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Scott Bayer @Lyricalswordz
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2018: My Year of Reading. A thread that follows my reading journey from January to December. Every book I've read with a 280 character review. Tagged a few folks who influence the shape of my literary life 📚 #THEBOOKCHAT #DisruptTexts #TeachLivingPoets 📚
1. Never Let Me Go; Kazuo Ishiguro: A supremely crafted narrative begins unassumingly, but quickly reveals a different notion of childhood innocence and coming of age. The conversational tone fooled me into thinking I was walking into a world I understood. Nobel worthy.
2. We Should All Be Feminists; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: As an author who breathes eloquence, Adichie doesn't disappoint. This short book/long essay is insightful and logical and human. If we want to raise boys without the toxic masculinity, this is on the required reading list.
3. Sing, Unburied, Sing; @jesmimi: A book that finds itself at the intersection of Faulkner, Morrison, Welty, and Flannery O'Connor. Unearths an ugly past but delivers the hope of a better future. Read last year and again this year--may become an annual tradition #THEBOOKCHAT
4. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town; Jon Krakauer: This book was difficult to read. I wanted to stop multiple times. But I also think making this required reading for incoming college freshmen nationwide would be a great step toward dismantling rape culture
5. America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America; @jimwallis: A direct call to action for Americans—especially white Christians—to honestly face the brutal history of our nation and build a bridge toward healing and racial justice #ClearTheAir
6. The Alchemist; Paulo Coelho: A mystic quest story in the vein of Rasselas and Candide. A novel that helps people look in their hearts and see the world in a different way—to consider their own beliefs. I always enjoy these novels but Siddhartha is still the gold standard.
7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; @RebeccaSkloot: A complex interweaving of science, history, race, and injustice. Another hidden figure—one uncompensated for her contributions to humankind. In some ways an epic, in other ways a dirge, but in all ways a must read #scichat
8. Norwegian Wood; Haruki Murakami: An exploration of life and death and humor and stoicism and ourselves and others and inner turmoil and outer trauma--to be summed up in the philosophical musing: “Death is not the opposite of life but an innate part of life” #THEBOOKCHAT
9. The Story of My Teeth; @ValeriaLuiselli: This intellectual romp tells a simple story in the most sophisticated way, asking big questions about art & literature & authenticity. Add a structure that emanates from a unique collaboration and you’d best settle in for a wild ride
10. Level Up; @geneluenyang @CobraTalon: This graphic novel juxtaposes parental expectations and personal dreams in soft and and heartwarming ways. The intervention of four angels (ghosts?) help Dennis consider the balance between familial loyalty and individualism #graphicnovel
11. We Beat the Street; Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, George Jenkins @threedoctors @sharonmdraper: Part narrative nonfiction, part memoir, all heart. A testament to the power of having loyal friends, a support network, and second chances. Inspirational #ProjectLITbookclub
12. The Bridegroom; Ha Jin: These 12 masterful stories ruminate on the irony of bureaucracy in modern day Communist China and the realities of living within it. Jin’s sense of wit and tragedy beautifully intertwines various philosophies, feelings, and traditions of East and West.
13. Man’s Search for Meaning; Viktor Frankl: A deeply moving intellectual and spiritual reflection from a survivor of four different concentration camps, who later became a psychiatrist and developer of logotherapy. A necessary story of suffering, coping, and hope #mustread
14. Haiti Glass; @lenellemoise:

the children of haiti
are not mythological
we are starving
or eating salty cakes
made of clay

because in 1804 we felled
our former slave captors
the graceless losers sunk
vindictive yellow
teeth into our forests

14a. Haiti Glass; @lenellemoise (continued, since I didn't actually review it above :) Lenelle Moïse is not here to placate you with pretty poems; she's here to set fire to the world—and the conflagration is a beauty to behold. A #mustread for those who #TeachLivingPoets
15. The White Boy Shuffle; Paul Beatty: I'm late to the Beatty party but it's still in full swing. He perfectly balances the absurd with the real, the hilarious with the tragic; satire at its finest. Beatty's at the forefront of American letters. Read his work #TBR #mustread
16. Stamped from the Beginning; @DrIbram: Looking to unlearn the mythologized version of history you were taught? This is a good place to start. Kendi delivers hard truths. If only this were required reading to obtain a driver’s license in this country... #sschat #history #edchat
17. The Castle; Franz Kafka: Love Kafka fan but hadn’t read anything by him in a few years. Re-read The Castle, and in 2018, the absurdity of it all doesn’t seem quite so absurd. K’s attempts to understand the web of political musings in which he’s trapped are all too familiar.
