The first week of September was a week of many audiobooks. I was in a real mood to read, but I also was not in the mood to sit down and concentrate on printed pages. I decided to read a bunch of books that had been on my TBR for awhile and were 5-9 hours on audiobook, the sweet spot for audiobooks for me.
I ended up reading so many books by BIPOC that I’ve been wanting to check out and feeling very accomplished! I am not an Own Voices reviewer for any of these books, so please take that into consideration when reading.
I have a lot of feelings about this book…again, I am not an Own Voices reviewer and my opinion is very much in the minority here. Many people love this book, so please give it a chance if it interests you and check out reviews by Own Voices readers.
I truly appreciated Hong’s insights into her experience as an Asian American and the racism she has had to deal with, but some of the stories seemed to meander and muddle the overall tone of the book for me. Some of the things that she wrote rubbed me the wrong way. One such thing is when she states that Indian Americans have “downgraded to or have begun self-identifying as ‘brown’.” The colorism in that sentence took me aback when I heard it, I had to go back a few times to make sure that’s what was said.
In one story, she takes her friends’ very personal stories, one with seemingly no permission after discussing with her other friend what she didn’t want of her personal life included in the book, and discusses them in a way that seemed so very weird to me. I felt gross reading her complain about a friend who dealt with an undiagnosed mental illness and how she once thought that maybe it would be fine if her friend just went through with her threats (if you know what I mean) because then she would no longer have to deal with her anymore. It was pretty awful. I understand that not all narrators have to be likeable, but there was something about her personality and tone that really irked me throughout the book.
I did learn a few things and added some other reads by Asian American authors that she mentioned to my TBR, but overall this book left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ll continue to seek other books by Asian American authors to get other perspectives.
Content Warnings: Racism, violence, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, death, description of rape and murder
I very much enjoy listening to thrillers on audiobook, it’s like sitting around a campfire listening to a scary story (although I have never done that before in my life). This is a South Korean psychological thriller about 26-year-old Yu-jin, who wakes up covered in blood with no idea as to what has happened. The story slowly unfolds as he tries to figure out the series of events that led him up to the present.
I didn’t have any particular feelings about this book that I could pin down. It seemed like a basic thriller to me, with few twists that really surprised me. The tension kept me interested though and I’m glad I finally read it.
Content Warnings: Death, murder, blood, gore, references to drowning
I tried reading this book in several formats and could not get into it. I tried e-book, physical, and then decided just to listen to it on audio. There has been a lot said about what people thought this book was about (two black girl mermaids) and what it actually is about: two black girls, one a siren and one an unknown supernatural being. Sirens are hated in this society for some reason that is never fully explained. They are also all black women, which adds onto the prejudice and racism that they face.
There were so many issues with the mythos and worldbuilding, or complete lack of it, that distracted from the important and impactful purpose. It’s very much about black girl magic, sisterly love, and the Say Her Name movement, but I feel like it would have been much stronger without the fantasy aspect to it or more detail about the world. It was so on-the-nose that the fantasy factor lost it’s purpose.
Ultimately, I appreciated the message, but the execution of the story had me slogging through. I would still recommend checking it out if you are interested because of the power of its purpose, just don’t expect a fleshed-out fantasy world.
Content Warnings: Racism, death of a black woman, police brutality
The Good…no The Amazing!
This YA “Memoir-Manifesto” is narrated by the author and is absolutely beautiful. Johnson discusses so much in this book, including gender identity, toxic masculinity, and queerness in the black community. They are very straightforward with their purpose to educate with their honesty. I rarely cry while reading, but I totally did tear up listening to this. They tackle tough subjects in such a compassionate way. Amazing!
Content Warnings: Sexual abuse, molestation, homophobia, racism, death
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
This was SO GOOD. A must-read! One of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, discusses her life in southern California and how it brought her to the creation of a movement. I find it so hard to talk about why I love the books that I love (see above), and here’s another great example of that. It made me angry, it made me cry, it made me want to get out there and protest. I wrote down a lot of facts and quotes that were so impactful that I will be throwing out at the next family affair if someone so chooses to test me. 🙂
Her discussion of the toll on a people of not knowing whether or not their lives and the lives of their families will be long and healthy was so impactful and summed up the driving force of the book and the movement of Black Lives Matter so well. Here’s the particular quote that I sat with for the whole night and has marked itself into my heart.
“We say we deserve another knowing, the knowing that comes when you assume your life will be long, will be vibrant, will be healthy. We deserve to imagine a world without prisons and punishment, a world where they are not needed, a world rooted in mutuality. We deserve to at least aim for that.”
Wow. I also appreciated that Patrisse included her journey as a queer person and the people who she loved that brought her to where she is at the writing of the book. I would HIGHLY recommend listening to this on audiobook as it is narrated by Patrisse Khan-Cullors herself.
Content warnings: Police brutality, death, references to the deaths of black people at the hands of cops and other individuals, harassment
Have you read any of these books or listened to any other audiobooks lately? Let me know in the comments!