I hope y’all are having a great new year. I’ve been keeping busy, trying to get ready for the start of the next term, getting my small press’s books into shops here in Portland, and trying to squeeze in time with friends before classes start. I’ve been writing, drawing, and reading, as well.
I’ve signed up for the December 2015/January 2016 Trees of Reverie Readathon, hoping to finish up some personal reading before I head into the term and only have time for school reading. (Which will be awesome reading, my classes are brilliant, I just also love my personal reading choices.) Unfortunately, my laptop died (on Christmas morning and everything!), so while I’ve been reading, I haven’t been able to participate in the blogging part of it — until now!
- To continue:
- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
- This book is brilliant. It’s also really long. (GoodReads says the ebook is 832 pages, though my file shows 1315 pages, so my version may have shorter pages or something.) I have no hopes of finishing this during this readathon, because classes begin Monday, and it’s a very long read. I’m currently just over 1/4 of the way through, and I love it so far. I am interested in history, and this is the kind of book I want to write someday: a funny, interesting, conversational approach to history, that engages the reader and relates facts without bogging down the narrative with strings of dates and incidents just rattled off one after the other. The style is educational, but not entirely impartial. I very much appreciate Chernow’s willingness to question the morality of choices made by the people he writes about. He does not dance around the horror of slavery, nor does he avoid acknowledging that people we consider great owned slaves. While I am a little uncomfortable with his veneration for capitalism, and I am wary of his embrace of empire, overall I think this is a brilliant, well-written book, and I’ll probably come back to it when I begin to research and write history books in the future.
- To start/finish:
- Washington’s Spymaster: Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge by Benjamin Tallmadge
- I started this because I wanted to squeeze in something short at the end of the year, to boost my number for the 2015 GoodReads Reading Challenge. It ended up, however, being a lot harder to read than expected, because (to be frank) it’s kind of boring. While I love history, I prefer something more like Chernow’s style. This book is very dry, less a memoir than it is a listing of battles and actions of the US Revolutionary War, with special note of where Tallmadge was serving in relation to the main action. It also features very little mention of spying — it comes up for the first time 34% of the way through, and is not dwelt on at length.
- Scars/Stars by Walidah Imarisha
- I know Walidah; she teaches in the Black Studies department at my university, and I have had the pleasure of taking her History of the Black Panther Party course. She is a wonderful scholar and a brilliant poet. She co-edited Octavia’s Brood, and her story in that collection is funny and poignant. Recently, I was able to get a copy of her poetry book Scars/Stars, and I’m loving it, though it will definitely warrant a re-read. This one’s been slow going for me, as I read over each poem, annotate it, and digest it one by one.
- Medicine River by Thomas King
- This is actually overdue for a prior class — I never finished it during the term, and I feel a little guilty about that. I got about a third of the way through, but just couldn’t get it done then. I’ve since got about another third under my belt, and I’m hoping to power through the rest in the next week. It’s a funny read, but I’m struggling with it for some reason.
- MARCH Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell
- I happened to come across this at Powell’s Books recently, and snatched it up. I read the first volume a couple months back, and loved it, and I can’t wait to settle down with this and get into it. The previous one was well-written and beautifully illustrated, and I don’t doubt that this one will be as well.
Bookish Goals for 2016:
- My GoodReads 2016 Reading Challenge goal is 60 books. That’s 10 more than last year’s goal, and double my 2014 goal. I think I can make it happen.
- I would love to write up reviews of 10 books here on the blog, at least a couple hundred words per book. This is a soft goal, though, since I already have a lot on my plate this year, so it would be great to do it, and I’m not going to cry if I can’t get it done.
- I’m in a ton of GoodReads groups who do group reads, and I haven’t actually participated in any of them, I think, so that’s another thing I’d like to do this year.
Published by tessaradudley
Tessara Dudley is a scholar and Poet-Activist living in Portland, OR, and preparing to get a PhD in African and African Diaspora History. Her poetry and personal essays have been published by Black Girl Dangerous, Zoetic Press, Wordgathering, Minerva Rising, and Words Dance Publishing. Her hobbies include studying history, fighting oppression, building safer communities, and knitting.
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