18. The Association of Small Bombs; Karan Mahajan: “You know what happens when a bomb goes off? The truth about people comes out.” Smart and beautiful and unpredictable writing. An exquisite and devastating look at terrorism through a non-Western lens #mustread #tbrpile #tbr
19. The Poet X; @AcevedoWrites: YA Lit isn’t complex? Did you see the embedded sonnets and visual caesurae (among other forms) in this stunning novel in verse? Xiomara is a voice for the voiceless, and Acevedo is just getting started #mustread #THEBOOKCHAT #TeachLivingPoets
20. Siddhartha; Hermann Hesse: Reread this gem with two students. This book gets better every time I open it. Blown away by its profundity. The metaphor of the river continues to speak to me. One of my all-time favorites. Om #mustread
21. Black Panther: The Complete Collection Vol. 1; @reghud @1PeterMilligan John Romita Jr. @davidyardin Kaare Andrews @SalvadorLarroca Scot Eaton: T'Challa's origins and the history of Wakanda. What’s not to like? If you don’t know where to start as a reader of BP, it’s here.
22. Hag-Seed; @MargaretAtwood: At first glance this was an interesting reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but Atwood is always worth more than a first glance. Clever, funny, and provocative, this layered recreation adds to the constant reminder of Shakespeare’s relevance.
23. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth; @warsan_shire: Some poets dance on the periphery, coding their language to shroud the essential; Shire moves straight to the heart of the matter--then squeezes out every drop of blood the heart has to offer #mustread #TeachLivingPoets
24. Black Panther: The Complete Collection Vol. 2; Christopher Priest: Killmonger, Brother Voodoo, Moon Knight, Deadpool, White Gorilla, Mephisto. This collection has a bit of everything. Great writing layers the complexities of being a king and an Avenger and a man in love.
25. Girls Burn Brighter; @ShobhaRaoWrites: Few books push me to the emotional edge the way this did. The language is so beautiful and the struggles of Poornima and Savitha too real. It’s difficult to remember when I rooted so hard for the characters. A fav this year #THEBOOKCHAT
26. The Strange Library; Haruki Murakami: The exquisite design of this book foretells of the unique world the reader is about to enter. The writing is hypnotic and beautiful and as strange as the library in which it takes place. Much more is happening than the simple story belies
27. Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”; Zora Neale Hurston: Hurston’s powers as cultural anthropologist, ethnographer, and folklorist are on full display here. As a participant-observer, Kossola tells his own story. An invaluable historical document #THEBOOKCHAT
28. We Were Eight Years in Power; Ta-Nehisi Coates: Eight essays originally published in @TheAtlantic each prefaced by a new essay. An amazing writer offering his writing, and then writing about his own writing. I cannot imagine why this is not a perfect text for #APLang
29. American War; Omar El Akkad: I liked this book but I guess I just never really bought into the premise that our next Civil War would be caused by climate change and not, you know, the dehumanization of millions of people through omnipresent institutional racism.
30. Black Panther: The Complete Collection Vol. 3; Christopher Priest, @jtorrescomics: Some very different Panther stories here: a flash-forward where we see an old Black Panther, another where he fights a huge dragon. Also, the Incredible Hulk embroiled in a romance with Queen!
31. Why We Can’t Wait; Martin Luther King, Jr: We white folk love Dr. King but we don’t actually read his work. We need to do better. King’s loyalty to the cause and nothing or no one but the cause is laid bare here. Brilliant and tragic and wise and empowering #mustread #tbr
32. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow; @harari_yuval: Rarely do books make me think this hard—or this differently—about the world. Part human history, part human future. Inspiring and terrifying, but always intriguing. The next stage of human evolution is here #history
33. The Bluest Eye; Toni Morrison: A heart-wrenching look at the effects of dominant culture’s ideas of beauty. Morrison’s analysis of the impact of the white male gaze on a young Black female is still the most insightful writing on the topic, even nearly 50 years later #mustread
34. The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker; @ericpliu: A deeply introspective and highly insightful look at what it means to be Asian-American, a group that does not share a race, language, or creed. Raw and honest, though our rhetoric on identity has changed so much.
35. Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America; Michael Eric Dyson: This book will make you shout “Preach!” regardless of your religious affiliation. Dyson brings the thunder. And the receipts. We are called in to face difficult truths—it hurts and it heals #ClearTheAir
36. Future Home of the Living God; Louise Erdrich: A parallel of dystopian fiction and the real suffering of actual Indigenous peoples. A meditation on the strength of women in the face of an overwhelming patriarchy, and the hope that springs from the refusal to give up on life.
37. Southernmost; @silasdhouse: A flood of Biblical proportions and his congregation’s Biblical interpretation of same-sex relationships cause a Appalachian evangelical preacher to do the unthinkable. A search for faith, for a brother denied, for absolution #THEBOOKCHAT
38. Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul; James McBride: This book is not about music. It’s about a cultural icon who symbolized Blackness, the South, Civil Rights, an indomitable work ethic, unfathomable generosity, and a legacy that will live on.
