The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

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When you first crack open The Three-Body Problem, there’s a list of characters at the front of the book, implying that it will be a difficult read and you’re going to need to refer back to the list in order to keep track of everybody. However, once I dived in, I discovered that the list of characters wasn’t necessary. We mainly shift between two point-of-view characters, so it isn’t difficult to keep track of who’s who. Also, some of the characters listed barely appear in the book at all, so I don’t know why the list is there at all. Continue reading

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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“I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood. No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose. The louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest. He would whip her to make her scream, and whip her to make her hush; and not until overcome by fatigue, would he cease to swing the blood-clotted cowskin.” Continue reading

Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington

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“With few exceptions, the Negro youth must work harder and must perform his tasks even better than a white youth in order to secure recognition.”

Booker T. Washington was born a slave. He never learned his father’s name, but heard reports that his father was a white man who lived on one of the near-by plantations. He grew up in a cabin that was so drafty, there were at least half a dozen places that could serve as cat-holes. The floor of the cabin was bare earth except for one hole used to store sweet potatoes covered with boards. It was very cold in the winter and heat from the open fireplace made it too hot in the summer. For a bed, the children slept on a bundle of filthy rags. Continue reading

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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“Sloth was literal death for us, while for them, it was the whole ambition of their lives.”

Hiram is born into slavery in Virginia. Although he’s far more educated and capable than his bumbling white half-brother Maynard, Hiram is tasked with being his brother’s servant. When the book begins, both of them are about to be drowned in a river before we go into a flashback. Continue reading

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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One guy in Russia suddenly goes crazy. He first attacks his friend, then he kills himself. A few more people engage in similar behavior. By the time there’s about 300 unexplained suicides worldwide, society shuts down. This didn’t ring true to me. As I write this, over half a million people have died from Covid-19, yet there’s still a sizable chunk of the population who refuse to wear masks. Why would everybody panic after just 300 deaths worldwide? We humans generally don’t take things seriously until it’s too late. Continue reading

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

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White people are uncomfortable talking about race because it challenges our identity as unique and objective people. We get defensive and might insist that we’re the ones who are really being oppressed. We want to believe that we aren’t racist and any suggestion that we benefit from racist systems makes us angry or makes us not want to talk about it. However, not talking about it preserves the system that gives us privilege.
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Zone One by Colson Whitehead

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“If they could bring back paperwork, Mark Spitz thought, they could certainly reanimate prejudice, parking tickets, and reruns. There were plenty of things in the world that deserved to stay dead, yet they walked.”

Zone One is a literary novel and as such is more focused on poetic language than action. The prose is filled with metaphors, similes, foreshadowing, personification, thesaurus words, and pages of description. So even though it’s a zombie book, it’s one your English teacher will be proud of you for reading. Continue reading

Dark Corners

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Dark Corners is a collection of horror short stories published by Amazon, which I’d say is worth your time overall.

“There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed” by Edgar Cantero takes place in a world in which anything you say becomes reality. It’s both fun and funny and also has a couple scary moments. Four children who are all Harry Potter fans (and who each belong to a different Harry Potter house) are having a sleepover when the ability to summon monsters like giant trapdoor spiders into existence becomes a problem. Continue reading