Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists. Mailbox Monday has a permanent home where you can link to your MM post.
I purchased 5 physical books and 8 eBooks last week. I also borrowed 2 physical and 1 audio book from the Library:
An unflinching collection of essays that takes on the subjects of Biggie Smalls, Three 6 Mafia, The King Family, and what it takes to be black at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Title: When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down
Author(s): Joan Morgan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: February 2, 2000
Genres: Feminism, Hip-Hop
A new voice of the hip-hop generation speaks out about the reality of being a black woman in America today. In this fresh, funky, and ferociously honest book, award-winning journalist Joan Morgan bravely probes the complex issues facing African-American women in today's world: a world where feminists often have not-so-clandestine affairs with the most sexist of men; where women who treasure their independence often prefer men who pick up the tab; and where the deluge of babymothers and babyfathers reminds black women who long for marriage that traditional nuclear families are a reality for less than 40 percent of the African-American population.
Title: Cooking the Books
Author(s): Bonnie S. Calhoun
Series: Sloane Templeton Mysteries #1
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Date: April 2, 2012
After her mother dies from a heart attack, Sloane Templeton goes from Cyber Crimes Unit to bookstore owner before she can blink. She also "inherits" a half-batty store manager; a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood who meet at the store once a week, but never read books, called the Granny Oakleys Book Club; and Aunt Verline, who fancies herself an Iron Chef when in reality you need a cast iron stomach to partake of her culinary disasters. And with a group like this you should never ask, “What else can go wrong?”
A lot! Sloane begins to receive cyber threats. While Sloane uses her computer forensic skills to uncover the source of the threats, it is discovered someone is out to kill her. Can her life get more crazy?
Title: Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology
Author(s): Barbara Smith, Toi Derricotte, Akasha Gloria Hull, Ann Allen Shockley, Renita Weems, Patricia Jones, Jewelle L. Gómez, Audre Lorde, Donna Allegra, Raymina Y. Mays, Beverly Smith, Alexis De Veaux, Becky Birtha, Barbara A. Banks, Cheryl Clarke, Pat Parker, Willie M. Coleman, June Jordan, Shirley O. Steele, Deidre McCalla, Linda C. Powell, Tania Abdulahad, Michelle T. Clinton, Luisah Teish, Alice Walker, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Michelle Cliff, Spring Redd, Chirlane McCray, Kate Rushin, Angelina Weld, Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Cade
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Date: March 1, 2000
The pioneering anthology Home Girls features writings by Black feminists and lesbian activists on topics both provocative and profound. Since its initial publication in 1983, it has become an essential text on Black women's lives and writings. This edition features an updated lists of contributor biographies and an all-new preface that provides a fresh assessment of how Black women's lives have changed- or not- since the book was first published.
Title: Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs: Tne Omni-Americans / South to a Very Old Place / The Hero and the Blues / Stomping the Blues / The Blue Devils of Nada
Author(s): Albert Murray, Paul Devlin, Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Publisher: Library of America
Date: October 18, 2016
Genres: Essays, Memoir
"The United States is not a nation of black and white people. Any fool can see that white people are not really white, and that black people are not black." This broadside in Albert Murray's first book, The Omni-Americans, published in 1970, announced the arrival of a major new force in American letters, one that stood in defiant opposition to James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and other writers who he believed overstated and even perpetuated the racial divide in American life. Released to mark his centennial in 2016, this Library of America volume brings together The Omni-Americans with five other books in the most complete collection of Murray's groundbreaking nonfiction ever published. One part travelogue and one part memoir, South to a Very Old Place (1971) is a frank report on racial relations in the Deep South amid the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement. The Hero and the Blues (1973) develops Murray's belief that the essential bond shared by both dominant American culture and what he called Negro culture is the shared embrace of a "blues aesthetic" that emphasized creative improvisation. Stomping the Blues (1976) is a vivid history of American jazz and blues music that served as inspiration for the foundation of Jazz at Lincoln Center, established by Murray, Wynton Marsalis, Stanley Crouch, and other enthusiasts in 1987. The volume is rounded out by two later essay collections, The Blue Devils of Nada (1996) and From the Briarpatch Files (2001) which solidified Murray's reputation as a penetrating critic and an always engaging stylist--or, to use the epithet once bestowed on him by volume co-editor Henry Louis Gates Jr., "The King of Cats."
Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy. This collection of 18 speculative stories, including three never found in print before, explores the meaning of love, and, of course, of poison.
Title: ASHOKA - Lion of Maurya
Author(s): Ashok K. Banker
Series: Ashoka #1
Publisher: Westland Books
Date: December 26, 2016
Fifteen year old Ashoka, though rightfully the crown prince, has renounced his claim to the throne to protect his mother Subhadrangi from the vicious palace politics of her rival queens and the chiefs of the 500 tribes that make up the great Mauryavansh Empire.
Ashoka is entrusted with escorting his self-centred brother, crown prince Sushim, to Taxila to negotiate with Pashtun rebels. When Ashoka exceeds his authority and ends the rebellion, instead of being appreciated, his actions are considered treasonous. Samrat Bindusara is busy continuing his campaign of conquest against the last pockets of resistance in the sub-continent, while young prince Tissa views the whole enterprise of war as brutal and inhuman. Aging and disgraced ex-prime minister Kautilya comes out of forced retirement to appeal personally to Bindusara’s better sense only to find that he has made a grave tactical error. Rani Khorasan and her mother the War Marshall of Mauryavansh have plans for the empire that do not include either Kautilya or his protege Ashoka – and they are willing to go to any lengths to achieve their ambitions.
Lurking behind the scenes but ever present on the theatre of politics is Alexander the Great’s successor, Seleucus Nicator. Through his daughter Apama, step-mother of Bindusara, and Dowager Queen of the Mauryavansh Empire, Nicator is playing a ‘long game’, one whose results will only be visible in coming years. The only people who genuinely care about the empire itself seem to be Subhadrangi, Ashoka and Kautilya, but in a shocking move, the Khorasans, with the tacit approval of Bindusara and Apama, decide to rid themselves of mother, son and guru once and for all.
Title: Ferguson: Three Minutes that Changed America (Kindle Single)
Author(s): Wesley Lowery, The Washington Post
Date: August 2, 2015
rom the Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post comes a meticulously detailed, insightful report on the killing that brought the nation's attention to a city coming apart at the seams.
12:00PM: Officer Darren Wilson turns his Chevy Tahoe police cruiser left on Canfield Drive.
12:01PM: Wilson orders two young men, Dorian Johnson and Michael Brown, to get out of the street.
12:04PM: Michael Brown lays dying from bullet wounds.
Three minutes in middle America shook a nation to its foundation. To many, it shone a spotlight on the frequently violent, often deadly interactions between young men of color and police departments. It highlighted the racial disparity in policing techniques, in response to crime, and in how race relations are perceived in an America where many incorrectly pride the country on being "post-racial."
Renowned journalist Wesley Lowery has pulled together a vast and troubling panorama of reportage on the Ferguson slaying, and the aftermath--the marches, the clashes, and the slow, painful process of building trust between a devastated community and a police department tasked with serving and protecting it.
Title: Come Out the Wilderness
Author(s): James Baldwin
Date: May 15, 2016
Genres: Short Stories
A Vintage Shorts “Short Story Month” Selection
James Baldwin’s commanding prose remains as pressing in its compassionate portrayal of marginalized figures today as it was during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement.
In “Come Out the Wilderness,” an essential and tremendous classic of American literature, Baldwin unmasks the heartbreak of one African American woman’s spiritual, sexual, moral, and ultimately futile struggle for control of her future and her happiness in mid-century New York.
Title: Archibald Lawless, Anarchist at Large (A Vintage Short)
Author(s): Walter Mosley
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Date: May 16, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Short Stories
A Vintage Shorts “Short Story Month” Selection
Young journalism student Felix Orlean is in over his head. Against his better judgment, he is temporarily under the employ of the mad yet charismatic anarchist detective Archibald Lawless, a witness to murder, and under investigation for the theft of millions of dollars in red diamonds. Caught in an impossible predicament, Orlean plunges into an underworld populated by shady denizens. With Lawless, he unravels a big-money conspiracy involving cold-blooded assassination, hide-away real estate in Manhattan, a network of international criminals, a lethal siren named Lana Drexel, and the richest man in Canada.
A brilliant, absurdist novella and a biting work of political commentary, Walter Mosley’s “Archibald Lawless” is a masterpiece of contemporary American crime fiction.
Title: A Torch Against the Night
Author(s): Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Date: August 30, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.
Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.
But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.
Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.
