Books I Read In 2021

My yearly list of books that I read:

1. Jay’s Journal By Anonymous

2. I Was Told There’d Be Cake – Essays by Sloane Crosley

3. Lucy in the Sky by Anonymous

4. Calling Maggie May by Anonymous

5. Breaking Bailey by Anonymous

6. Letting Ana Go by Anonymous

7. The Book Of David by Anonymous

8. Flowers On The Moon By Billy Chapata

9. Healing Her by Sez Kristiansen

10. The Power of Positive Energy by Tanaaz Chubb

11. She Must Be Mad by Charly Cox

12. Sour Honey And Soul Food by Billy Chapata

13. Chameleon Aura by Billy Chapata

14. Under Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

15. Written In The Stars by Alexandra Bellefleur

16. Uncomfortable Conversations by Emmanual Acho

17. Made To Stick by Chip & Dan Heath

18. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

19. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

20. So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Here are links to all the books that I read in 2020 and 2019 as well. 🤓

Thanks for reading!

BLM Book Recommendations – Starter Pack

I’ve been making my way through reading material that furthers my personal education about racial issues – especially since I didn’t get this education in school. There’s a lot of action that can be taken to help further the black lives matter movement, and that starts with educating yourself on how to act and what you can do. I’ll be sharing all the books I read here and being honest with my recommendations; and to start us off, I’m going to go through the first set of books in the order in which I recommend them, which is actually the opposite order in which I read them.

1. So You Wanna Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
If you only read one book this year, MAKE IT THIS ONE. Everything I wanted to read, learn, and explore was in this book. I appreciate so many things about this book – specifically how much intersectionality is highlighted. Ijeoma Oluo is an amazing writer, includes her own experiences, and speaks in a way that is truly eye opening. She gets into the good stuff right away, balances topics beautifully from chapter to chapter, and writes for all readers to walk away with insight. She covers areas such as affirmative action, cultural appropriation, the school-to-prison pipeline, the Martin/Malcom dichotomy, microaggressions, hair, the model-minority myth, anger, accountability, and so much more. I will be spending a lot of time suggesting this book on my social media and to people in my life, and I recommend it to anyone who is ready to have productive conversations about race in this world.

Privilege Check from So You Wanna Talk About Race: Are you white? Are you male? Are you non-disabled? Are you neuro-typical? Are you a documented citizen of the country you live in? Are you cisgender? Are you straight? Did you grow up middle class? Did you grow up in a stable home environment? Are you tall / thin / conventionally attractive?

2. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
This book took a deep dive into how white people (even those who don’t consider themselves racist) are hurting and helping, for which I am grateful. I feel like this book held a mirror up to my white experience, down to even analyzing my experience as a white-presenting Hispanic individual. White people can benefit from reading this book because it points out how we fit into the mix, and then acknowledges how we should and should not react to conversations about race. She asks questions and explores ideas that opened my eyes to things I had not thought of before – to the point where I found some areas in which I needed to hold myself accountable. I’d recommend this read for white people, so we can make sure that we are better allies to people of color – there’s a lot to learn here.

3. Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man by Emmanuel Acho
While I very much appreciate all the dialogue that Emmanuel put into this book, I would categorize this as more of a “starter” book. The book does a great job of unpacking the basics and explaining things in a way that non-people of color can start to look at the world through a new lens, and there’s a huge reference section of additional reads and resources. However, for myself, a lot of the book was things I very much already knew, although I do appreciate learning some new ways to explain ideas I’ve already digested. I would also give just a small critique that the book was very much written from a straight male perspective; I would have loved more information about what black women specifically deal with, as well as trans and LGBTQ perspectives too. Again, this is packed full of great information and would be an easy read to recommend to your co-worker or relative that is just starting to understand the importance of these topics.

I will be reading so so so many more books, as this is just the beginning. Check back to keep up with all my reads, or reach out on social media for more recommendations.

Thanks for reading!

Diverse Love Story Books

Enough of the standard, predictable, rom-com, overplayed, typical love story. I want queer couples, diverse couples, and stories that break the mold. So, here are 3 books I read that do just that:

1. Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
This has quickly become one of my all time favorite books ever ever ever ever ever. It’s written so beautifully, so poetically and lyrically, which was a lovely after I had just finished some poetry books and was coming back to novels. As a reader, you really get a unique perspective into the characters’ thought paths and experiences. The rhythm of these words was so incredibly special and unusual in the best way. The ups and downs of this story, however big or small, tugged at my heart strings in a way I was not expecting. It also gave me a unique perspective on the anxieties that black people face in this America. The heartbreak that the main character feels after an unjust tragedy strikes yet again is prominent and impactful, and the story is important, significant, and realistic. I’m seriously still obsessed with the way this was written – I’ve never read anything like it and I already can’t wait to read it again. Update: I read it again, and it was still just as wonderful as the first time.

