Am I a Stereotypical Bookworm?

A few months ago, Cait from Paper Fury wrote a blog post that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. She examined 10 bookworm stereotypes and noted whether she identified with them. I was inspired to do the same thing, so let’s see how stereotypical I really am!

1. BOOKWORMS WEAR GLASSES.

True, I do wear glasses, all the time. I can’t see a thing without them because I had my lenses removed when I was a baby.

2. BOOKWORMS DRINK TEA AND WHILE READING.

Well, I love tea but I don’t drink it while reading, I have done it before but I no longer have the leisure time to sit in a window seat with a riveting novel and a mug of tea, so I’ll give it a half point.

3. BOOKWORMS THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY READ AND GET VERY SMART.

Now, while I don’t know everything (or even a lot of things) I do believe that reading has made me more intelligent. I try to read books about a wide array of different things, and since I’m an introspective researcher at heart I have to know as much as I can about a subject I’m passionate about.

4. BOOKWORMS HOARD BOOKS.

Surprisingly, I actually don’t like buying books so I’m definitely not a book hoarder. I’d rather go to the library than buy a book, and spend that money on clothes, skincare, Kpop albums, nail polish, stationery etc. To be honest, I used to loathe buying books, now I’ll buy one occasionally if it’s a new release I’m looking forward to, or if I’ve read the book, love it, and want to highlight/take notes in it but usually, no book buying for me.

5. BOOKWORMS HAVE NO OTHER HOBBIES OR A LIFE, JUST BOOKS.

This statement is the least accurate from the entire list. Books aren’t even my biggest passion. I like fashion, food (eating + baking), music, journaling, Kpop etc. along with books. It’s hard for me to imagine someone only having books as a passion because I’m into so many other things.

6. BOOKWORMS WANT TO BE WRITERS.

I’ll give this one a half point. Because fashion, music, or food journalist is on my list of possible careers but right now fashion stylist is at the top. I definitely don’t want to be a fiction author, however.

7. BOOKWORMS PREFER PHYSICAL BOOKS TO EBOOKS.

Yes. This is 100% true, I actually can’t stand ebooks. All the articles, blog posts, and videos I consume on my phone, laptop, or iPad definitely make me want a break to hold a physical book in my hands. Also, I’ve noticed that I retain more from physical books than I have whenever the rare opportunity is that I’ll read an ebook.

8. BOOKWORMS ARE ALL INTROVERTS

I am an introvert. However, since I’m an INFJ I show tons of extrovert qualities. Usually the stereotype is that bookworms are painfully shy and would rather read than socialize. This is definitely not true for me: hands down I’d always prefer a party, trip, concert, etc to staying home and reading. I’m definitely the more “let’s’ go out and do something” type of introvert if it’s with people I like.

9. BOOKWORMS LOVE GOING TO BOOK STORES.

A good book store is a joy to enter. It’s like having a whole new world of books to discover, so this is completely true for me. If you’re in the Nashville area I recommend Parnassus, it’s lit.

10. BOOKWORMS THINK THE BOOK IS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE.

Duhhhh! I do usually like the movie versions, but there are just so many details that there isn’t enough time to include in a movie, that you glean from reading the book.

***

That’s the last of the statements and my final score is 7/10, that seems pretty accurate. Let me know your score in the comments!
Also, follow me on Instagram: @theakilah_grace if you wanna know what I’m currently reading!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

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Author’s Notes & Aux Cords: Animal Farm

So, I’m back with another Author’s Notes & Aux Cords because they’re just so much fun to write! If you missed my first one check it out here. And, you know the drill: beware of spoilers!

Today’s book is Animal Farm by George Orwell, hands-down my favorite required reading for my British Literature course of sophomore year. It’s a satirical novel, telling the story of a farm run by an oppressive farmer. The animals decide to take control of their situation and overthrow Mr. Jones, the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, assume authoritative roles and chaos ensues. This story tells the underlying story of a totalitarian government and a revolution. But it tells those truths using a classic animal story reminiscent of Charlotte’s Web or something similar. The narrative of Animal Farm tells transcends to any time period and any governmental system. It’s a quick read that’s sure to change your life. So, let’s look at the playlist!

