Here’s what I brought to WBRC Fox 6 on October 2 when I invited viewers to fall for a great book. Cozy up with these great reads—one book of historical fiction by a local writer, two books about civil rights at home and far away and something just for fun.
Becoming Mrs. Lewis, local writer Patti Callahan Henry‘s newest and most ambitious book yet, is historical fiction about poet Joy Davidman—the woman C.S. Lewis called “my whole world.” Davidman was looking for spiritual answers, not love, when she began writing to Lewis (known as Jack). Her marriage was falling apart, and she was trying to balance being a mother with her desire for a fulfilling professional life as a writer when she reached out to the beloved author of The Chronicles of Narnia. The two bonded over their letters, and Joy was inspired to adventure—traveling from American to England and back again, experiencing heartache and poverty, and finally discovering the faith she was seeking as well as a friendship that turned to love. This smart, beautiful book is, at once, a love story and a celebration of one woman’s voice lifted up during a time when women mostly were not expected to voice their desires and opinions.
On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope by DeRay McKesson is part memoir and part practical handbook on resistance, justice, and freedom. McKesson is an internationally recognized civil rights activist; organizer; and host of the popular podcast, Pod Save America. He was #11 on Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders list and Harvard’s Black Man of the Year in 2016. In this book, McKesson presents a powerful and intimate look at the Black Lives Matter movement—from the front lines. In 2014 Michael Brown, Jr. an 18-year-old African-American boy, was shot and killed by police officers in Ferguson, MO. McKesson, inspired by the protests that happened next, went to Ferguson with no particular plan in mind. He ended up staying for 400 days and began his journey as an activist and public figure. He shares stories from Fergusson, Baltimore, Charlottesville and more as well as stories from his childhood and his work as an educator and public official.
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron won the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and it’s a compelling read. It’s set in Rwanda during that country’s horrific genocide. Jean Patrick Nkuba is a gifted young runner who dreams of becoming Rwanda’s first Olympic track medalist. Jean Patrick, who learned to run racing his brother barefoot from village to village, has an excellent chance, too. But then his country begins to unravel. We see this happen from Jean Patrick’s open-eyed and honest perspective—from the earliest hints of what’s to come to the atrocities that pitted neighbor against neighbor and finally to a tentative coming together and a sense of healing that can only be rooted in love.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is a New York Times bestseller as well as a blockbuster movie. Some have compared this satirical novel to Pride and Prejudice but as a hilarious send-up. New Yorker Rachel Chu travels to Singapore to spend the summer with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young. Instead of family time in a humble home, she finds that Nicholas’s childhood home looks like a palace, he rides in private planes more often than cars … and he’s considered his country’s most eligible bachelor. Maybe he should have said something about that. It’s not too long before Rachel’s vacay becomes anything but relaxing.