Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Get Up Stand Up: Book Suggestions

Last week, I visited a class to speak about some of my writing, the process, and The Danger of a Single Story. I was asked many wonderful questions about my work and also about books I've read that kept in line with the idea of standing up for oneself. The normal thing that always happens when I'm asked this question is my mind goes blank. All the titles of wonderful books I've read disappear as quickly as my dog, Sami, eats her meals.

So, below I've put together a list of books I think are important. I will probably stray from the topic, (I apologize in advance, Rich)  but I will give it my best.

I can't remember how old I was when I read this book, but I was definitely in my 20's, (I think) and I was blown away, by not just the writing, but the idea. For a length of time in my life, I was obsessed with Utopian society books. Huxley seemed to capture something not as dark as Orwell's  1984 or Rand's Anthem, but it still carries a heavy warning sign. I remember thinking, "What it would be like to be satisfied?" then I shook my head and snapped out it. I like that it made me question. 

I've read this book three different times and each time I read I learned something new. I know it is a political book. Some readers snub their noses at Ayn Rand. In literary circles, I don't dare mention her name because I will inevitably get a look, but this book was important for me. At the baser levels, the way I chose to read it, is the story of someone who wouldn't compromise their beliefs/morals for their happiness. Selfishness has a horrible connotation, but isn't a certain level of selfishness okay? 

So, there is a pattern. As I go through my list of books, I'm snagging the ones that I remember (yes, there are some I don't. at all) and there is an apparent theme. This is a quick read though. I think something that scares me is the people's inactivity.  

Okay, I'm not sure this fits the category, but I found this book incredibly interesting. It definitely changes the idea of a single story that many have of Native Americans. It's a wonderful balance of a range of emotions a family/community goes through. Erdrich is a masterful story teller. 

I recently read this, but I want to include, because it brings up a lot of interesting questions about identity and the duality of culture. There are some beautiful essays in it. Although there were a couple that lagged in comparison, I enjoyed it very much. 

As I write this, I keep arguing with myself about what books to include. There are others, many others that pop into my head that I loved, but not sure why or if I'm just starting a conversation with myself about books. So here are some authors who have short stories I like to teach: 

Short Stories 
August 2026 - Ray Bradbury
Popular Mechanics -Raymond Carver
Girl - Jamaica Kincaid
Greasy Lake - T.C. Boyle  
Hills Like White Elephants - Ernest Hemingway 
Sonny's Blues - James Baldwin 
The Lottery - Shirley Jackson 
The White Girl - Luis Alberto Urrea
The Falling Girl - Dino Buzzati 

Okay, I think that's it. Now I have dandelion titles and pieces of stories floating around in my brain, and they are getting all mixed up. I hope that anyone who reads this finds at least one thing on this list they didn't know about and like. If there are two? Then I made a good list. 

Comments on readings are welcome below! 

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