It’s election season again…get out your tums, aspirin, and a bottle of your favorite flavored brandy – your election survival kit, as we like to call it here at Sacred Chickens. The other thing we do here to keep calm and decide how to vote is read. No surprise.
Here’s a list of some of the books we find intriguing. Some of these books bring insight to current events, some we ingested long ago, and they have become part of our internal political microbiome. All of them illuminate some aspect of political life we think you’ll find helpful or at least interesting. What books are you going to read this election season?
Julie - I’ve read quite a few books over the last decade or so that have influenced my thought processes on politics. A couple that I read nearly ten years ago stuck with me and I still refer to them. Even though these books are not new releases, they still resonate. In fact, in a way, I think they’re even more interesting now than they were then because they provide some insight into the underpinnings of our current political landscape. I don’t mind skipping around in time a little. (On my current reading list I have a couple books, one much older, Chaos and Community, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and one extremely current, Why We’re Polarized, by Ezra Klein.) But the time period represented by the two books I’ve chosen is one in which I was changing, and these books gave me a lot of insight into the systems that molded me.
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
2010 (new edition released in 2020)
Written by a civil rights attorney and legal scholar, the book explores the racist underpinnings of the American justice system with fact after fact, statistic after statistic. Her clear, rational prose leaves no room for escape. The system is broken, broken on purpose, and it damages us all. This book makes a compelling case for change based on a heart-rending exploration of the past and present foundations of incarceration in this country. Whatever you think you know about the justice system, you will be surprised at what Alexander turns up in this thoughtful and harrowing book.
By Bill Sheffield
Review by Roy Peak
Bill Sheffield is a guitarist, slide player, and vocalist from Atlanta, Georgia who doesn't just dabble in the blues, he lives it. From his days of fronting the Eastside Blues Band and opening up for blues greats such as Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker, and T-Bone Walker, to his stint singing with Roy Buchanan, to his solo performances reinterpreting classic blues by the likes of Charley Patton, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Blind Willie McTell, Sheffield has most definitely learned and owned his craft.
by Jarad Johnson
This is based on a paper that I wrote about book Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. As it happens, I have already reviewed this book for Sacred Chickens. You can read the review here.
You may have noticed that sometimes we get a little sidetracked when we review books. Occasionally, this is for political reasons, sometimes we find a thread back to something else we’ve read. However, if you read through all of our posts, the most likely reason is that we got sidetracked by gardens, herbs, and/or witches. Recently, we discussed the use of plants and witchcraft in Horticulture and Witchcraft: Women and the Power of the Earth (which you can read here) an addendum to our review of the book The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (check that out here!) The book’s narrative was shaped by the lore of the female healer and all of the baggage that comes with it. But European and by extension American culture is not alone in ascribing medicinal and magical power to plants. One of the other books we’ve previously reviewed, Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes, is set in an entirely different cultural context, and the traditions it references shape the narrative in a different way.
We're just sharing a list of the seeds we bought today, but we thought the garden nuts out there might enjoy it! Don't ask us how much we spent!
Canary Bird Zinnia
Purple Prince Zinnia
Peppermint Sticks Balsam
Marbles Mixed Four O'Clocks
Moonflower Morning Glory
HYACINTH BEAN "MOONSHADOW"
Urizun Japanese Winged Bean
Bowling Red Okra
Sunset Runner Bean
Purple Lady Bok Choy
Takane Ruby Buckwheat
Rosa Bianca Eggplant
Welsh Bunching Onion
Glaskins Perpetual Rhubarb
Lincoln Garden Pea
Red Wing Lettuce Mix Salad Blend
Beni Kodama Watermelon
Korean 'Golden Jubilee'
Agastache- Navajo Sunset
Echinacea - Green Twister
Milkweed - Red or Swamp
Developed by Mark Gatiss. Steven Moffit
Review by Roy Peak
Dracula (2020 Netflix series) Full of surprises both pleasant and horrifying, the newest re-imagining of Bram Stoker's Dracula is three riveting episodes which not only bring the tale of the world's most famous vampire into the twentieth-first century, but twist the story around, taking a bite from the novel, a bite from the various theater productions,and bringing new characterizations to life to give us a story which doesn't at all, um—suck.
