Monday, March 29, 2010

#54 The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

This seems like the perfect mother daughter relationship: Lavish trips to the hair salon, sharing designer clothes, daughter selling drugs to her strung-out, junkie mother…Wait a minute, what? Yes, Winter Santiaga sells drugs to her own mother. What choice does she have? Winter must hustle to stay alive now that her drug lord father is in jail and her “MTV Cribs”-like existence has come to an abrupt end. Anyway, her mother is sure to understand. After all, Momma has taught Winter that she has to be a “bad b**ch”. That means having the most expensive clothes, nails done, hair did and a man with deep pockets. Like mother, like daughter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

#53 Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Who says you can’t learn anything from reading comic books? This graphic novel about life in pre and post-revolutionary Iran reads like an Iran For Dummies book with much better pictures. Marjane Satrapi tells the story of her childhood amid the communist revolt and the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s. This book not only gives us a better understanding of Iranian politics, we also see beyond these large-scale matters to the daily battles Marji fights for freedom. Wearing the veil becomes chief among these struggles. It’s not a question of whether to wear it, but of how to wear it and whether showing some hair will get her arrested and whipped.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

#52 Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin

Rosemary’s Lullabye:


In my Belly,

You’ll soon be Reigning over Hell-y.

When the Water Breaks,

I shall give Birth,

To One who’ll bring

Darkness and Fire to Earth.

Talk about an expectant mother’s worst nightmare. Rosemary and Guy move into their dream apartment in New York City. There are rumors of strange happenings in the building, but who could say no to low rent and so much space? Their elderly neighbors, the Castevets, become intrusively involved in the young couple’s life, but seem harmless. Then, a proffered chocolate mousse cake from these neighbors leads to a nightmarish coupling, and to nine months of painful gestation and a horrifying discovery.

#51 Animal Farm by George Orwell

At first, the animal rebellion went splendidly. In an instant, the animals had overpowered the farmer and his men and freed themselves from servitude, exploitation and constant hunger. The boars, Napoleon and Snowball, make themselves the Boss Hogs of the new democracy, but when Napoleon chases Snowball off the farm, and the other animals find themselves working day and night with little food to eat. Napoleon starts to dress in the ousted farmer’s clothes, and the other animals see him as a real Man in Pig’s clothing, realizing too late that the rebellion was nothing but a change in regime. Wolves aren’t the only animals that like to play dress up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

#50 Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Babies havin’ babies? Not on Nanny’s watch. At least, not out of wedlock. That’s why she insisted that her 16 year old grand daughter, Janie, get married right away. Nearly twenty-five years and two marriages later, Janie returns to her home after having left with Tea Cake, a man twenty years her junior. Janie is alone and the playa’ hatin’ neighbors want to know why. As she tells her story to her friend, Phoeby, we learn not only about the tragedy involving Tea Cake, but about the events that have helped Janie live by what seems to be her motto: “To thine own self, be true." In other words, “Do you.