Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Reading Wrap Up

I admit that my first attempt at #nonfictionnovember was a big 'ole FAIL! I read two physical books that I did not particularly enjoy and listened to two audio books that were much, much more enjoyable! Part of my unsuccessful reading month was due to family stuff. I went to visit my sister in Texas and helped her with the final stages of setting up her new popcorn store. (I'll share pictures below) and then my daughter came home from college for Thanksgiving break, and this year my mom and my brother in law along with his family came up to Albuquerque as well. I loved having them here and we had a great time, so me not getting much reading in was totally worth it. I just wish that what I did actually read was more enjoyable. I did get thrown into a little bit of a reading slump, but I'm pulling myself out by picking up a book that I know will be a quick and easy read that I am almost guaranteed to enjoy to help get myself back into the swing of things. I hope that you all had a good November and were able to spend some quality time with family and friends. 

Unfortunately, The Cooking Gene was a bust for me. I think that I was expecting a reading experience from Twitty that he wasn't really promising in the synopsis. I may have read more into what the book would be about than the premise really is. I thought that I was going to get a book that pretty thoroughly explored the social aspects and dynamics of food in the African American community. How food played and still plays a part in how many of us show affection and appreciation for one another through food. How food builds and strengthens bonds and acts as a means to define regional identity. However, that isn't what Twitty really explores. 

I thought that he would dive into the history of African American people turning the scraps of animals and the left overs from slave owners into meals that had to sustain enslaved people. That the fact that people were able to turn extremely limited ingredients and supplies into meals and foods that eventually defined southern cooking would be explored more thoroughly. Twitty didn't exactly deliver that either. 

I was also hoping that Twitty would explore food identity and relationships through a male perspective. Maybe take a look at how African American men viewed their influence on food through BBQ and grilling. Many of the best grill masters are African American men and it would have been very interesting to hear some of their stories even if they weren't from members of Twitty's own family. In my family, the grill was definitely male territory, where they gathered around, talked, maybe indulged in a drink or two, and without a doubt told tall tales to each other. That aspect of African American culinary tradition would have been a great subject to explore. However, Twitty didn't really explore that either. 

I think that all of my disappointments in what I didn't get in The Cooking Gene would have been minimized if what Twitty did deliver was well developed and laid out where I could follow his explorations clearly. Twitty's writing is inconsistent and jumpy. He would talk about finding his ancestry and visiting places that were related to him one moment and the next expound on the history of regional crop. By the end Twitty goes to Europe and skims over some information there, but by that time I had pretty much lost interest and just needed to finish the book. This book started off strong, but in the end it just wasn't a winner for me. 

This was my favorite book this month! If you are interested in reading this one, I highly recommend getting this on audio. Gabrielle Union narrating this is the best part. She doesn't hold anything back and hearing her experiences in her own voice makes her story even more engaging. I knew very little about Gabrielle's personal life before listening to We're Going to Need More Wine, and she is definitely a woman to admire. She embraces her weaknesses and her strengths and is unapologetic in her honesty. Union addresses sexual assault and how it impacted her into her adulthood and relationships. She addresses the idea of competition and identity as well as what it takes to survive in the entertainment industry as an African American woman. She looks at body image, sexuality, and the notion that if you don't even know your own body, how can you expect to have positive body image or derive any real pleasure from it? Union goes on to tackle what it means to be a successful woman both professionally and personally in American society today. The most surprising aspect of Union's memoir for me is her approach to parenting. She discusses the need to drop 'black bombs' on her step sons for their own safety. Although I am not the mother of boys, I am the mother of two young black women and the way she addresses the need for her boys to behave differently than their white friends in many situations is exceptionally relatable. Union delivered so much more than I expected in this honest and forthcoming memoir and it is one that I would recommend to any reader over 18. 

I just don't have much to say about Never Caught. It was an interesting topic and the information was presented in a straightforward way, but it didn't ignite my interest the same way that the radio interview with the author did. I'm glad that I read it, but I can't imagine wanting to pick it up for a second read. 

The Mother of Black Hollywood was my second audio book for November and the last nonfiction title that I got around to. Again, get this as an audio book! Jenifer Lewis has a dynamic larger than life personality that will keep you involved in her story. Lewis is very free spirited and open as to who she is as a woman and artist. I don't know if I would have enjoyed this one nearly as much if I had read the book. Lewis brings so much life to her story because of her personality, and of course her voice is one that I love to listen to which was a big bonus!

Real Life Happenings

I helped my sister get her new popcorn store ready for it's grand opening. I am so excited for her and her hubby starting their own business! I couldn't be more proud! It's a beautiful store with great popcorn, candy, and old fashioned sodas. If you are ever in the Murphy, Texas area (Dallas & Plano) stop in and tell her you saw her store here! You can find her shop on Facebook at PopcornIsBliss. 

The family and I went and rode the Sandia Peak Tramway the Saturday after Thanksgiving. No Black Friday/weekend shopping for us! I HATE crowds and there is nothing at the mall that I want bad enough to struggle through crowds of unruly people. I'm pretty proud that I was more in the moment on this visit and didn't stop to take too many pictures, so the ones I have to share aren't the greatest. I forgot to take a picture of the tramway sign so I had to grab one from online, but the bottom two pictures are mine! ;) I'm sure that I will be going back a few more times as we have out of state visitors, so I'll try to get better pictures next time.

Lastly, Bubba and I engaging in one of our favorite activities after a busy month. Bubba in his spot at the end of the chaise and me with a book. Yep, life is good...


  1. Sorry that things didn’t go well in the reading department, but the popcorn store looks amazing. I want to eat EVERYTHING in those photos. I’m glad you had a good Thanksgiving.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. You've had a busy month! I'm actually going to see Twitty speak here in NYC in about two weeks. Got a copy of the book with my ticket entry. Glad to read your thoughts on it. Oh, and big congrats to your sister on her new venture!

    1. Thanks Harper! I would still love to hear him speak and listen to what he wanted to deliver in his book. I think that I imposed what I wanted the book to be onto what he actually delivered and it tainted my view. I need to find his blog and read some of his stuff. I look forward to reading what you think, I am definitely in the minority of opinions on The Cooking Gene!

  3. Hey Monica, Glad you and your family had a awesome Holiday!

    I totally need to Grab Jennifer Lewis's book, maybe I'll try it as a audio. I'm not even gonna talk about November as far as ready cuz...good gravy, lols :)

    1. I hope that you enjoy her Lewis's book, and yeah, reading has gotten thin around here. Hopefully after the holidays things will get back to normal!


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