Things Get Weird in Whistlestop
Written by Julie Carpenter
Review by Jarad Johnson
Guess what guys: Julie wrote a book! An actual book, with a title and a cover and everything! Cue ridiculous dancing around the kitchen. I may or may not have done the tango with my cat when I heard the news, and I can say that he was not appreciative of my creative expression. (I often think of my cats like orderlies in a mental asylum- they are arguably saner than I am, and they only stay to make sure I don’t try to fly off the roof. Whatever kitties, I still say it’s worth a try!)
Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Poetic Justice Books and Arts
Here at Sacred Chickens we like to review as many books from small presses as we can. And what better place to purchase one of these books than at an independent bookstore. If you like supporting independent bookstores, how about Poetic Justice Books and Arts. It’s a great little bookstore. Might I have an ulterior motive for asking you to go order something from them? Yeah, probably. Poetic Justice Books and Arts is also my publisher! (If you haven’t ordered Things Get Weird in Whistlestop, why not go and get one now? You know…while you’re thinking about it.)
Whenever we have a work meeting at Sacred Chickens, we always seem to end up wandering around some garden somewhere, even in the middle of the winter.
Jarad and I went to the Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical gardens because of course we did. First, any excuse to wander around a garden, and second, it sounded really cool. It did not disappoint. Magical tunnels of light, a singing, dancing forest, the floating lights of the Atlanta skyline and spiked cider. A perfect winter evening for a couple of garden nuts.
Maybe next year we'll invite you all!
Written by John Sibley Williams
Review by Jarad Johnson
Poetry and I have a love hate relationship; when we get along, it’s fantastic, but when we disagree, we really don’t like each other. For example, Poe and I are great friends, but Bukowski and I are not on speaking terms. It’s hit and miss is what I’m trying to say. Poetry is distinctly different than reading a novel. A book may leave you with ideas and messages to think about, but poetry to me always seems to keep its secrets close. It’s up to the reader to interpret whatever message we may or may not glean, and the interpretation either hits you or sometimes takes much longer than for prose. Poetry is an introspective process, and I often find that the messages interpreted from it are specific to the reader. But perhaps I’m just a lazy reader. I do like a story that buttons itself up. This little collection of poems is definitely a hit for me. It’s published by Backwaters Press. I appreciate the name, and the contents within. Titles for poetry books are very important. I need to have a starting word or concept. There are so many poems I loved in this collection, and I would like to go through them one by one. Unfortunately I can’t, but I have chosen four poems that really struck a chord with me. Instead of just a cursory glance, and a recommendation, I would like to really get into a few of these.
Mrs. Greenthumbs: How I Turned a Boring Yard into a Glorious Garden and How You Can, Too
Written by Cassandra Danz
Review and ruminations by Julie Carpenter
I am not a fan of winter. Granted, now that I’m older and my internal thermostat is broken, I’m better able to deal with cold weather - if taking off and putting on layers of clothes every thirty seconds and opening and closing windows can be considered “dealing with it”. It’s no longer the temperatures that get me. At this point my main objection to winter is that I feel lonely while all the plants are sleeping. I miss the leaves, the flowers, the buzz of nectar drunk bees. All I get in winter is cold gray sky and blank expressions from naked trees. There’s certainly no use talking to them while they’re napping – and trust me, I’ve tried. (But why not have a long conversation with an evergreen you might ask, say, a pine or a cedar? The cedars are serious and somewhat taciturn, and just between you and me, the average Georgia pine has very little depth so to speak. It’s why they topple over on houses during storms. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very sweet…but no sparkling conversation there. Anyway, evergreens never want to discuss my favorite topic: spring.) After Christmas, I wish I could go dormant with the oaks, fall asleep among the roots, covered with a blanket of withered leaves and wake with the buds in the spring. But alas…that is not to be. So, I do the next best thing. I read and dream about gardens.