TOP PICKS

March Book Recommendations

Curated by Mariel Ariwi
TheOneEighty-3846.JPG

Click on the book cover to read the review

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

“Life changes fast. 

Life changes in the instant. 

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”

 

After her only daughter contracted a severe illness that left her in the ICU for months, Joan Didion’s husband sat down for dinner and went into cardiac arrest, dying suddenly. The Year of Magical Thinking is Didion, one of the best essayists alive, trying to make sense of the year that follows and “the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends”. This is my favorite, and perhaps the most well known of all her work, and is impossible to put down without being incredibly moved. In a culture where death and mourning is not often talked about and therefore poorly dealt with, Didion breaks open the pain and trauma that death can wreak on a life and by doing so, equips her readers to learn how to better navigate through grief themselves. I find that reading about painful events prepares you for the possibility that something painful may also happen to you, but gives you hope that you, too, will survive it. Also tribute to her husband’s life and their writing partnership throughout their marriage, Didion’s writing is spare, beautiful, and heart wrenching.

TheOneEighty-3856.JPG

Negroland by Margo Jefferson

Margo Jefferson’s memoir of growing up in upper-class Black Chicago society, which she calls ‘Negroland’, in the 50’s and 60’s is incisive and compelling. While examining colorism, discrimination, and privilege, Negroland documents the shift of a society as the civil rights era dawns. This book is masterfully written. My favorite chapter included excerpts from her teenage diary and little snippets of conversation between her and her friends, fully drawing you into what it was like to be and live in that time. Powerful and inquisitive, Jefferson questions and explores “what has made and maimed” her in the dream of post-racial America.

TheOneEighty-3859.JPG

Obasan by Joy Kogawa

In Kogawa’s little known Canadian classic, Naomi Nakane seeks to understand her family’s experiences as Japanese-Canadians throughout WWII. Through documents and letters, Naomi reconstructs her grandmother’s time in an internment camp and the aftereffects of her imprisonment that reverberate throughout her family’s life. I didn’t know much about this chapter in Canada’s history. Why is that so? Why do I, someone who spent 17 years being educated in the Canadian system, never recall this being taught (or even mentioned)? Canada perpetuates an image of diversity and acceptance and that it’s always been so; the stories briefly touched upon in this novel prove this to be untrue. Obasan displays the deep-reaching effects of racism on a community and people and is a great starting point for learning more on this subject.

TheOneEighty-3858.JPG
TheOneEighty-3858.JPG

Obasan by Joy Kogawa

In Kogawa’s little known Canadian classic, Naomi Nakane seeks to understand her family’s experiences as Japanese-Canadians throughout WWII. Through documents and letters, Naomi reconstructs her grandmother’s time in an internment camp and the aftereffects of her imprisonment that reverberate throughout her family’s life. I didn’t know much about this chapter in Canada’s history. Why is that so? Why do I, someone who spent 17 years being educated in the Canadian system, never recall this being taught (or even mentioned)? Canada perpetuates an image of diversity and acceptance and that it’s always been so; the stories briefly touched upon in this novel prove this to be untrue. Obasan displays the deep-reaching effects of racism on a community and people and is a great starting point for learning more on this subject.

TheOneEighty-3859.JPG

Negroland by Margo Jefferson

Margo Jefferson’s memoir of growing up in upper-class Black Chicago society, which she calls ‘Negroland’, in the 50’s and 60’s is incisive and compelling. While examining colorism, discrimination, and privilege, Negroland documents the shift of a society as the civil rights era dawns. This book is masterfully written. My favorite chapter included excerpts from her teenage diary and little snippets of conversation between her and her friends, fully drawing you into what it was like to be and live in that time. Powerful and inquisitive, Jefferson questions and explores “what has made and maimed” her in the dream of post-racial America. 

TheOneEighty-3856.JPG

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

“Life changes fast. 

Life changes in the instant. 

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”

 

After her only daughter contracted a severe illness that left her in the ICU for months, Joan Didion’s husband sat down for dinner and went into cardiac arrest, dying suddenly. The Year of Magical Thinking is Didion, one of the best essayists alive, trying to make sense of the year that follows and “the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends”. This is my favorite, and perhaps the most well known of all her work, and is impossible to put down without being incredibly moved. In a culture where death and mourning is not often talked about and therefore poorly dealt with, Didion breaks open the pain and trauma that death can wreak on a life and by doing so, equips her readers to learn how to better navigate through grief themselves. I find that reading about painful events prepares you for the possibility that something painful may also happen to you, but gives you hope that you, too, will survive it. Also tribute to her husband’s life and their writing partnership throughout their marriage, Didion’s writing is spare, beautiful, and heart wrenching.