Last year, my commute changed from approximately 100 minutes each way on a bus with wifi, to 40 minutes each way on a bus without wifi. This change could not have been better for getting back to reading. Despite having “only” 40 minutes each way, I was able to read far more often without the distraction of email or Facebook. I began reading around one book per month, and participating in independent research has allowed me to keep up this trend. I’ve been reading such great books since landing in Bogotá, that I had to share.
Past Fulbright reads:
- Short Walks from Bogotá: Journeys in the New Colombia, by Tom Feiling
I read this book when I first got to Colombia and found it to be a super helpful overview of the country’s history, told in a casual style of writing. Now that it’s a couple of years old, some of the points on the peace process have changed, but the civil war stories recounted remain the same.
- Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfield
This book is a modern take on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. To be honest, it took me two attempts to get into it, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down.
- The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
This was a heart-wrenching account of two girls growing up in Charleston, South Carolina during slavery times. The author does not hold back when describing the horrific details of slavery, and alternates between the perspective of the daughter of wealthy slave owners, Sarah Grimke, and the girl who was “gifted” to her as a slave for her birthday, Handful “Hetty” Grimke. The story is based on real people and was one of the best books I read last year. Please, read this one.
- Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I feel totally unqualified to say or critique anything by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book was different from anything I’d ever read, and I’d highly recommend it.
- Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, by Susan Gregg Gilmore
This was an easy, fiction read about a young girl dying to get away from her small town and move to big city Atlanta. I really enjoyed this book, probably because I saw myself in the protagonist, Catherine Grace.
Currently reading: Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
This book is already becoming one of my favorites of all time, and I haven’t even finished it yet. The author, Zadie Smith, does an amazing job of painting each scene; it feels as though she chose every word of every sentence with intention. The book takes place over several years, as the lives of the bi-racial, unnamed protagonist and her friend, Tracey, separate and converge over decades, from grade school to adult life. But, my few sentences can’t do this novel justice; you need to read it for yourself.
- Postcards from Venus, by Trisha R. Thomas
I fell in love with the protagonist, Venus Johnston, in Thomas’ novel, Nappily Ever After. That book was, in part, what pushed me to cut off my straightened hair and start over with my natural hair, just like Venus. It turns out, my Aunt knows the author! This is Thomas’ most recent book in the series, and I can’t wait to read it.
- Seda, by Alessandro Baricco
“Seda” means “silk” in Spanish, and this Spanish-translation of an Italian book was suggested to me by two different women at a small bookstore in Bogotá.
- Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly
Of course, Hidden Figures has now become a super successful movie, and I received the book version from my boyfriend for Christmas. I can’t wait to learn more… about something that I really should’ve learned about in grade school, growing up so close to where this all took place.
- My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Conducting Fulbright research on reproductive rights and Supreme Court cases has made me increasingly interested in Supreme Court justices, including the notorious RBG.
- The Truest Thing about You: Identity, Desire, and Why It All Matters, by David Lomas
I downloaded this book forever ago, and it’s about time I check it out. Dave Lomas is the lead pastor at my church in San Francisco, Reality SF, and I’m super curious to hear what he has to say.