All posts filed under: April

A Balance of Grit and Comedy

I hadn’t heard of Michael Arceneaux’s I Can’t Date Jesus until taking a poll on Instagram for reading suggestions. We asked our followers for suggestions on what to read in 2019, and this came through as an April recommendation. I think mostly because of the title, all of us Bookly Katherines were immediately intrigued. I mean, titles don’t get much better than I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé. I also hadn’t heard of Arceneaux until reading this, his debut essay collection. But this is one of my favorite experiences, uncovering a new (to me) author and their work. His essays cover a range of raw experiences from flawed family dynamics, growing up in Texas, living in an oppressive culture as a gay black man, dating, to faith and Christianity, etc. I found all 15 essays raw, humorous, self-aware, and immersive. His vulnerability enriched each story. And as a privileged, hetero white female who grew up mostly overseas my life experiences have little in common with …

April Book

We’re so glad to finally have a taste of spring! This winter felt much too long, don’t you think? Now it’s time to bring a little life and laughter back into our reading lives for Spring. In April we like to read something with humor and wit to break down any remnants of that dreary winter mood. And this year we’ve selected Michael Arceneaux’s I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyonce. Arceneaux is a Houston-born, Howard University-educated writer who started his career writing for various news media like The Guardian, Teen Vogue, Essence, The Washington Post, etc. And this collection of essays, published in July of 2018, is the first book published by Arceneaux (he’s currently writing his second, titled I Don’t Want to Die Poor addressing private student loan debt). “There are stories that simply demand to be told and Michael Arceneaux’s is one such story. Arceneaux writes from his life as a black gay man with an uncanny strength of conviction and such fine …

Phone on table

A Dog is a Bicycle with Emotions

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.” First things first, I loved this book. After hearing people rave about the audiobook version, I decided to give it a shot. (I mean, who doesn’t want to list to Trevor Noah on their way to work and while making dinner?) I’m fairly new to audiobooks, but this one might be my favorite so far. Noah was able to convey his story as only he can, with perfect inflection, comedic timing, and emotion in his voice. The story kept me engaged the entire time, and my mind tends to wander easily. Noah’s story is an incredible one, and he did a phenomenal job of injecting just the right amount of humor to lighten up even the most intense situations. In fact, (if you’ve read it, you’ll know just the scene I’m talking about) one particular story toward the beginning of the book had me laughing …

A Heavy Kind of Funny

When I read and review a book that I love, one of the most common compliments I give is “I read this in one sitting” or something similar. Born a Crime was quite the opposite. It’s a book that I love that took me forrrevvvverrrrr (in my world) to read. My husband actually commented about how few pages I was able to read in one sitting each night. So why did it take me so long? I think that, for a humorous book, it was heavy and it felt too dense to read quickly. I wanted to take it one chapter at a time and really sit with what I’d read. Obviously, apartheid and racism are not new to me, but South African history is certainly not my area of expertise and a lot of the details were new. I just needed time. {Spoiler alert: this paragraph has them!} Noah’s story is simply incredible. That one person lived all of those stories is almost mind-boggling. And even more so when you think about the fact that there …

Humor and Heart

Our April book Born a Crime was just what I was in the mood for! After lots of dark and cloudy months and some intense books (i.e. Birdbox, The Hate U Give, The Healing of America), Trevor Noah’s ability to make anything into a joke was just what I needed. He covers some really dark subjects to say the least (attempted murders, carjacking, domestic abuse, apartheid, racism, etc), but manages to tell his stories with humor and heart. “One day as a young man I was walking down the street, and a group of Zulu guys was walking behind me, closing in on me, and I could hear them talking to one another about how they were going to mug me. ‘Let’s get this white guy. You go to his left, and I’ll come up behind him.’ I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t run, so I just spun around real quick and said, ‘Yo, guys, why don’t we just mug someone together? I’m ready. Let’s do it.’ They looked shocked for a moment, …

