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2016 Group Reads > July Quarter Read: Between The World And Me

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Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Just realized that while we chose the book, I forgot to start the thread and add it to our bookshelf. Sorry, guys! The quarter read selected was Between the World and Me, a book that's made some waves and one I'm excited to read. Who'll be reading along with me?


message 2: by Carol (last edited Jul 17, 2016 09:13AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4439 comments I'll re-read with the group. It bears multiple readings, and I read it in a day the first time and would like to linger over it this time with this group.


message 3: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 799 comments I've read a lot of great reviews about this book. I will join in the discussion


message 4: by Lee (new)

Lee | 708 comments I loved this book. I will join the discussion!


message 5: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2539 comments Mod
I'll be joining in.


message 6: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 33 comments I'm in!


message 7: by Ernest (new)

Ernest (esneed) | 4 comments I will read it for the discussion


message 8: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 799 comments Anastasia, is there a date for this discussion?


message 9: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 33 comments I'm currently in the middle of reading this book and all I can say is that it evokes such a visceral response. Coates has been able to both relay the lessons bestowed upon us by our parents and capture the essence of what has been largely understood but left unsaid. Last week a man approached me in my local library and asked me about how I felt about the slaughter of our black men at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve and the subsequent killings of police officers. I believe he was sincere in his endeavor to understand as well as honest about his own fears. I stepped away from that conversation feeling that for all of my own heartfelt honesty that I did not do justice to the plight of the black experience. Ta-Nehisi Coates has encapsulated these sentiments in a very real and moving dialogue with his fifteen year old son. His prose is eloquent, sincere and poetic. Toni Morrison has proclaimed that Between the World and Me should be required reading and I am apt to agree with her.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Maya wrote: "Anastasia, is there a date for this discussion?"

The discussion is technically supposed to stretch from July-September. Since I started the thread so late do we want to start discussing August 1st?


message 11: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 799 comments ok. I should be able to start it next week


message 12: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2539 comments Mod
I'm gonna start Sunday. Has anybody read or heard about Between the World and Us: A Workingman's Response to "Between the World and Me" ??


message 13: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 799 comments Lulu wrote: "I'm gonna start Sunday. Has anybody read or heard about Between the World and Us: A Workingman's Response to "Between the World and Me" ??"

I haven't


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments I hadn't heard of it but it might be interesting to read after this.


message 15: by Rakisha (new)

Rakisha (cutestlilbookworm) | 4 comments I'm in...I've got this on my Audible list.


message 16: by Brina (last edited Jul 25, 2016 08:26AM) (new)

Brina I'm going to see if my library has it; it does and I'm 11 on waiting list so when I get the book I can join.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments The Kindle edition was on sale a day or two ago, it still might be.


message 18: by Brina (new)

Brina I don't have a kindle. Library should have when I get home in a week.


message 19: by Linda (new)

Linda | 172 comments The kindle edition is no longer on sale. I am on my library's waiting list. I really hate to buy a book that I can get from the library, but it will probably take me months to get the book...humm..What is a girl to do??


message 20: by Brina (new)

Brina Library sending book my way. I'm in next week.


message 21: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 32 comments I got my library copy today. It's riveting. I keep forcing myself to put it down so I can focus on the rest of my currently reading shelf, then I give up and pick it back up. It's a powerful reading experience.


message 22: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 32 comments It gave me a lot to think about. I'm interested in seeing how other readers respond. My initial thoughts are here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 23: by Brina (new)

Brina Got from library hope to read in next day or two


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments So slowly working my way through it. I'm pretty impressed thus far with Coates's grasp of language. It's very.....educated but to me, at least, it doesn't come off as pretentious.

What do you all think about the emphasis he is placing on the 'body' and its relation to the things going on around him?
What do you think the significance is of him using the term 'people who think they are white' over 'white people'?


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments I think the connections he's drawing between more abstract things and how they end up affecting the black body makes them more concrete and physical. I liked how he tied this with America's superior sense of morality, it ends up ringing hollow.

