Category Archives: Reading Projects

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Reni Eddo-Lodge

Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power. We can’t afford to stay silent.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge, is an important book to read. It came out a few years ago, but is perhaps even more relevant today. I decided to reread it as part of my anti-racist education. I’m glad I did because I got even more out of it the second time. Reni is very articulate and her ideas powerful. There is also a podcast called “About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge”  which is available on Emma Watson’s, Our Shared Podcast, on Spotify. I highly recommend you read the book and then listen to the podcast. Both aare filled with important ideas.

from the publisher:

Award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge was frustrated with the way that discussions of race and racism are so often led by those blind to it, by those willfully ignorant of its legacy. Her response, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, has transformed the conversation both in Britain and around the world. Examining everything from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, from whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge, and counter racism. Including a new afterword by the author, this is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of color in Britain today, and an essential handbook for anyone looking to understand how structural racism works.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

*We tell ourselves that good people can’t be racist. We seem to think that true racism only exists in the hearts of evil people. We tell ourselves that racism is about moral values, when instead it is about the survival strategy of systemic power.

*We don’t live in a meritocracy, and to pretend that simple hard work will elevate all to success is an exercise in wilful ignorance.

*Structural racism is never a case of innocent and pure, persecuted people of colour versus white people intent on evil and malice. Rather, it is about how Britain’s relationship with race infects and distorts equal opportunity.

*Not seeing race does little to deconstruct racist structures or materially improve the conditions which people of colour are subject to daily. In order to dismantle unjust, racist structures, we must see race. We must see who benefits from their race, who is disproportionately impacted by negative stereotypes about their race, and to who power and privilege is bestowed upon – earned or not – because of their race, their class, and their gender. Seeing race is essential to changing the system.

Reading this book and listening to the podcast are part of my ongoing personal project: My Anti-Racist Education.

A Self-Education

Civilization

The Story of Civilization on my bookshelf.

When I was 16 years old my father gave me the complete set, which at that time was 9 volumes, of Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization. I was both thrilled with and overwhelmed by the gift. I love history, as did my Dad, but 9 volumes (soon to be 10, and then eventually 11) with fine print just overwhelmed me. Although I’ve used them like an encyclopedia, looking up information needed, in all this time I’ve never read them cover to cover, although they have traveled with me through every move and have survived every purge of books in my lifetime, thus far.

You will understand, then, when I tell you why I am extremely proud of my son. In the last few years, our son, Dan, has had a long commute to work. He has made that time spent in the car both productive and bearable by listening to audiobooks. He has just completed a huge project listening to the complete unabridged set of the 11 volumes of The Story of Civilization!  If I added correctly, that’s over 424 hours of listening time! But it’s more than that because along the way on his historical journey, he took many “side roads” and listened to much of the classic literature of the time period he was immersed in.

We have had the most wonderful and fascinating long talks with him about the different historical time periods, about the amazing people involved, about human nature and culture, and about the writing of this epic life’s work by Will Durant and his wife, Ariel. What an amazing education Dan is giving himself over the miles! I know my college professor Dad would have been incredibly proud of him, too, and they would have had amazing discussions about all that Dan has learned. The pleasure of learning is certainly a powerful gene in our family, and I’m so very proud of the self-education Dan is giving himself through his reading.

“Perhaps the cause of our contemporary pessimism is our tendency to view history as a turbulent stream of conflicts – between individuals in economic life, between groups in politics, between creeds in religion, between states in war. This is the more dramatic side of history; it captures the eye of the historian and the interest of the reader. But if we turn from that Mississippi of strife, hot with hate and dark with blood, to look upon the banks of the stream, we find quieter but more inspiring scenes: women rearing children, men building homes, peasants drawing food from the soil, artisans making the conveniences of life, statesmen sometimes organizing peace instead of war, teachers forming savages into citizens, musicians taming our hearts with harmony and rhythm, scientists patiently accumulating knowledge, philosophers groping for truth, saints suggesting the wisdom of love. History has been too often a picture of the bloody stream. The history of civilization is a record of what happened on the banks.”