2. Written In The Stars by Alexandra Bellefleur
I will say this – this story is very much a typical romantic comedy. It was predictable, cheesy, and hardly really broke the mold at all. The only way that this differs from every other rom-com ever created – the story is about a lesbian couple. Within 10 pages into the book, I correctly predicted the entire plotlines and ending of the book. However, I still couldn’t stop reading and I had to see for myself. Yes, it all played out the way I was expecting it to – but hey, it was lesbians, so I had to finish the story. I will say that the characters are interesting, and even us queer women deserve to read cheesy romantic comedies that we can relate to and dream about. I would recommend this book to young adults who are looking for that typical silly love story, but queer.

3. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
When I first heard that this was a lesbian subway time-travel love story, I have to admit that I was weary. However, this ended up being super enjoyable and not as predictable as I had imagined. It was written very well, there were connections I was not expecting, and it was queer queer queer queer QUEER. It felt super relatable and familiar… besides the sci-fi aspects of course. It’s all done in a way that I really loved reading, and I appreciated how much diversity and representation that was included. I’d honestly recommend this to anybody who is open to a love story with a small sci-fi twist – and even if you aren’t at first, still consider giving this a try!

If I choose to continue my endeavors with reading love stories, I’d definitely like to keep it diverse.

Thanks for reading!

Poetry Books

I was recommended a poetry book by a close friend, and I quickly fell in love with both the poet as well as poetry books overall. As much as I typically love novels, this was a perfect time for me to slow down and digest some thoughts and wisdom into my soul. I usually read poems individually through different online sites and social media, but there’s something I really like about going through an entire book’s full. I was able to put on some instrumental music and really get into the words written out on all the pages. In the past few months alone, I’ve actually made my way through five different books of poetry (with a few more on my list as well). I truly got so much out of reading these, so I wanted to share my recommendations:

1. Flowers On The Moon by Billy Chapata
This book has lowkey changed my life. The wisdom in this book written in small, digestible formats is one of my favorite things I’ve ever read. It’s relatable on so many levels, and there’s something in it for everyone. I actually bought over 10 copies of this book after finishing it, and have given it as gifts to my sister and my closest friends. I’ll likely buy more again at Christmas time for everyone I’ve missed. I couldn’t recommend this book more, and I actually suggest reading just one or two pages a day rather than the entirety at once.

2. She Must Be Mad by Charly Cox
The author broke this up into four parts: “she must be… in love”, “mad”, “fat” and “an adult”. I enjoyed each section for different reasons, and although all of them were relatable, I found myself going back to “she must be fat”. The content was eerily relatable and bought me through several points of the ongoing journey we have with our bodies. Her writing made me laugh, roll my eyes, and feel sorry for our younger selves. But somehow, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

3. Healing Her by Sez Kristiansen
While this was a quick read, I found this to be very satisfying. The themes of this book focus on women and our experiences with self-healing, awakening, emotional darkness, and self-love. The writing and the imagery felt full of compassion in a very gentle way that quieted my mind. I very much found a sense of peace while reading through this.

4. Sour Honey And Soul Food by Billy Chapata
I was already a fan of his going into this book, and he did not disappoint. One of the reasons I like this particular book of Billy Chapata’s, is that this very much is focused on the beauty and complexities of loving a woman. He writes with such respect, admiration, and gentleness in regards to women and relationships overall. The words are dynamic and beautiful and promote self-love above anything else.

5. Chameleon Aura by Billy Chapata
Again, being a big fan of Billy’s poetry, this book was very on brand with his normal themes of self-love. There was also a big focus on energy and growth. A lot of Billy’s poetry focuses on relationships and his perspectives often reassure me of the healthy relationship that I’m currently in. The way that he writes about women is lyrically beautiful, and I always feel very refreshed after reading through pages of his words.

More to come later in the year.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous Series

Go Ask Alice has always been one of my all time favorite books to read, and recently I discovered Jay’s Journal as well. After doing a couple quick google searches, I found that there is a whole series of novels published in the same style.

My best friend and I decided to read the rest of this “Anonymous” series by this publisher, which was five more books in addition to the two above. Each story was super unique from the next, but all were wildly intriguing. We planned to read one per month but ended up finishing all five in just over two months:


1. Lucky In The Sky
While this diary heavily focuses on her drug use, it feels very different from Go Ask Alice. It takes place sometime in the early 2010’s ish, somewhere near Los Angeles – so though this is not very hippy dippy, maybe this would be the more current version of the Go Ask Alice story? The main character is a party girl that gets wrapped up in the lifestyle – which is easy to do when you’re getting paraded around Malibu beach houses. While it ends somewhat abruptly, I very much enjoyed following her journey.