I wasn't entirely sure why he refers to 'people who think they are white'. I think he was referring to how race is a social construct and could probably be rephrased into 'people who think they are better and/or safer because of their light skin color' but I would love some feedback from other readers as my thoughts are all jumbled right now!


message 26: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2539 comments Mod
I didn't care for it.


message 27: by Brina (new)

Brina Starting.


message 28: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 32 comments Anastasia wrote: "I think the connections he's drawing between more abstract things and how they end up affecting the black body makes them more concrete and physical. I liked how he tied this with America's superio..."

The focus on bodies was my favorite part of the book. It grounded the issue in real situations and real people. It also tied back to his atheism.

The "people who think they are white" was never fully explained. Apparently, he got it from James Baldwin, so I'll have to go read Baldwin's books to understand it. I should read Baldwin anyway, so that's just one more reason.

Back to the atheism- I thought it was odd. I am accustomed to atheists making clear statements of their beliefs and opinions, but he really didn't. He just said, "Well, I got it from my parents," and then complained that it separated him from many other African Americans. For a writer who prizes self-questioning, that seems like a really passive, uncertain position to hold.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Lulu wrote: "I didn't care for it."

What things didn't you like about it?


message 30: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2539 comments Mod
I think I took offense to the fact that this is a letter to his son and he offers him no hope, no inspiration, no motivation to improve the circumstances in hope of a brighter/better future. I would have appreciated this more as a journal entry.

He's mad. Hell, we're all mad. The point of going through a struggle is to learn something, to grow and become stronger. I just didn't see where he was passing any of this strength to his son.

Maybe I need to read it from a different perspective. lol I don't know.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Between the world and me was a great read. He's honest and expresses his opinion from an interesting perspective. The most interesting part of the book for me was the observation about why young blacks are aggressive towards others such as mean mug because they're scared. These are things me and a lot young blacks in my community did to survive outside.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Lulu wrote: "I think I took offense to the fact that this is a letter to his son and he offers him no hope, no inspiration, no motivation to improve the circumstances in hope of a brighter/better future. I woul..."

I read it more as a father who sees how the world is and doesn't know exactly what to tell his son because it's so wrong and messed up.
It would've been nice for him to suggest a way forward but I'm not really sure what he could have suggested. Anyone have any thoughts on that?


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Phil wrote: Back to the atheism- I thought it was odd. I am accustomed to atheists making clear statements of their beliefs and opinions, but he really didn't. He just said, "Well, I got it from my parents," and then complained that it separated him from many other African Americans. For a writer who prizes self-questioning, that seems like a really passive, uncertain position to hold. "

I picked up on this as well. He did come off as kind of bemoaning his beliefs....? It seemed kind of weird but maybe he was just bemoaning the distance it creates between him and others who are like him.


message 34: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 32 comments Anastasia wrote: "I read it more as a father who sees how the world is and doesn't know exactly what to tell his son because it's so wrong and messed up.
It would've been nice for him to suggest a way forward but I'm not really sure what he could have suggested. Anyone have any thoughts on that? "


I'm confused about which lens to put on this book. On one hand, it's a book of ideas, which encourages me to engage it in a rational, critical way. But when I do so, there are lots of gaps, omissions, and contradictions in Coates' thinking. On the other hand, maybe it's just a cry of anger and a feeling of helplessness.

To me, a lot of the value of this book is that it was written right after the Michael Brown decision and in the midst of other police shootings. It may be asking too much to expect anyone to have settled thoughts right now. It's hard to think calmly when you're in the middle of a hurricane.

To Anastasia's point, who has further thoughts on this? What other book sets up a contrast to it? To my limited knowledge, Coates is the foremost person to put the problem into words. The fact that his work feels ragged and incomplete speaks to how incomprehensible the situation is.


message 35: by Carol (last edited Aug 06, 2016 08:44AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4439 comments I don't interpret this book as a response to the Brown shooting. There's nothing new in police violence against African-American men, except the new realization of a part of the white population that it occurs regularly and unchallenged by those with power to address it. Black parents have had to caution their young men about interactions with peace officers for a long, long time before Brown.

