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Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. Or worse, his secret comes to light. The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.
Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. I am writing this to you with my face numbed to high heaven on account of some aggressive dental work and I am so. freaking. hungry!!! I keep trying to chew and drink something—anything!!—but I either bite the hell out of my cheek or the food just ends up on my shirt. But enough about me being a mess as per usual! Let’s kick off Black History Month with just that: Black history.
To the club!!
Nibbles and Sips
I was in the mood for an adult beverage last week but couldn’t decide what the $@^#! to make with the ingredients on hand. That’s when I remembered that one of my favorite podcast personalities, Jade Verette, has a legit (and hilarious) IGTV cocktail series called Cocktails en la Casa (read up on her in this spotlight on Black mixologists by Food and Wine). I whipped up this frozen cucumber mint situation to pretend it was much sunnier outside my casa. It’s such a fresh, delicious blend of cucumber, mint, elderflower liqueur, fresh lime, and gin. Enjoy!
New Black History
Let’s get this part out of the way: around here, we read Black authors year round and not just in February. We do still set aside some designated time to celebrate Black voices during Black History month though, so that’s what we’re going to do today. These history books are all new and recent works by Black authors.
Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
I was originally going to suggest Ibram X Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning, a book I’ve been slowly making my way through for months now. Then I remembered Four Hundred Souls and had to go with this. It’s a one-volume community history by 90 brilliant writers, each of whom tackles a five-year period from 1619 to the present. Each writer’s approach is different: some wrote historical essays, others short stories, some shared personal vignettes. The result is an important body of work that “fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.”
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs
I’m actually surprised the concept for this book wasn’t explored sooner, because it feels long overdue. So much has been written and read about Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin (not that everyone has digested their message accurately, pero that’s some side eye for a different day). But very little has been said about the extraordinary women who raised these American icons. In one stunner of a debut, scholar Anna Malaika Tubbs celebrates Black motherhood by telling these women’s stories.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
When Isabel Wilkerson gets out bed in the morning, do you think she has her toast and coffee before or after she sits down to craft masterpieces of thought? Whew! It landed on all of the best-of lists and won all of the things in 2020, and it’s no wonder. This time she’s taken on America’s hidden caste system with a “deeply researched narrative and stories about real people.” She pulls back the veil to reveal the hierarchy of human rankings that dominates our society and the systemic racism that allows it to thrive.
Barack Obama apparently surprised a Zoom book club by dropping in on their discussion of his book, A Promised Land. I can’t even pretend that I wouldn’t have blurted out, “HOW HAVE YOU BEEN, DAD, AND DO YOU THINK MICHELLE WOULD LET ME BORROW THAT COAT?”
The Today Show’s Jenna Bush Hager selects not one, but two books for February’s book club.
American Airlines’ new Apple Books partnership includes access to Oprah’s Book Club picks,
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.