I loved Between the World and Me, so when I heard Ta-Nehisi Coates was coming out with another book, I promptly got in line. I know he writes regularly for The Atlantic, but since I don’t read newspapers much, I don’t usually see his articles. All this is to say that the book was largely still new content for me, despite the fact that much of it had already been published in The Atlantic.
Because the book is a series of essays, it did get a bit repetitive at times. I appreciate that Coates does his research and uses facts and numbers to support his point, but reading all the essays together in one book meant we heard the same handful of statistics over and over.
That said, the one additional thing the book has is an introduction, also written by Coates, before each article. Since he was writing these introductions years after having originally written the article, it was interesting to get a later perspective from him on the same topic.
I also liked that it meant I got to hear about some of his more personal struggles either before or during the time he was writing these articles. Before he got hired by The Atlantic, he spent a lot of time freelancing and it was often a struggle to make ends meet. It gives me hope for my own freelance writing career. It was also great to hear some of his own takes on writing and his experiences with reading and writing and how it has made him into the writer he is today. I found it very inspiring and in need of some new writing exercises.
My only real complaint about the book was the audiobook. As soon as it was published, I requested the audiobook from my library because I had borrowed the audiobook of Between the World and Me from my library (twice). Coates narrates it himself and I had loved listening to him read his own words. I had assumed Coates would also narrate his latest book, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. I can’t remember the narrator’s name, but he did not do a good job. He didn’t even know how to pronounce the author’s name and there were various other mispronunciations throughout the audiobook. So I definitely recommend you read this one the old-fashioned way.
Finally, I appreciated Coates’s hard look into who voted for Obama vs. who voted for Trump. It is hard to believe that the same country that voted for a black man with a Muslim name could fall for Trump’s fear mongering, but Coates reminds us that’s not exactly what happened. In fact, in certain sections of the country, Google searches on things like racism went up after the 2008 election. Membership in the KKK went up as well, and guess what? Those are the same districts that put Trump in office!
Coates doesn’t buy into the BS everyone else has been selling lately about how Trump’s constituency is all poor white workers who have had such a hard time lately and are more concerned about jobs than Obama’s race. It’s sad that those people have so much of the country fooled, but Coates doesn’t fall for it for a second and neither do I.
What are you guys reading/listening to this week? Anything else that inspired you on multiple levels?