The Only Plane in the Sky

Author: Garrett M. Graff

Published: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Avid Reader Press 

Where I picked up my book: From publisher (THANK YOU!!!)

Key Words: 9/11, Oral History, non-fiction, terrorism

My Rating: 5

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My Thoughts:

It’s hard to put into words how much this book means to me. I was in college in 2001 and I can remember that day like it was yesterday. The sky was blue in Buffalo, New York that morning and there was a nice, crisp feel in the air. We were listening to NPR in our art studio class and I was finishing up a linocut project on a back table. I remember hearing them say that a plane had stuck a building in NYC and I thought it must have been a prop plane pilot error. I remember thinking, who the hell doesn’t see a huge building from their plane?! I remember wondering if the pilot had a heart attack or maybe there was something wrong with the plane. And then the second plane hit and it didn’t take long for pure chaos to ensue in our classroom and on campus. I can remember what I was wearing, what part of the project I was working on and even the smell of paint and chemicals in the classroom at the time. I vividly remember the frantic feeling that surrounded so many of us that morning as we heard loudspeakers come on to tell us to leave campus immediately. I can still feel a professor’s hand where he grabbed my arm and told me to get home immediately and stay away from downtown (we are the second largest city in New York and there was a nervousness that we might be a target with Niagara Falls so close by). I can vividly remember the sirens going off in the streets and the frantic faces on my fellow students as we all left classes and campus to get home. I remember watching the news with my roommate for days in a row, only leaving the living room for short stints. I can recall the look on my friend’s faces when they said they now had to go to NYC because the President called in the National Guard and they were chosen to go. Like it’s yesterday, I remember the weeping and frenzied voices I heard in the halls that day as students frantically tried to get a hold of family and friends in NYC. Our city, state, country and world was forever changed that day and I immediately recognized that in myself, and saw it on the faces of everyone I passed that day and the weeks to come.

I also remember as the days passed, thinking that I wanted more. I wanted to know what was actually happening in the towers when the plane stuck the building. I wanted to know what the firefighters were thinking as they ran into the burning building and I wanted to know what it felt like to see so many of your friends not come home that night. I wanted to better understand what it was like to get a call from your partner, as they were up in the air, saying that they were on a plane that was hijacked. For better or worse, I wanted to know what it was like in those stairwells that day and just how it worked if you were on the 50th floor. I wanted to know what the streets were like in the following days and what exactly the flight attendants knew or didn’t know that day. I remember wanting to know how everyone got out of Manhattan and what it was like, if you survived, to get back to your apartment and realize what exactly had gone on. I was left with so many questions and truly, until I read this book, I felt like I was never going to get those answers. The Only Plane in the Sky gave me those answers and so many more. This book is not only packed full of information and first hand accounts, but the way it is set up is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. You walk through that day with precision, minute by minute, and if you’re anything like me, I think you will feel a bit more healed after reading it.

It’s really hard to put into words how important this book is for the world to read and just how much it meant to me as a reader. It’s a harrowing, educational, tragic, yet  hopeful account of a day is history that has forever changed the course of the world. Please, read this book and let’s never forget the events of that day, the people we lost and the courage of so many. Come find me on Instagram and let’s talk about this one.

bookishfolk…read instead.

September Wallpaper

Here is next month’s free wallpaper! I had so much fun creating this one…and JK Rowling is the icing on the cake! Hope you enjoy and as always, share it with family, friends and on all your social media accounts! Tag me too @bookishfolk!

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bookishfolk…read instead.

Here We Are

Author: Aarti Namdev Shahani

Published: October 1, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books 

Where I picked up my book: From publisher (THANK YOU!!!)

