Inbox/Outbox: August 26, 2016

I’ve been in an excellent non-fiction space recently. (Maybe it’s too hot to do the work of putting myself in a fictional world? Who knows, I’m just going with it.) Let’s got to it:

Inbox (Books Acquired)

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi (August 30, Dutton Books)– A new middle grade book from the author of the Shatter Me series, a YA dystopia series I love. I have a soft spot for fairy tale-ish middle grade tales, so I’m ready to dive into this one.

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black (September 6, Ace)– I’ve already started this and it’s got a Firefly-ish, Wild West with aliens! thing going on that I’m pretty into. A great end-of-summer page-turner for sci-fi fans.

Outbox (Books Finished)

Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson— A look into the lives and history of the Talented Tenth, the upper-middle-class black families in the US, from slavery to the end of the Vietnam War. Jefferson grew up in a well-to-do family in (mostly white neighborhoods) Chicago in the ’50s, often being one of only a handful of black students in all-white schools. This is a memoir of a member of a class of elites surviving racism through accomplishment, while still comparing themselves to poorer black families. It’s complicated and fascinating.

Code Talker by Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila— A memoir by one a member of the Navajo Code Talker unit of the Marines during WWII, a group of around 30 Navajos who developed a military code based on their language that was used (and remained uncracked) in the Pacific theater. Nez’s memoir follows him from his childhood on the reservation to the boarding schools of his adolescence to his experience in the Marines. A must-read for anyone interested in military history.

In the Queue (What I’m Reading Next)

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai— I’m about halfway through this beautiful and funny middle grade novel about a 12 year old California girl accompanying her grandmother on a trip back to her village in Vietnam as she searches for answers about what happened to her long-missing husband (the girl’s grandfather) at the end of the Vietnam War. Mai/Mia is unhappy (understatement) about missing her summer of beach lazing and being forced to go to a country she doesn’t care about or think she has any personal connection to. The book is about her learning how wrong she is, and discovering selflessness, and family.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery— Octopuses (not octopi, I have learned) are weird: most of their thinking neurons are in their arms, they mate when the male inserts a particular tentacle into the female’s mantle (her head, HER HEAD), and they are creepily flexible. I find them eternally compelling, and this book about what it might be like to BE one is right up my alley.

Amanda Nelson: Amanda Nelson is the Managing Editor of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA. Follow her on Twitter: @ImAmandaNelson