A book for these times.

A short review because this book is a must-read, but it doesn't feature a strong female fictional character. It's an auto-biography of a strong female person and the subject matter is too important not to talk about. Carolyn Maull McKinstry was attending the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church when a bomb went off inside on September 15, 1963. Four of her friends were killed in the event and this book is her testimony of the times. It covers race relations through the Civil Rights movement and the impact of the great leaders of the era, as well as the influence of local persons throughout the south. The pages are peppered with excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr's powerful oratory as well as quotes from the likes of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, various Alabama church leaders and lessons from the Bible. But what's more eye-opening is Carolyn's personal, painful struggle as she strove to digest the events happening around her and to her. From one of the most tumultuous times in this country's history, the reader get an intimate glimpse into not just the people of the movement, but how the movement affects one person. It takes the Civil Rights era beyond the realm of abstract ideas into the real life of a citizen who lived it. In this current new presidential term where most of the country is struggling to reunite and find common ground, this book is so important in allowing one woman of color to tell her story (because representation matters). And for page after page, we realize that perhaps we have not come so far as we would like to imagine. If we don't know and understand history - all sides of the story - we are doomed to repeat it.

While the World Watched

by Carolyn Maull McKinstry



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Favorite Book of 2020 So Far

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Tales of a Female Nomad is the story of Rita Golden Gelman, an ordinary woman who is living an extraordinary existence. At the age of 48, on the verge of divorce, Rita left an elegant life in LA to follow her dream of connecting with people in cultures all over the world. This book encourages us to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy so many of us bury when we become adults.

The Bookshop

 by Penelope Fitzgerald

The year is 1959 and the kind-hearted widow Florence Green risks everything to open the only bookshop in the seaside town of Hardborough. What follows can only be described as the quaint, strange, and often sad happenings of a small, isolated community. The plot is not filled with grand parties, unlikely lovers, or a shocking penultimate event. But somehow, because the world of this story seems to fit in a snow globe, each small shake builds on the one before until those same every day situations are riddled with dramatic tension. I was truly amazed at how invested I was in the life of Florence's small bookshop.