Recent Reads | Winter 2021

February 19, 2021

1. 999: The Extraordinary Young Woman of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz, by Heather Dune Macadam

I read this nonfiction book in early January. As someone who is fascinated by World War II and the Holocaust, I have been always been drawn to reading both nonfiction and historical fiction novels about the terrors of the war. As the title suggests, 999 provides an incredibly detailed account of the first official transport to Auschwitz that was comprised of almost one thousand young and unmarried Jewish women. Beautifully written, terribly fascinating, and chillingly raw, I spent an entire day reading this book, and given the inhumanity of the Holocaust and Macadam's blunt, harrowing account, the rest of the night I spent merely processing, digesting, and reflecting on what I had just read.

2. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is an incredible writer, and I fell in love with her style of writing after reading her novel Beloved during the fall time. Her language is so rich and full of life that I often find myself having to re-read her sentences to truly soak up the words. Given how much I adored Beloved, when my English teacher offered us three choices for books to read independently, Song of Solomon was an easy choice. I enjoyed reading this novel as much as Beloved and am hoping to read more of her works including The Bluest Eye in the future. For my project in response to the book, I am creating a collection of poems and artwork inspired by passages from Song of Solomon.

3. Not So Pure and Simple, by Lamar Giles

I am a part of the Summer Reading Committee at my school, a small group of students and faculty members who meet throughout the school year to read and discuss a collection of books and ultimately choose the one novel that will be read by the entire school community over the summer. After reading several books over the summer, we narrowed it down to three books. The first two books we read were Body Talk by Kelly Jensen and Between the World and Me by the incredible Ta-Nehisi Coates, and our final book for consideration is Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles. A young adult novel, the book centers on themes of toxic masculinity, sexual assault, and the oppressive nature of some religious communities toward sex education and LGBTQ+ rights. Though am not a huge fan of the YA genre, the book was still an enjoyable and lighthearted read. As we vote in the upcoming weeks on the final novel, however, I will likely be casting my vote for Between the World and Me. 

4. Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Today was my last day of class before my spring break, and in my English course we read the first chapter of Underground Railroad. Though only one chapter in, I am in complete awe of Whitehead's writing. The honesty and simplicity of his language is profound and powerful, and I cannot wait to read the remainder of the novel over my spring break. Comprised of narratives from multiple characters in various states in the antebellum South, Underground Railroad relates the journey of a young slave as she flees the southern United States in search for freedom.

5. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

I have been wanting to read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett for such a long time. I read The Mothers, Bennett's earlier novel, a couple of years ago. I loved the novel, and knew that I had to get my hands on The Vanishing Half after hearing so many great reviews and recommendations. In addition to completing my project on Song of Solomon and reading Underground Railroad, I am hoping to squeeze in Bennett's novel too.

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white. — Amazon

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