Reasonable people can, of course, disagree. I find it thoughtful, thorough and complete, but somewhat bleak, in the way Lulu identified earlier in the thread.


message 36: by Anastasia Kinderman (last edited Aug 06, 2016 10:43AM) (new)

Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Carol wrote: "I don't interpret this book as a response to the Brown shooting. There's nothing new in police violence against African-American men, except the new realization of a part of the white population th..."

I would actually say there is something new, the internet. The violence isn't new but the ability to organize online and have such a vocal platform is. The ability to direct media attention to it is. The ability to challenge the media's narrative is.


message 37: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4439 comments Anastasia wrote: "Carol wrote: "I don't interpret this book as a response to the Brown shooting. There's nothing new in police violence against African-American men, except the new realization of a part of the white..."

I hear you, Anastasia. Along the topic of your point, I suggest that the most significant new technology impacting the attention to these issues is cellphone video uploaded to the Internet in real time. One can't dismiss a video or accuse another of editing it and deny its truth when it's streaming live. My initial comment, though, was in response to the proposition that Coates' passion and perspective are reactive and newly formed. That I doubt.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Carol wrote: "Anastasia wrote: "Carol wrote: "I don't interpret this book as a response to the Brown shooting. There's nothing new in police violence against African-American men, except the new realization of a..."

Ah yes, I see what you're saying.


message 39: by Brina (last edited Aug 08, 2016 05:37AM) (new)

Brina Read the first 30 pages, wow, how powerful. People who think they are white is most likely referring to minorities who in the past faced prejudices and now try to lump themselves with WASPS so that they are no longer prejudiced against. Interestingly enough I just read In the Heat of the Night from 50 years where Virgil Tibbs faced blatant prejudices and think that we have matured as a nation since then. Now I pick up Coates and realize no we really haven't unfortunately.

Finished with review. All I can say is wow.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Here's an interesting article that seems to clarify what Baldwin meant by "people who think they are white": http://dangerousminds.net/comments/ja...

What I'm getting from this is the idea that we think we are white and that white is better than black and superior. We feel proud and haughty, so secure in the idea that we are not like the people we are looking down on.

I think Baldwin is asking, "Are you really sure you are so superior? Are you really sure you have nothing of what you look down on?"


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments I would almost look at Coates's book as a vent, he's letting out his frustrations on a frustrating system and way of thinking. The problem with venting is that after you are done you haven't come up with a solution to the problem. You've identified the problem, which is good, but how do we go about changing things?

Coates made a good point in the book when he was talking about how we look at change. Specifically we tell individuals that they can make the change they want to see in the world. Yet we often end up working to frustrate the very individuals we told could make the change. How do we change this? Is it even possible?


message 42: by Brina (new)

Brina I'm Jewish. We have dealt with our share of anti Semitism over the course of history so that is the lens I was viewing the book through. From my perspective, I saw the book as informative, but I can see how one would also see it as a rant. How could things change? For starters, by listening to Toni Morrison and making this required reading in schools so young adults go out into the world as informed individuals. But really, sensitivity training has to start in younger grades. Doing workshops on multi-culturalism on an elementary school level, focusing on our likes rather than our differences. When school have orientation for the kids, make this training one of the workshops. Because waiting until the kids are in high school when they have already settled into their ethnic enclaves might me too late. Can you tell I was a teacher before I had kids?


message 43: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 32 comments Anastasia wrote: "Here's an interesting article that seems to clarify what Baldwin meant by "people who think they are white": http://dangerousminds.net/comments/ja......"

Thanks for the link. I really need to read more Baldwin. What I took from it was that black and white Americans have direct family connections that have gone unrecognized in order to keep them separate. This is very true.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Technically we still have another month to go for this discussion so are there any new readers who would like to post their thoughts? They are certainly welcome!


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