As I typed out the title for this, I just realized this is it. This is the last one for 2019. And honestly, I’m pretty proud of 30 books in one year. I didn’t set out to read a certain number, although I maybe would have preferred 50, but 30 is pretty good. I read half of the books the first three months of the year when I was on leave with Ari, so I guess ultimately, if I want to read more, it would be ideal to work less. Eventually, I’ll figure it out.
I’m ready for 2020, to keep doing the work and showing up to fight white supremacy and show compassion to humanity. Thanks for joining me in these efforts by reading my reflections. I appreciate it.
26. The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen
This was a short Audible feature that I actually indulged in. I’m very much a millennial, and I very much struggle with burnout. I feel like I’m always working, always strategizing, always seeking opportunities, always networking, etc and it’s never enough. I have my Master’s degree, but it’s not enough to pay our bills and have fun with our kids. I like how Petersen’s thoughts really focus on the systemic issues of burnout. SOme favorite quotes: “I’ve spent a lot of time and energy grappling with the idea that burnout is now a thing, for lack of a better word, just because white middle class people started feeling it. My loans and my mental load and my compulsion to always be working suck, but as a white woman in a very white place, I don’t experience the extra stress of what would happen if I were pulled over by a cop or someone in my family were in the wrong place at the wrong time…it’s not the burnout olympics. That acknowledging the layers and complexities of someone else’s burnout doesn’t minimize your own.”
27. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Wow. Wow. Wow. I borrowed this book from a colleague, and I decided to buy my own copy once I returned it. Austin has put so many powerful insights to words that have really challenged me, encouraged me, and re-ignited my sense of urgency to be an anti-racist white person in my personal and professional life. Here’s one of the many quotes I was inspired by: “When white people stop short of reconciliation, it’s often because they are motivated by a deep need to believe in their own goodness, and for that goodness to be affirmed over and over and over again. These folks want a pat on the back simply for arriving at the conclusion that having people of color around is good. But reconciliation is not about white feelings. It’s about diverting power and attention to the oppressed, toward the powerless. It’s not enough to dabble at diversity and inclusion while leaving the existing authority structure in place. Reconciliation demands more” (p. 171).
28. Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System by Cyntoia Long-Brown
This book surprisingly gives me so much hope despite the horrific details she accounts for in her story. After I read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander a few years ago, my eyes were opened to the dysfunction and injustices of incarceration, especially against communities of color. Inmates’ lives matter. They are human beings who should not be defined by mistakes. I know I feel grateful to have been sheltered from a lot of hardship and I know that my white skin allows me to get away with a lot of things when people of color don’t always get that same benefit. What happened to Cyntoia is devastating, and the reality is she isn’t an anomaly. There are many young Americans facing ridiculously harsh sentences and environments while in prison. I want to be a part of a society that redefines what rehabilitation looks like and offers restorative justice. People who experience prison don’t deserve to be discarded; they are made in God’s image too.
29. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
I am really trying to make sure I read more young adult books. This has been a popular one from my classroom library, so I finally checked it out. I have to admit, it was way more intense than I thought it would be in the middle of the book, and I was furious with the protagonist Naila’s parents. Because it’s YA, there are eye-rolling worthy parts when she describes her teenage love and also times I wanted to yell at her and say: “How are you not figuring out what is happening?! Your parents are trying to arrange a marriage for you!” It’s actually got a lot of plot that I didn’t see coming and reminded me that there are people who really value traditional views of women, even though it basically infuriates me. Even though my prediction for how the book ultimately came true, there were chapters where I really wasn’t certain how the book would end. I can see a lot of teenagers really enjoying this one.
30. The Sun and All Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Many thank yous to my future brother-in-law Cam for buying me this wonderful book as a Secret Santa present that ultimately became my 30th book read for 2019. I absolutely love poetry, and really enjoyed Milk and Honey a couple years back. This collection of poems is organized into five sections, and the first was actually my least favorite. Each section spoke louder to my heart as they passed. I love poetry. I love when people let us glimpse their hearts in the strands of words they sew together. I love how I see her humanity in her work. So happy to have this art on my shelf.