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Fireside Chats: How to Read Nonfiction

As a history major, one of my required courses was historiography, or the study of historical writing. I didn’t retain very much from the course, mainly because it was taught through the lens of colonial American history, which at the time did not interest me in the slightest (and still doesn’t, unless it’s filtered through Hamilton), but one thing my professor taught us left an indelible mark, and that thing was: how to read a historical monograph.

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Book Review: A Border Passage by Leila Ahmed

A Border Passage: From Cairo to America — A Woman’s Journey
Leila Ahmed

Penguin, 1999
★★★★☆

It was as if there were to life itself a quality of music in that time, the era of my childhood, and in that place, the remote edge of Cairo. There the city petered out into a scattering of villas leading into tranquil country fields. On the other side of our house was the profound, unsurpassed quiet of the desert.

With these vivid, lyrical words, Leila Ahmed begins her memoir. With this almost languid imagery she establishes what will be the tone of her life story. At times incredibly personal, at others broad and historical, Ahmed interweaves her own personal history of growing up in Egypt with the more general history of the country itself, which was going through turbulent times as Ahmed was growing up.

It is, above all, a gorgeously told story, rich with colorful imagery and evocative prose. Ahmed’s writing skill is unparalleled. True, sometimes you can tell that she is an academic and not a novelist, in that at times the writing comes across a bit too formal, a bit too stilted, and perhaps a bit too detached, but it never stops being beautiful.

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Kindle Books I Bought and Forgot About So I’m Holding Myself Accountable (Part 1)

I’m getting better at resisting Kindle Daily Deals, but back in the day (like…a year or two ago) I would buy so many Kindle books on sale. They would then sit buried on my Kindle, languishing and forgotten, and so I have ended up accumulating a ridiculous amount of them. It’s difficult to remember what I actually have, so rather than making a boring spreadsheet, I thought I would make a post here for some accountability. And also! A lot of these Kindle titles happen to be either indie or more obscure books, and for next month I was thinking of reading exclusively underhyped books, so it would be good to have a clear list I can refer to.

This was not initially going to be broken up into two separate posts, but I had not realized the sheer number of books I would have! While it would be nice to have a single, organized post, it would be far too large and unwieldy in the long run, and would probably break a slower internet connection. So, two posts it is!

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10 Books for a Black History Month TBR

I’ve been doing this themed TBR for the past couple of years, where I try to read only or mostly black authors in the month of February, and I guess it’s becoming an annual tradition! These books are all on my TBR anyway — some of them have been on there for a very long time — so this is a good chance to prioritize them. There’s ten books on this list, some of them sizeable fantasies, so I highly doubt I’ll be able to read all of them, especially since my reading so far is much slower than it was last year, but at least I’ll have a nice selection to pick from!

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10 Fantasy Series to Read in 2021

I’ve made this post for 2019 and 2020 and I’ve actually made some progress, though it is…slow going (series are LONG okay). Because of that, there’s going to be a lot of repeats here, but some new series I’d like to begin or finish up as well.

I’m also no longer being a stickler about waiting for a series to finish before starting it, because now that I’m doing my own summaries of fantasy installments, I don’t have as much of a problem when it comes to remembering things, since my summaries prioritize everything that I personally want prioritized, or the little details that I, specifically, would be more likely to forget.

The series I am prioritizing tie in to one of my 2020 goals, which is to finish some of the many, many books I own physical copies of, so you’ll notice that most of these series I actually own, which in theory should help me to read them, since they’re, you know, right there.

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