Freedom | Lecrae ft. N’Dambi

“I’ma go pursue my happiness, they told me it was free
But I’m still payin’ for it, I’m indebted to this thing”

The animals on Manor Farm are fed up with life under Mr. Jones, so they stage a rebellion and take over the farm. After grasping their freedom, they believe happiness will follow. However, years later, they’re still oppressed and working harder than ever under the rule of Napoleon the pig.

Wake Me Up | B.A.P

“자각해 타락해버린 진실
분열된 주체 속의 껍질”

“Be aware of the corrupt truth
And the outer layer of the broken subjects”

Napoleon lives off of broken subjects and corrupt truth. The animals aren’t aware of his lies and they’re vulnerable. They’ve been hurt for so long that they want answers, and Napoleon comes along at the right time and in the right way, providing empty solutions

Alexander Hamilton | Hamilton: An American Musical

“Get your education, don’t forget from whence you came”

Because many of the farm animals can’t read, the pigs can keep changing the commandments of animalism to uphold their motives. In addition, the animals neglect to pass down their history to their offspring. Eventually, there are young animals that don’t remember life under Mr. Jones or the rebellion. Some of the animals’ grief and oppression could be solved if they knew their history and knew how to read.

Get It Together | India Arie

“Dark future ahead of me
That’s what they said
I’d be starving if I ate all the lies they fed”

Believing Squealer, the animals consume the propaganda that tells them they’re better off than before. When in reality they’re starving while the pigs are getting fat, filling them with fear of the future.

No More Dream | BTS

“But 사실은 I dun have any big dreams
하하 난 참 편하게 살어
꿈 따위 안 꿔도 아무도 뭐라 안 하잖어
전부 다다다 똑가같이
나처럼 생각하고 있어”

“But actually, I don’t have any big dreams
Haha, I live quite comfortably
Even if I don’t dream, no one says anything
Everyone is thinking
the same way as me”

Gone are the days when the animals had ambitions for a better life. Now, the citizens of Animal Farm have lost their dreams and are eating the mass of lies that the pigs feed them. None of them question, none of them dare to think differently, none of them refuse the lies, they all think the same thoughts.

Clarity | Andy Mineo

“All I, all I want is clarity, clarity
‘Cause all of my heroes are frauds just like me, just like me
So let every man be a liar, let only God be truth
And all of your heroes are frauds just like you”

At the end of the narrative, the animals witness the pigs, who spoke ill of humans, the pigs, who promised a better life, the pigs, who led them to their future, turn into men right before their eyes. Sadly, the animals’ heroes become frauds in front of them.

This book is amazing and I could fangirl about it all day so leave something in the comments if you’re a fan of Animal Farm.

Here’s the playlist, I’d encourage you to take a listen even if you don’t like Animal Farm because these are good quality bops.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

This or That {Book Edition}

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Hello guys! I was checking my email when I saw this post by Paper Fury and since hers was so good, I decided to jump in. So, here are my picks for these Bookish This or That Tag questions.

1. SERIES OR STANDALONE

Standalone. When I was younger I used to be obsessed with series, but now ya girl has too many things to do to finish a series. Exhibit A: I’ve only read the first Harry Potter book.

2. MAGIC EARNED OR MAGIC BORN

I think I prefer magic born because they have to live with it and figure it out, which causes some interesting plot situations.

3. ENEMIES-TO-LOVERS OR FRIENDS-TO-LOVERS

I actually like somewhere in-between but I guess I’ll choose friends-to-lovers.

4. HILARIOUS BANTER OR EMOTIONAL RUIN

Emotional ruin because I like to die when I read books…

5. LOVE TRIANGLE OR INSTA LOVE

Love triangle! Insta love is irritating to me but I love a good love triangle to divide the fandom.

6. KEYBOARD-SMASH FANTASY NAMES OR ALL NAMES START WITH SAME LETTER

Fantasy names, it makes the book more interesting and more memorable.

7. MEAN PARENTS OR DEAD PARENTS

Dead parents because pain again and also mean parents are usually written in an unrealistically annoying way to me.

8. SUPERMODEL LOOKS OR CONSTANTLY SAYS HOW “PLAIN” THEY ARE

Neither. But since I must choose…supermodel looks because the “plain jane” trope is overused.

9. FACE ON COVER VS TYPOGRAPHY ON COVER

TYPOGRAPHY!!! I absolutely cannot stand a model’s face on the cover of a book aghhhh!

