August 2020 Reading Update

I hit another reading wall this month. I think it was a combination of more work reading as we opened up a new school year (virtually), more stress, and more time outside when I wasn’t working. Also, I am enjoying so many podcasts that I’m not listening to audiobooks often right now.

This month I read:

  • **White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo – Last month I purposely read Me and White Supremacy, by a Black author, before I read this book, by a white author. It was interesting to me how the books read and felt so different, while covering basically the same idea. I think both books are equally important and I believe all white people should read both. DiAngelo, as a white woman, is able to see to others about the reality of growing up socialized into white supremacy, and how to begin to interrupt racism in our everyday lives. I appreciated her examples, yet I found a lot of them hard to read – either because I’ve experienced the examples myself, seen others say or do what she captured as I sat silently by, or it was sad to see how much farther we still have to go. At this point in our country, it is inexcusable to be unaware of the systems of white supremacy all around us. There are more than enough resources to educate ourselves (without putting that burden on BIPOC to do the work for us), and it’s time to break the white solidarity and speak up about injustices. This work is not easy, and you feel uncomfortable, you are most likely moving in the right direction.
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – I loved this book! Everyone has been talking about it recently, and it did not disappoint.  Twin sisters Desiree and Stella are Black young women, who live in a town of light-skinned Black folks, some of whom can pass as white. They leave their small hometown to create a new life, and then end up leading very different, separate lives; one as a Black woman and one as a white woman. I loved how the author wove elements of the story across time, not telling the story in a linear fashion, nor through only one character’s perspective. There are a lot of wonderful, flawed women in this story, full of secrets and hurt. It was beautifully told.
  • Deacon King Kong by James McBride – This book is a character-driven book full of interesting, flawed humans living together in New York, dealing with crime, secrets, family, love, loss, and betrayal. The talented author (who I’m not sure I’ve ever read before) is a beautiful writer. The character of Deacon is an old alcoholic widower who has gone hill after his wife’s passing. He interacts with all the neighborhood’s characters, gets into trouble, and helps find missing items and memories in the process.  While I’m glad I read it, I also realized that I much prefer plot-driven novels to character-driven. Similar to reading something like Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, which I am glad I read but I didn’t devour like I would a fast-paced mystery. It’s good to know these things about yourself as a reader.

This year I’m also keeping track of the stats of the books I read. Here are August’s stats:

Fiction: 2

Nonfiction: 1

Young Adolescent: 0

Audiobooks: 0

Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me: 3

Female author: 2

Male Author: 1

Nonbinary Author: 0 (I have gotten one recommendation, but I haven’t read it yet!)

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
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2 Responses to August 2020 Reading Update

  1. Alicia Blacknell says:

    Hi!! I love receiving your reading updates and often end up reading many books you’ve read. One thing I wanted to bring to your attention was the description of the sisters in The Vanishing Half. They both were black, not biracial but were able to pass as white. I’m only naming this because both as a Black woman and as an anti-racist educator, I think representation matters. I hope you take editing the description into consideration and I look forward to continuing to read your updates.


    Alicia Blacknell, MA. Ed.


    • Hi Alicia! Thanks so much for reading my blog and commenting. I will make that change – you are correct and I misspoke when I wrote about that book. Thanks for pointing it out to me. I’d love to hear what books you are enjoying!

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