I Wish I Could Read Every Book In The World…

I know this triptych has nothing to do with reading, but don’t they look bookish???

It’s Monday. A book review should be here, but it’s not, and I wanted to take some time to pour out some liquor (well, seltzer water since I don’t drink) for all the books that I WISH I could read. For reasons that are both time related – I work full time  – and money related – books and iTunes DECIMATE my budget before I can buy groceries, I cannot possibly get my hands on all the books that I lust after. Seriously, I have to avoid the Barnes and Noble when I go to the mall because I tremble with desire for those paper spines *bites fist*. So here it goes, a list of a few of the books I wish I could next to in the near future:

  • The Dead Do Not Improve, by Jay Caspian Kang. First of all, this dude’s middle name is straight out of the Narnia series. Second of all, he writes for one of my favorite websites. And according to GoodReads, “this glorious debut stars hippie detectives, a singular city, and an MFA student on the run.” I’m sold.
  • Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon. It’s about race and relationships, written by a white dude. I’m curious to see how he pulls it off (you can find an excerpt of the book here). He also wrote ‘The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,’ and I lived in the 412 for 3 years, so there’s that too. Circle of Life. This book comes out Sept. 11.
  • NW, by Zadie Smith. This book doesn’t come out until Sept. 4, but I am soooo ready for it. Like yesterday. Zadie Smith looks like Sade and writes like someone outta this world. She is…funny and smart and human, and I find her voice is refreshing in a fiction landscape that is either too high brow (read: boring) or too gutta-gutta (I can get down with that periodically, but not all the time).

The books that have been languishing on my bookshelf include Mrs. Obama’s American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden  and Gardens Across America and David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. Seriously, I wish I had John Travolta’s “Phenomenon” powers so I could read every book in the world.

Good people, what books do you wish you had time to read? Are there any books chillin’ on your bookshelf in a b-boy stance that you need to get to?


Oh Hampton, A Thought

The  recent dust up about Hampton’s b-school ban on cornrows and dreadlocks for men is surprising to most people, with the exception of people who actually went to Hampton. Why? Because Hampton is NOTORIOUSLY uptight; this is the land of curfews and dress codes for people old enough to vote and fight in the Army. And the story isn’t really that new; my freshman year (2003) there were grumbles and complaints about the same rule. So why did this story get a second life?

I’m venturing to guess that some freshman complained. And the local news picked it up. But back in 2003, there was no Facebook or Twitter to amplify the ridiculousness of the story; the 24 hour news cycle was still in its infancy. Social media and the desire to point and gawk at odd news from the farthest reaches of the globe have taken Hampton’s patent conservatism worldwide. Now, outlets like Gawker and Black Enterprise and HuffPo are weighing in on the issue, which isn’t a bad thing, but for a school so wrapped up in “image” I’m sure the recent press is not the type of publicity the administration wanted.

I found myself punching at the air in frustration when I read of my alma mater’s foolishness. Why? Because as I sat at my desk, at my corporate job, in one of the most corporate cities in the world (Washington, DC), with my dreadlocks brushing past my shoulders, I directly contradicted the point of the ban. More importantly, I wanted more for my school. I wanted it to grow past the idea that “image” trumps “talent and hard work.” I wanted the administrators to recognize that to be a leader, a thinker, a creator, what’s inside of your head matters more than what grows from it (but to have too many free thinkers and rabblerousers on a college campus is a scary thought). And I wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, the school had changed since I left in 2007. It’s too bad that I had to go to a large, private PWI for grad school to learn that being independent and yourself, however that is expressed, is ok.

In Mychal Denzel Smith’s Root essay he notes that the lessons he learned at Hampton from trying to push back at the HU administration were valuable. I agree. For all the hooping, hollering and headaches I caused at my Home by the Sea, I got a lot of in return: bonds with friends that I will carry for the rest of my life, the ability to articulate my thoughts and ideas to people in power, even when they disagree or tell me no, and a true understanding of the term “there is a time and place for everything.”  Yes, Hampton is a private school, and yes, it can dictate the rules as it sees fit. But it’s not 1953, or hell, even 2003, and if the school wants to attract and retain new students or keep the press out of its hair, it should consider focusing on what really matters – academics.

DopeReads Updates + Fiction Series Announcement

Hey party people!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend, lots of fun stuff keeping me busy over this way. This weekend I went to the Trillectro Music Festival and it was EPIC, still coming down from the greatness that it encompassed. Check out the updates and a very special announcement in the SoundCloud clip below. Let me know how you are doing in the comments section!