The strand is my favorite bookstore and it is at risk of closing, so I am leaving this here and pleading that y’all take an opportunity to shop on their website for your next book or holiday gift. The film section is out of this world, as is the sociology unit downstairs. I love getting lost in the YA section buying gifts for the kids in my life and reflecting on how I would stay forever in the school library picking which set of best friends I was going to read about next. Books are essential and shopping IRL at this place is an experience that I truly deeply miss not living in NYC, but I’m close and I go as often as I can and I do not want this place to close or my heart and millions of hearts will crumble. Consider shopping online at the Strand today and visiting when you’re in NYC for an affordable outing. It’s right off the Union Square stop.
Finished reading the book “Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood” by Michael Walker, a quick and playful read that is never not relevant to the ever-constant push and pull for peace. I picked this one up while we were visiting L.A. in February for my birthday. After getting lost in the hills for an hour, we parked near the road sign for BRONSON AVE because it connected to our Clueless tour) and ended up in front of Counterpoint books. I went in with the goal of finding anything at all and, hey, the shop owner was playing the impeachment trial! Over the loudspeaker! Anyway, I found the music history section, bought the book and started reading pretty much right away.
Musically, it’s something else. From the Byrds to Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, all these people just livin’, in harmony. Walker illustrates the Canyon in a helpful and visual way (especially around the Manson story) that can only be assisted by viewing Once Upon A Time in Hollywood or Echo in the Canyon.
Then I watched Model Shop. It f*cks.
Here’s the playlist I made featuring the bands of the book, such as, The Byrds, Frank Zappa, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, The Mamas and the Papas, and more, in chronological order: ✌🏾
All of these are on my bookshelf and they’ve all made a positive impact on my life; be it opening my eyes to our history, finding greater representation of blackness in the pages, or finding myself represented in the stories. I hope that by passing these along it creates opportunity for greater understanding and encourages continued dialogue around race, feminism, visibility and history, among many other imperatives.
Here are six books to read right now:
#1: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
What’s it About? “Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time.” – via GoodReads
# 2: The New Mind of the South by Tracy Thompson
What’s it About? “This ground-breaking, thought-provoking exploration upends stereotypes and fallacies to reveal the true heart of the South today—a region still misunderstood by outsiders and even by its own society.” – via Goodreads.
#3: The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
What’s it About? “This landmark book is a founding work in the literature of black protest. W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) played a key role in developing the strategy and program that dominated early 20th-century black protest in America. In this collection of essays, first published together in 1903, he eloquently affirms that it is beneath the dignity of a human being to beg for those rights that belong inherently to all mankind. He also charges that the strategy of accommodation to white supremacy advanced by Booker T. Washington, then the most influential black leader in America, would only serve to perpetuate black oppression.” – via GoodReads.
#4: Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? by Touré
What’s it About? “Journalist Touré turns his ear to 100 prominent black Americans to create a provocative look at the state of race in America.” – via GoodReads.
#5: Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
What’s it About? “In this poignant, hilarious and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder and Catch, reveals how saying YES changed her life – and how it can change yours too.” – via GoodReads.
#6: You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain by Phoebe Robinson
What’s it About? “A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.” – via GoodReads.
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