Four things to read this month instead of a textbook
Compiled by Sam Mathers, News Editor
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
“Let us not rest until we are free to live in dignity in the land of our birth.”
Why You Should Read It: Kaffir Boy is a required reading for Dr. Rafaela Jobbitt’s 4th year 20th Century South African History class and while certainly useful in a seminar setting, it’s also a book that anyone can benefit from reading. Mathabane outlines his own experiences growing up under Apartheid during the 60s and 70s in South Africa. He places a human face on the many generations who lived under Apartheid and the harsh reality of their lives. The presence of characters such as his Granny, his parents, and his schoolmates demonstrates how Apartheid affected these generations differently and hints at how these differences contributed to the resistance which led to its eventual dismantling. As topics of white supremacy and Neo-Nazism dominate the current news stands, it’s important to educate ourselves on the history of white supremacy and how these attitudes have had a very real impact on the lives of people of colour everywhere. Kaffir Boy is what I would consider an ‘accessible’ history – it’s easy to read – at times it’s emotional, at times it’s funny, yet the content is incredibly educational and incredibly relevant.
– Sabrina Nordlund, Social Media and Web Coordinator
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
“It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together.”
Why You Should Read It: A student at Yale University, Marina Keegan wrote a graduation essay for the Yale Daily News titled “The Opposite of Loneliness.” It went viral and was viewed by more than 1.4 million people in 98 countries. Tragically, five days after graduating magna cum laude, Keegan was killed in a car accident. This book is a collection of her short stories and non-fiction compiled by her parents and professor Anne Fadiman. But as Fadiman notes in the introduction, “Marina wouldn’t want to be remembered because she’s dead. She would want to be remembered because she’s good.” Keegan’s voice is vivid and bright in a way that only someone who is young and still romantic about life could be. Each short story is a beautifully sad and sometimes comical snapshot of the human experience; her non-fiction a sharp yet heartfelt observation of the world and people around her. The title essay is the perfect encapsulation of the university experience—what it’s like to be on the brink of the rest of your life and feeling at once that you have so much time and none at all.
– Sam Mathers, News Editor
The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative by Thomas King
“We both knew that stories were medicine, that a story told one way could cure that the same story told another way could injure.”
Why You Should Read It: As our country recognizes its 150th anniversary, it is easy to get caught up in the joyful celebrations. However, we each have the responsibility to educate ourselves about the reality of what Canada is and the history upon which it is built. A huge part of this history involves the colonization of Indigenous peoples and the systematic attack on Indigenous culture. This is a fact that many have had the privilege to ignore throughout much of their lives but it is also that very privilege which only enables the ongoing racism and oppression faced by Indigenous peoples today. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative by Thomas King is a simple and accessible starting point for acknowledging the less joyful part of Canada’s history. Through his storytelling style, King weaves cultural teachings and personal experiences together to offer the reader a glimpse inside a perspective of Canada which is rarely featured in the media or even on Netflix for that matter. King’s five elegantly layered stories, originally presented as a lecture series, provides a small dose of curative force to help the reader combat the deeply ingrained racist attitudes fostered throughout our collective colonial past.
– Hillary Jones, Contributor
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
“This hitherto peaceful congregation of neighbors and old friends had suddenly to endure the unique experience of distrusting each other; understandably, they believed that the murderer was among themselves.”
Why You Should Read It: In Cold Blood is the non-fiction story of the quadruple murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. Capote was an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, actor, and journalist. In order to write the book, he traveled to Holcomb and later followed the two men responsible for the family’s death to Kansas State Penitentiary to conduct lengthy interviews. It is filled with fascinating characters with unbelievable stories all woven together to recount a truly phenomenal piece of non-fiction that will make you question everything. Shortly after the book’s publication Capote said: “no one will ever know what In Cold Blood took out of me. It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me.” In Cold Blood was the second most successful true crime book in history, was awarded an Edgar award and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
– Savanah Tillberg, Arts & Culture Editor