There is a popular posting meme for this day of the week called “What We’re Reading Wednesday” but as I tend to take FOREVER to finish a book, I’m going to post about not just what I am reading right now, but other books I have read in the past. Because you are all going to get very tired of me if I post the same book every Wednesday for the next month.
(Note: I’m not a slow reader, just a distracted one. I tend to read right before bedtime and…actually, that’s it. I used to read at lunch but due to COVID, I eat my lunch at my desk at work and tend to turn on YouTube channels that I am addicted to.)
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson has been sitting on my nightstand for almost a year now. It is a book I wanted to read, felt like I needed to read, but with everything going on in the world, I wasn’t able to focus on much of anything, especially prose. I finally picked it up this month, my first book of the year, and it is heartbreaking but important.
I have the movie checked out from the library but I am debating whether I should wait to watch it after I finish or not (though I will admit to watching the Cinema Therapy discussion around it so I have seen clips). Non-Fiction books to film are always rough because you have to create an arc that sometimes real life doesn’t have. And important pieces have to be left out for the sake of the narrative, which makes sense but can be frustrating if that was a part of the story that really connected with you.
I was feeling very educated when Stevenson mentioned the Scottsboro boys in the most recent chapter. I had actually read a book (Accused! by Larry Dane Brimner) about their trials last year! As with pretty much everything in this and Stevenson’s book, it is infuriating and disgusting how often Black people were scapegoated for crimes they didn’t commit just to make the White people in the town feel better. And how often children of color are tried in the courts as adults that their white counterparts would not be.
There are a LOT of really good young adult non-fiction books on the subject of social justice, American history and race relations. They are all well researched but since they are for a tween/teen audience, they tend to be quick reads. For example, Unpunished Murder by Lawrence Goldstone is an engrossing book about a horrible crime that is rarely mentioned in the history books – a massacre that occurred less than 10 years after the Civil War ended. These books are a great way to get the facts you need without having to wade through legal jargon or text books. Of course, if you want to know more, there are adult books on the subject (usually, though some of them are very old or a bit to academic for the armchair historian).
What books have you read that opened your eyes to parts of history missing from our textbooks? Have you ever read a non-fiction book meant for children or young adults and learned something new? Share in the comments!