Today my weather app told me it was -0 degrees in Minneapolis.
So that’s about where my headspace is. Luckily this week’s books are really good and talking about them will hopefully lift my spirits and yours!
“All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz & Dina Gilio-Whitaker
I keep wanting to call this book a “primer,” which doesn’t feel right because it’s so in-depth despite being relatively short and very accessible. Each of these chapters could be an entire book on its own (and Dunbar-Ortiz and Gilio-Whitaker cite a lot of other work within each one, so if you want to learn more about any given chapter you can easily find more information), from the issues with sports teams using Native people as mascots, to the myth of Columbus’ “discovery,” to misconceptions about casinos. Dunbar-Ortiz and Gilio-Whitaker both explain the history of each myth, how and why it originated, and how it persists and impacts Native lives today. It’s really well-written and informative, and though the pages turn pretty quickly, I would recommend taking it a couple chapters a day (especially if the majority of the information is new to you) to really let them sink in. A lot of this history revolves around court cases (frequently resulting in decisions that allow the U.S. to betray treaties with Native nations), and I found it helpful to take breaks so I could keep the court cases and treaties distinct in my head.
Heads of the Colored People – Nafissa Thompson-Spires
These short stories are excellent and devastating and hopeful, intertwined with each other in a way that flows easily from story to story. A few stories followed the same character, and often a minor character from one story would be prominently featured in the next. They all examine and ruminate on the characters’ experiences of Blackness, class, friendship, the desire to be an individual and where it pulls against the desire to be in community, and a host of other hopes and frustrations. I kept thinking I would take a break “after this story,” and I made that deal with myself…..at least five times without it actually working. The characters were each distinctly realized, and Thompson-Spires’ sharp observations add both humor and depth. A few of the stories felt like they ended a little abruptly, but that’s often how I feel about short stories.
TW: police violence, suicidal ideation, sexual harrassment, eating disorder/disordered eating, child abuse
I feel like I start and end a lot of these posts with my complaints about the weather, but I am a Midwesterner, so….what I’m saying is someone needs to rescue me to a warmer state. Stay warm and happy reading!