10. VILLAIN TURNING A LITTLE GOOD OR HERO TURNING A LITTLE BAD

Hero turning a little bad. I like blurred lines and it’s interesting when you have to ask whether your heroes are actually “good” anyway.

I hope you enjoyed this random little tag, feel free to tell me some of your picks in the comments.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Author’s Notes & Aux Cords: This Side of Home

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Music and books are two of my favorite things, so when I had the idea to combine them I couldn’t wait. This series is where I create playlists of songs that remind me of or match with my favorite books. First up is This Side of Home by Renee Watson. If you want more general info about this book and author check out this post. Also, this post contains some mild spoilers since I’m discussing the plot along with the songs, so please be aware. Without further ado: the playlist!

 

17 | Mahalia

“But I’m tired of hiding for the benefit of my peers
What’s so wrong with shining?
Why’ve you got so much fear?”

The main characters of this narrative: Maya and Nikki are 17 in the story. Maya especially feels as if she’s hiding because she dates a white guy and doesn’t believe her friends will approve, especially because they see her and she sees herself as a very woke activist-minded type of person. As the narrative progresses she develops more security in who she is and realizes that who she dates doesn’t change who she is.

Ma City | BTS

“I don’t know what to say 나 죽어도 말 못해
내게 억만 금을 주고 딴 데 살라고?
ah no thanks”

“I don’t know what to say. Even if I die, I can’t say it
Even if you give me a hundred thousand dollars to live somewhere else
ah no thanks”

As Portland becomes more and more gentrified, Maya and Nikki come to grips with what it means to love and support their city. Although economically, it may be better to sell their house and move on, their hearts belong to Portland and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Put Your Records On | Corinne Bailey Rae

“Maybe sometimes we feel afraid, but it’s alright
The more you stay the same, the more they seem to change
Don’t you think it’s strange?”

When the twins were children, they made plans with their friend Essence to attend Spelman College all together. As they get older though, Essence moves away, the twins move farther apart, and their lives move forward in different directions. Maya thinks she’s stayed the same and all the things around her have changed.

Bubbles | Jamila Woods

“Black girl be in a bubble, bubble
Floating quietly out of trouble, trouble
They call you shy
Always ask why you listen before you speak”

This book deals a lot with Maya’s experience as a black girl, always having to hold back, answer others questions and deal with consequences for speaking up. She has the heart of an activist though and although she is in a sort of a “bubble” she manages to pop it over time.

Younger | Seinabo Sey

“There is a light to all this darkness if only we
Fight against them telling us how we should be
I refuse to have you break me
When you know you ain’t getting any”

I thought this song fit, first of all because the twins last name is Younger. But more than that, this story deals with gentrification and the effects of that on Maya, Nikki, and their neighborhood. As more white and Latina students move into their school zone, their principal starts to give special treatment to those students and doing things like cutting the Black history program in favor of a diversity fair. Maya and her friends fight back against this and refuse to simply accept the unfair treatment in their neighborhood and school.

Here’s the link to the Spotify playlist if you want to check it out, and feel free to follow me on Spotify!

 

Leave a comment below telling me what you thought about the playlist. If you’ve read the book, do you think my choices fit?

Stay fly,

~Akilah

What Went Down March + Mixtape

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Hi! I’m late but I’m here. I can’t believe that we’re now in the second quarter of 2018. Let’s see what happened in March!

Food

 

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We ate at Puckett’s and I had some bomb chicken and waffles. I think that’s the only noteworthy food experience.

 

Fashion

Seoul Fashion Week happened and there’ll be a post about that soon.

 

Books

The Hobbit | J.R.R. Tolkien

Speak | Laurie Halse Anderson

Out of the Silent Planet | C.S. Lewis

Speak was my favorite, I loved the story and the emphasis on art. Out of the Silent Planet is also amazing, it’s a cool sci-fi read.

 

Life

We finished Hwarang!!!! It was amazing: I laughed, cried, and screamed. I’m so sad it’s over but so satisfied.

I had the monumental opportunity to write and direct the Easter play for our church so March was filled with rehearsals.

Hmmm, I think that’s all the noteworthy happenings.

 

Kpop

Whoaaaaa! There were so many spectacular comebacks this month. Monsta X’s Jealousy, NCT 127’s Touch,  and Samuel’s One were so cool. I’m crushed by BigBang’s Flower Road and SHINee’s From Now On. And j-hope’s mixtape saved 2018.