Title: Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X
Author(s): Randy Roberts, Johnny Smith
Publisher: Basic Books
Date: February 2, 2016
In 1962, boxing writers and fans considered Cassius Clay an obnoxious self-promoter, and few believed that he would become the heavyweight champion of the world. But Malcolm X, the most famous minister in the Nation of Islam—a sect many white Americans deemed a hate cult—saw the potential in Clay, not just for boxing greatness, but as a means of spreading the Nation’s message. The two became fast friends, keeping their interactions secret from the press for fear of jeopardizing Clay’s career. Clay began living a double life—a patriotic “good Negro” in public, and a radical reformer behind the scenes. Soon, however, their friendship would sour, with disastrous and far-reaching consequences.
Based on previously untapped sources, from Malcolm’s personal papers to FBI records, Blood Brothers is the first book to offer an in-depth portrait of this complex bond. Acclaimed historians Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith reconstruct the worlds that shaped Malcolm and Clay, from the boxing arenas and mosques, to postwar New York and civil rights–era Miami. In an impressively detailed account, they reveal how Malcolm molded Cassius Clay into Muhammad Ali, helping him become an international symbol of black pride and black independence. Yet when Malcolm was barred from the Nation for criticizing the philandering of its leader, Elijah Muhammad, Ali turned his back on Malcolm—a choice that tragically contributed to the latter’s assassination in February 1965.
Malcolm’s death marked the end of a critical phase of the civil rights movement, but the legacy of his friendship with Ali has endured. We inhabit a new era where the roles of entertainer and activist, of sports and politics, are more entwined than ever before. Blood Brothers is the story of how Ali redefined what it means to be a black athlete in America—after Malcolm first enlightened him. An extraordinary narrative of love and deep affection, as well as deceit, betrayal, and violence, this story is a window into the public and private lives of two of our greatest national icons, and the tumultuous period in American history that they helped to shape.
Title: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Author(s): Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Date: December 2014
Genres: Literary Fiction
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
Title: The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria
Author(s): Carlos Hernandez
Publisher: Rosarium Publishing
Date: February 15, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
A quirky collection of short sci-fi stories for fans of Kij Johnson and Kelly Link Assimilation is founded on surrender and being broken; this collection of short stories features people who have assimilated, but are actively trying to reclaim their lives. There is a concert pianist who defies death by uploading his soul into his piano. There is the person who draws his mother’s ghost out of the bullet hole in the wall near where she was executed. Another character has a horn growing out of the center of his forehead—punishment for an affair. But he is too weak to end it, too much in love to be moral. Another story recounts a panda breeder looking for tips. And then there’s a border patrol agent trying to figure out how to process undocumented visitors from another galaxy. Poignant by way of funny, and philosophical by way of grotesque, Hernandez’s stories are prayers for self-sovereignty.
Library Books (physical)
Americans like to insist that we are living in a postracial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, racist ideas in this country have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.
In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti–Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W. E. B. Du Bois to legendary anti–prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro–civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.
As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation’s racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much–needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them—and in the process, gives us reason to hope.
Title: Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems, 1995-2015
Author(s): Kevin Young
Date: February 2, 2016
A rich and lively gathering of highlights from the first twenty years of an extraordinary career, interspersed with "B sides" and outtakes from this prolific and universally acclaimed poet. Blue Laws gathers poems written over the past two decades, drawing from all nine of Kevin Young's previously published books of poetry and including a number of uncollected, often unpublished, poems. From his stunning lyric debut (Most Way Home,1995) and the amazing "double album" life of Jean-Michel Basquiat (2001, "remixed" for Knopf in 2005), through his brokenhearted Jelly Roll: A Blues and his recent forays into adult grief and the joys of birth in Dear Darkness and Book of Hours, this collection provides a grand tour of a poet whose personal poems and political poems are equally riveting. Together with wonderful outtakes and previously unseen blues, the profoundly felt poems here of family, Southern food, and loss are of a piece with the depth of personal sensibility and humanity found in his Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels or sequences such as "The Ballad of Jim Crow" and a new "Homage to Phillis Wheatley."
From the Hardcover edition.
Library Books (audio)Title: Ruby
Author(s): Cynthia Bond
Narrator: Cynthia Bond
Publisher: Random House Audio
Date: April 29, 2014
Genres: Literary Fiction
The newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection
The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her—this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction. Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city--the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village--all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.
Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.