On more than one occasion I’ve been told that I am a terrible gift receiver. Don’t get me wrong, I love gifts. I love to give them, and I love to receive them… generally. But, apparently, if I receive a gift that I, in actuality, don’t
love, then my face does this thing. My words say “Thank you so much!” or even “This is great!” but my face. It just does not agree. Then, the gift giver has to pretend like they didn’t see the look of disappointment, disdain, and maybe even disgust, and I feel terrible for turning something thoughtful into something sad.
Since my birthday is days away, I figured why not solve this gift giving dilemma by cultivating a birthday book wish list. A never-ending goodreads list made narrowing the choices quite the feat. What was originally a list of 10 books quickly doubled, and I managed to reign it in, editing it down to a manageable 18. Here I present my 2018 Birthday Book Wish List.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko (2017, Algonquin Books). Who leaves, who stays, and what happens to the family members and families who make these choices or are left with the consequences.
When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins (2016, Penguin Press). My love for the French language extends to books about it, and this one also merges my other interest in identity development.
My Usual Table: A Life in Restaurants by Colman Andrews (2014, Ecco). I love food, I love to eat, and quite naturally I love to read about food – whether food reviews, food history, or, in this case, a first-hand account of restaurants, chefs, and food.
A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (2017, Counterpoint). Race, the colorline, family, and The South. I can’t wait to delve into this multi-generational family drama.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang (2016, Hogarth Press). The title intrigued me (I’m a faux-vegetarian) and that it is set in South Korea confirmed that it is a must read. The reviews are all over the place on this one, which makes me want to read it for myself even more.
By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson (2012, Portfolio). I love learning about contemporary society and the people and choices that shape how we interact. This book seems to offer a glimpse into the new way we shop online.
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (2014, Seventh Street Books). Lives intertwine in this novel about the two main characters’ secrets and burdens both of the past and present.
Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture by Shawn Michelle Smith (2004, Duke University Press). What kind of sociologists would I be if I didn’t add this book to my list!
Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim (2014, Crown). Hermit Kingdom or not, we know relatively little about the daily lives of North Koreans. This book offers a glimpse into what is still a relatively unknown world.
The Sellout by Paul Beatty (2015, Farrar, Straus and Giroux). A satire taking stabs at “post-raciality.” I’m here for it.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (2017, Penguin Press). Mother-daughter relationships take center stage as long held secrets threaten to disrupt the sleepy suburbs.
Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis by Preston Lauterbach (2016, W.W. Norton). A hometown girl needs a historic hometown read.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (2016, Random House). The elusive American Dream looms large for this immigrant family but how will they make sense of such dreams in the face of the Great Recession?
Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life by Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria F. Robinson. Another easy pick as it’s written by two fabulous sociologists, one of which is a hometown favorite.
The Book of Joy the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Carlton Abrams (2016, Avery). One of my goals this year is to cultivate more joy, so this book seems like the perfect pick.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1997, Random House). Do I even need a reason this one made it to the list? It’s beyond time that I picked up this award winning book.