Book Rewind: 2015

Looking back on 2015 I wasn’t as successful as I’d liked to have been in regards to reading. I love reading. But in 2015, I didn’t read much. While I checked out a slew of books between the NYPL and BPL, only a handful captured my attention and stole my heart. Here are the books I managed to consume in their entireties in the past year:

FOUR QUARTETS by TS Elliot
A lovely little book of poems that after seeing Interstellar I thought I’d try my hand at. Totally worth it.

THE MOST OF NORA EPHRON by Nora Ephron
I’m still making my way through this book – had to buy because I wasn’t finishing it fast enough – but this cross section of her life’s work, I want to believe, captures the spirit the collective “we” lost too soon.

UNACCUSTOMED EARTH, THE NAME SAKE, INTERPRETER OF MALADIES, THE LOWLAND by Jhumpa Lahiri
Easily now my favorite author. Every sentence paints a story that could take a lifetime to dissect. Her words are simply food for the soul.

STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS by Mary Roach
For a subject so taboo, terrifying, and mystical, Mary took me on a journey that I’ll never forget. Plus, the levity and comedy attached to such a realm of morbid oddities helps the digestion of this novel.

FUNNY GIRL by Nick Hornby
Read this. That’s all I can say. This was my first Nick Hornby novel and I’m scared to try his others as I feel they won’t be as relative, poignant, funny, or emotionally pleasing as this one. Cheers to you Hornby and thank you.

CAREER OF EVIL by Robert Galbraith
I see you JK Rowling! While always an uphill climb to get into the true meat of the mastery of her storytelling, I simply could not put the latest Cormoran Strike novel down. Can’t wait for the next installment!

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD by Richard Yates
Loved loved loved the film version of this epic masterpiece but words cannot accurately describe how much I lost myself in Yates’ prose. Despite the fact that I pictured Leo, Kate, Kathy, and the rest of the all star cast while reading this novel, it was like peeling back the curtain to look at the Wizard of Oz. The pleasure is in the details.

BROOKLYN by Colm Tóibín
Again, saw the movie first but was left wanting more as the cinema lights brightened to its full luminosity. While Nick Hornby may have written the screenplay adaptation to this novel, Tóibín whisked me away on an adventure from Enniscorthy to Brooklyn and back again in this charming novel.

Perhaps now I can manage to write a novel of my own!

J.J. Abrams’ Women of Color

When it comes to the topic of race, I avoid it at all costs. It’s an uncomfortable subject, makes me question my own innate belief system, and I wish whenever the topic arises I can be four years old, plug my ears with my fingers, and sing a song where the only lyric is “la.”

However, it cannot be ignored. Nothing too hard hitting here – we have the news for that after all – but when it comes to race in the all-encompassing “media,” I do have an observation and it has to do with one of my favourite creators, J.J. ABRAMS. Ever notice how he always has strong characters who also happen to be people of color?

The lightbulb went off for me after watching the latest Star Wars trailer where actor John Boyega is playing a very Luke Skywalker-y lead. While at first, I was like, ah cool, a black guy gets to play a lead in one of the  highest grossing and most popular franchises of all time, a second later I realized I wasn’t surprised at all because of course this would happen – it’s J.J. Abrams.

Let me explain:

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Insert this tough cookie: Angie Miller. Remember her as Elena Tyler on FELICITY? A no-nonsense, black co-ed defying every stereotype that Hollywood and TVLand tried to pin blacks into throughout the 70s, 80s, and early 90s? Outside of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, and Martin, she was one of the first black characters in a network ensemble drama that wasn’t marginalized. Yes, others came before her (hello ER and Eriq LaSalle’s Dr. Benton) but as a young woman growing up in white Kansas and Texas suburbias, it was nice to see an alternative in an otherwise whitewashed television landscape.

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Then he created ALIAS, one of my ALL TIME favorite shows. Insert: Merrin Dungey. Not only was she not a caricature like Ashley from Fresh Prince or Chastity from 10 Things I Hate About You, but here was this professional, working, young black woman who obviously also grew up in white society, is a kickass small business owner and is finding love in LA alongside badass spy / BFF, Sydney Bristow.

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In LOST, JJ gave us Harold Perrineau as Michael. While he wasn’t my favorite character, I admired the fact that he portrayed a desperate single father dealing with his angsty teenage son. He was just another character. Not the black character. Just Michael. AND I LOVE THAT.

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Anyone remember UNDERCOVERS? Thought so. It was basically a more kitchy Alias starring the AMAZING Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe. However, America apparently wasn’t ready for a spy dramedy with two black leads. It’s ok. Gugu has graduated onto better things. ;D Thanks for trying, JJ.

Which leads us to FRINGE’S insanely smart Astrid played by Jasika Nicole, STAR TREK’S unstoppable Uhura played by Zoe Saldana, and PERSONS OF INTEREST’S curious Officer Carter played by Taraji P. Henson.

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And now Mr. Abrams has this amazing opportunity to reboot one of the biggest, baddest, franchises of all time and what did he do? He cast John Boyega in a leading role.

We’ll see how the audience reacts. Hopefully they won’t freak out like they did when The Hunger Games cast Amandla Stenburg as Rue. “OMG Rue is Black?” Context clues people.

Le sigh. That is all.