Hi Everyone. Thanks for stopping by to check on my activities this week. I had a superb week – yes, superb. Let me tell you about it.
What I Read:
I attended a meeting of one of my book clubs this week. Americanah was the book club choice – not my choice, but I’m so glad the choice was made. This book is rich is characters and themes while still being interesting and a good plot. It took me to a world I would never know any other way. It was more than a great book – It was a great experience.
As the novel opened we met the main character, Ifemelu. She’s a young woman who has come to America from Nigeria to go to college. In Part One, through flashbacks we learn about Ifemelu’s life in Nigeria and we learn about Obinze, Ifemelu’s serious boyfriend since high school. Ifemelu and Obinze were both excellent observers. They paid attention to the various cultural and political aspects of Nigeria and America and, for Obinze, Britain. They were eager to leave Nigeria for what they perceived as better opportunities, but of course, they missed home.
Americanah made for an excellent book club discussion. We analyzed the two main characters: how, or if, they changed after their time abroad; the difference in Nigerian childhoods and American. Race was an important isues in the book. In Nigeria there was just one race, but in America Ifemelu found the subject complex, especially among African Americans. Although she looked like them, Ifemelu was not an African American. She was an African living in Anerica. That was very thought provoking. We also had a fun discussion around our take on the various cultural differences in the two countries. There was plenty to discuss so, if you’re looking for a book club choice, I can strongly recommend Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi.
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The other book I read was a really good memoir: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I couldn’t find his exact birth date, but Mr. Vance looks to be a young man, so this is not a long-life memoir. What makes this book so dynamic is the very open revelation of his life in small-town Kentucky and Ohio. His dad was not present in his life and, although his mom was around, she was not an effective parent. He credits his “mamaw” as the positive parent in his life. Vance says his up-bringing was not unusual in his area. He was very open in his discussion of the dynamics at work among what he calls the “hillbillies.” Vance’s story of his path to law school at Yale was heartwarming. Definitely, read A Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.
I know we’re only a couple months into the year. but I’d like to name both of these books as BEST OF THEW YEAR – SO FAR. Until something better coms along, Americanah is my Best Book Club Choice and Hillbilly Elegy is my Best Non Fiction. Yep – I had a really good reading week.c
What I Watched:
I spent a lot of my mental time this week in Africa. A friend at book club recommended this PBS Special that ran this week on three nights. I was amazed at the depth of all the historical and anthropological information given and the beautiful film-work.
The show, Africa’s Great Civilization, began with new-and-surprising-to-me information about the discovery in Africa of a human body that dates back to 200,000 years ago making this the oldest homo sapiens discovered. Experts on the show point to multiple evidence that civilization began right there in Africa. The show then looks into all the history, art, geography and so many anthropological aspects of Africa.
Africa’s Great Civilization is hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. I love his voice and his manner throughout. There are also many experts who weigh in at various points in the discussion. I really enjoyed this documentary. I believe you can still view this online at PBS.org or if your television set-up has an on-demand feature. Our on-demand system says it will be available until March 27.
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Overall, I had a great week. I loved my time in Africa and the hill country of America. The good news on the weather front is that we had sunny days every day this past week. Woo-hoo! It was so nice to see the sun and the blue skies again. Our rivers and creeks are going down gradually. We are cautious, however, because when mountain thawing time starts in the next couple of months, they will be filling those rivers and creeks again. All of this is good news for our formerly drought-ridden land.
Everyone: I hope you have a great week ahead.