 

March Mixtape

  • La Fete Est Fini | Orelsan
  • Pulling Me Under | Kevin Garrett
  • That’s What Love Can Do | Vivian Green
  • If You Fall | Ray Dalton
  • Walls | Jaylon Ashaun
  • One & Only You | Got7
  • Miss You | EXO-CBX
  • Encore | Cheryl Lynn
  • Best Love | Yuna
  • Warriors | Koryn Hawthorne
  • Africa | Kyle Bielfield
  • Daydream | j-hope
  • Ce qui me plait | Lisandro Cuxi
  • Touch | NCT 127
  • The Night Song | Ravyn Lenae
  • Call Me Baby | Jung Min, Daeho
  • Think Hole | B.A.P
  • Overdose | EXO
  • Lost | BTS
  • Dance With Me (Venus) | VAV
  • Flower Road | BigBang
  • Lovin You Mo | EXO
  • Nous | Lisandro Cuxi
  • A Rose is Still a Rose | Aretha Franklin
  • Pleasure Principal | Janet Jackson
  • Growl | Daeho

 

I know this wrap-up was a bit more abrupt/strangely formatted but it’s a wonder it even got out so I hope you still enjoyed it!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Let’s Talk About Black Panther

Because the king don’t cry, king don’t die
King don’t lie, king give heart, king get by, king don’t fall
Kingdom come, when I come, you know why
King, king, king, king
I am T’Challa! ~Black Panther // Kendrick Lamar

Black Panther

I saw Black Panther on opening night and it was amazing! Hands-down the best Marvel movie ever created: it was exciting, humorous, and inspiring. Not only do I want every single outfit worn in this movie but I lowkey wish I could move to Wakanda. Also, don’t be surprised if my future kids are named after characters in this movie.

I’ve seen the movie twice now and my thoughts have settled enough that I am prepared to analyze and share my thoughts.

Ok, you should’ve seen the movie by now, but I’m obligated to give you a warning: this contains spoilers.

Political Commentary

During the duration of the movie I got chills realizing just how much some of the narrative mirrored our world today. I don’t quite remember whose line it was, but one of the characters stated that if Wakanda opened it’s borders then people would come, bringing their problems with them and pollute the nation. This mirrors some people’s attitudes to immigration in the United States: we shouldn’t let them in because they’ll “pollute our society”. It’s a fear tactic, the Wakandans feared corruption by the world just as some Americans fear the loss of jobs, their way of life, and their safety.

Even in Erik Killmonger’s character we find a relatable element. Without a doubt Killmonger is evil, I mean he’s a murderer, however his philosophies themselves aren’t evil and that’s what makes him an amazing villain. Killmonger is angry that Wakanda chooses to stand by as black people around the world are being oppressed while they have the ability to help. This frustration is understandable but his solutions are wrong: arm the population with weapons and mercilessly kill the oppressor. As T’Challa said, Killmonger would have the oppressed become the oppressor. A lot of people in real life hold this philosophy: that oppressed people should give colonizers a taste of their own medicine, but while it is a very visceral response and a natural one: it won’t solve anything. We should treat people as we would want to be treated rather than how they treat us.

Fashion

I think everyone can agree that the fashion was top-notch. Even those who never notice the costume design in a film had at least one thing they were struck by fashion-wise in this movie. For me, I was struck by everything. My favorite looks were Shuri’s white dress with the tulle ruffle on the back, Nakia’s green jumpsuit, and T’Challa’s Kente cloth edged robe.

I also loved the symbolism that was laced through the looks. For instance, I noticed Shuri’s clothes were a lot more modern-Western influenced than the other characters, I think this is because she’s the youngest and represents technological innovation and the integration of culture. There was also a huge contrast between T’Challa’s and Killmonger’s kingly garb. T’Challa always wore his robe closed while Killmonger wore it open to expose his chest. I think is portraying Killmonger’s eagerness to show his power and strength but also his tendency not care about acceptability and tradition. T’Challa is just as strong as (if not stronger) than Killmonger but more reserved, tactical, and discreet.

I watched a commentary where the director Ryan Coogler was discussing the symbolism in the casino scene. T’Challa is wearing black, Nakia green, and Okoye red, these are the colors of the Pan-African flag. Also, when in everyone’s favorite scene Okoye flings off her wig to expose her shaven head, she’s symbolizing the casting-off of narrow European standards of beauty and embracing her natural glory. I really feel that.

