By Ky Books: The Originals by Adam Grant

I read The Originals by Adam Grant for a book club. At first, I was super excited to read it, because Grant uses his book to discuss extraordinary individuals and what makes them special. He addresses procrastination as a positive trait using Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an example because he waited until the twelfth hour to craft his world-renowned “I Have a Dream” speech (which was actually an improvisation). He talked about the dangers of Group Think and the failures and successes of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. I was excited to learn about these movers and shakers but about halfway through the book, it all became unbearable; reading a case study after case study was great, but after a while, it lost my attention.  If you’re interested in learning about creative people who changed the world this book might be for you!

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By Ky Books: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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I read this book, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi in about 4-days which is shocking to me because I didn’t want to read it at all. Let me just say I REALLY enjoyed this book and learning that the author was my age was a proud moment for me. Homegoing is an amazing novel about our ancestry and the significance of returning back home, wherever home might be; in the case of these characters, Ghana.

The book starts with Effia and Esi, half-sisters who were not only beautiful, but didn’t know each other existed until their familial histories were revealed to them by family members and foes. Unknowingly, their lives would cross paths through generations. The book takes place in both Ghana and America chronicling the trajectories of both Effia and Esi’s descendants as they navigate Tribal Wars, Slavery, Jim Crow, Chain Gangs, British Imperialism, Drug Wars, and Mental Health. The book navigates history through the eyes of its characters and brings us to a full circle moment in the end. This book filled me up with pride and it made me want to go to Ghana. Gyasi is such an excellent writer. Reading her work, you can only wonder how she’s able to articulate her words with such detail and eloquence. The characters she created have depth, their stories similar to my own. I can say with certainty this is one of the most captivating novels I’ve read. Although our culture and history were taken from us, we should try to understand our family history from our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and family-friends before it dies with them.

By Ky Books: What I Know For Sure

 


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Before reading the book, What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey, I set out to answer that very question for myself. In the beginning, my answers were pretty cryptic. I know for sure that I’m going to die (as we all should know). I also know for sure that I believe in Jesus. But what else did I know for sure? I was stumped. If this book was anything like my answers, I was in for a rude awakening. So I decided to figure out what it was all about first and then try to answer the same question once I was done.

What I Know For Sure, made me fall in love with Oprah. It humanized her, as she talked candidly about her 20’s and 30’s, building a career, feeling worthless and even dealing with bad guys in relationships. There were a lot of things that I didn’t know about her life, that I was so happy she shared. For her 58th birthday, Oprah’s friends surprised her with one of her favorite singer’s Snatam Kaur. I know what you’re thinking, big deal, its Oprah, but the beauty of this story is that she didn’t think she was worthy enough to invite the singer to perform at her own birthday. She went to bed kind of disappointed in herself, only to find out a few hours later her friends had the singer come to her home and serenade her with her favorite songs. It was a beautiful story.

This book is filled with the advice only Oprah can give. She is transparent, infusing personal stories with life lessons. She talks about her relationship with Gayle and how supportive she’s always been as a best friend. She also talks about aging, how she chooses to celebrate growing older as opposed to begrudging it because it represents more opportunity to live. There are a couple of things that Oprah knows for sure, which now serve as life lessons for me which you can find below:

  • Reading opens you up and exposes you to access anything your mind can hold.
  • Love, a relationship built on real love should feel good most of the time, it should involve bringing who you are to the table and walking away with more.
  • Encountering Obstacles, every experience is a valuable teacher. It’s a blessing to be able to survive them and make the climb up life’s mountain.
  • Unworthiness, unconscious feelings of unworthiness show up in everything you do or don’t do.
  • Combating Shame, when you know who you are and what you stand for, stand in wisdom.
  • Haters, naysayers will always feel threatened because they don’t believe they are enough and will never feel satisfied.
  • Fear, what would you do if you weren’t afraid of feeling rejected, making a mistake, looking foolish, or being alone? When you remove the fear, the answer you’ve been searching for comes into focus.
  • The Journey, never lose faith in the path. Changing the way you think about your situation is the key to improving it. Learning to appreciate your lessons is a clear sign you are moving in the right direction.
  • Prayer, if the only prayer you ever said in your entire life was thank you, it would be enough.
  • Gratitude, sometimes we get so focused on the difficulty of our climb that we lose sight of being grateful for having a mountain to climb. When you focus on the goodness of your life you create more of it.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for some encouragement in their lives. Oprah’s outlook on life is simply magnificent. She finds beauty in everything around her and is willing to share with us, some of her mistakes and triumphs that made her the wise woman she is today. Make gratitude a priority.

