August Reading Review

Reading

As some of you may know, I love to read, and I don’t just say that lightly. I am one of those people who would rather read than watch TV unless the Kardashians are on then TV trumps reading, but that’s not the point. My New Year resolution was to read at least one book a month and so far I have read 12 books this year ultimately fulfilling the minimum of my resolution, and sparking a new challenge, read 3-4 books a month.

I have decided that I can’t let these wonderful books be known to only my mind and imagination so at the end of each month I will offer a quick review of the books I read that month and also give a glimpse into the books I plan to read in the following month. So, let’s get this thing started.

I started off this month reading one of the many books I was gifted for graduating college (oh yea I did that btw), anyways, I found out about this book from looking over President Obama’s summer reading list so I figured it had to be good since he recommended it. The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes gives a front row seat to the 8 years Obama was in office. Rhodes served as the President’s speechwriter and one of his top advisors on foreign policy. As someone who grew up during the 8 years Obama was in office mostly ignorant and oblivious to all that went on in the world politically, it gave me a great view of everything that Obama did while in office. I will say though, this was one of the more challenging books I’ve read in a while due to some of the mundane political topics that I just wasn’t fully interested in and slightly went over my head. I still highly recommend the book though, no matter your political views, it was interesting nonetheless and allowed me to see behind the scenes of some of the most important moments that shaped President Obama’s legacy.

After reading such a heavy book I decided to give myself a mental break and read a shorter and less complex book. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is an amazing true story about two people who are worlds apart but become friends through unlikely situations. It’s a story of faith, friendship, and acceptance. I read this book in TWO DAYS, it was that good. I could not put it down. It made me laugh and cry. If you are looking for a quick read that will fill your heart with all types of good feelings I strongly recommend that you give this book a try.

I capped off my August reading by diving into yet another nonfiction book, Long Walk to Freedom, the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. When I say that this book intimidated me, I mean it. Not only is this book a solid 625 pages, it encompasses the life of one of the most inspiring African leaders. Throughout my life, I have heard bits and pieces about Nelson Mandela, but I never really knew who he was or what exactly he did that made him so important. I can assure you that after reading this book all of my questions were answered. Mandela lived an incredible life that was mostly spent in prison or traveling South Africa “underground” in order to not be thrown back into prison. In his autobiography Mandela allows us to see first hand the struggles he went through and the challenges he faced in order to win the freedom of not only himself but for all others who looked like him. It is an incredible story and the last chapter or two of the book truly inspired me to always fight for what is right for the collective whole, not just myself.

I was only able to read three books this month, but two of the three challenged my reading stamina due to their impressive descriptiveness and fact-based sentences. In total, I read 1,291 pages this month and loved each and every second of it.

As I go into my September reading, I would love to hear suggestions of books I need to add to my reading list, I am not picky about genre or topic and would love to hear all of your suggestions! Be sure to drop a title or two in the comment section below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive updates on my reading endeavors and any other journey’s along the way.

To Whom it May Concern…

Race

To whom it may concern,

Eight years ago on this day, I sat in my 7th grade homeroom class. We were all in our seats watching history take place. At the young age of 12, I didn’t know what was going on, to be honest, I was pretty bored but glad that we weren’t doing work. I never would have guessed that for the next 8 years I would grow to love and become inspired by that man on TV.obama-family-inauguration-big1.jpg

Yes, I am talking about President Obama, the people’s president, my president. I grew up watching this man and his family serve and run our great country with nothing but grace and dignity. I can remember wanting to be friends with Sasha and Malia, mostly because I wanted to see what the White House looked like, but now I genuinely would like to meet them.

Over these past eight years, I have grown into a young woman, I’ve graduated high school and completed half of my college career. Through all of that President Obama was there, not literally of course (I wish), but he was there. He was working on making this country an even better place for all of us to live and work in.

For the past eight years, I have not had to worry about the future of this country. I have been empowered and inspired to reach for my dreams because a nobody from the southside of Chicago, where half of my family is from, showed me that anything is possible.

January 19, 2017, will not be the last day for my president. Each and every day following I will continue to respect and honor the man that showed me that “yes we can.” Why do we need to bother making America great again? We are blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to voice our opinion and worship whoever or whatever we feel like.

Could things be improved? Of course. Nothing is perfect, but that doesn’t mean we need to condemn our country and say it’s not great. If anything the Obama’s have shown us time and again that this country is awesome.  1280_obamas_october_cover-essence

I refuse to live these next four years in fear. I have learned a lot from the POTUS and FLOTUS and one thing we all need to remember is that when “they” go low, we go high. We can’t get sucked into this vortex of hate. We must rise above. We must fight to be heard.

“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.” -Michelle Obama

I refuse to lose focus on my goals. I refuse to be silent. I will make an impact, whether it’s just within my circle of friends and family or within the community or God willing something larger than that. If we want change we must demand it.

We have to be smart. We must not be angry. We must present ourselves with the same amount of grace, dignity, and composure that the Obama’s showed us for the past eight years.

We can not get caught up in the theatrics of this new political system. We must continue educating ourselves. Educate yourself on things that interest you. Become involved within your community, speak up at school board meetings, town hall meetings. Write letters to your senators and representatives. Be active.

The worst thing we could do in these next four years is to become silent. President Obama and his family are not going to stop fighting, so why should we?

Sincerely,

Jasmine Conley
A millennial who will be heard