It’s been a while since I’ve shared my recent reads, and we are also in film awards season, so it’s a good time to write about those two subjects. I have a long list of classic literature that I want to get through and made some headway at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021. Do you know I never read “The Catcher in the Rye” or “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Lord of the Flies” in school? Neither in high school or college! I started with James Baldwin’s “Go Tell It On the Mountain”. First off, I am a HUGE James Baldwin fan. I actually hate that I did not know of him or much about his activism and work until more recently. When I was at a Hank Willis Jr. exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum there was a video montage that used mostly all of Baldwin’s words and speeches to narrate. It was amazing. And awe-inspiring. Baldwin is a true treasure.
I then moved on to tackle some James Joyce, starting with “Dubliners” and “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. I liked the short story style of “Dubliners”. Next, I took on “Ulysses”. Now, I’ve read Tolstoy, but Joyce’s “Ulysses” has to be the most difficult book I’ve ever read. The stream of consciousness narrative was difficult to follow and the metaphors and hallucinations of the characters and everything else that makes the book legendary also made it very difficult. It’s not that I did not enjoy and respect it, but I was very glad to be done with it. Certainly a challenge.
The final classic I read was “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, which was very good. An excellent dystopian novel for anyone with interest in that genre. Sit it up right beside “A Handmaid’s Tale”. Political and personal preferences aside, I have always enjoyed reading Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s Killing series. I knocked off “Killing England” and “Killing of the Rising Sun”.
After those classics and non-fictions, I took a swing back into some fiction. Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Book of Longings” was great. I was hesitant to read it since I don’t fully believe in some of the story, but keeping in mind it is truly fiction made me appreciate the story. It was a good read for Lent, too, because of the view of Jesus’ life, death and personality.
Back in December I joined a book club with some old friends and former high school classmates. Here’s what we’ve read so far:
• “Vox” by Christina Dalcher (eye-opening dystopian novel, very good)
• “Backstage Pass” by Olivia Cummings (steamy romance novel, if you’re into that kind of thing)
• “The Light in Hidden Places” by Sharon Cameron (YA Holocaust novel based on a true story - fantastic read)
• “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” by Mitch Albom (great writing and a lot going on to keep you intrigued; good, but not the warmest read)
We already have our April pick plus I’m underway on a new stack of fiction, so I’ll be back with all those reads once I get through them!
In terms of film and documentaries, I have a lot of work to do! The Academy Awards are coming up in a month, so I have some time left but need to get watching! I loved, loved, loved, loved “Mank”. If you haven’t seen or don’t fully understand the film “Citizen Kane”, “Mank” will do nothing for you. But as a movie buff (especially the classics) Mank checked all the boxes for me. I already want to go back and watch it again. Chadwick Boseman is a front-runner for best supporting actor, and it has nothing to do with his passing. His performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was PHENOMENAL. And I mean that to the extent of every one of those capital letters! A great August Wilson-based film. If you liked “Fences” from a few years ago, check out this one. I already touched on “Soul” in a previous post, so will skip that here (loved it). “The Prom” was eh. Great cast, but nothing earth-shattering. A fun watch. “One Night In Miami” was excellent. I mean, Leslie Odom Jr. can do no wrong in my eyes so it was great to see him in a big film. Loved the whole premise, the dialogue, the acting, everything.
The only nominated documentary I’ve watched so far is “Time”. It was good, but it struggled to hold my interest at times. The message was extremely poignant in our current society. I’m looking forward to watching a few more in the coming weeks.
What have you been reading lately? I’m always open to suggestions to add to my list. Have you watched any movies or documentaries lately? As always, leave a comment and let me know what you think.
The last weekend of February I took a quick trip to Cincinnati to visit friends and take advantage of some awesome exhibits available at the city’s many museums. It was a very, very, much needed break. I needed some social interaction and normalcy with friends, and I couldn’t be more thankful for everyone who made time in their weekend to see me. Truly, I appreciated it so much.
One positive of the pandemic is that my membership to the Cincinnati Museum Center is still active because it was extended due to the museum having to shut down for a few months. Their OMNIMAX theater is one of a few across the country and I’ve been very lucky to have seen a few movies there. I checked out Backyard Wilderness, which was about all the nature and life going on right outside your suburban window that you probably have no clue exists! As someone who lives and was raised in a very rural area, I am quite aware of my outside environment, but the film was really kid-friendly and appropriate for the area.
While at the CMC, there was a small exhibit downstairs about the women’s fight for the right to vote, with specific artifacts from Ohio. It fit right in with the four-part class on women in the workplace I had recently finished up and my trip to the Susan B. Anthony House and Museum earlier this year.
The CMC is housed in one of the landmark buildings of Cincinnati. It is worth the trip just to check it out. Originally the Union Terminal, you can still see many facets of the building’s original purpose - a train station. It opened in 1933 and the art deco craze was clearly at a high during that time. You step inside a huge, domed main concourse where there are intricate mosaics on the wall. Navigation signs are still up on the walls in art deco fonts. I love that building.
The main exhibit I was excited to check out while in town was at the Taft Museum of Art. Walk This Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weitzman Collection was amazing for any shoe lover! The collection included everything from boots from the early 19th century to thigh-high red statements from the show Kinky Boots. One of my favorite pairs in the collection was a pair of leather pumps signed by the 1941 New York Yankees (a favorite for obvious reasons). There was also a display of art deco heels that were stunning! I would love wearing any shoes with such beautiful, intricate bottoms!
If it isn’t clear to you yet in this blog, I really love learning. Any chance to check out something historic or thought-provoking, I jump at. Cincinnati offers such a great array of cultural and memorable gems. I miss living so close to all these places, but I am excited to check out some new museums and centers in WNY to fulfill my interests.
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." --Anatole France