 

 

You Are A Badass [Book Review + Giveaway]

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I am not a self-help fanatic. Well, maybe once upon a time I was, but now, I feel like I have a grasp on my life. All my self-help answers come from the bible as cliché as that might sound. However, I’ve been seeing You Are Badass by Jen Sincero all over (from Instagram to the shelves of Barnes and Noble and Urban Outfitters). My favorite bloggers and YouTubers swear by this book, so I decided to give it a chance. I always need a little push in the right direction and to be told that I am as bad as they come! (Pun intended).

The book is written in an amicable tone that makes the reader feel like he/she is good friends with the author. Sincero shares her own personal story in each of the chapters, getting very intimate about her life’s triumphs and shortcomings. Jenn encourages her readers to give back to others and to dream big. She ends each of the chapters with a few practical tips on applying her advice to your real life.

This book encouraged me more than I could’ve imagined. Sometimes I fight success and hinder my full potential because I am constantly in my head. However, this book gave me the kick that I needed. Stop procrastinating, follow your passions, and become successful—as simple as that. It also made me realize that I need to speak faith and positivity over my life. If you believe it then you can achieve it.

One of the best activities to do in this book is to create a mantra. Simply put, I wrote about my dream life as if I am already living it, so it was written in the present tense but it hasn’t happened yet. What it allowed me to do was declare greatness for my future. This exercise was actually powerful. I got really giddy thinking about how awesome my life is going to turn out just by writing it down and having faith that my hopes and dreams may one day come true.

This book made me view money differently as well. I think I’ve fallen into the philosophy of believing that money is the root of all evil, for many reasons I find this to be true, but the author made me confront my issues with money and helped me change the way in which I view it. When I see success for my life, there’s also a monetary component of it, so if I view money negatively, how will I invite more of it into my life? Does that make sense? It did while I was reading the book.

My only critique and this is a big one, is that she gives God, the almighty, alpha + omega a nickname called “Source Energy.” I wanted to dislike her because of her audacity. I think she was trying to make people who don’t necessarily believe in God comfortable with the idea of her talking about spirituality; maybe I just revere God so much that I am not comfortable with people dancing around the fact that they are believers. I know why she did it, but it just didn’t sit well with me. I also didn’t like that she credits the “universe” for everything that goes right and wrong with life either. It was too weird for me. If God is the creator of the universe why are we giving credit to the universe and not to God? Ok, enough of my rant.

I have an extra copy of this book. If interested, all you have to do is:

1. Follow Lifestylebyky.com blog

2. Follow my Twitter @bykyblogs &Instagram @lifestylebyky

3. Comment below when you’ve done both by Tuesday, April 5, 2016!

 

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By Ky Books: Why you should re-read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” as an Adult

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It seems like growing up everyone had to read the Autobiography of Malcolm X. I can honestly say I don’t remember reading this book in full as a child and I am kind of happy I didn’t because reading this autobiography as an adult is one of the most enthralling reading experiences I’ve ever had.

Through new adult lenses, I can understand Malcolm X beyond what the world and the media tried to portray him as (a hateful radical). I see that he spoke from a lens of truth.

Malcolm’s delivery was sometimes stong and he advocated and revered Elijah Muhammad as being some sort of prophet from God (which was a hard pill to swallow as a Christian reader). However, Malcolm X is a revolutionary figure in our history and he is often overshadowed by other political figures. Continue reading “By Ky Books: Why you should re-read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” as an Adult”

By Ky Books: The Education of Kevin Powell

IMG_3677.JPGI purchased The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood after attending a Kevin Powell event hosted by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Kevin Powell addressed the issues I cared about during his discussion ranging from Black Lives Matter to why it’s important for textbooks to reflect the contributions that women make in society. He did so in such an enlightened way but I can’t ignore how calm and cool his mannerisms were. During the discussion he also touched on his childhood, having to live in poverty for most of his life. After this event, I was curious to see what his memoir was all about.

