what I have been reading (october edition).

Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto by Steve Almond (via the public library)

I quit watching football a couple of years ago after hearing and reading podcasts and articles that talked about the brain injuries. The NFL was a regular part of our lives for the entire time we have been married, and watching on Sundays together was something we enjoyed. But I started to feel squeamish about it, about people being hurt for my enjoyment, so I stopped. I didn’t make some big pronouncement, just quietly decided I couldn’t do it anymore. The news that has come out of the NFL since has not changed my mind. (I do still watch the Super Bowl. I can’t really justify that either, but I watch it.)

All that to say, I was already on the side of the author when it came to this book, but I still appreciated how he articulated his arguments. My position has been less clearly stated, so it was helpful to read in detail about not just the brain injuries but also the financial problems and the racial problems and the culture of violence problems that I felt I was endorsing when I watched the NFL. Do I think that this book will change anyone’s mind? Not really. Do I think it might help sway someone who is feeling iffy about watching the NFL? Yes. Do I think that stuff like this will make a difference in the long run? I doubt it. The NFL is going to roll on without my support but at least I can better explain why. Recommended for: anyone who has ever had a twinge of concern about watching the NFL.

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Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay (via the public library)

Roxane Gay is really funny on Twitter and I listened to the Slate Audio Book Club discussion of Bad Feminist and decided I should read it. When I say that it was so good that it made me cry, that is not even an exaggeration. I loved how she examined pop culture ideas about women and race while still acknowledging her own failings in this area (this is the “bad” part of being a bad feminist – enjoying romantic comedies and/or music that is not exactly empowering to women). The part that touched me the most was in the essay in which she talks about how a group of boys assaulted her when she was in middle school. At one point, she rebuts the idea that young adult literature should be free of darkness by pointing out how much darkness teenagers can and do experience. It was a great reminder to me of why I do what I do. Many of the essays were funny, all of them are smart and interesting. Highly recommended.

50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith by Michelle DeRusha (via NetGalley)

These are great profiles of women who made their mark in Christian culture. Of course I felt there were some pretty big holes – the list is very much focused on women of the western world. Not to mention that you could profile 50 women from the Civil Rights movement alone. But I did feel that DeRusha worked hard to make the list diverse. I enjoyed the book and learned details about women I was familiar with well as being introduced to new ones. I did not always agree with the “lesson” we needed to take from their lives, but that didn’t take away from my overall interest in the topic. I am going to give this book to my grandma for Christmas, and I think she will enjoy the short chapters as well as reading about some of her heroes. (She does not have the internet, so it is safe to post this.)

Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength by Chanequa Walker-Barnes (via Goodreads)

I won this one through Goodreads and I am finally getting around to writing about it. This is a thoughtful discussion of the myth of the StrongBlackWoman and the damage that that idea does to Black women in our culture and in our churches. The book is specifically aimed at pastors to help them examine that stereotype and to give them ways to minister to Black women in the church, providing them with space to be vulnerable. It was interesting to read this one just after the previous book and to see how the women in that book of all races were often held up for denying themselves and not showing emotion. I’m not a pastor myself, but it gave me a lot to think about culturally. On a personal level it paired well with Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris-Perry, which I read earlier this year. Recommended for: pastoral caregivers.

Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles (graphic novel by Dover Press) (via NetGalley)

My students love graphic novels and I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, so I was interested to see if this might be a good purchase for them. I think that Sherlock Holmes and especially this particular story deserve more in terms of the art. The Hound of the Baskervilles is so much about atmosphere on the moors, and the drawings in this graphic novel do not really convey that. Not recommended.

I received copies of some of these books from the publishers but my opinions are my own.

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