Right now we’re getting a lot of lists with recommended books to help us understand the black community from their perspective.
I haven’t seen a few books that I’ve read over the last couple of years on those lists. All three of these books I couldn’t stop thinking about during and after I read them. Well, I need to correct that. I mean, “listened” to them. Listening to books is my go-to these days. I hope to return to reading one day, but for now, this is the way I can achieve productivity in my life, and still be blessed with the pleasure of a book, which is, kind of amazing.
The three books are:
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
- The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd
- Born A Crime – Trevor Noah
Here’s a brief breakdown of each:
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
I had never read this and finally got to it last year. It had a profound impact on me. This is a classic piece of literature for good reason. There were so many quotes that left me in awe. Having been written in 1852, it withstands the test of time. Harriet’s message then is the same as today, that with God’s love, we can overcome prejudices and treat all people with dignity.
I get teary-eyed as I recall the main character, and how I fall so short of the grace he gave everyone, including those who abused, mistreated, and tortured him. The story is so rich with character development and perspective that provides insight into the personalities and circumstances, I felt I was part of the story. So much so, I wanted to know more about Harriet Beecher Stowe. I wanted to understand how she came to be so capable of seeing what others could not see, or maybe, how she came to articulate what others would not articulate, in spite of slavery being commonplace, and without the benefits of communication mediums that we enjoy today.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin is at the very top of my list.
The Invention of Wings
This book was recommended to me by a teacher acquaintance when I worked at my school. Julie said I would love this book, and she was right. It is a much newer book than Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but takes place in the early 1800s, before Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written, making the young women in this book even more heroic. Sue Monk Kidd writes as if she knew the two sisters around whom this book is centered.
The story is of slave owners, in particular a young girl who is awarded her first slave as a birthday gift. You read that right. Ugh. It’s painful to even write that.
You will watch two young women emerge from within the confines of Charleston culture and their privileged life. You will witness the family upset as the young women explore their curiosities and upset the norms of their family expectations, while simultaneously working toward the rights of women. They were the original protestors before protesting was protesting. They had no crowd, no social media, no protection; just them and their convictions.
I don’t know why this book isn’t on every list.
Born A Crime
I totally stumbled on to this book a couple of years ago when I was looking for something on the Washington County Library Services site that I wouldn’t have to wait for. I got lucky and came across this book. I had no idea who Noah Trevor was. When I told my son about this great book I was listening to, I discovered I was out of the pop culture loop, because Bradley said, “Everybody knows who Trevor Noah is.” Oops… he’s got one of those names that works both ways. It’s Trevor Noah.
Trevor Noah was born and raised in South Africa during apartheid. His mother is black, and his father is white, which was not cool, hence the name of the book. Trevor narrates his story on audio, and while the story is good on its own, listening to Trevor narrate his own story is like listening to an eight-hour comedy show, except that it’s not funny, yet he is laugh out loud funny. He shares his intense Christian upbringing in a way that shows utmost respect for his mother, but one can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of some his illustrations. Trevor is relatable on so many levels. I am grateful for the illumination of his personal experiences as a mixed-race person in South Africa. I don’t follow him, but I’m a forever fan.