1. This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel
This book wrecked me in the best possible way. It’s about a family of five boys in which the youngest thinks he is a girl. It’s a story about family, love, identity, and how to accept those you may not understand. I was so inspired by this busy, and overwhelmingly loving family. How they choose to love and teach their children to love. The relationship between the parents was was one of my favorite parts because the wife makes more money as doctor and the husband is a stay at- home dad trying to write this book he’s been working on for years. The way they co-parent is truly remarkable and I hope to learn a thing or two from them when I decide to have children. This was my #1 book of 2019.
2. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Got this one off of Obama’s booklist and it wasn’t a disappointment. This novel focuses on the marriage of a middle-class African American couple, Roy and Celestial, who live in Atlanta and whose lives are torn apart when Roy is wrongfully convinced of a rape he did not commit. If you’ve seen Beale Street, you’ll recognize that is is a very similar story. But unfortunately, these things happen in real life and we don’t hear enough about them. This story is heartbreaking and though I have never experienced a tragedy such as this, as an African American I can relate to the fear that one wrong circumstance can change the course of your life and how hard that is to come back from. This mistake changes everything for this couple and sometimes love isn’t enough to battle this kind of misfortune.
3. Becoming by Michelle Obama
Speaking of the Obama’s, if I wasn’t already in love with Michelle, this book did the deed. Not to mention, she is absolutely stunning on the cover. This book is deeply personal and intimate. She starts from her roots, explaining childhood stories, first boyfriends, how her and Obama met, and becoming the first African American woman to live in the white house, against her will I might add. I advice every person to read a memoir of someone they look up to. Because its so important to know that our heroes had a journey also, and if they can do it, why cant we? “Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.”
4. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Wow. THIS BOOK. It begins with four young men who have all graduated from college and are about to establish their adult lives in New York City. I won’t give away too much about this one as it is a book to be experienced so I will share with you what I felt. At times I couldn’t put it down and at other times I wasn’t sure I could keep going. But from this I’ve learned that life can sometimes be incredibly unfair and fantastically beautiful, but it is the people you CHOOSE to do this life with. The family you choose who make you feel beautiful, loved, respected, encouraged, safe, and wonderfully yourself. The friends who become family because throughout all the pain, hurt, broken heartedness, they held your hand. They fought with you because they chose love over hate. Recommended to anyone and everyone.
5. The Course of Love by Alain de Bottom
I’m still in the middle of this one, but because it’s so good I had to add it to the list. This novel follows the love story of Rabih and Kirsten. From the early heady stages of love, to marriage, children, and all the hard parts in between. It takes a stab at the mind of those who think they know what their doing and how we as humans interpret love based on passed trauma and circumstance. I have found myself laughing out loud and oohing and ahhing because I can relate so much. So many new thoughts about the ideas of sustaining relationship and how to keep love alive. If you are single I think its perfect to reflect on passed relationships and how to navigate situations in the future and if you are in a relationship I think this book is equally is not more important.
6. Beloved by Toni Morrison
My first Toni Morison novel, and a challenging one to start with at that. The book is set in 1987 and inspired by an African American who escaped slavery and killed her child rather than allowing it to be taken back as a slave. This book was haunting. In the story the mother is being haunted by the child she killed. The literature is stunning and incredibly poetic. The account of slavery is painful and unbearable at times but the perseverance told during this trauma is inspiring. Ir is a deeply felt book and very important.