Archive for September, 2020

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

September 29, 2020


Several of the books I’ve read in the past few months, particularly Deacon King Kong by James McBride, and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, revolve around characters who were part of the Great Migration, in which 6 million or so Black people left the Jim Crow South for Northern cities during the period of time between World War I and the 1970s. The Great Migration was not something I had learned about in school. For me this wonderful book offers such important context for understanding the lives of people like the characters in those novels, and more broadly, the history of this country and the devastating impact of slavery and its aftermath. I’m not a frequent nonfiction reader, and when I do read it, I am generally drawn to books like this that feel almost like reading a novel. Wilkerson writes beautifully, and she very effectively focuses this very big story around the lives of 3 people, each of whom left their homes in the South for different parts of the country – one to New York, one to Chicago and one to Los Angeles – during the decades of the Great Migration. The blending of the personal stories and the wider historical context makes it a very readable book. It’s not new – it was published in 2010, but is extremely relevant and very much worth reading. The book is available from the Library, and the ebook is available on Libby/Overdrive.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

September 21, 2020


This book has been on my to-be-read list for so long — seven years, it turns out, since it was published in 2013! I remember intending to read it when it first came out, and then every once in a while I’d see it sitting on the shelf and almost grab it, but it was only this week when I saw that Hoopla has the audiobook that I finally took the time to read it. I’m so glad I did! I am a sucker for historical fantasy books to begin with. Give me a book set in turn of the century New York City, add in a blend of Jewish and Arab folklore, and I’m a happy reader. This is a slow-paced, lyrical story that draws you into the strange situation that these two mystical creatures suddenly find themselves in – the golem, a woman made of clay created to be the perfect wife, who suddenly finds herself widowed and alone in a new city, and the jinni who is accidentally released from the flask he has been trapped in for a thousand years. The way that these two characters try to find a place for themselves in this new, unfamiliar human world is quite moving, and their friendship is unexpected and endearing. This is a strange and lovely book, perfect to read on a cold day. You can find the book at the library, and the audiobook on Hoopla and Libby/Overdrive.

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

September 9, 2020


Deacon King Kong is the latest book by James McBride, author of the National Book Award winner The Good Lord Bird, and it is every bit as rich, funny, deep, and award-worthy. It is set in a Brooklyn housing project in 1969. While the story centers around Deacon Cuffy Lambkin, or Sportcoat, as he is known, it really is the story of this community. The people in the community- from the Church elders who came up to New York from the South during the Great Migration, to the local mobsters, bodega owners, police officers, drug dealers, security guards- all have a story, and their stories are told with humor and a great deal of compassion. Everyone is struggling with the changing world of 1969. And the humor in the book never covers over the real pain, anger, and disillusionment over the poverty and racism and impact of drugs on this community. There are moments of joy and pain and outrage and silliness in this book that will stay with you. James McBride is a wonderful writer and a great storyteller. You can find Deacon King Kong at the Library, and on Libby/Overdrive.

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Afterlife, by Julia Alvarez

September 2, 2020


Lovely writing – as I would expect from Julia Alvarez. A lyrical story of grief, immigration, small town life, new ideas about family, hope, and love.
Find this book in our catalog