April Reads

Another month has come and gone, and I feel as though I’m watching time pass like you watch the scenery flash past when riding a train. It’s going so by so swiftly and I’m taking so little part in it all, but I almost don’t care. I feel content to just sit and enjoy the brief moments as they come.

I read A LOT this month. I’m pretty sure I finished at least 4 books in total, but I’m going to talk first about the non-fiction book that I picked specifically for April and that I love with all my heart. I read The Element by Ken Robinson for the first time a few years ago, and fell in love with it, so I figured it was time to read it again. It’s a stimulating and entertaining book, jam packed with extremely important truths about humanity, education and finding true happiness.

The concept of the book is that every human being on the earth has their own “Element”, the sweet spot where passion, purpose and aptitude come together. Ken Robinson believes that the key to a happy and fulfilled society is finding the Element, and that the key to finding the Element is reforming the education system to better equip people of all aptitudes and abilities to discover their passions. I could go on and on about how much I love this book, and about the huge intellectual crush I have on Ken Robinson (lol). Education is one of my biggest passions, and his philosophies and ideas surrounding it align with my own so well. Among other things he discusses the outdated hierarchy of subjects in public schools, how the emphasis placed on standardized tests is rendering public education ineffective, and how the road to the Element looks different for every individual. He talks about ways to self-educate and discover the Element for yourself, how to find good mentors and be good mentors to others, and did I mention he’s very witty? Basically this book makes me want to go out and change the world, especially the world of education, and to hone in on the things that I am most passionate about and that I can use to make the said changes.

The fiction book that I wanted to share here on the blog was definitely a heavier read. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a heart breaking story about an African American man wrongfully incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit, and the affect that this injustice has on his still new marriage. This book was definitely sad, and it had some adult content in it (just as a disclaimer to anyone who might be interested in reading it), but I read it and am reviewing it here because the story touched me in a way that, frankly, I want my own book to touch people. The story was so real to me, largely because it was a story that could have, and probably did, really happen in the very country I live in, not so long ago. It’s a story of injustice and racism, and more than that it’s a story of the complexity of human relationships, the pain and confusion that can come from being caught up in a situation you never asked for, all instigated by a choice you never realized you were making. Roy and Celestial, the main characters and the married couple in the book, grappled with real life issues as the result of their forced separation that were anything but black and white, and that really brought to life the difficult moral implications of living in this unjust world. The main conflict of the book was the distance that grew between the couple after five years of imprisonment, and the emotional toll it took on both of them to try and keep it up, and then eventually to give it up. But before he even gets released from prison, there was a whole chapter that consisted entirely of the letters written between husband and wife while he was in jail. The letters were so poignantly and powerfully written, the emotions and the conflict inherent in them could be felt, and that chapter was probably my favorite part of the book. After that, there was a lot of drama and stuff that went down that I wasn’t a fan of, and I have to say I didn’t like the second half of the book as much. But the first part, the build up to the climax and the letters, really pulled me in and intrigued me and got me to put myself in the shoes of people I normally wouldn’t. And in my mind, that’s what good writing should do, and what I hope mine someday does.

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