Booked and Busy

Last year on my channel, I talked about how I joined a book club during the summer after being invited by my friend, Kelley. The creation of the book club was inspired by the BLM resurgence so that we could have open dialogue about race-related topics with guided discussion. We ended up finishing five books-fiction and non-fiction-in six months with each book touching on a similar and/or different social issue including race, gender, sexual orientation, war, generational trauma, and so on. This book club not only allowed me to have much-needed conversations with fellow people of color, but it also became a way for me to socialize during quarantine and make new friends! It has truly been one of the highlights of 2020. We are starting our sixth book, Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar, this weekend and the hiatus we have had over the holidays made me realize how much I enjoyed the weekly cadence of reading.

I’ve been clearing out my small collection of books I enjoyed but know I will never re-read. Besides self-help and spiritual books, my collection-or lack thereof-consists of autobiographies and a couple of thriller reads I’ve yet to crack open. As a writer, you would think that I equally love to read. I find that when I do read, I often return to the same books: More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Both of these books are set in the fashion world of New York City, so that’s likely why, but that kind of let me know I may be in the market for some new finds. I come from a TV family, so my interest in reading growing up has been minimal and mostly reserved for academic purposes. For many years, I told myself I wanted to pick up reading, but the idea of sitting still and focusing on words when we have so many other options to entertain ourselves did not appeal to me. I used to be jealous of everyone who’d sped through the Harry Potter books and knew all these fun details with their worn out copies from obvious re-reads. I was also out of the loop when Twilight hit the scene in middle school, so I tried to join ‘the club’ when the Hunger Games trilogy came out in high school and barely made it through the first book. I told myself, “Maybe I’m the person who just sees the movies,” and went about my life.

After discovering Elaine Welteroth’s autobiography in 2019, I knew that, at the very least, I enjoyed autobiographies. I’d read Michelle Obama’s Becoming, The Bell Jar was technically an autobiography, I’d owned books of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn from “their own words”-autobiographies were my thing. Naturally, the first three books we ended up reading in my book club were autobiographical tales, but something switched when I started reading in 2020. I fell in love with analyzing the text knowing it wasn’t for a grade; I enjoyed the world I’d made up in my mind of these individuals and finally understood why some people get mad at film adaptations; I discovered I was captivated by the drama that comes with fiction once we transitioned out of autobiographies. I finally absorbed the beauty of prose and am even more proud to know this newfound love was assisted by friends-old and new-as well as authors who are all people of color. 🙂

I’m so glad to have this new hobby in my life and that I’m finally becoming a ‘reader.’ Seeing as we’ll continue spending time indoors in 2021, I need some good reads to dive into outside of my book club. What are some books you discovered in quarantine? Some that you fell in love with years ago and find yourself returning to? Let me know in the comments!
xx, AE

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