Thursday, June 07, 2007

BOOKS . . . PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE READING LISTS

I recently finished two books, WISE BLOOD by Flannery O'Connor and NO TIME TO DIE (A Mali Anderson Mystery) by Grace F. Edwards.

The latter, a mystery, was something new and out of the norm for me. I purchased NO TIME TO DIE at a Friends of the Library book sale while still living in Memphis. Actually, I acquire a lot of my books that way--library book sales, bookstore discount tables, etc. The cover on this one--a pensive looking African American woman wearing a hat slanted over her brow and with the "world famous" Apollo signboard in the background--drew me in. The inside flap's description of a Black female sleuth's search for a serial killer in Harlem further intrigued me. Even so, the book, like so many others, sat unread on my shelves for years. My thirst for something different is what recently led me back to the title. I'm not a big fan of mysteries, but, all in all, it was a nice diversion as well as a fascinating and truly horrific look into the life of an African American serial killer.

WISE BLOOD is a book I first read several years ago. As much as I enjoy Flannery O'Connor's short stories, her novel just didn't do a heck of a lot for me. Although I found the book rather disturbing, I didn't outright hate it. I think more than anything, I just didn't understand it. Funny how the passage of time can alter one's perspective. I'm still not in love with the novel, but I do understand it a bit better. Perhaps maturity, patience and a small portion of wisdom are to thank for my new level of enlightenment. To be honest though, the only reason I decided to re-read the text was because it appeared on a local book club's list. If nothing else, it's the type of book that makes for an interesting discussion.

The book I'm currently reading is, ALL AUNT HAGAR'S CHILDREN, a collection of short stories written by Edward P. Jones. This is the first time I've read any of Jones' work and already I'm a fan. As I stated on black girl lost in a book's blog, I feel like I really do know these characters . . . I've met them somewhere . . . if not in this life, then perhaps in some other. The first story in the collection, "In The Blink Of God's Eye" read like one of my grandmother's tales of Johnson Sub (the 40 plus acres in Memphis, TN my daddy's people once owned and called home). This book is, for me, truly a treat and I find myself re-reading sentences, paragraphs and passages if only to savor their sweetness once again. In Jones' work I am able to experience a bit of what drives me to read and write in the first place--the indescribable joy (and music) of a story well-told. I also feel in Jones' work an appreciation of the Black Southern Experience that sadly, far too many "colored folks" (yeah, I said it . . . meant it too) from NY, LA and the Midwest appear to lack.

The books I'm probably gonna read next include, among others, another Edward P. Jones title for sure. I'm thinking his first short story collection, LOST IN THE CITY, will probably be my choice. I've heard lots of positive comments about the collection and since when given a choice between a short collection and a novel, I generally opt for the stories, it's pretty much a done deal.

I'm also interested in taking a look at REDBONE:Money, Malice and Murder in Atlanta by Ron Stodghill. Initially, I was kind of turned off by the title. Just to give you some background, a guy I knew during my college years tagged me with the nick-name "Dirty Red." So, as you might imagine, something about the term conjures quite a bit of negative imagery for me (LOL). Anyway, I stumbled upon an excerpt one day, that changed my mind about reading the book. Based on the writing alone, I'm willing to give the book a try, even though the Amazon reviews I skimmed appeared to lean toward the negative.

The other title on my list of "future" reads is a book I started last year, but never read beyond a couple of pages, WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE by Tavis Smiley. I didn't put the book down for lack of interest, I just got busy and sidetracked by other things. I'm still very much interested in knowing more about the "makings" of Mr. Smiley and since my old book club in Cleveland is taking on the book, I figured I'd buckled down and join them.