I’ve read many memoirs by women but I’ve never read the memoir of a man beside Malcolm X Autobiography, so this was new territory for me. Yet, I have to say I really enjoyed this book. Kevin Powell takes you on a journey of his life from the beginning, as a boy abandoned by his father and completely dependent on his unaffectionate mother. His trajectory into becoming a man was filled with many ups and downs but he is now a successful man and uses his mistakes to help other young men in his same predicament. I loved Part II of this book the most because it talks about his life in college as an outspoken student activist and also as a journalist for Vibe Magazine, where he received the opportunity to shadow Tupac Shakur. Kevin Powell was great friends with Sister Souljah and was also on the first season of the Real World which he discusses in this book.

If you’re interested in reading more memoirs, this book is a real treat. A lot of hip hop references and childhood nostalgia will be triggered while reading this.

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By Ky Books: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl


IMG_3683.JPGThe Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is probably one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read, primarily because I can relate. This hilarious book by Issa Rae is a new generational way of looking at race in today’s society. Rae takes us on an intimate journey of her life from her humble beginnings in Senegal to her upper-middle-class lifestyle in Los Angeles. We learn what it means to be a black woman and to feel awkward at the same time. What I loved most about this book besides its hilarious humor was Issa’s conversations about race whether it’s addressing the type of black people you will always encounter or her struggle of being too black to some, and not black enough to others.

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By Ky Books: God Help The Child

IMG_3664The cover of God Help The Child by Toni Morrison is what drew me to this book. It’s one of the most beautiful and colorful covers I’ve ever seen (black with colorful and bold words). This is Toni Morrison’s first book set in present-day, although at some points in the novel, it still reads like the characters are back in time. I enjoyed this book because it explores the consequences of childhood trauma, ranging from the death of a loved one to an unaffectionate parent. I also love her prose regarding the relationship between the two main characters Bride and Booker. There’s a case that Morrison is trying to build throughout the book and I can’t tell if it’s doom or hope.

For an extra treat, I found a song by Billie Holiday called God Bless The Child, very similar to the title of Toni Morrison’s book. Enjoy!

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15 Of My Favorite Things In 2015

TV Shows

I’ve discovered a lot of new TV Shows this year since I’ve been taking a TV Writing class, and the key to writing for TV is watching it. So excited about my discoveries because these shows are amazing!

1-Younger (TV Land)

The creators of Sex and The City have done it again with this show Younger. What I love about this show is that it takes place in Brooklyn (and Manhattan), so everything feels familiar, but it’s mocking millennials and everything we stand for, which I think is kind of humorous and pathetic at the same time. The main character Liza, pretends to be 26-years old (even though she’s in her 40’s), just to land a job at a publishing firm after her divorce. Her efforts to conceal her identity is both suspenseful and funny at the same time.

2-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

I’ve never laughed so hard after watching a series since Martin and that’s saying a lot. This show created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock chronicles the life of Kimmy Schmidt, a woman that was kidnapped by a man when she was a teenager and was rescued by a swat team after being locked up in a bunker for years. Now, as a 30-something year old, she’s forced to reintegrate into life in New York City. It may seem weird, but it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

3-You’re The Worst (FXX)

I am so happy I discovered this show, You’re The Worst. Another show that makes me laugh so hard I gasp for air. Jimmy and Gretchen are two cynical and borderline terrible people who meet at a wedding and fall for each other. They decide to have a non-conventional, non-mushy relationship but what they find out is when it comes to matters of the heart, they can’t stay evil forever. This show is HILARIOUS.

Books

I actually have been reading a lot this year. Here are a few of the books I’ve read this fall. I am sure you will also enjoy the little treat I have for you under my review of The Alchemist. Continue reading “15 Of My Favorite Things In 2015”

By Ky Books: Books That I Am Loving

Now that the summer is officially over, I can share with you what I’ve been reading. I challenged myself to read as many books as possible this summer because I’ve been slacking. I love to read, I really do, but sometimes with my hectic schedule, I find it hard to allot time to actually read!

The Solution: I discovered Audible. Audible is an Amazon-based service that allows you to listen to books as opposed to reading them. I was able to read (listen to) A Piece of Cake, Purpose Driven Life-What On Earth Am I Here For? (Still Reading), and Why Not Me? However, there’s something about holding a book and turning each page with curiosity that I can’t substitute, no matter how convenient audiobooks might be.

