Friday, October 31, 2008

I was speaking with a co-worker yesterday about books. When I first meet someone I usually try to gage if they love books like me and there fore if I can be their friend. Sometimes I ask directly, other times I mention that I went to the library on the weekend or bought a new book. Usually I can quickly find out who loves books...because they usually want to talk about them as much as I do.

While talking with my co-worker, I mentioned that I was currently reading "Jazz" by Toni Morrison. We began discussing African-American literature and what we had read. This got me thinking about the African-American/Canadian literature that I had read in my life and how it has affected me. When I was 15, I read "Native Son" by Richard Wright for the first time. (Check out for a review) I don't recall all the details of the book or really remember why it affected me so much - but what I do remember is how I felt after I read it. I felt as if I had seen something new - something not very pleasant but something I had never seen before. It made me look at the world differently. It sounds cheesy but it did change my life. I think that reading novels about other peoples experiences can open a persons mind and help readers understand other cultures a bit more.


Bybee said...

I remember reading an excerpt from Native Son and finding it powerful writing...I don't know why I've never read the whole book.

One of the biggest disappointments of my life is one of my teaching jobs in the US, and none of the English teaching staff cared much about reading...ouch! After being at this same job in Korea for 4 years, I finally drew some bookish types towards me. Hoping that my next job will be honeycombed with bookworms. Trust me, if you were here, or I were in Turkey, I'd be bending your ear about books. You'd be saying shut up, already. said...

I read NATIVE SON by Richard Wright many, many years ago, but I can certainly relate to how you were touched emotionally by that book. Bigger Thomas is an unforgettable character. Anyone who reads that book cannot help but be caught up into the feeelings, thoughts and point of view of Bigger as he commits crimes and is confronted with racism, violence and lack of dignity. I believe what makes this book so powerful is Wright's indictment about racial injustice and social conditioning of black Americans in this country -- in essence . . . Bigger is a product of a society that created him. Therefore he cannot escape his destiny and therefore he 'acts' the way the world expects him to.