Right now, in the world, there are supposedly over 130,000,000 books. Let’s say the average book is about 300 pages. That is 390,000,000,000 dog-eared, underlined, spilled-on pages of beautiful (for the most part) written word. This statistic makes it physically impossible for any person to read all the books. Just when you thought your TBR couldn’t be longer, authors somehow KEEP publishing books?! The fact that my TBR is physically incapable of staying stagnant gives me an anxiety headache at least once a day. You finish one book that changed your life, only to add three more to the back end. So, tasked with the opportunity to write up a list of my favorite books of all time seemed PARALYZING.
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Colum McCann£9.99 £9.29
This book is a tantalizing tightrope of tragedies. It is an incredibly moving novel about life and death, love and grief, and above all—hope. I read this book for the first pick of a new book club I joined a couple years ago and it was not my first choice. I actually dreaded picking it up and found it to be a bit pretentious and over-written at first, but I was sucked in and by the end, it completely transfixed me. A large reason I find book clubs so inspiring is it encourages you to read out of your comfort zone and introduces you to books that were never on your radar. Why did I love the book? Beautiful descriptions. Magnificent and masterful layering of words. Details of happenings and people and places that make you feel like you are existing in the moment—you can feel the breeze on your skin, you can smell the dew in the air. After visiting New York City, this book became all the more real to me, as that is where it takes place. It follows two central events. The first surrounds fictional storytelling about the very real-life feat of Phillippe Petit’s 1974 Twin Towers tightrope walk 110 stories up. This basically lays the groundwork for the rest of the book, as we delve into the perspective and narrative of multiple characters and how their lives came to exist up until that drastic moment of exemplary happenings. The metaphor of the Twin Towers keys in on the human ability to find meaning in everything, even in the greatest of heartfuckingbreaking tragedies (trust me, your heart will be broken). The second central event, which is revealed halfway through, is the fictional courtroom trial of a NYC prostitute (want the juicy deets? read the book). It's funny, because this plot serves as the point of balance for the whole story. HA! Get it? POINT OF BALANCE? Tightrope jokes! Tell me to shut up! I didn't want this book to end. It made you understand that sometimes things just happen. Bad things. But there is profound meaning in every instance of every moment. We are constantly planting seeds in everything we do. And our vines sprout up and wrap around each other and intertwine and our stories have no beginning and no end, they are infinite and all connected. Pick up this beautiful book if you haven't! I'm excited to read more work by McCann, and I rarely ever say that about old white men. *laughs nervously*
Roxane Gay£8.99 £8.36
This novel follows Mireille, our American-Haitian narrator, who is kidnapped, brutally gang raped, ripped away from her new child, greedily sacrificed by her father, and victimized and misunderstood by her white, Nebraskan husband. This book puts on full display the power of storytelling and is not for the lighthearted. This is the first book I read while taking a Women’s Contemporary Literature class in college taught by a Black woman and it shifted the way I read diversely with intention. I experienced a chain reaction of reading every piece of Roxane Gay’s work after finishing this—she delves into the complexities of sexual assault, rape culture, poverty, socioeconomic differences, and the connection and shared life experiences of women. Ultimately, it gives tribute to the price women pay for the wants of men.
Ta-Nehisi Coates£10.99 £10.22
Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote this book in the format of a letter to his fifteen-year-old son, as to say “my work is to give you what I know of my particular path while allowing you to walk your own.” He describes his experiences of what it means to survive in a Black body and how to reckon with the fraught history of people with Black bodies have been burdened with over the course of the world. It is poetic. It is eloquent. It is breathtaking the way his pain hits you. His revelatory words will pierce your heart. Books like this make you face your privilege head-on and it forces us to confront our present by illuminating us with the hard, disgusting facts of our past so we can foster a transcendent vision for a way forward where everyone can feel safe.