Female Empowerment

Finally, we come to my one of my favorite themes in this film: female empowerment and specifically black girl magic. The Dora Milaje were spectacular, the concept of an all female warrior/body-guard squad really peaked my interest but it was even better in execution. What I truly loved throughout this movie was that women were allowed to be fierce and vulnerable, strong and sensitive, to show the multi-faceted nature of femininity. Sometimes with modern feminism we end up exalting women at the expense of men, but in this film everyone was allowed to be who they truly are. Having female body guards didn’t diminish T’Challa’s masculinity or make him seem weak and incapable, rather it made him seem stronger and more secure.

Ryan Coogler has been continually discussing the concept of “femininity as a weapon”, which I can’t get enough of. When Okoye throws her wig and Nakia fights with her high heel in the casino they’re using femininity as a weapon. The fact that all of the Dora Milaje fight in dresses even further portrays femininity as a weapon. One of my favorite scenes is when W’Kabi asks Okoye if she would really kill him, her lover, she responds without hesitation, “For Wakanda? Without question”. This comment exemplifies Okoye’s loyalty to her country, her heritage, and herself first and foremost. It’s so powerful to see them standing there: Okoye with her spear pointed at W’Kabi who’s kneeling before her. By her courageous display of loyalty she eventually brings him back to his senses.

Showing black women as beautiful, kind, smart, and strong is one of the best things that Black Panther does. Just the fact that Shuri, a 16-year-old black girl is the smartest character in the Marvel Universe is monumental, especially for me: a 16-year-old black girl. I’ve heard people say that this movie changed their perceptions of black women: it caused them to realize that black women are truly beautiful. Any movie that can change people’s perceptions is a legendary one indeed.

I could go on and on about this film so there may be a part two in the future. But for now, tell me what you thought of Black Panther, did you enjoy it? What did you gather from the film?

Stay fly, Wakanda Forever!

~Akilah

What Went Down ~February + Monthly Mixtape

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February has come and gone, I’m sad to see it go but sort of relieved because I’m exhausted from blogging everyday. Let’s see what went down in February.

Food

  • We ate a bunch of gluten free pizza
  • Had breakfast at Firstwatch (I had lemon ricotta pancakes and they were the bomb.com)

I think that’s it actually, definitely not as cool as January’s food scene.

 

Fashion

I’m really ashamed to say that although February is fashion month I didn’t really follow any coverage of runway shows.

I know, I know, I plan to catch up in March but I was quite preoccupied this month. Anyway I get emails from Vogue Runway so I did see glimpses of some brands and I’m in love with Fendi so far.

I bought some jeans from Macy’s. This may not seem like wrap-up worthy news but these are definitively the best jeans I’ve ever owned and you’ll probably be seeing them in a million ootds in the future.

 

Books

I completed three books again, not for Brit Lit however (I still haven’t completed Pride & Prejudice or A Passage to India but we’re not gonna talk about it.)

  • A Girl Named Mister ~Nikki Grimes
  • Calling My Name ~Liara Tamani
  • The Skin I’m In ~Sharon G. Flake

A Girl Named Mister was my favorite, although all of them were amazing and you can click the links to see the posts I did about each one.

 

 

Life

The Olympics happened in PyeonChang South Korea. I will say the highlights for me were CL and EXO performing at the Closing Ceremony. But in terms of events I loved Short Track and couples skating.

Seeing EXO perform was truly amazing. I mean the Growl remix was off the chain! I even liked their rendition of Power this time even though I lowkey can’t stand that song. Their outfits, their dancing, their singing all was on point. I did really miss Yixing though, I hope Idol Producer is going well for him!

We watched The Jacksons: An American Dream which is a docu-drama miniseries about Michael Jackson and the Jacksons early life and career. It was really good and Angela Bassett slayed as always.

We also watched two French films this month Les Chorsites and Kirikou et la Sorciere. Both were spectacular but I especially loved Les Chorsites, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone (it has English subtitles if you can’t understand French).

My sister and I also started watching the Kdrama Hwarang. We started it because Taehyung from BTS and Minho from SHINee were in it and because my little sister is learning Korean. But we soon got hooked on the story. We’re only on episode 4 but I can’t wait to get farther into it.

