By Ky Books: The Mothers by Brit Bennett

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The Mothers: A Novel

Religion. Suicide. Abortion. Sexual Abuse. Failed First Love. Grief. Depression. This book does not hold back on the issues it addresses. But although those topics seem heavy, the author Brit Bennett, does such an excellent job with her writing and character building that you don’t feel weighed down by the story once its over. It feels real. At the core of this story is an abortion that beautiful Nadia Turner, the main character feels like she must have. She doesn’t confide in anyone including her boyfriend, she’s just hell bent on getting one. This book tackles the choice women make when they either have an abortion and pursue the rest of their lives and their dreams or not to have one and birth life. The idea is that both choices comes with costs and for Nadia, having a child would mean halting her dreams of going to college and becoming successful to stay at home, where being home meant dealing with grief and depression that her heart could no longer take.

I would identify this as a coming of age story that is representative of reality not those coming of age stories where characters jump in lakes and try to soak in the last real summer before adulthood, this story is hits home for several reasons and really illustrates the reality of young adulthood for some people. It tackles real life issues while intertwining religion and often time the hypocrisy of it. I don’t want to give too much away, but I liked this book, I didn’t like the ending that much but I enjoyed reading it overall and loved how the author developed such powerful relationships that may or may not withstand the test of time.

If you’re into podcasts, For Colored Nerds on itunes has an amazing interview with the author Britt Bennet who gives further perspective into the narrative of this story.

By Ky Books: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Americanah is the best book I have ever read. After 27-years of life and reading, I finally have a favorite book. I’ve been searching for it all my life and finally it’s here! I can’t describe it because I actually want you guys to read it, but the book follows the lives of Ifemelu and Obinzie, two lovers who first meet in secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria. The couple eventually separate as Ifemelu moves to America to go to school, while Obinze moves to London in search of work. They are smart, charismatic, and hopeful in Nigeria, but their new lives as immigrants in these sensationalized countries prove to be hard and ultimately they lose touch. This book illustrates the power of first love. No matter what transpired between them, their love still loomed over them like a cloud until it eventually brought them back together. A love story at its core, but a culturally important book that explores race, immigration, navigating adulthood, education, relationships, culture, culture clashing, assimilation, and so much. Like I said, this is the best book I’ve ever read in my life and I do it no justice by talking about it. Here’s a PDF of it online if you don’t want to buy the book – read it! Also check out the below concept trailer for the movie:

By Ky Books: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

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Another Brooklyn: A Novel

Jacqueline Woodson wrote a beautiful coming of age story,  set in Brooklyn in the 70s which felt familiar to me. Her main character August, is telling this story of her childhood as an adult. She’s a successful archeologist but has to come back to Brooklyn because of her father’s death. Seeing an old best friend triggers memories of the borough that made her who she was. The story is charming but very short. It deals with themes that include grief, friendship, poverty, religion and so much more. If you’re interested in a short read that feels like soul food, this would be it.

Book Review: What I Know For Sure

 


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Before reading this 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, and she only felt remorseful about not doing so when one of her other friend’s exclaimed how much she loved this singer as well. 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 shows 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 are 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 find’s 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.

P.S I asked myself the same question, what I know for sure, after completing this book and now with the inspiration of Oprah’s stories, I feel like I know a lot. I’ll share my thoughts in an upcoming post.

 

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 Nobles 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, to make the reader feel like he/she is good friends with the author. Jen 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 imagine. 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 in 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 to 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 nick name  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 out of fear of judgment or not looking cool, when non-believers scream their atheism from the rooftop without fear of being judged. I know why she did it, and it’s a genius technique because she’s trying to even the playing field for all of her readers, but it just didn’t sit well with me.  I didn’t like that she credits the “Universe” for everything that goes right and wrong with our lives either. It was too weird for me.

Anyway, 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!

 

Follow Lifestylebyky.com blog

Instagram @lifestylebyky

Twitter @bykyblogs

 

 

By Ky Books: The Education of Kevin Powell

IMG_3677.JPGThe Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood. I purchased this book 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 text books 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 are.He touched on his childhood a little bit, having to live in poverty for most of his life. But to have come from such humble beginnings to being the powerhouse that he is today, I was curious to see what his memoir was all about.

I’ve read many memoirs by woman but I’ve never read the memoir of a man besides Malcom 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 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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