Having spent a significant chunk of my thirty-year teaching career in the English classroom, I feel I’ve come to know a good book from something less. My very core has been built from the bottom up by the literature I’ve been able to take in and more importantly by the books I’ve been so fortunate as to help others understand. So when it comes to recommending a book for others to read, I don’t take this risk lightly.
And make no mistake there is a risk in sharing a book with another soul. In a way, it becomes an act of sharing yourself and all of the vulnerabilities inherent with the act. But in this case, and through this vehicle of a blog, the risk is well worth it. Even when the book has already, been around for a while.
The book is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’ve told my wife that although it’s a nonfiction work, this is a book that should be read as a follow up to Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, the seminal novel that pulled back the curtains on life within apartheid. Unfortunately, Mr. Coates succeeds in making me cry for my own country as he pulls back these curtains of ours.
I recommend this book because it is important! I hope you keep this in mind as you work your way through it. And make no mistake; it will take a bit of work… on a few different levels. First, Coates is brutally honest… and being the target of direct honesty is seldom as pleasant or romantic a notion as it sounds. Second, his book is an open letter to his own child, which will hopefully bring the truths he is sharing to an empathetic ear. Whether or not we are parents, we all have children in our lives. Think of those children if you can put yourself in his place. Third, his stream-of-consciousness style of writing requires a trip or two to your desktop dictionary. That is a blessing in disguise.
If you choose to get your hands on this book and give it a proper reading, please remember that it should not be considered a gift. In fact, it is like most good books, a tool. Once it’s in your hands, you must decide how to best use it.