My 2019 Reading List

These are a list of books I have every intention of reading in 2019. I’m only including books that I already own, since I’m not allowed to buy media this year (that’s why libraries exist, y’all). Here’s what on the docket!

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama. I’m listening to this one, because I want Michelle’s amazing voice to soothe all of my ills.
  2. My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper. I’m listening to this on Audible right now and loving it. Ellie is so sweet and super funny.
  3. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. I started this about a month ago but had to put it off until school was over so I could truly enjoy it.
  4. Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay. I read most of this book in the spring but never got around to finishing it. Some of the essays can be extremely challenging to get through. The writers bare their souls.
  5. Shrill by Lindy West. Discovered Lindy way late, on Dear Prudence, and have been obsessed with her ever since.
  6. Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd. Pattie has the up-close-and-personal deets about Harrison and Clapton
  7. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Been meaning to read this one for ages.
  8. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I started this earlier this year but it got sacrificed to the grad school gods. As soon as I’m finished I’m watching the film.
  9. Live from New York. The SNL book! Been dying to read this ever since it came out.
  10. Waiting for the Punch by Marc Maron. This is a collection of all the wisdom he gained doing his interview podcast WTF with Marc Maron. He basically invented podcasts, and he’s had some of the most incredible guests—Barack Obama say whaaaat?
  11. Bitch Doctrine by Laurie Penny. I discovered Laurie on Dear Prudence and immediately started following her on Twitter. She’s a savage, and I love her.
  12. Unladylike by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin. The former ladies of Stuff Mom Never Told You wrote a book!
  13. Hard Choices and What Happened by Hillary Clinton. Because of course I am.
  14. In Intimate Detail by Cora Harrington. Remember the thin privilege Twitter thread this summer? That was by Cora, who is a lingerie writer at The Lingerie Addict. I know literally nothing about lingerie, but I’m a grown-ass woman and it’s about time I did.
  15. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Started this one years ago and never finished. I am such a distracted reader!
  16. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. I am a Handmaid’s Tale stan (both the book and the show), so I can’t wait to read more Atwood!
  17. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes. JB is one of my favorite short story writers, so I’m pumped to read his novel.
  18. How to Rent a Negro by Damali Ayo. This was on the syllabus for my American Racial Satire class, but I fell behind and never got a chance to read it.
  19. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I KNOW. It’s insane I haven’t read this already. Don’t come for me. Not every avid reader can read every damn classic.
  20. Erasure by Percival Everett. I Am Not Sidney Poitier is one of my favorite books of all time and apparently this one is even wilder.
  21. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Another classic I should have already read.
  22. Every Day by David Levithan, because who doesn’t need a YA break every once in a while?
  23. Redefining Realness by Janet Mock. For obvious reasons.
  24. The Merry Spinster by Daniel Mallory Ortberg. For obvious reasons.
  25. The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier. Love a good biography, and I find SP so inspiring.
  26. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I’ve read at least 60% of this book like three times, but always end up not finishing it for some reason! Here’s to a better 2019.
  27. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Same as Housekeeping.
  28. Swing Time by Zadie Smith. Bought this while I was in England. Zadie is bae.
  29. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Heard such good things about this one!
  30. All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey. To be fair, I’m a good chunk of the way through this one on Audible, but I do plan to finish it soon.
  31. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This is another one I read most of in high school, but I bought it on Audible narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal, so I plan to listen to it on my work commute.
  32. Basic Witches by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman. I am obsessed with Jaya, and who doesn’t want to read a book about summoning success, banishing drama, and raising hell?
  33. MAUS I II by Art Spiegelman. Because I was supposed to read them for class (oops!), and because I want to challenge myself to actually read a graphic novel.
  34. So Close to Being the Shit, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta. Audible, and Retta is my favorite.
  35. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. Audible. When Michelle McNamara died, Julie Klausner re-aired an interview with her and she was such a brilliant mind.
  36. This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps. Audible. Busy is the best, from Kim Kelly to Busy Tonight.
  37. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle. Monty Python is my favorite ever.

I hope to read more than this in 2019, but clearly, I have a great year of reading ahead of me!

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Americanah

I just finished the book Americanah by one of my absolute favorite authors and speakers, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and I’m still in a trance-state. To quote one of her characters, Obinze, This is like poetry. I can’t escape the Lagos, the Nsukka, the London, the Baltimore of Americanah. 

**No spoilers, no worries.

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all images and video via the google box, zero creds to me

Americanah follows the parallel lives of two young lovers, Ifemelu and Obinze, over a span of fifteen years as they leave their native Nigeria for America and England, respectively. It is an immigrants’ tale, but also a rejection of the trope: both Ifemelu and Obinze eventually return to Nigeria, by choice and deportation, respectively. The novel examines the treacherous path that many immigrants are forced to walk in order to survive and prosper, especially when they leave a country in turmoil. Americanah was written in 2013, but in 2016, in an era of prohibition and xenophobia, it feels even more essential.

Much in the way that Americanah rejects the triteness of a triumphant immigrants’ tale, it similarly rejects assimilation and the abandonment of traditional values. Ifemelu, after years of cultivating an “American” accent in order to shroud her difference, drops the accent entirely, much to the bafflement of her Nigerian and American acquaintances. The interspersed scenes at the African-owned hair salon make this most apparent. The salon’s employees, recent immigrants from coastal West African nations, are fascinated by Ifemelu—her success, her American boyfriend, her fifteen years in the U.S.—but baffled by her choice not to affect an American accent or to marry, confused by her desire to return to Nigeria after securing American citizenship.

At its heart, the novel is a celebration of Nigerian-ness, of African-ness. Adichie’s Nigeria is evocative and lush, a fitting tribute to a nation the size of France. As Western narratives suffocate the continent’s 54 countries into the mold of the fictive nation “Africa”, Adichie’s novel removes her own country from the mire and brings it to life in all its glorious multiplicities—its languages and cultures (English, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba), its cities and states, its hawkers and tycoons, its Christians and Muslims—all defiantly on display.

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Ifemelu, years before the opening of the novel, had begun a successful blog chronicling her observations on race as a “Non-American Black”. The excerpts from Raceteenth, her blog, are some of the most impactful passages in the novel. As a white American myself, I was transported from my bubble of tolerance and forced to square with a reality and a perspective truly foreign to me. Adichie, as Ifemelu, approaches race and racism with delicate nuance, shattering the (very Western) notion of binaries, or black and white in opposition to one another. Black and white existing at all.

Without claiming to know Adichie’s authorial intent, I observed that much of the novel is about discomfort; the reader is made to sit in her discomfort, to revel in it. The novel is as didactic as it is entertaining, in keeping with what many of us already know of Adichie from her now very famous, no-bullshit TED Talk on feminism. Adichie’s prose does not coddle, it does not function as a step-ladder to woke-ness. The novel immediately situates the reader in Obinze and Ifemelu’s Nigerian, African, black, immigrant, expatriate experience and refuses to allow the reader to erase them.

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5/5 (best fucking book ever)

Further reading: That Thing Around Your Neck, a collection of short stories

And finally, god bless the mother (of new TWINS!) Bey for introducing us, the unwashed masses, to the light and genius that is this perfect woman.