So I hit 87 books read in October and I finished the Shakespeare 2020 project early.
I didn’t read any this month. I set a goal to read at least 25 non fiction and 25 fiction books this year. Thanks to Shakespeare the fiction part was easy, but I was a few books short of non fic, so I focused on that this month.
Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men (Alexandra Robbins)
Since I read her sorority book, Pledged, I thought I may as well try the other side. The title leaves much to be desired because I don’t think any men were formed in this book, but the book held my interest. I found Pledged to have a lot of ridiculous claims (bulimia and plumbing … visit Snopes maybe? lol), but overall showed some negative sides of sorority life that don’t get talked about. Since I can’t speak to accuracy about fraternity life, I am assuming it’s similar to the previous book as far as accuracy goes. I liked that we followed a small number of characters so it wasn’t confusing.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystals, Gems, and Metal Magic (Scott Cunningham)
This was a great overview of crystals, gems and metals and their use in magic. There’s a lot of information on each type of gem and photos of them as well. Overall, I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to read more of Cunningham’s books.
Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds (D. Caroline Coile)
I am not a dog person (in terms of having one), but I love reading about different breeds, their history and conformation. I have no idea why. This book had a great overview of practically every breed – including many rare ones I’d never heard of. There were good pictures, illustrations and histories. Overall a great place to warm up for the National Dog Show.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Malcolm X)
I am, and should be, embarrassed to say my only previous knowledge of Malcolm X was he was a black leader who was assassinated. While I agree with most of his beliefs and ideas, there were many moments when reading that I felt myself pushing against his ideas. I realized it was that feeling, as a white person, of “I’m not like this!” – but the reality is the system is, and I’m part of the system. I control the system. Once I realized this and got over the feeling of being accused, I could acknowledge that the root of my discomfort was the truth.
I don’t agree with him that religion was going to be the way people come together. From the first appearance of the Nation of Islam, I was skeptical. Part of that is I’m agnostic on a good day and just don’t see religion as a uniting force. The other part was that from the beginning, the Nation of Islam reminded me of Scientology. Maybe it was the origin story, the living founder, the divine claims, but all that was missing was a DC-8. I wasn’t surprised to find that the modern day Farrakhan Nation of Islam is very closely intertwined with the cult of Scientology.
One of my favourite things about Malcolm X is he is very willing to share his mistakes, admit them, analyze them, change them. He doesn’t shy away from discussing his past, discussing his shift away from the Nation of Islam, his changing beliefs, any negative things about himself and his life. I found that very refreshing. He was evolving and changing as a person, and acknowledging that he was on this journey to find what he believed. His political takes are bang-on and even more relevant now. It’s scary how much has not changed.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book so much. It left me angry because his death was such a loss, and not just for the black community. I wish we could have known what he would have ultimately become. Why the book is not taught in every school I’ll never know – actually, thanks to this book, I do know.
Goodreads Reading Challenge – 91/52
I was a bit slow reading this month. I’ve realized that non fic takes me longer to read sometimes. With Malcolm X I found I had to stop reading to think about what he was saying, turn it all over in my mind and sit with things, so it took quite a bit longer to read.