Sunday, September 18, 2011

Letters From the Underground

 To America with Love: Letters From the Underground  by Anita and Abbie Hoffman
Weight: 9.6 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating or Giving Away

Yet again, I am not as inspired by a book in the way that others seem to be.  I am not sure what is wrong with me.  Am I jaded or just stupid?  Possibly neither and, of course, potentially both.  I picked this book up because I am always interested in reading about activism and influential people.  We need to learn from our past and present.  Combine as much information as possible so that we too can attempt to shape our future. 
I love that this is a collection of letters.  The reader gets a glimpse of how difficult it was to be underground, but still just a glimpse.  Letters may have been a safer way to communicate, but there was still danger in them.  They could be incriminating.

I guess part of the problem is that Abbie Hoffman has never been that inspirational to me.  There are components of his life and his passion that I respect and others that I do not, but he really has not been a major influence in my own activism, thoughts, and work.

If you are at all curious you should give it a go.  As always, it can be yours free of charge.  

********Troy Davis’ Clemency Hearing is tomorrow.  Keep him and his family in your thoughts*******

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs: Exploring the World Below  by Joseph Wallace
Photographs by Waterhouse
Weight: 1.4 lbs
Method of Disposal: Donation

It is that time of the year again.  All of the volunteers are returning from their vacations and coming to help us at the shelter, which is great and only slightly depressing because they come with stories about all the exciting things they have done and sun tans to prove it.  It makes me crave salt water and sand, waterfalls and rivers, villas and unusual flora/fauna.  I am still doing the same thing I do year round.  I see a few brave cardinals around the shelter and a thousand clueless blue-tailed lizards.  I see pine trees and poison ivy.  I see the same twelve people almost every day of my life and, despite how wonderful it all is, I would really REALLY like to get away.  These things should not be so unattainable.  Unfortunately, you need money to take time off work.  One day?

If that day ever comes I want to go diving—in a careful way, without destroying things—and then spend all day at the beach reading, writing, laughing, drinking, doing whatever the hell I want. 
Last year I did get the chance to go to Colorado for a whirlwind 3 day trip complete with a 4 am trip to the airport.  I looked all over for wildlife.  I thought I would see a moose, if not the bear and the fox he had seen a month before.  I didn’t  but apparently, while I was gone, a deer wandering onto shelter property and caused quite the ruckus. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition
Weight: 3.4 lbs
Method of Disposal: Recycle

It is too bad this book is in such rough shape.  The front cover is torn off completely.  The back cover is a scratched up mess, and the pages are stained.  I have no idea what it went through all these years.   This book has probably lived through more than I have in its 17 years.  Damn.  17 years.  

This was my mother’s book before it was mine.  She bought it used when she went back to college after the divorce.  After she graduated, I inherited it.  I use to like to flip through it and read pages at random.  It seemed like it held so much insight.  I, of course, learned about a variety of problems with it when I went to college myself.  I was in a serious relationship with a psychology major and now two of my close friends study within the field.  I am surrounded by them.  What does that mean?

The book is officially outdated, and I am finally going to retire it.  Recycle it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Mistress's Daughter

2 X The Mistress’s Daughter  by A.M. Homes
Weight: 11 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating or giving to you if you ask

I have two copies of this book that are in brand new condition.  One was given to me by my dear friend Sarah and the other I kind of inherited.  I can’t let someone just trash an A.M. Homes book so I took it!  As some of you are aware, A.M. Homes is one of my favorite fiction authors.  This book is her memoir.  You can imagine how excited I was when I first saw that it was available.

While I do much prefer her fiction, I was invested in this book.  I came in with bias, but I do not really care.  It is about Homes wrestling with being adopted, trying to find her biological parents, and connecting with her genealogy.  I agree with other reviewers that the book’s strength is in the beginning and the weakness seems to be at the end.  I cannot comment on how accurate of a portrayal this is of what it feels like to be adopted.  I have no idea.  But, I do not know why it has to be that.  It is a portrayal of how it was for A.M. Homes and that is enough.  

She is an excellent author, and I liked this book.  I think I would give it a 3 star rating on a 5 star scale.  If you would like your very own copy or know someone who would, please let me know.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Troy Davis

Amnesty International Report 2003
Weight: 1.9 lbs
Method of Disposal: Donating or given away, though dated it is still contains a lot of relevant information

After Troy Davis has been on death row for 19 years, his fourth death warrant has been signed.  He could be executed as early as September 21st, despite the fact that 7 of 9 witnesses have recanted testimony against him and some have described being strongly encouraged by law officials to incriminate him.  There was never any physical evidence to link him to the murder of a police officer, and there is another possible suspect.  There are several large groups involved in the fight to save Troy Davis’ life, including Amnesty International and the NAACP.  His story has been reported for years and yet here we are, all these years later, and he is scheduled to be executed this month.  If you have not already signed petitions, told your family/friends, donated money to ad campaigns, attended rallies/protests, now is your chance.  It is not too late.  He has a clemency hearing on the 19th.  It is particularly important that the people of Georgia take a stand, as this is happening in their own state.  If anyone would care to join me, I will be attending the march and rally at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Friday, September 16th.  This is his last chance.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Leaving Atlanta

Leaving Atlanta  by Tayari Jones
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Donating or giving to you if you ask for it.

I bought this book around 8 years ago, not knowing anything about it, and I promptly forgot about it.  I put it on a wishlist, not knowing anything about it, about a year ago.  I was going to check it out of the library this week, but I noticed it on my bookshelf just yesterday.  I had no idea I owned it, and I still had no idea what it was about when I started reading it before bed last night.

My mother called me when I was about twenty pages from the end of the book.  I was barely able to stop reading it while I was at work.  I was worried about the children.  My concerns and anxiety were rooted deep within me.  I wanted to protect them, but I felt helpless to do so.  There was a mother in me I never knew was there, as I do not want children.  I off-handedly told my mother that I was reading a horrible fictional account of child murders.  I told her it was a good book, but that I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked it up.  I did not want to see all of these children disappear and die.  I mentioned that I had only wanted to get it, in the first place, because I was looking for some modern fiction set in Atlanta.  She asked me if it was based on what happened with Wayne Williams in the early 80s and, I am embarrassed to admit, I had no idea what she was talking about.  I would have known when I read the author’s note at the end of the book, but it hit me hard.  I had been fictionalizing all of it, distancing myself in that way, and then I could no longer do that.  Do not misunderstand, this IS a fictional novel, but it is based on reality.  The author was a child in Atlanta during the time that this book was based on.

In real life, at least 28 black children, teenagers, and adults were murdered between 1979-1981.  There were others that were not officially included in the count, but potentially were killed by the same person.  Williams was arrested and charged with the murder of two adult men, and it was widely believed that he had also been responsible for the children’s murders.  There are, as Jones states, many people who do not believe it was Williams and think the murderer is still at large.  The most recent news story I saw on google was about veterinary forensics involving dog hair that also seems to link Williams to the crimes, but it can also be considered inconclusive.  The controversy continues, but that is not what I am writing about today.

I am writing about this book.  It was told from three different children’s points of view.  I felt so much for all of them.  The author invokes deep emotions and does not shy away from the brutal truths about class and race relations in her book.  I do recommend this novel, though it is difficult to get through.  If you want it.  I will give it to you.  Now that I know, I will never forget.  I cannot imagine the fear, the horror, and the pain Atlanta went through during this time and in the years that have followed.   So many broken families.  My heart goes out to them.  It is appalling that over 20 people were killed, mostly children, and that it took two years to even have someone to blame, no one was convicted.