Key Words: immigration, family dynamics, memoir  

My Rating: 3.75

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My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like I was given a front seat at a table that I have never sat at before…and I truly felt honored to be there. This is the story of the Shahani family, who came from India, through Casablanca, to Queens, New York. It’s a first hand, poignant account of what happens when undocumented people land on US soil, how undocumented people are treated, what is at risk for undocumented people, what happens to become documented, what life is like after you are documented, and everything in between. Yes, this is a first and account and is unique from this particular woman, but from what I hear and from what I have read, this story resonates with many families trying who are trying to call the United States home. We see the struggles, the pitfalls, the risks, the desires, the stresses, the intense fears…but we also see the hope, the laughter, the strength and the determination. Here We Are opened my eyes to not only what the process is like and specifically, how this family dealt with the good, the bad and the ugly of coming to America.

Here are some of my takeaways about our immigration system:

1. Immigrating to the US is not for the faint of heart and why in the world do we make it so complicated and corrupt?!

2. It seems like the story for every immigrant family is struggle. Struggling in their home country, and then struggling when they get to the US. As a country, we can do better to help with the transition. No one should have to live in cockroach infested homes, or a home that has a water leak causing toxic mold to grow because they are afraid to report it to a landlord who could report them as undocumented. No one should have to live with broken windows or broken heat in the middle of winter because they are nervous to set off someone’s radar and potentially get deported. It’s infuriating and we need a better system to support families that want to come to the US.

3. Our justice system is broken and corrupt and toxic, especially when dealing with immigrants. We can, and need to, do better!

4. In conclusion-WE CAN DO BETTER!

There is soooo much more in this memoir to talk about and discuss, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I went in pretty blind and was completely taken by Shahani’s journey. This is an articulate memoir that is sure to infuriate you, make you cry, make you laugh, help you better understand the role of family in many cultures and ultimately…I hope, lead you to talk more about immigration and our role in it all. Our country is intrinsically tied to the immigration experience and I think this book will not only help give a voice to many immigrants who are currently voiceless, but help to shine a brighter light on a highly relevant topic of today. It’s an honor to have read Aarti Namdev Shahani’s story and I’m thankful for her courage to write it. I will definitely be on the lookout for anything else Shahani offers us!

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

In at the Deep End

Author: Kate Davies

Published: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  

Where I picked up my book:  gift from publisher (THANK YOU!!!)

Key Words: LGBTQ+, Romance, Adult themes 

My Rating: 3

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My Thoughts:

Wow this was a steamy book. I mean, for me-this might have been the steamiest book I’ve ever read. BUT the cherry on top is-this is a queer, steamy novel and as a queer myself…I ‘m ALWAYS here for more representation! Just a quick note: when reading this, I think it’s good to keep in mind that all people are different, relationships are different, what goes on behind closed doors is different and if you like what is going on in your life behind those closed doors-keep doing you! This is an example of one person’s, fictional, sex life, so don’t get concerned that your life might not look like this. You do you. And if it does look like this-that’s great too! I’ve talked to a few other queer bookstagrammers and we all kind of had the same slight panic of, “are we doing something wrong?!” when reading this book. I’m here to tell you that no, no you’re not. In any relationship, if you and your partner are happy-you’re doing it right!

First, ‘let’s talk about sex ba-by’ (Salt-N-Pepa fans unite. Wait, am I showing my age?! I digress…). In at the Deep End is full of sex, so you’ve been warned. Think, a queer Fifty shades of Grey sort of book maybe? I don’t really know-I never read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey books, but from what I’ve read ABOUT them, this one is up there with those descriptions. I’m not opposed to it. I don’t think woman talk about sex enough, let alone queer sex-in a frank way, without shame and with free abandon. So bring it and let’s make it part of the mainstream discussion.

Second, this book brings up some thoughts about consensual versus non-consensual sex and/or relationships dynamics. Not only should both parties be comfortable with the sex they are having (or not having for that matter) between themselves, but they should also both be comfortable about what goes on in all aspects of their relationship. So maybe S&M might be something you want to experiment with, but you’re not okay with bringing another partner into their relationship or having an open relationship. Talk, talk, talk and talk some more. Communication is the key to life and this book rode that point home for me. Not necessarily in the character’s actions, but in what I was thinking while reading it.

