Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else


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Book Review Dump

Life has been a little crazy lately – at least to the point where I either can’t stand to be on my computer any longer than the work day or I have been on vacation and haven’t been on my computer at all. But I’ve still been reading! So here’s a quick rundown of the last books I read.

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson was excellent. A black woman becomes a spy during the Cold War and must decide between the man she loves and obligation to her country. I liked the way it was told, as the main character, Marie, telling her sons the story.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown was a quick and powerful read about Brown’s own experience in a racist world. Her parents named her Austin so she would at least get an interview when she entered the adult world, since everyone would imagine Austin as a white male. She discusses her experiences as a black woman growing up in school, college, working in different organizations, and in social settings. A must read!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was a good October read with a creep factor. But it was a little too sci-fi for me. Noemi receives a disturbing letter from her cousin and travels to see her and find out what is wrong. Her cousin’s husband and his family appear to be welcoming, but then strange things start happening in the house. If you like sci fi and suspense you should read it, but it was a little too weird for me.

Finally, The Shadows by Alex North was a perfect October read. Just the right amount of creepy and suspense. It was a little slow at times, but it definitely kept me guessing and trying to figure out the truth when Paul is thrown back into his past and a legend about a murder that has lived on in infamy on the internet.

The last two were books sent to me by a friend, which is the best kind of mail to get, especially these days! Check these out and let me know what you like or didn’t like!


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White Fragility

I am a fiction reader through and through, but I try to consciously read at least a few nonfiction books a year to challenge my brain. Well, I’m embarrassed to say that we’re halfway through this challenging year and this is the first nonfiction I’ve read. But I’m excited to discuss with book club next week!

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo is really a must read. And before you get all up in arms about race and racism, just give it an open-minded chance. Even if we tell ourselves and/or others we’re not racist. The truth is, all white people have racist tendencies (above and beyond prejudices) even if we don’t realize it. And there is a horrifyingly large list of societal norms that are not ok. DiAngelo shows that racism is not a simple matter of good vs. bad. There is a continuum and while none of it is good, not all racism is the white supremacist and physical attacks on black people. It’s good to admit that we are racist so we can recognize specific instances and take action to make changes in ourselves. After that, we should recognize it in other people and take action to constructively point this out to them, as well as take constructive criticism ourselves. Become an anti-racist. It’s not an easy thing for us to do and I am definitely not completely comfortable with conversations about race. But I want to be.

A big topic in the book is how white people react when they are told, be it constructively or aggressively, that they did or said something racist. I’ve never been in that situation, but I can admit that yes, my first instinct would probably be to defend myself, say I’m not racist, and try to justify what I said or did. That is what most people would do. And that is a problem. We shouldn’t have to be consoled because we feel bad about something we said or did, even if it was not intended to cause harm or offense. We need to do better to support and respect the people around us and the actions that affect them. And no, I don’t think we, as a society, becoming too sensitive. I would never venture to say that about something I will never fully understand.

The key to moving forward is what we do with out discomfort. We can use it as a door out – blame the messenger and disregard the message. Or we can use it as a door in by asking, Why does this unsettle me? What would it mean for me if this were true? How does this lens change my understanding of racial dynamics? How can my unease help reveal the unexamined assumptions I have been making? Is it possible that because I am white, there are some racial dynamics that I can’t see? Am I willing to consider that possibility? If I am not willing to do so, then why not?

Robin DiAngelo

If you’re looking for books about race and racism, this is a good one to start with. It is a little repetitive at times, but it’s not very long (not that that should matter). And I learned a lot. Just imagine what would happen if even each individual person just decided to change their own thoughts and actions towards racism. Then imagine what would happen if we held others accountable. Just start with a book/some research and a conversation with someone you trust that doesn’t necessarily have all the same beliefs/viewpoints.


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The Hate U Give

There has been a lot going on in our country and I want to educate myself more and want to be strongly anti-racist. I like to read so I figure books would be a good place to start (on my own at least). And there are plenty of lists out there with recommendations. A group from college started a book club and we’re starting with a non-fiction, so I figured I’d go ahead on my own and read this novel I’ve heard so much about.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is technically fiction. The events portrayed did not happen to the author nor is it about any specific real person. It is however based on many actual events that have occurred for many years. A young black man being shot by the police for no reason is all too common a headline. Or, in a lot of cases, doesn’t even get a headline. In the book, the main character, Starr, is with her friend when this happens and she is the only witness. It happens in a “bad” part of town. She is sixteen years old. Starr’s life is thrown into a tailspin which is not made better by the fact that she attends a private, mostly Caucasian high school. So her friends there don’t know and wouldn’t understand.

I cannot imagine having to deal with something like this. And I will never understand how the Black community feels every time this happens. When this happens over and over. It makes me feel angry and sick, so I cannot imagine how the communities where these atrocities happen feel. Obviously not all police are bad. But something has to change for them to be held accountable when people are killed for no reason and for them to not automatically resort to deadly force. And this story is not afraid to make the situation feel more complicated. No one is perfect but that does not mean they deserve to die.

We have to do better. I want to do better. I know there’s not a whole I can do on my own, which makes me feel very helpless. But hopefully educating myself and having conversations helps in a small way. If everyone did the same, imagine what could happen! Definitely check out this book. It’s an emotional read but pretty quick and worth every minute. We watched the movie as well, and while it is powerful and emotional, the book is obviously better (as usual). But if you’re not a book person, at least check out the movie!