Here are some of the books I’ve been engulfed in this past summer:

1. The Sisters are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America

Describe it in one word: Empowering

I enjoyed the conversation in this book. It brought to the forefront topics that affect black women ranging from beauty and health to sex and anger. I loved that it reinforced the idea that we are magic. Maybe the world doesn’t see it, but we are a superb breed. However, it read like a couple of books that I’ve read in the past about black women including Shifting and When Chicken Heads Come Home to Roost.

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2.The Little Black Book Of Success: Laws Of Leadership for Black Woman

Describe it in one word: Insightful

This book is a good read but a lot of the lessons that the authors teach I’ve already learned through experience at work. Therefore, I would suggest this book for someone just entering the workplace. It jumps from finding mentors to being a leader and executive and sometimes the career track isn’t that fast. Actually, I know it’s not. Great book nevertheless.

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3. Miss Jessies: Creating A Successful Business from Scratch Naturally 

Describe it in one word: Warmed my heart (3-words)

This book was a page-turner from beginning to end. Not in the suspenseful kind of way, but simply because if you know anything about natural hair and natural hair products, then you know that these two women were a part of the pioneers of that industry. Miko Branch takes us on a journey from the beginning, growing up in Queens, New York in the ’80s. Her story of their humble beginnings makes you feel as if you’re their kin. I loved the trajectory. I loved the name dropping. I loved the transparency when it came to relationships and family disagreements. I loved the business advice. You are literally on a journey with the Branch Sisters through the ups and the downs.

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4. Lost & Found 

Describe it in one word: Transparent

Sarah Jakes holds nothing back. From her struggles with being Bishop TD Jake’s daughter and having everyone try to get close to her for that reason alone to her tumultuous relationship with a college football star who eventually went off to the NFL. This book deals with it all: teen pregnancy, feelings of inadequacy, highs, lows, cheating, relationships, forgiveness, and finding purpose. I loved everything about Sarah Jakes story and to be honest it changed me. It made me want to be more transparent and real when I write, which was why after reading Lost & Found I wrote Listen To Your Heart.

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5. Why Not Me?

Describe in one word: Quirky

This book, Why Not Me? was interesting. It starts off with Mindy’s desperation for making friends in elementary school. It progresses into the various awkward situations she’s been through in life which separates her from everyone else. Some parts of the book I found to be annoying. Other parts were inspiring, including her meeting with President Obama because Malia Obama was reading her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? while on vacation. I also thought it was pretty impressive that she started writing for the show The Office at such a young age and was able to snag her own show The Mindy Project as a result. She might be annoying, but she’s totally blessed.

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6. We Should All Be Feminist

Describe in one word: Flawless

This is a really short book. I think I read it in 15 minutes while at Barnes & Noble. It’s not really a book, it’s a Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (which was sampled in Beyonce’s “Flawless” song), where she drops straight jewels on the state of women and why women should be upheld to the same standards as men and vice versa. She talks about feminism having a negative connotation and how people tried to denounce her for calling herself a feminist. She also expresses her subversiveness when it comes to being boxed according to societal standards.

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7. Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

Describe in one word: Enlightening

This book was awesome. I finished it back in June, after putting it down for some time. I learned so much, probably all I needed to know about the history of black hair. The book starts from our beginnings in Africa and chronicles through the present day. If you’re interested in hair or even black history, this is a great book to read. Probably one of the best on this list because of all the rigorous research the authors put into making it as accurate as possible.

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8. A Piece of Cake

Describe in one word: Heartwrenching

This was by far one of the hardest books I’ve ever read in my life. Cupcake Brown was only 11 years old when her loving mother died. She was forced into the California Foster Care System which failed her. The first three days in the system she was raped viciously, and this cycle of abuse, rape, drugs, and alcohol followed her for years. She was angry, she joined gangs, she turned tricks and she survived. I won’t ruin the ending but it is so amazing how God works in our lives. This is not a tragic story, it’s one of resilience and success.

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9. Dark Girls

Describe in one word: Necessary

It’s actually quite sad that a book like Dark Girls has to be put out to empower black women. You would think in the year 2015, we would have moved past trivial issues such as judging someone based on how dark or light their skin is. I bought this book, keeping my future daughter in mind. I want her to understand the beauty and versatility that comes with black skin. It doesn’t matter what hue you are, you are BEAUTIFUL. I also bought it because the images inside are so powerful. The stories that our sisters had to endure because of their rich dark skin are disheartening but they are not asking to be viewed as victims. They are sharing their stories solely for a breakthrough in societal thought. We have to move beyond the surface people!

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