Motif by Tanya

Book Review: Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim

Ballantine Books
October, 30, 2018
272 Pages

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives–but it doesn’t come around as frequently for all of us.

In this timely anthology, “well-read black girl” Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone–no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities–can find themselves there. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation.

As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves. -Goodreads

So, I may be a bit weird or maybe my experiences in life just aren’t as relate able as maybe they should be.  But Well-Read Black Girl is a collection of essays written by authors such as Jacqueline Woodson, N. K. Jemisin and Rebecca Walker. I was hype to form a connection with authors that I not only admire but throw dollars at every chance I get. 

So when this collection came about I was hyped. When I was selected to get an arc via Netgalley I was hyped. But when I began reading it my hyped died. 

Here is the thing. Just like the authors within this book, reading is sometimes form of escape and offers relaxation that other hobbies or passions cannot. For me it is one of my biggest escapes. If a book is well written I can get lost in the world and stay there even, after I finish the last page. Reading is super important to me and although I was able to connect with the authors on the importance of reading, I wasn’t able to for much else. 

I wrote an article for a website called Notes and Narratives.  It began as an book review for the poem Black Girl Magic and is branches off to something more about representation. Representation is important and it should be there because although one person may not need it, it doesn’t someone else doesn’t either. But what I am getting at is, when I read, I’m not looking for myself in these characters. Personality traits yes, maybe; depends on the book. But overall, when I was reading Well-Read Black Girl, I thought who is the target audience for this?

I know that the purpose of these essays is to connect African American women readers. So we can know what it felt like growing up reading and being an adult reading. And you know what happened? I had a random flashback when I was 16 or younger I remember talking about opening a bookstore (which I still have plans to do) and I remember hearing people say “Black people don’t read” so it would be a waste of money. My response then was ” well what I am if not a black person?”

I was surprised by that statement because my mother reads, my sisters read, my brothers read, my father reads. Every Black person, I have met may not have read as much as I did but they read. But this brings back to representation and how important it is not only and solely on a individual level but a world wide. 

But this book Well-Read Black Girl, a series of essays by top authors, reaches down to remind you of moments, such as mine or different, but most important moments as a Black woman, in modern times. Although I wasn’t able to connect with the authors beyond a love and passion for reading, I was reconnected with the past Tanya, who began reading books because there was nothing else to do but fell in love with how the simplest words can create an entire world. 

So in my eyes this book was a success. I may not be able to connect as much as I wanted to but something pulled at me to remember, where it all began for me. 

This is literally not a book review but more of a personal inspiration from a book. I would recommend this read because it starts off a discussion, which I am all for. 

4 Pickles

 

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