— Will Durant

Our son, Dan, reading to his son…

The Classics Club

Reading the classics has always been a joy for me. So I am very happy to finally become a member of The Classics Club!

My list is a mix of novels, short stories, and poetry, a combination of adult and children’s literature. Many of these books are already on my bookshelves or on my Kindle. I will also add to or change this list occasionally as I find other classics I’d really like to read for this challenge. My goal for completing my reading of 50 books is March 2022!  That sounds so far away, but I know that five years goes by in a flash. What pleasurable reading years they will be!

Progress = 44/50

Red = Link to my review
Blue = Read but not reviewed yet

  1. Death Comes For the Archbishop, Willa Cather
  2. The Railway Children, Edith Nesbitt
  3. Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren
  4. A River Runs Through It, Norman McClean
  5. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie
  6. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  7. The Rainbow and the Rose, Nevil Shute
  8. Around the World in Eighty Days, Jules Verne
  9. The Solitary Summer, Elizabeth von Arnim
  10.  A Very Easy Death, Simone de Beauvoir
  11. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
  12. The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett
  13. Death in the Castle, Pearl S. Buck
  14. Pollyanna, Eleanor H. Porter
  15. This Star Shall Abide, Sylvia Engdahl
  16. The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley
  17. A Tiger For Malgudi, R. K. Narayan
  18. The Moorland Cottage, Elizabeth Gaskell
  19. The Call of the Wild, Jack London
  20. Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
  21. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Kate Douglas Wiggin
  22. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  23. The Spectator Bird, Wallace Stegner
  24. Kindred, Octavia Butler
  25. The Sussex Downs Murder, John Bude
  26. The Unicorn and Other Poems, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  27. Excellent Women, Barbara Pym
  28. Crooked House, Agatha Christie
  29. Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson
  30. Marcovaldo, or The Seasons in the CIty, Italo Calvino
  31. Cider With Rosie, Laurie Lee
  32. The Seventh Seal, Ingmar Bergman
  33. The Outermost House, Henry Beston
  34. The Door in the Wall, Marguerite de Angeli
  35. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
  36. The Red Pony, John Steinbeck
  37. Kew Gardens, Virginia Woolf
  38. One Day At Teton Marsh, Sally Carraghar
  39. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  40. The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim
  41. Most Secret, Nevil Shute
  42. The Reluctant Dragon, Kenneth Grahame
  43. Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes, Robert Louis Stevenson
  44. The Measure of My Days, Florida Scott-Maxwell
  45. Barracoon, Zora Neale Hurston
  46. Night, Elie Wiesel
  47. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
  48. The Gaucho Martin Fierro, José Hernández
  49. Sons, Pearl S. Buck
  50. The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
  51. The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen
  52. The Lost Prince, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  53. Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell
  54. The Ramayana, Bulbul Sharma
  55. The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
  56. A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
  57. Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
  58. A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
  59. The Sea Around Us, Rachel Carson
  60. The Book of Tea, Kazuko Okakura
  61. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  62. Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott
  63. Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope
  64. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
  65. Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village, Ronald Blythe

Making Progress

Treebeard

Illustration by Alan Lee — from The Two Towers.

I am slowly making progress on my rereading of The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R.Tolkien. It’s a very enjoyable reading project that I started in November as a retreat from the election stresses and strains. Perhaps I’m reading it slowly because those stresses and strains have gotten worse rather than better! But really I’m reading it slowly so that I can enjoy and savor the wonderful writing as well as the terrific adventure of it all. It’s been my evening read, just before I go to bed at night, and it’s a great way to end the day. I’m about 3/4 of the way through The Two Towers so at this time I am traveling with Frodo and Sam, and Gollum, getting closer to Mordor. I am very glad to spend time in their company.

the-two-towers