books.