39. Citizen Illegal; @_joseolivarez: A poetry collection that feels like a block party. We are invited in for some fun—but for some real talk, too. The right collection of poetry at the right time. Builds knowledge, compassion, empathy, and love #THEBOOKCHAT #TeachLivingPoets
40. A Brief History of Time; Stephen Hawking: I’ve read this before, but no number of rereads would allow me to understand every concept inside. Beyond a transmission of profound knowledge, books like this help me develop empathy for struggling readers #scichat #Science #mathchat
41. American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin; Terrance Hayes: 70 sonnets, each with the same title, written since the 2016 presidential election. What could be more timely? Past, present, and future: all right now, 14 lines at a time #mustread #TeachLivingPoets
42. The Book of Unknown Americans; @crishenriquez: A complex work of many narrators—some of whom are main characters and some of whom only narrate a single chapter in the entire book—who come together to reveal the many loves, labors, and lives of immigrants. An important read.
43. It Won’t Be Easy: An Exceedingly Honest (and Slightly Unprofessional) Love Letter to Teaching; @MrTomRad: I really loved this book. Rademacher is glaringly honest about himself and about our profession. Packed with wisdom whether it’s your first year or your 20th #THEBOOKCHAT
44. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A letter from Adichie to a friend with fifteen essential ways to raise a daughter to become strong and empowered and unafraid. A book for everyone, whether you have a daughter or not.
45. Out in the Open; Jesús Carrasco: A boy’s harrowing journey is filled with the best and worst of humanity. Sparse and stark and heartbreaking and hopeful. Writing pared down to the bone that chills and inspires #translation #literatura #literaturaespañola #spanishliterature
46. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism; Robin DiAngelo: Clearly explains the reasons white people react with anger, withdrawal, emotional incapacitation, guilt, or argumentation when faced with discussions about race #mustread #ClearTheAir
47. A Brief History of Seven Killings; Marlon James: This beast of a novel is a master-class in character development. Centered on an attempted assassination of Bob Marley (true story!), James combines history and politics with notions of justice, retribution, and fate
48. The Laramie Project; Moisés Kaufman: An intimate play of more than 30 characters that refuses to dramatize, but instead lays bare the microcosm that is Laramie, Wyoming, the horrific results of toxic hate and homophobia, and the aftermath of a life cut tragically short
49. There There; @thommyorange: 12 narrators detail their lives as Urban Indians, who converge at the Big Oakland Powwow, a fateful day that changes everything. A lesson in history and culture. A tragic, spellbinding tale. Orange is a new force in American letters #THEBOOKCHAT
50. This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist; @MorganJerkins: We don’t often get a book where no emotion is out-of-bounds, and because of that, we don’t often get books where we receive truthful truth. This book is a #mustread #tbrpile
51. The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons and an Unlikely Road to Manhood; Ta-Nehisi Coates: The story of two brothers, Ta-Nehisi and Big Bill, altogether exactly the same and diametrically opposite, navigating their lives the best ways they know how in the city of Baltimore
52. Salvage the Bones; @jesmimi: A poetic rumination on Esch, a young girl who is pregnant and motherless, navigating the tough world of Bois Sauvage as Hurricane Katrina approaches. We're so lucky to be alive when Jesmyn Ward is writing. Can't wait to see what's next #mustread
53. The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After; @clemantine1: War sparks a six-year-old to flee Rwanda. Six years and eight countries later, she arrives in the US. Never a victim and always an inspiration, Clemantine reminds us of the power of the human spirit
54. We Have Always Lived in the Castle; Shirley Jackson: It’s difficult to discuss this novel without spoilers, but rest assured that Jackson is a master at suspense and psychological terror. A rare author that can make you question yourself as a reader from start to finish.
55. Giovanni’s Room; James Baldwin: Pressures of society prevent an American expat in Paris from being his true self in this tragic and stunning work. Baldwin’s power, as always, is immense: his terse prose beautifully renders loves and lives lost #mustread #tbrpile #tbr
56. Funny in Farsi; @firoozehdumas: Usually people or things that claim to be funny aren't, but this lives up to its title. Dumas chronicles her family’s life after emigrating from Iran as they take on American culture, traditions, and language. Laugh out loud funny yet poignant.
57. Life of Pi; Yann Martel: A shipwreck. Life aboard a raft for 227 days with a Bengal tiger. While I didn’t love this book, I loved this takeaway: It’s a story about stories, which at its heart belies a simple truth: everyone’s story is valuable and worth hearing.
58. Beloved; Toni Morrison: A masterpiece written by one of the all-time greats. Every time I reread this book, I learn new things. Morrison is a sociologist, historian, psychiatrist, cultural anthropologist, and psychologist writing a ghost story. Breathtaking art #mustread
So thus ends my reading journey of 2018. A total of 58 books. Reflections forthcoming...
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