So, what are you all reading? What have you read that you'd recommend? What's still sitting unopened on your nightstand, on your bookshelf or at your local bookstore that you'd like to read? Also, any comments on my reading lists are welcome.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lori, I'm glad you enjoyed our meeting. When you asked me of my favorite mystery writer, I was thrown for a loop. I've read so many mysteries. I guess I would name my favorites as P. D. James & Elizabeth George because they write with so much depth. I flipped through an old Ebony magazine & noticed an article where Nancy Wilson was reading a book by Robert O. Greer, someone I've heard of before. So I check out one in the library. I liked it, so now I've gone back and started reading his books beginning with The Devil's Hatband. He's a very good mystery writer. Of course I love Walter Mosley & I've read all of Grace Edwards books. I'm up to date on Sue Grafton's A B C books & I usually I keep a good James Lee Burk on hand. If I want some really serious reading, I'll stop by the library & pick up anything by John LeCarre. I have never completed The Spy Who Came Out of the Cold simply because its too good to finish. I tried to save his Smiley's People. Guy Johnson (Maya Angelou's son)has a saga, Standing at the Scratch Line & Echoes of a Distance Summer which I tried to save. You see, if I come across good writers, I want to save it. Some of what's on the shelf now is horrible. And Mr. Johnson's book has some of our people's history. Denise Nicholas (Fame) wrote a nice book titled Freshwater Road. I had no idea she could write so well. Redbone, a murder in Atlanta, was a good nonfiction. And, I always keep an Agatha Christie book on hand. Most writer's advice on writing is to keep reading and writing because reading is a part of writing.

Sheila Wilcox

Lori said...

Hey Shelia,
Goodness, you are a SERIOUS mystery reader (smile)! Thanks for all of the great titles.

I've enjoyed some of Walter M.'s books. I started Denise N.'s book and hope to finish it one day soon. My book club in Cleveland actually did a teleconference with Densie N. and she is both super-nice and incredibly down-to-earth. Speaking with her was a real treat.

Your point about not bothering to finish a book because it was good is interesting. I guess you're right though . . . some books are so good you really could read them forever (smile).

Sheila Wilcox said...

The Spy Who Came Out of the Cold is the only novel I had not completed. I keep it on the shelf for the times when I can't find anything at the library to read. Its so discouraging to see urban literature taking over the shelves. It might do for the younger set, but I'm past that stage. If I feel the need urge to take a walk on the wild side, a good Eric Jerome Dickie will do. Why not stop by The Beatties Ford Road Library on the 19th. for our monthly book club meeting? This month we're doing First Lady by Carl Weber.

Sharon J. said...

I'm halfway done with the Tavis Smiley memoir. Thanks for recommending it. Your friends in the Women's Guild book club at East View Church are reading it. So far, the reviews from the ones who have started it are good. "A Sin and a Shame" by Victoria Christopher Murray is a good novel and generated a great discussion. Murray does a good job of writing about a very unlikeable character. We read "$40 Million Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete." It also is a good book for a book discussion. Mr. Colandus DeLaughter facilitated the discussion. It makes for an excellent reference book on sports history.

Lori said...

Sharon,
It's good to know the book club at East View is still reading a nice mix of titles. You're such a wise leader (smile). Has the club spoken with any authors lately?

Shelia,
Thanks for the info about the Beatties Ford Road book club. I'm planning on attending a book discussion of WISE BLOOD at one of the local library's this Thursday. I'll keep B. Ford Road's club in mind though. If not this time around, perhaps one of these days.

Sharon J. said...

The last author we spoke to was Tiffany Warren. That was in March. She wrote the Christian-oriented novel "Farther than I meant to stay. Longer than I meant to go." We had a wonderful conversation. Her first novel was a Gospel play. She's a very pleasant young woman, who has led a very interesting life. She and her husband are packing up their family and moving to Dallas this month, where they want to develop their theater ministry.

Ehav Ever said...

I recently finished a good book called Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell. It was a collection of several essays on topics concerning history about slavery that is often ignored, why Jews are hated, and the education system. It really went into some areas that I never really thought much about.

Lori said...

Hi Ehav E.,
The book you mentioned sounds interesting. But I'm curious. What led you to read it? The title? Did someone recommend it? Or, are you, like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a follower of Mr. Sowell's work? (smile)

Ehav Ever said...

I happened to be at a book store in Texas and I saw the title of the book. It is not often that you the title Black Rednecks. When I looked at the back to get an idea of what it was about. I noticed that there was an article about why Jews were hated around the world so I went ahead and bought it. I don't know anything about Sowell, but I found it an interesting read. There were a lot of things I agree with in it and a number of things that made me think about some things a little deeper.

I actually don't personally follow any group school of thought or any political leanings, except things that fall into Middle Eastern and African Jewish concepts. I am believer that things that help people morally, psychologically, and physically inherently have a good source.