Kathleen Collins: Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary

We did it guys! After three weeks of continuous rescheduling, we finally had our first book club meeting!

[And today is the 1st of July. Where has the time gone? Next thing you know it’ll be Christmas!]

But let me tell you…this book wasn’t a hit.

I’m always going to be honest with you because I value the time you spend with me here. This was a difficult read for me. It took almost two months of stop-and-go reading to get through this. There were pieces I enjoyed, but first let me tell you what the book club ladies thought.

In general, there was a lot of confusion about what was happening in the short stories at the beginning of the book. So much so that most of the ladies (and there were only four of us) didn’t finish the book.

The consensus was that reading the pieces in Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary reminded them too much of trauma and hardships they’d already experienced, and none of the characters seemed happy in the least.

Many people don’t like reading literature that reminds them of their lives. Instead, they want to escape from their stresses and be transported to worlds and lifestyles that are very much different from their own. It’s fair.

For me, it wasn’t so much reliving trauma, it was just that my attention wasn’t drawn in by most of the pieces.

I was into the short stories, though “Raschida” left so many questions…particularly about the farting. I couldn’t get into the novel excerpt “Lollie” at all, even after going back to read it again. The journal entries prompted a lot of questions about my own journaling habits, and one of the entries even prompted an interesting book club discussion about interracial relationships. “Remembrance” was the one play I really liked, especially this quote

“Colored people remember something from somewhere, sometime, someplace, and cry because they know it and recognize it at the same time.” (p.143)

which also prompted a good discussion with the ladies. I did like the screenplays the most out of all the pieces in the book, and I would like to watch Losing Ground at some point.

Overall this one was tough.

Our next book club meeting will be to discuss The Handmaid’s Tale. Since I’ve already read this one, I’m going to wait until the week before our meeting and borrow it from my local Library for a quick refresh.

In the meantime, I’ll be reading Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. It’s an anthology of science and speculative fiction, and it’s parallel to my favorite author, so I’m really excited to read it.

Well there it is folks, the review I’ve been promising for a month [smacks forehead emoji]. I’ll let you know how it goes with Octavia’s Brood.

Happy Reading!


Reading Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Happy Monday all!

Answer me this: what is your favorite genre to read?

I asked myself this question the other day, and I couldn’t really answer it definitively. I really enjoy Science Fiction, but I mostly just like reading multicultural literature regardless of the specific genre.

This started in college. All throughout middle school and high school my reading habits were very…umm…pale? mainstream? Let’s be real here. My reading habits were very White for a large portion of my childhood and teenage years. Access to minority books wasn’t nearly as great as it is now, and I read what was available to me. But that’s not to say I felt deprived, or that it was a bad thing. It wasn’t.

I loved to read, I still love to read, and if what I picked up looked like a good book I didn’t care about the race of the author. It wasn’t until college, however, that I was exposed to a broad range of multicultural literature. It broadened my scope and led me to my favorite author—Octavia Butler.

I still read a lot of books by non-minority writers, but this year I wanted my entire reading list to consist of books by Black authors, preferably Black female authors, and so far I have really enjoyed the perspectives in what’s I’ve been reading. Maybe next year I’ll read only Latino authors, or only Graphic Novels, or only Memoirs. The possibilities….

Have you decided on your favorite genre yet? What was the last piece of writing you read that was in a genre other than your favorite? Did you like it?

Now, I can’t say I’ll ever be into Westerns, and I certainly don’t do Horror, but reading outside of my comfort zone has extended my love for reading beyond most boundaries. Just like I will watch almost any movie (including really bad, cheaply made movies that my cousins will hate), I will read almost anything as long as it looks and sounds interesting. Of course, if I hate it, I hate it, and if it’s really bad I won’t finish it, but that rarely happens.

I want to challenge you this week to pick up something outside of your reading comfort zone and give it a go. Who knows, you may find something entirely fantastic.

Happy Reading!


Fighting Book Junky-ism

As you may know by now, I love books. I love the way a book feels in my hands, I love that new book smell, and I love flipping through pages as I read. I do have a problem though:

I have neither the space nor the finances for every book I want to read. If you haven’t seen my “to read” list, check it out here and you’ll see why it poses a problem.

I drastically reduced my book collection a couple of years ago from over 150 titles down to twenty or so, and have managed to keep from buying any more books since. I set a specific reading goal for this year and have been doing quite well in getting through the books on my list, and all without buying a single one so far. How? Well, my local libraries of course!

We used the library a lot when I was growing up because we couldn’t really afford to buy books, and I’ve always appreciated the access libraries provide (part of the reason I majored in Library/Information Studies in grad school). However, when I got to college, I picked up the habit of purchasing books because many of them could not be rented (I studied Literature in undergrad so you can imagine what kind of hoard that created). And I continued that habit for years, collecting quite a few books of many different genres. But this year I decided to return to regular library use for multiple reasons, the most important being 1) finances are too tight to buy every book I want to read, and 2) I don’t want to spend money on any books I may end up not liking.

So far I’ve read the first six books on my list in the first four months of the year (instead of the one book per month I’d planned on), and have gotten them all from my local library. If the branch closest to me didn’t have what I wanted, I’d put a hold on the title at a different branch and have it sent to the one closest to me for pick up, and it’s been working out great so far. I’ve also made use of my library’s Overdrive service, although I don’t love reading on my phone and they don’t have many of the titles I want anyway.

This is how I’ve managed to fight my undying desire to buy books. However, when looking for the next set of titles on my list, I’ve found that none of my local libraries have them. So what’s a girl to do? Well, I’ll let you know when I figure it out. But please, if you have the answer, share it with me.

I am still trying very hard to fight my tendency to be a book junky. And while one day I hope to have the space and the finances to buy and display every book I ever want to read, and give away the ones I don’t like without a second thought, today is not that day.

It takes hard work, dedication, and a strong will to not buy all the books, but we’ve got to take it one day at a time, and keep fighting the good fight!

Another good tip I’ve heard pertaining to shopping in general is the One In-One Out rule. If you buy a book, or item of clothing, or piece of furniture, then you have to get rid of one of the same item. Donate it, sell it, trash it, whatever, as long as it goes out. This way you will never have more than the set number of items you’ve committed to, and you also learn how to let things go when they no longer serve their purpose (I really need to apply this rule to clothes shopping, but haven’t the willpower to do that yet).

I hope this has helped in some way. I’ll let you know when I figure out how to access books my library does not provide without buying them. In the meantime, let me know what works for you.

How do you keep from amassing a dangerously high pile of books?
How do you keep from taking out a small business loan to support your reading habits?

Give us your secrets!!

Happy Reading!