Top reads for 2019

       4 minute read

In no particular order, these are some of my favorite books that I read in 2019.

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Becoming by Michelle Obama

This is my favorite memoir, ever. Michelle Obama is a wonderful writer, telling her life story through her lens, this is her perspective and she’s unafraid to delve into the depth of her experiences.

She touches on every subject you would expect from an intelligent, caring woman born into a close-knit middle-class family in South Side Chicago. She holds herself to the highest standards, evident in her years of success at Ivy League universities and her career as a lawyer and community outreach advocate for different Chicago institutions. Eventually, she gets pulled into the roller coaster ride of a lifetime as FLOTUS and provides an inside look at the emotional and physical toll of campaigning and politics…as well as all the positive experiences she relished. Michelle provides insight into what her life, and her family’s, was like as we all watched (and judged) from the outside.

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Blood for Blood by Victoria Selman

I really enjoy the Ziba MacKenzie series by Victoria Selman (my type of mystery/suspense thriller): Blood for Blood; Nothing to Lose; and Snakes and Ladders.

The writing is engaging and succinct, the stories move at a swift pace, there are more than a few surprising twists, and she explores the main character enough to get to know and understand her a little better each time.

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So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo covers many different aspects of racism and our actions that contribute to the problem, such as microaggressions, tone policing, cultural appropriation, school-to-prison pipeline, the “N” word, intersectionality, privilege, model minority myth, and police brutality. She writes in a succint, clear, and direct manner that enabled me to digest and better understand these sensitive and charged topics. Along with that, she conveys empathy for the reader, allowing us to feel our discomfort, embrace it even, as part of the discussion.

SYWTTAR is an insightful book that will help you wrap your head around how to discuss race, especially as a white person. For each chapter and topic, Oluo suggests several actions you can take and real ways to make an impact. She doesn’t shy away from any areas of the race discussion, often framing them around her own lived experiences. By drawing on her own life, she helps the reader build empathy for her and the subject.

Racism is any prejudice against someone because of their race, when those views are reinforced by systems of power.

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Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed by Men by Caroline Criado Perez

This is one of the (very few) books that completely blew my mind. The sheer amount of research by Caroline Criado Perez is astounding. That she collated it into a cohesive representation of how data bias impacts women is almost magical. And that she is able to communicate it in an understandable, and dare I say entertaining, manner is extraordinary.

After reading this book, everywhere I looked I would see ways in which our society completely ignores womens needs. The author provides so many examples, with data to stand behind them, that it’s absolutely mind boggling…to men. Of course, most women will read this and find themselves continually nodding their heads in affirmation of what they’ve always known, or at least felt.

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For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity by Liz Plank

Liz Plank conveys an atypical perspective on feminism, geared more towards men than women, but results in advancing equality for all genders.

The author takes the stereotypical concept of masculinity and turns it upside down. What if men are the ones who benefit the most by redefining masculinity? Liz delves into the details of how men define masculinity and what they think of society’s expectations. She advocates for and describes how men can embrace the concept of “mindful masculinity” to improve their own lives by altering societal expectations. Gift this book to all of the men in your life!

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

An amazing follow up to 1985’s The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The story moves along swiftly while thoroughly addressing so many of the open questions from its prequel.

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The Power by Naomi Alderman

I stumbled across this book by Naomi Alderman while perusing Elliot Bay Book Company and later discovered it was on President Obama’s 2017 book list. He was right, this is an entertaining story that I enjoyed tremendously. In the same genre as The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s not quite a dystopian novel, but does deal with how women are expected to behave in our society. What do you think would happen if the stereotypical gender roles were suddenly reversed?

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Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples share a creative new spin on a tale as old as time…lovers caught in the crossfire of war. The art is beautifully drawn and colored. The story is engaging and unique with the thread of familiarity that allows us to easily relate.

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