What I’m Reading: Beyond the List

Sometimes you have to flip the script…For the past week, I’ve haven’t walked around with a print book. I finished reading Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass, and couldn’t decide what book to read next. I thought I would jump right into Michele Wallace’s book. But I was still trying to figure out what to think of Faith Ringgold’s response to her daughter’s seminal work, Black Macho. First off, I have to say that the artwork was stunning. (Then again, this is Faith Ringgold.) But now that I’ve had time to think about it some more, I have to agree with one of the book reviewers on Amazon.com: the book represents a much-needed dialog between women about feminism, and what it means to be a woman in this society.

I also thought that I might want to read some lighter fare. The audiobook I’m reading by Isabel Allende, Island Beneath the Sea, deals with the slave society in Saint Domingue. The characters are fascinating. And the audio has an excellent narrator in the voice of S. Epatha Merkerson. But it’s a heavy subject. So I about going to a totally different world, and read the Dark Matter anthology. Then I went shopping at Jack’s World. Anyone in New York City who’s looking for bargains knows all Jack’s. I spotted a copy of Misty Copeland’s memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. If you haven’t watched the PBS episode of Independent Lens, you need to see it. The book is in my bag.

Speaking of memoirs…I listened to the New Yorker Radio Hour podcast about Sylvia’s in Harlem, where they mentioned Chef Samuelsson’s restaurant, The Red Rooster. Maybe I’ll read his memoir, Yes Chef. I used to watch his cooking show on PBS.

And more PBS…Author Ben Ratliff was on the Tavis Smiley show talking about his new book, Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty. The conversation really resonated with me. I took on a paid subscription with Rhapsody when folks were still burning music on their desktop computer, and way before streaming services exploded with the smartphones. I like it because I can stream music from any device like a computer, smartphone or tablet, without having to buy and store the music on a device. I’ve always listened to many different types of music, and the service has more than paid for itself.

What piqued my interest in this book is that, unlike generations past, we have access to millions of songs from all around the world. How can we use that to expand our musical palette? I grew up in the 70s where there was a lot of sharing across musical genres. What we lacked during that time was access to the music. You had to travel far and wide to get the kind of music that we now have at our fingertips. Americans in general tend to have a limited palette when it comes to listening to music, and this tendency seems to be exacerbated within the African-American community. Which is a pity, since the music created by black people has become the soundtrack of American music, and inspired other musical cultures around the globe.

During the President’s Day weekend, I loaded the most recent segment of my handwritten to-read list into Goodreads. And the idea struck me; instead of handwriting the books when Bill Goldstein does his segment on Today in New York, I can logon and add them to my Goodreads list. Now I just have to load the books from my other notepads. I think there’s about four pads floating around my house, so that ought to fatten up my list. Now, if only there was a way to auto-load my list from the NYPL.

My friend on Goodreads now has over 3400 books on her to-read list. I wonder if it’s physically possible for any one person to read that many books. Right now she’s currently reading five books. I also made friends with my home library, the Queensborough Public Library. They’ve both given me a few books to add to my own to-do list.

Another book on the pile…Another book from the office library has found its way to my desk: Dressed for Death by Donna Leon. Part of the Guido Brunetti series. Also recommended the Attica Locke book to a co-worker from the downtown office who happened to go by the library. Now that’s a great workday.


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