Every September I attend a retreat for the Academy of Christian Editors. A feature of that retreat is a sharing circle where we each get roughly a minute to introduce our favorite book we read over the past year. You can see this year’s complete list here.
I always find this exercise a little stressful — I want my choice to be distinct and memorable, something I won’t be judged for except to be judged as distinct and memorable myself.
The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead. This novel inspired by true events is set in the mid 1960s at a “reform school” for boys. All the students are tyrannized by the staff, but the black kids are routinely terrorized and brutalized. Whitehead is a master at creating characters and carrying the reader into and through terrible things, and he does so here again. Schools like this one existed in my lifetime. Maybe they still do. I’m haunted by that: How many other atrocities are we allowing to exist, and why are we allowing it?
Mandela and the General, a beautifully drawn graphic novel recounting the true story of how newly elected South African President Nelson Mandela, who was actively dismantling the century-old system of apartheid that had privileged whites over people of color, met with and earned the respect and loyalty of the leader of a nationalist resistance group bent on taking South Africa back for the whites. A story I’d never heard before — powerful, compelling — and nobody else had picked it. #winning