I turned 22 and graduated, my college won our basketball conference, and THE JONAS BROTHERS ARE BACK… again! Enter below to find out what I read last month (serial killers, rich moms, and a return to Nigeria), what you should read in April, and what podcast episodes you cannot miss.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
1 Sentence Synopsis: Two Nigerian lovers are separated in their pursuit of the West, where they grapple with their Blackness and the immigration system.
Review: By and large, this was a good read. I loved returning to literary Nigeria and the title is incredible and well argued throughout the book. I really enjoyed the blog entries (though not necessarily their insertion in the plot). The love story between Ifemelu and Obinze is wonderfully complex and interesting. I also enjoyed the cultural distinction of non-American Africanness and what that meant for Ifemelu and everyone around her. However, Adichie’s historical controversy made me question how reliable of a narrator Adichie is on privilege.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
1 Sentence Synopsis: A wealthy Seattle mother’s disappearance from her life at the moment her family is to go on vacation to Antarctica is documented in epistolary form by her daughter.
Review: Delightful and easy, but not altogether special, this novel is perfect for a beach. Bee’s love for her mother is evident and, once you get past trying to care about reading rich people problems, the novel becomes humorous and fun. If you’re looking for a deep mystery, though, I’d look elsewhere.
Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City by Kate Winkler Dawson
1 Sentence Synopsis: 1950’s London copes with two deadly stranglers at once – dirty, industrial fog, and a sociopathic serial killer.
Review: Dawson turns a sharp, attentive eye to her two subjects in their entirety, while also detailing Victorian England in its entirety. Such comprehension is generally appreciated, but at times Dawson’s text wanes too far and lingers too long. We want to understand the full scope of London, but we also don’t want to stand so long under Big Ben we forget who the characters are and why they matter in the first place. This book is stunning in its vision and the only disappointment is that Dawson’s reporting and planning are not matched by her storytelling.
Looking Ahead: April
What To Read
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman – Just in time for Earth day, read about the planet and what it might look like if dirty, tree-chopping humans suddenly disappeared. This book gave me a greater appreciation for the planet and how our lives affect it. (BN)
Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution by Menno Schilthuizen – Less interested in taking action than in simply science learning this Earth day? No stress! Schilthuizen has your back. His deep dive shows humans aren’t all bad, and that nature’s evolutionary mechanism is adapt to urban realities. (BN) (Review)
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – Keep the pranks and jokes rolling right along with this surprisingly heartwarming and tell-all memoir by the world-famous comic. (BN) (Review)
What to Listen To
“Belladonna will dilate your mind: Crossover w/ IDOP,” This Podcast Will Kill You – I wasn’t interested in infectious diseases until I started listening to This Podcast Will Kill You. They make the science interesting and accessible. This episode is perfect for earth day learning.
“Episode 108: The Numbers,” Criminal – Judge uncovers the secret, forgotten world of underground lotteries, practiced and played by thousands of Black urban workers in the 20th century.
“William Bradford” Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad – The latest podcast out of the My Favorite Murder network Exactly Right features famed GSK investigators Billy Jensen and Paul Holes. MFM’s Georgia Hardstark joins them as they invite listeners to solve real-life cold cases alongside them.
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