Third, family and friends can be important compass points for you in all aspects of your life, but especially when it comes to relationships. You might be all-consumed with those love feels that come when you’re in a new relationships, so hopefully you have good people around you to check in with. If not, find some good people that will check in with you. I think the idea of “it takes a village” pertains to all aspects of life. Find your village, listen to your village, and trust your village. If your village is warning you that a relationship doesn’t look healthy, trust them.

Fourth, coming out can be (and should be) exhilarating and freeing. Granted, that’s not the case for everyone, but most people get to feel a sense of relief and excitement when they finally find and admit their truth. I still remember collecting all things rainbow because that rainbow now belonged to me. I remember experimenting with clothes, biking home with a pile of LGBTQ+ books to use as research, and listening to the queer artists I always loved, but this time on full volume! The thrill of holding a woman’s hand in public equally excited me and scared me a little, but I was here for it. I couldn’t wait to visit the gay mecca of the world (San Francisco, where I later moved to with my now wife-dreams do come true) and call it my own. I remember thinking with all the pride in the world, that I was now part of the lesbian club. A group of people who walked their own walk and went against the grain and I was wanted and loved and embraced by that community. It was the best feeling in the world and I got to feel it all over again with Julia’s (the main character’s) coming out. It was, hands down, my favorite part of the book.

Yea, this book might have been a bit more steamy than what I am used to, and isn’t as literary as I might usually read, but it is a unique, frank, funny, energetic book, with a positive plot and I think if you go into it with the proper expectations and knowledge…you will enjoy the ride. Side note: There is a scene where one of the characters role plays being Mexican, and it felt problematic to me. I just wanted to put that out there in case you think it feels the same to you too. Have you read it yet? What did you think? I’m really excited to see what else Davies writes. I will definitely be on the look out or it! As always, come and find me on Instagram and let’s chat books!

Bookishfolk…read instead.

Good Talk

Author: Mira Jacob

Published: March 26, 2019

Publisher: One World (Random House) 

Where I picked up my book:  Purchased from local bookstore

Key Words: graphic novel, memoir, identity, interracial families, politics

My Rating: 5 (ALL THE STARS!!)

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My Thoughts:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! At first, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure about the fact that it was a graphic novel. I remember lovinggggg Maus by Art Spiegelman though when I read it in high school, so I thought I might enjoy this one too. And I was wrong. I didn’t just enjoy it, I LOVED LOVED LOVED this one and I am officially a convert to the graphic novel and will forever and always choose a graphic novel without hesitation from now on. In fact, I got so excited reading it-I started working on a graphic novel myself. I am an artist and a writer (nothing official, but in my heart-that’s what I am) and I can’t even believe I hadn’t thought of combining those two loves and created something powerful. It’s all talk on my end right now, but I’m excited about it! There are some things that I want to say and I want the world to hear, but creating something with only words didn’t seem quite right for me, or for the subject I wanted to talk about. Once I read Good Talk though, I had my ah-ha! moment and I’m excited. But…I digress. SO-if you’re anything like me, do not hesitate for one second to pick this one up. It’s powerful (probably even more powerful as a graphic novel) and I promise, you will not be disappointed!

Second, the amount of topics that Jacob covers is bewildering to me! I should say, the amount of topics she thoroughly covers in a beautiful, thought-provoking, intimate way… is bewildering to me! She delves into immigration, American identity, interracial families, politics, our divided nation (and sometimes, divided friendships and families), Obama’s election (YAY), the 2016 election (BOO), love, racism, sexuality and so much more. Somehow, she does it in a beautiful, thought-provoking, non-rushed, powerful way that will have you gushing to everyone you come in contact with.

Third, the artwork in here is fantastic! Humans are hard to draw…but Jacob does it brilliantly! And then to put the drawings on top of photographs?! Brilliant! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see Jacob’s process, how it worked, understand how much time this took, and what it took to get this amazing piece of art published. I am in awe.

Fourth-please get this book! You will not regret it for one second. It’s funny and sad, heart-wrenching and beautiful all at the same time. It’s the exact book that America needs right now and I feel privileged to have read it. I think it’s one you will come back to again and again. (Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk 😉 )

As always, come find me on Instagram!

bookishfolk…read instead.