2. Calling Maggie May
This story is full of sadness and loneliness, and is based on that fact that everybody just wants to feel like they fit in somewhere. The lead in this book was very sheltered as a result of her family’s culture, and jumped at the first sign of a life that was not her own. Unfortunately for her, the first chance she has was a life of prostitution, and she gets thrown in almost immediately. I felt bad for her throughout most of the book, because she just wanted to belong to something to badly. She was looking for sisterhood and put her trust in the hands of people she barely knew. It gets more and more bleak, and honestly, ends pretty horribly. That being said, I enjoyed the way she wrote and would still recommend this.

3. Breaking Bailey
The way that this girl wrote, I forgot multiple times that I was reading a diary and not an actual fiction novel. Her story is honestly crazy – she gets shipped off to boarding school, does well in her chemistry classes, and ends up in a group of honor students who make meth on the side. The story takes off right away, and is coupled with a love story as well with one of the other members of the club. At first she is living a dream, until the pressure of keeping up their supply on top of the intense course load (and more) comes crashing down on her. This one is easily one of my favorites and I will definitely be re-reading this again soon.

4. Letting Ana Go
As someone who has struggled with eating disorders, this book was definitely hard to read. Her struggle is so intense and while I thought I’d be able to relate to some of what she was feeling, that was not necessarily the case. My personal experience was clearly different, and I found her struggle to be much more extreme. What was frustrating about this story was that a lot of her negative habits were forced on her by her friend and her friend’s mom, rather than her own decisions. It’s hard to see this story play out, and I found the ending to be somewhat unrealistic (even though this is based on true events).

5. The Book of David
I didn’t think I would like this one, but it turned out to be one of my favorites! The story is based on a “big secret”, which turns out to be that the football team quarterback is gay and in love with the new kid. Because this took place around 2010, I was confused on why this was such a big secret. However, he grew up in Arkansas in a very conservative and religious town, so I have to remember that my high school experience is not always the norm. This became an adorable love story that honestly sounded super similar to the movie Love, Simon. I don’t know if this was the inspiration, but I loved reading this. It’s also noteworthy that this is the only novel that has a somewhat happy ending where the main character does not die and leave the diary behind.

There were more books available by another publisher, so maybe we will eventually make our way through those. Even though these books can get rather dark, they are also easy and quick reads that are often relatable at the core. Honestly these are some of my favorite books and now I can’t stop thinking about all the journals that I have or haven’t kept over the years..

Anyway. Thanks for reading!

I Was Told There’d Be Cake – Essays by Sloane Crosley

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a loooong time. I’m not even sure how it ended up in my possession, but it’s been on my “to read” list for quite a while. I was finally able to dive in this month, thinking that a book of essays would be perfect for my schedule right now. I made my way through the book quicker than I expected.

Honestly, I only loved one of the essays in the book, and it was the first one. So it was kind of as if it set the book up to be super charismatic and funny, and then I was a little disappointed by what followed. The other essays that I started to like a little bit didn’t really have a concrete ending, so I’m not even sure if I liked them or if I just wasn’t as bored reading them as I was some of the others. There were several essays that I truly felt were just about nothing.

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I can tell that the author is a great writer, and had I only read the first essay, I’d be obsessed with her. I’m hoping and assuming that others enjoyed making their way through this book a little bit more than I did. (Regardless, you can find this wherever fine books are sold.)

Thanks for reading!

Jay’s Journal by Anonymous

jay 1After re-reading Go Ask Alice,  I got the suggestion to read Jay’s Journal as well. This was published by the same company, and was also a diary turned novel. Just like in Go Ask Alice, the main character indulges in things that ultimately lead to them losing their life. This journal was also found by the parents of a boy named Jay after his unfortunate suicide.

While Go Ask Alice is mainly focused around drugs, Jay’s Journal focuses more on Jay’s obsession with supernatural forces, devil worship, and voodoo. He calls this practice “O”, and it ranges from Ouija boards and tarot cards to the sacrifice of animals and jay 3consumptions of their raw organs and blood. While there is sometimes drug use, the cult mindset is apparent, and Jay is largely sucked in through his relationship and friends. A lot of the book is very dark, touches on depression, and ends kind of wildly.

I can’t help but wonder how much of this was fabricated and how much was truly authentic, especially in his mother’s notes in the end. I also wonder how much of the events recapped were figments of Jay’s imagination versus true memories. Either way, the story was intriguing and a good follow-up if Go Ask Alice leaves you wanting more. I’m sure you can find this wherever fine books are sold.

Thanks for reading!