Books: 2014 in review and 2015 challenge

Few of the books I read
A lot of the books I read

I haven’t treated reading in the most kindest way in the past. As a kid, I checked out books by plastic bags because my parents only took me to the library on Sundays. In those days, my nose was in a book whether I was home, in the back of a car, even restaurants.

Somewhere in the late middle school/early high schools years, I fell out of reading as other things grabbed my attention. Reading became more of a requirement than something I did for fun. Reading in college? Forget it. Between reading/editing heavily at the school newspaper, reading textbooks then reading novels for classes, I barely read for fun. I could barely sit still for five minutes to read for fun.

It took some time even post-college, but I’ve discovered my love of reading again. Social media helps although I don’t want to think that’s the sole reason I got back into it. It’s just something I need in my life now that I didn’t think I needed (or wanted) back then. But really, does the reason matter as long as I’m doing it?

When I saw this post from Maddie last year I wanted to do one for 2014. I didn’t consciously try to read a variety of books. I read what I wanted with recommendations from Goodreads.

Here’s what my year looked like in books:

Overachiever! See that?
Feels good to read past my goal

While it’s good and dandy I exceeded my goal, let’s see how those titles break down.

Gender: 11 by women (including two by the same author), 6 by men. It’s more balanced than I thought because I would’ve guessed the disparity was a lot bigger.

Race: Wow, all 17 authors I read are white. I know it’s not a good excuse to say that I didn’t even know the races of some of the authors, but my goal for this year is to branch out.

Genre: 5 YA, 2 memoirs, 2 nonfiction, 1 self help, 8 fiction. Not bad, could be more diverse.

Format: 7 on my Kindle, 11 actual copies. Among them, I own 6 and plan on purchasing 1.

Moving forward, I’m participating in a reading challenge as a way to help expand my horizons. Plus it’s fun! I’ve seen a few floating around but settled on the one from Random House. My Goodreads goal is 21 books, and this Bingo card has 23 categories, so hopefully I read past my goal again this year!

Who doesn't love Bingo?
Who doesn’t love Bingo?

Books: A Detroit anthology

They stagger in one by one — each with a story, each with a life of problems. First comes the prostitute. Then comes a drinker. Every swing of the door brings another desperate person from the street outside.

How do you read that and not thirst for more? That’s how the collection is in A Detroit Anthology. Rust Belt Chic Press kindly sent me a review copy.

The anthology is the Detroit FUBU: For us, by us. (Sidenote: Wasn’t aware the company rebranded, which makes sense since I feel like I haven’t seen anyone wearing that clothing since 1998-ish. Also didn’t know Samsung invested in FUBU in 1995.)

The “us” are the writers, a few of whom I’m proud to say I’ve worked alongside with, others whose bylines are recognizable from the years I’ve pored over the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News; more often than not — both. They’re also photographers, poets and essayists bringing the city alive through the pages.

The “us” are the people whose stories are featured, whether it’s the authors themselves or those they write about. Like the Brooklyn transplant whose summer internship turned into six years. The fixer who plants himself on the same spot near an abandoned storefront and makes money by tinkering with broken lawnmowers that vroom back to the life. The writer/author who recalls her hungry days in the city. The above quoted prostitutes and drug addicts who venture into a safe haven lost as lost can be — but just might find their way.

The pictures painted sometimes aren’t pretty, nor they should be. Then, it wouldn’t be the truth. If what you know about Detroit is what the national media has fed you, then the truth feels like Dan Gilbert, and as far as I can see, there’s no Dan Gilbert in these pages.

The stories will make you smile; it might make your heart pound. It might even make you tear up, like I did. It’s a history lesson; it’s a love for the rich history. Most of all, this collection of work will make you fall in love Detroit. Because, like the title of the first piece puts it: We love Detroit, even if you don’t.

Practice-Space will host a book launch at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 31.