Country #57: Russia

Russia. Russia. Russia.

I’ll be honest…I wasn’t automatically happy to pick this one out of the bunch. I have lots of feelings about the current state of things, in a political sense.

BUT, I’m an American. My country is not an easy entity for non-Americans to process, and I certainly always hope that people don’t judge me by the actions of my government. So the least I can do for my brothers and sisters in Russia is to offer them the same courtesy.

And think about what I would miss if I closed my mind and heart to all things Russian: literature, history, art, FOOD. I can’t do that, no matter how uneasy I am with the world right now…so…here we go.

Reading Barbados: Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire

Such power, words on paper have. They can change you, in an instant; knock you clean off the ground where you’ve felt pretty good standing. You think you know, but you don’t REALLY know.

I’ve encountered quite a few such experiences in my journey with this blog, but the book I read for Barbados…an absolute lightening bolt of knowledge. I honestly feel like everyone, everywhere would benefit from sitting down with it. The title would help, huh? Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart is what I’m telling you about here.

Ms. Stuart draws a portrait of the history of Barbados via her family tree, which includes European immigrants who came to the island by choice, and African captives who most certainly did not. She fleshes out the story of what those different experiences and circumstances wrought in one particular place, and gives the reader a platform to understand how all of it very much affects the world we live in now, particularly in the Western hemisphere.

The culture that surrounded the maintenance of slavery created a toxic intimacy between people who had freedom and people who had no escape; no one was left undamaged. It fundamentally altered the humanity of all it touched, and we’re still grappling with that today. This book is a step towards real understanding, and I genuinely hope you’ll check it out.

A Beach, Barbados
A Beach, Barbados (image by Berit from Redhill/Surrey, UK via Wikimedia Commons)

Country #56: Barbados

Barbados! Hello!

First reaction? RIHANNA. I’m a huge fan, and won’t even try to be chill about that. She’s even an ambassador, y’all!

Moving on…

Happy to be back in the Caribbean, as always. It’s such a beautiful, complex, and dynamic part of the world, and I look forward to learning more about Barbados’ place in it.

Reading the Marshall Islands: Melal: A Novel of the Pacific

There are so many personal benefits to working on this blog; one of the foremost is just having the good fortune to meet so many great books. That might seem like a basic thing to say, since this whole exercise is about READING BOOKS, but if you really think about it…you don’t know what you’re going to get when you turn the first page. It could be engaging and worth your time…or not. You just have to trust the process. And so far, I’ve experienced more wins than losses.

That lucky streak continues with the the book I read for the Marshall Islands, Melal: A Novel of the Pacific by Robert Barclay. Heads up, Global Reader readers…this is a really good book. Strong characters, a fully-realized narrative, some very illuminating history; I’ll take it.

As usual, that’s all you’re going to get in terms of plot or analysis. Just view me as a what-should-I-read-next suggestion generator, and then you’ll never be disappointed!

Side note: The Marshall Islands are at the forefront of feeling the effects of climate change. The people there are experiencing real-time problems, and working on solutions. Lots of info out there about how they are facing this massive challenge, but here’s one article to get you started on finding out more…

Image of Majuro atoll Majuro Atoll
(image by Christopher Michel from San Francisco, USA via Wikimedia Commons)