79: We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Can a book you read in less than 30 minutes be considered an ‘official book’ in your yearly count? If it’s as amazing as this one you sure can!

I don’t know why it took me years to read this super short book that is also a TEDx talk which you could watch instead of reading this book. You can find it here: TED We Should All Be Feminists. I’m watching it as I write this review.

The socialization we have about what ‘women should do’ and what ‘men should do’ affects every aspect of our lives. As you read through this, you’ll see it clear as day even if you’ve never thought about gender before.

As I read this, I kept seeing a connection to race in America. We are socialized to think certain things about women, men, black women, black men, Hispanic men, Hispanic women, etc, etc, etc. This is important reading in the unlearning process. It’s hard reading.

Unlearning something is harder than learning it because once you see it you have to dismantle previous thoughts and you find yourself saying, “Oh my goodness, my life has been built on a lie.” Once we see it, we are compelled to change – but change is uncomfortable and hard.

While there is much work to do for feminism still, the work we need to do today is about race. We cannot continue to operate in a society that assumes things about people based on their race.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

76: Delicious!

Delicious! By Ruth Reichl

I don’t know what made me look up Ruth’s books on Libby the other day, but I did and noticed that she had a work of fiction I’d never read (or even heard of). I downloaded it and immediately texted my sister-in-law asking if she wanted to buddy read it with me. She said yes, then started it before I managed to.

It’s delightfully delicious. I know you shouldn’t use a word to define itself, but the adjective defines this book by the same title. Billie (also Willie in the book) goes to NYC to find herself. And find herself she does. I laughed, I teared up, I gasped out loud, I helped solve a mystery, I got hungry, I longed to travel, and much more.

If I made a top ten list of books I’ve read in a year, this would make the 2020 list. Go get it, you won’t be disappointed (unless of course you hate good food, then this book isn’t for you)!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

74: The Girl with the Louding Voice

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

I got this from Book of the Month Club when a friend said we should buddy read it. I’ve been hesitant to read books with any serious plot lately because my mind is still preoccupied with all things COVID, so I put off reading as long as possible before our meeting.

I started it late Friday night and finished before bed on Sunday. This book is excellent. It’s about Adunni who is from the small village of Ikati in Nigeria. She’s been to school for a few years so she knows some English, but it’s very broken. The author wrote in her voice, so it takes a few chapters to settle into the writing style.

After her mother dies, her father makes her stay home from school. He goes into debt as he becomes an alcoholic , so she takes care of her brothers and the family. Then a man offers to get him out of debt if Adunni will become his wife to give him a son (the other two women he’s married have been unable to do so). Adunni is then raped every evening until she produces a son.

Before a son can come, a tragedy happens which leads her to run away. She’s then sold into slavery and trafficked. Although Big Madam (her owner) is very abusive to her, a neighbor sees what’s going on and with the house chef helps her get out. Adunni becomes aware of her state of slavery, and also recognizes that Big Madam is enslaved by her husband Big Daddy (or Chief) as well. It’s Systemic.

This debut novel is beautifully written, eye-opening, and ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

69: The Antidote for Everything

The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin

Kimmery is a local Charlotte author, which is such a delight to read. I also watched part of her Stay At Home Book Tour with Anne Bogel earlier this quarantine which prompted me to put this eBook on hold from the library.

I’ve got a lot of thoughts on this book, most of which I can’t write here because it would be so controversial. The main plot is that Jonah, a gay man, treats many patients in his primary care practice who are transgender and the clinic he works for doesn’t like people with either of these lifestyles.

So they set out to destroy him by firing his patients and then firing him. In the midst of all of this someone is stealing drugs from the clinic, the person doing it lets everyone believe it’s Jonah.

Then we have Georgia, his best friend, and the narrator of this story. She’s offended that they’re firing some of her patients too and that this is trying for her friend. I wanted to like her through the whole book, but she makes some terrible decisions. She’s not really the saint or the hero of this book. This made it a compelling read, but hard to root for the guy who’s being discriminated against because he and his best friend do some terrible things to “make everyone see it their way.”

Nonetheless, it’s still ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

There’s also a romance in this book, but closed door.

67: Teachings for an Unbelieving World

Teachings for an Unbelieving World by John Paul II

John Paul II was ‘my pope’ for a long time. I was able to see him in person when I attended my 1st World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002. I love everything he writes and says, but, to be honest, I understand little of it. He’s just so smart.

His ‘smarts’ wasn’t ever what attracted me to him though, it was his holiness. His love for young people. His love for Jesus. One of my favorite quotes of his is: “It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness.” (The short version of 3 paragraphs of heart-provoking delightful spiritual writing).

This just came out (and I received a free copy to review from the publisher) and is a translation of some unpublished teachings he wrote sometime after 1965 but probably before he was elected pope in the late 70s. It’s inspiring and relevant. I highly recommend! Read it with a friend so you can discuss (hi Sarah)!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

66: Before I Called You Mine

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

This is my favorite book of 2020. I know it’s only May, and it might feel a little early to say so. Even still. I loved this book.

Lauren has been on the adoption list with an organization specializing in international adoptions from China for two years without a match. She discerned that the Lord was calling her to be a mother and to pursue adoption as a single woman. The only catch is that she has to remain single throughout the process, and at least the first year or so. The first part is a requirement of the agency (if married, at least 2 years in) and the second is just a good idea for the child who’s working to attach to and trust you.

Before Thanksgiving (and a match comes) enters Joshua. The guy she’s been waiting for her whole life. They just click immediately. She’s sworn off dating for the sake of her yet-to-be adopted son or daughter, but still, here stands Joshua. Why are you doing this Lord?

The story is sweet, centered on the Lord, profound in its understanding of adoption and the longing of single women who desire to be mothers (a feeling I’m all too familiar with). It gets all ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and most likely the award of “best book of 2020.”

64: The Happily Ever After Playlist

The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

The person who shared this on Instagram said you had to read the first book in the installment first, The Friend Zone, for this to make sense. I read the first one, so figured I could make sense of this one. Truthfully I don’t remember the previous book at all, so I can’t say that it’s a prerequisite to this book.

It feels like you’re standard romcom book, but it was so delightful. I found myself tearing up at multiple points, particularly at the end. There were so many points about grief, love, and just fun flirting between the two main characters.

It also got me thinking about celebrity status, tabloids, and even legit news sources like people or all other magazines that use celebrity status to sell magazines. Also how we, the public, are attracted to certain stories and that we see movies of celebrities that we know by name. How do we typically learn their names? Crazy gossip stories. We need to do something to change this … what? I don’t know, but something.

So, anyway, ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for a delightful story!!