I also colored my hair for the first time ever this month. I went from my natural dark brown color to a deep violet. It’s not actually that noticeable: more like a slight blue-black but I like how it gave my hair more sheen. Anyway I’ll probably do it again later this year.

I also got new glasses! You may see them, you may not: I like to be mysterious…

Ok and now for the most exciting thing that happened this month Black Panther!!! I saw it with my mom, dad, and little sister on opening Friday and it was hands-down the best Marvel movie ever. I can’t wait to see it again this Saturday. Also, I’ll be doing a blog post about it pretty soon so look forward to that!

 

Kpop

Seventeen released their Thanks MV and Performance Video

I love the calming vibes of this song so much! Also S. Coups and Woozi slayed vocals. And please tell me how Minghao looks cool with a mullet?

NCT-U came back with Boss and released a dance practice for it

Not gonna lie I was literally screaming watching this video. It’s spectacular and I may or may not have made my sister watch it 5 times with me when it first came out. Every single member was bias wrecking me at every possible second: the choreo was bomb, the outfits were amazing, and the rap and vocal performances were life. I think there’s always at least one video where you’re rewarded for stanning your bias and this video was that one for me. I mean Taeyong really showed out. Also the new members Jungwoo and Lucas are so amazing, I especially love Lucas’ rap in this song and I look forward to seeing more from them!

NCT-U (Taeyong & Ten) released Baby Don’t Stop

Not to be confused with EXO’s Baby Don’t Cry or NCT 127’s Baby Don’t Like It. Anyway seeing Ten again was amazing and he and Taeyong make a lit duo. I love the dance in this, Taeyong singing is life, and him rapping in Spanish is pretty cool. I don’t love the song so I don’t think I’m gonna download it but the video is nice and the song is super catchy.

Monsta X released a Tropical Night self cam video

MX are kings of self cam and this one did not disappoint. My highlights were Kihyun cleaning the studio while dancing, all the Showhyuk moments, and Changkyun with the Supreme money gun. They’re dorks and I love them.

SF9 released Mamma Mia

Ok… this was not my favorite video. They were doing the most the entire video but it was kinda cute kinda funny I guess. I did really like Taeyang’s dance part, his dance is the reason he’s my bias.

Got7 released a special video One and Only You feat. Hyolyn

I’m already in love with this song and I need a full length version. The video is fun and Yugyeom’s singing part is the best ever.

 

February Mixtape

I listened to a lot of music this month and a lot of great songs came out this month.

Fun ~Coldplay ft. Tove Lo

She’s Mine ~VAV

Same Drugs ~Chance the Rapper

U + Me (Love Lesson) ~Mary J. Blige

On the Loose ~Niall Horan

Black Gold ~Esperanza Spalding

Miss You Much ~Janet Jackson

Unravel Me ~Sabrina Claudio

Grenade ~Bruno Mars

Black Panther ~Kendrick Lamar

So Sick ~Ne-Yo

Electric Kiss ~EXO

Tomorrow ~BTS

Boss ~NCT-U

Beautiful ~iKON

Love Story ~Suran ft. Crush

Someone Who Can ~Yuna

Too Much Sauce ~Chloe x Halle

Pay My Rent ~DNCE

Blessings (reprise) ~Chance the Rapper

La Modelo ~Ozuna ft. Cardi B.

Hymn for the Weekend ~Coldplay

Thanks ~Seventeen

My Flower ~JBJ

 

That was a long post for February to be the shortest month but I hope you enjoyed seeing my highlights.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

What were your February highlights?

 

 

28 Days of Black Authors ~Day 28

Walter Dean Myers

I was around 12 years old when my dad told me to read Walter Dean Myers’ Monster. I picked it up, kind of stunned to see a cover with a black guy on it. It’s funny because looking back I expect to have felt slight electric shocks as I opened the first page. But honestly, that page was just like any other book…except it wasn’t.

Unable to put the book down, I devoured those pages in about a day. Having the main character: Steve Harmon, write his own story as a screenplay was an excellent choice on the part of Mr. Myers, it adds a personal flavor to the narrative. We get to peer into Steve’s mind as he’s in jail and on trial for murder.

This narrative questions the American legal system and explores the innocent until proven guilty mantra. Looking at who Steve truly is versus how the public perceives him allows this book to connect with all types of people. Part of being human is being misunderstood and the pain and frustration of that misunderstanding comes across clearly.