April Book

It’s been dark and gray for awhile now. I’d say we’re ready for more light, literally and figuratively. Which is why in April we read something with a sense of humor to help lighten the mood. And this April we’re reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime! And we’re SO excited for this one. If you know the name Trevor Noah, it’s either because you’re a fellow booklover and have heard GREAT things about this book, and/or you’ve seen Noah on The Daily Show as Jon Stewart’s replacement as of September, 2015. He’s a comedian (writer, producer, political commentator, television host, etc.), so we definitely expect a few laughs out of this book. However, from the little we know so far, he also has a very interesting, pretty intense, story to tell. Noah was born in Johannesburg, South Africa during apartheid. The son of a black mother and a white father, his parents’ relationship was illegal. His childhood was layered with all the complexities of race, religion, family, homeland, and everything in between. Beginning his career …

Confession Time

I have to admit, like Katie C., I was hesitant going in to this novel. I have complicated feelings about Amy Schumer — I thinks she’s funny, but can only take so much of her. 300+ pages of her humor had me a little nervous. But here’s my biggest confession: I didn’t finish it. And not because I didn’t like it, but because I wasn’t in to it. I also have made a new promise to myself to stop reading books I’m not enjoying. With over 300 unread books on my shelf (I’m not exaggerating), it’s becoming increasingly clear that abandoning books needs to be something I’m okay with. Otherwise I’ll never come even close to making that unread number smaller. Maybe at another time when I didn’t have so many other,  heavier books (ahem, Fates & Furies) calling my name I would have been able to muddle through. I laughed out loud a couple times in the beginning, and read some lines out loud to my husband, but like I am with her humor, …

Just What I Needed

If you’re reading my review, I’m going to assume you’ve read Katie C.’s review. I will admit here that I am the one who suggested this book for The Bookly Club, and I was SO NERVOUS to read it because I knew not everyone was so excited to do so. What if it was terrible or disgusting?  Or what if it just made you really dislike Amy? That has happened to me before. I won’t say who, but there is a person I adore(d) whose book I read and it just made me not like them. I was petrified this would happen again and everyone would blame me for making them read an awful book about someone who turned out to be an awful person. I was thrilled when Katie C. like the book. Because I liked the book, loved it even. When I would chuckle or straight up laugh while looking at my Kindle, my husband would say “Amy Schumer’s book?” And I would snort out a “yes,” and proceed to read him whatever …

Surprise, surprise

I had extremely low expectations for this book. In fact, at first I was against reading it at all. Not only is Amy Schumer someone I could give or take, but 300+ pages of her raw and self-deprecating humor seemed trivial, uninteresting and not worth the time it would take the read the book. So it’s a near miracle that I say now that not only do I not think this book was a waste of time, but I liked it. Like, really liked it. “One of the first times I was paparazzied, they caught me stand-up paddleboarding in Hawaii. I didn’t even recognize myself. I saw the shots in magazines and thought, Oh, cool, Alfred Hitchcock is alive and loves water sports.” Non-fiction short stories aren’t even really my ‘thing’ either. I don’t usually choose this genre. But I found this book to be not just funny (as one would expect), but relevant, empowering, even moving at times. I have an entirely new outlook on who Amy Schumer is and where she comes from. I …

April Book

All these April showers and exponential lack of vitamin D has us craving something happy, funny, and endorphin-releasing. A pick-me-up if you will. And who better to pick us up than Amy Schumer with her semi-autobiographical book and collection of personal essays The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. This New York Times Bestseller, released in 2016, addresses some serious subjects such as gun violence, sexual assault and consent, domestic violence, Schumer’s troubled relationship with her mother and her father’s multiple sclerosis… but all from her raw and humorous perspective, of course. Schumer has dealt with a lot of criticisms for her stand up comedy and some subject matter from her show Inside Amy Schumer. Criticisms that her male counterparts may not face? But her seemingly inappropriate sense of humor and her willingness to tackle of sometimes taboo topics (see essay topics above) put her in the category of ground-breaking. And although she insists that this book should not be categorized as memoir, autobiography, or self-help, she offers some very personal stories and some very relevant advice (i.e. money, self-employment, sex, …