So, as usual, I did some book shopping – I have a Barnes and Noble pretty close to work, and there’s a fantastic second hand bookstore, Selected Works – 410 S. Michigan Ave., in the Fine Arts Building – that’s down the street so I stop in there quite a bit. Some of these books I’ve already gotten through and some I’m still going to have to work through.
Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell. I read about Burrell’s book in an article critiquing the “works” of Tyler Perry. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Perry’s success – on the one hand, he’s hugely profitable and has employed black actors, writers, producers, techs, etc and has really made his mark and shown that black films can be very successful; on the other, unfortunately his films are pretty terrible (to be fair, I’m not the target audience, so I may just not be “getting” it), his depictions of black women are pretty hair-raising (I don’t see much difference between his work and Shirley Q. Liquor), and he contributes to the dumbing down of culture as a whole by resurrecting old tired cliches of black imagery. I didn’t mean for this to be a rant against Perry – anyways, Burrell’s quotes used in the article were pretty good, so I thought I’d look into his work.
Speaking Truth to Power by Anita Hill. A someone who believed that Hill was treated terribly by the investigating panel during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court appointing hearings, I think the only good that came from her public, media crucification is that sexual harrassment (an issue that women have been saddled with since the beginning of time) finally entered the public discourse. She’s released a new book this year, but before getting that one, I wanted to pick up this one.
Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now by Toure. Those who’ve read this blog know I’m a great admirer of Toure and loved his book, Never Drank the Kool-Aid. I’m curious as to what he’s referring to, when he writes in the title “Post-Blackness.” He’s a thought-provoking guy that I always enjoy seeing and reading.
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa V. Harris-Perry. This, like Burrell’s book, I learned about from another article, crtitiquing, if I remember correctly, female imagery in hip-hop videos (don’t quote me on that, because I don’t remember exactly). Still I did some research on Harris-Perry and was intrigued about examination of black women imagery in American culture; this reminded me of the problems raised by black feminists regarding the Slut Walk and how black women have an added burden of sexual discrimination, which may be glossed over by the organizers of Slut Walk.
The Ethnic Paris Cookbook by Charlotte Puckette and Olivia Kiang-Snaije. Those who know me or who read this blog know a few things about me. A) I love cookbooks B) I love reading about multiculturalism in Western Europe C) I love Paris and D) I love French food. It’s interesting that cuisine of France, England and other Western European countries have taken on the flavors of their immigrants (I don’t know about you, but I considere curry chips as English and fish and chips). I picked this book up to learn about some of the Thai, Vietnamese and Morroccan influences of modern French cooking. This ain’t quiches and fois gras.
Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres. I picked this up and read it in one sitting over coffee and cheesecake at the Artists’ Cafe in the Fine Arts Building. I’m not sure why exactly I read this because, while a fan of her TV and standup work, I’ve never found her particular voice translated well on the page – and this isn’t an exception. Like her other books, this was an amusing and exceedingly easy read, but not all that interesting.
Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher. This is the followup to Fisher’s last book, Wishful Drinking which ended up as a one-woman show. I found this book to be incredibly witty and funny – again, like with DeGeneres’ book, it’s an easy and super-quick read, it took me a day. She’s got a sharp wit, and a very funny, if jaundice look at the world. Her essays on her relationships with her dad (crooner Eddie Fisher), her mom (film legend Debbie Reynolds) as well as her recently-departed superstar friends, Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor are particularly good, and often very touching (but still very funny).
A Red Herring without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley. I just happened to pick this up from a table of recent releases. It’s a mystery, with lots good reviews – the detective is an 11-year old little girl. It’s an interesting concept, so I’ll report back my thoughts on it.
I’m looking forward to getting Condoleeza Rice’s Washington, DC memoirs, but will have to wait until I can get it used so that I can have a clear conscience and sleep at night. Also, I’m excited about President Bill Clinton’s book, Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.