I like to think of my reading life as pre-Monster and post-Monster because it changed so much for me. It was one of the first books I’d read since picture book age that featured a black main character. However, there’s another Walter Dean Myers book that impacted me even more than Monster.

To tell the story of his childhood and adolescence Walter Dean Myers wrote Bad Boy: A Memoir. Not only is it an entertaining story, but it grapples with deep, sometimes messy questions about life. Young Walter questions who God is, what it means to be black, and what it means to be a man. When he looks around him he only sees one way to be a black man and wrestles with the fact that he doesn’t fit that image.

But on top of wrestling with conventional blackness and masculinity, Walter deals with constantly being labeled as a bad boy by his teachers. Again, he doesn’t fit the mold that’s already in place and therefore from grade to grade a distorted reputation of his character follows him.

Even grazing mental illness, this book caused me to think so much about so many things. Thoughts of the detrimental nature of inaccurate cultural stereotypes, the power and danger of words, and the importance of understanding Christianity and clearly answering the questions surrounding it were all catalyzed by this narrative. That’s what Walter Dean Myers books always do. It’s no wonder that he inspired a whole generation of black authors: many of the other authors I’ve featured in this series were inspired to write by this one man.

The whole reason I’ve read enough black authors to fill the month of February is Mr. Myers. He is an icon and his works will forever live on.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

 

 

28 Days of Black Authors ~Day 27

Jacqueline Woodson

I still remember the day I turned the final page of Miracle’s Boys. I still remember the tear stains on the page. I still remember the presence of the characters as if they were in my room. I still remember the hunger that gripped me to read more. More books that impacted me, more books about people like me, more books by Jacqueline Woodson.

Miracle’s Boys tells the story of three brothers: Lafayette, Charlie, and Ty’ree, struggling with the aftermath of their mother’s death and the pain that comes with growing up. The pain that oozes from these pages is balanced only by the joy that lines them. Jacqueline Woodson creates a beautiful narrative that speaks about the truths of life and death and family.

For some reason I’m always drawn to melancholy stories, especially those about death and pain. I think partially because seeing character’s deal with pain helps us as readers adequately handle our own. Each brother grieves differently and this shows how people grapple with tragedy realistically, Ms. Woodson writes in a way that we can find ourselves in Lafayette, Charlie, or Ty’ree. And what I’ve found in Ms. Woodson’s narratives is a space to take in and release pain along with my favorite characters. I don’t think I’ve ever cried over so many books by one author as I have with Jacqueline Woodson, the depth and beauty with which she writes is awe-inspiring.

Miracle’s Boys not only examines death and pain though, it looks at the duality of the human personality through Charlie’s character. Lafayette constantly refers to him as “New Charlie” because he seems to be a different person. Tough experiences have changed him for better or worse and this book seeks to show both sides of that better/worse coin.

I was truly changed by this narrative and each of Ms. Woodson’s books that I’ve read have become a small part of me. I hope that you’ll read Miracle’s Boys and that you’ll find something in it to love the way I do.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

 

28 Days of Black Authors ~Day 26

Sharon G Flake

“It takes a long time to accept yourself for who you are. To see the poetry in your walk. To look in the mirror and like what you see even when it doesn’t look like anybody else’s idea of beauty.” ~The Skin I’m In

I just finished reading The Skin I’m In and let’s just say I’m shook. Sharon G. Flake wrote a phenomenal narrative that needs to be read. It tells the story of Maleeka Madison, a girl who is bullied for her dark skin and homemade clothes, and her encounter with a teacher who is bullied for her skin condition. Neither one expects that the other would change them so much.

Heart-wrenching descriptions of Maleeka’s experience show just how detrimental bullying can be and the deep psychological scars it can leave. I could never imagine being bullied in the ways depicted in this story but not always seeing myself as beautiful is something I can relate too, and something I’m sure most of us can. Focusing on a realistic view of self-love and confidence, I like how not everything is completely perfect at the end of the narrative. Learning to love who we are and how we look is an on-going process and can’t be totally grasped in the snapshot of one’s life that a book could capture.

This story also exposes the danger of toxic friendships and how people who appear to love us can be antagonistic or passive when it counts. It’s beautiful to see Maleeka’s growth in courage and resolve over the course of the book and to witness how writing in her diary helped her handle all the pain. Truly beautiful and unapologetic, this novel is one that I will probably come back to again.

Stay fly,

~Akilah