A girl’s got to read, this all Clutchettes know. So, to help navigate the ever-expanding world of books, Uptown Literati is here to provide a weekly reading list. We’re a fresh, book blog for cool girls and great reads (check us out on our site [uptownliteratti.blogspot.com] and we’ll be dishing on what you need to be reading now: classic tomes, sassy fiction, juicy tell-alls and every type of paperback in between. Happy reading!
Who: Noted Chinese-American Novelist Amy Tan
What: The Kitchen God’s Wife, one of the writer’s lesser known novels. Featuring the lush imagery, complex characterization and memorable details that made her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, so successful, this book tells the story of a Chinese woman’s struggle with family, marriage, war and motherhood.
Why: The Mother-daughter relationship is something of a specialty for Tan, and this book explores that dynamic brilliantly. Whether you and Mom Dukes are as thick as thieves or better off loving from afar, you’ll nod and applaud the women of this novel, especially Winnie, who survived unthinkable trauma in her youth only to be misunderstood by her young, Americanized daughter.
Rating: 5 stars
Who: Food critic and former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine Ruth Reichl
What: The delicious epicurean adventures of a notorious food critic in disguise, Garlic and Sapphires, tells of Reichl’s funny and savvy exploits as she eats her way through New York’s food landscape by disguising herself as various women to avoid being recognized.
Why: Because Clutchettes can be foodies as well, right? Garlic and Sapphires is a fun look into the life of a critic outside of solely who he/she is when the review goes to press. It’s also significant to note that Reichl concludes Sapphires by stepping into a new role of Editor-in-Chief for Gourmet magazine, which this past week was sadly discontinued by Condé Nast.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Who: James Baldwin, writer and activist
What: Baldwin’s second novel, Giovanni’s Room. Straying from the familiar landscapes of blacks in New York, the author explores love and sexuality in this story of two white men in mid 20th century Paris. Baldwin brings all of the sensitivity and careful action of his previous works to this story of David, a young American expatriate that finds himself in simultaneous relationships with a woman (Hella, his girlfriend) and a man (Giovanni).
Why: One of the most influential writers of the last century who was unafraid of going “there,” whether that place be homosexual themes or urban black realities, Baldwin’s works are now considered an important part of both the LGBT and African-American literature canons. Beyond his ability to give context to people living within the margins of society, Giovanni’s Room explores the more universal experience of being a stranger in a foreign land.
Rating: 5 stars
Who: Board-certified Teacher and English Professor Brian Crosby
What: Smart Kids, Bad Schools. With the ongoing saga of America’s health care reform, Crosby stands in the corner wildly waving his arms to redirect our attention towards the education system, and why a transformation is necessary now. In this no-holds barred critical analysis of the current state of America’s schools, Crosby introduces 38 groundbreaking ways to “fix” holes in the system that often times sound like no-brainers.
Why: Those with an unequivocal desire to see improvements made in the public school system, especially for under-served students in the inner cities, will appreciate Crosby’s honest and unapologetic criticism of teachers, parents, and administrators where necessary. But questions may also arise about some of Crosby’s proposed techniques, which is exactly what this book means to do: present ideas to stimulate a conversation about schools that needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Rating: 4 stars