Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga

This was a very timely read given the threat of North Korea on Guam, a place most people in the U.S. do not even know is a U.S. territory. Although this book does not specifically discuss Guam, it does focus on the imperialism of the U.S. which is very much related to Guam.

It is amazing the amount of things that are not mentioned in the classroom when discussing U.S. history. This book speaks to the imperialist past of the U.S. by highlighting a very specific story that illustrates this seemingly forgotten past.

Ota Benga was kidnapped from his home in the Congo to be put on display at the St. Louis World’s Fair as well as the Bronx Zoo. At the time the science community, specifically the anthropological community, was very focused on displaying the superiority of the white race, relative to African people, specifically ones like Ota Benga (he was a Mbuti pygmy).

Pamela Newkirk did an amazing job researching what she could on the information available on Ota Benga. A lot of the available information was skewed and/or biased given that it was not coming directly from Ota Benga. Nevertheless, she did a wonderful job letting the reader know that this was not necessarily the truth and to be skeptical. I appreciated though that she presented the information available in a matter of fact manner to allow the reader to make their own judgment on the information presented.

The length of the book was perfect. I realize that it is hard with these sort of topics to know how much to put it and what to leave out. Additionally, Pamela integrated details on the African-American community of the time, beyond just the scope of their role in the release of Ota Benga from the Bronx Zoo.

However, what stood out to me the most was the incorporation of the role the St. Louis World’s Fair, zoos, museums and anthropology played in the imperialism of the U.S. It is not often that you happen upon a book that is able to cover such a breadth of topics and so well. Pamela Newkirk not only gave justice to the story of Ota Benga, but successfully used his tragic life story as a means to explain the greater forces at work.

“The presence of Benga and his countrymen– along with the Native American; the Filipinos and Igorot; and the Japanese Ainu–was intended to highlight the United States’ conquests, imperialism, and progress”. – Pamela Newkirk

 

 

 

Advertisements

Book Deals for August 12th 

Really need this rainy weather to abide! Trying to enjoy one of my last weekends before school resumes. A little hard with the rain. 

Anyways, on this rainy Saturday, I have some wonderful books deals: 

Meridian: this book is by the glorious Alice Walker, the author of “The Color Purple”. 

Confessions of a Sociopath: Given the stigma associated to sociopath, this read could prove to be rather illuminating. 
Delicious Foods: The title within itself gets me. The synopsis is really well done and I was stricken by this statement made “In Delicious Foods, James Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them.” 
“There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love.”             – Christopher Morley, Pipefuls

Deals for the day of August 10th

Facebook kindly reminded me that one year ago today I crossed into North Carolina! Not per say the official day of the start of my PhD journey, but close enough.

Anyways for today’s bookdeals Beneath the Lion’s Gaze stood out to me in BookBub’s daily email. Really appreciate all these book deals for novels written by African authors. Important to not limit your reading world to just stories and people you are familiar with.

Check it out!

“Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.”
― John Keats

An Ode to Summer

This is feeling is not new. I have experienced this sense of despair with seeing the end of summer near for almost my entire life, however this time it is slightly different. As a PhD student you don’t really have summers “off” anymore. You are still, for the most part, expected to complete research during this time and can manage to get perhaps a few weeks off. Nevertheless at least the evenings are yours to do with what you will, which is something to rejoice in. 

With August here, I know these evenings will soon disappear and it does not have me overjoyed. Already I feel that my time is limited, even with ALL this additional time available to me to devote to things I usually do not have time for. Time is an interesting concept and as I move through my PhD journey I have been learning to respect my time more and more.

You only have so many heartbeats per day. Spend them wisely. 
“Reader’s Bill of Rights

1. The right to not read 

2. The right to skip pages 

3. The right to not finish 

4. The right to reread 

5. The right to read anything 

6. The right to escapism 

7. The right to read anywhere 

8. The right to browse 

9. The right to read out loud 

10. The right to not defend your tastes”

– Daniel Pennac 

Book Deals for August 7th and Kindle First for August

I am now signed up for three different emails a day for book deals. I feel like I am going into dangerous waters here. Hopefully I will not be enticed by too many books per day. Although I always live to regret the books I do not buy when they are on sale. I guess we shall see what this journey holds! At least I can shift through these for everyone and just give you the books I think are worth it.

For today:

  • Island Beneath the Sea
    • I already purchased this book previously but thought I should share here! This book falls right into my criteria of books to read. Really looking forward to seeing what this author will bring to the discussion on the slave trade in the New World.
  • Neverwhere
    • This was on Book Riot’s book deals today. I am personally not purchasing this book because I am no longer aboard the fantasy train. But this author is great, although I realize I have never actually read any of his books!
  • The Heart Echoes
    • This is the book I chose for August’s Kindle First selection. It has become harder and harder to make the decisions with the Kindle Firsts, mainly because the books leave to be desired. I chose this one mainly because it is contemporary fiction and was translated from Swedish. We shall see what it brings!

 

“Despite the enormous quantity of books, how few people read! And if one reads profitably, one would realize how much stupid stuff the vulgar herd is content to swallow every day.”
― Voltaire

Book Deals for August 5th

BookBub strikes again with the great deals! Really truly love their email format and appreciate the images and little summaries they offer. BookRiot’s daily email for book deals has a greater list, but the format really leaves to be desired. Some of us definitely judge books by their cover and therefore require little images of the book covers! And then some of us only recognize books by their covers. 

In today’s book deals I got: 

Happiness, Like Water

  •  I’ve been on a reading kick that’s been focused on the African experience and this book is perfect to continue this trend! Currently reading “Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga” which highlights an often forgotten aspect of imperialism and also dives into the atrocious situation that was the Congo when the Beligiums went to ransack it. 

Six of Crows

  • I am not sure how I feel about this book but I’ve seen the cover a multitude of times in book shops and it’s popped up in a bunch of other places as well. We shall see! 

Fledgling

  • Another one of those authors that I just always buy from. Octavia Butler is a true gem. 

    “I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” –Harold Kushner

    Forever, Now

    I have always found the notion of forever very silly, particularly in romantic relationships. Mainly because there is no such thing as forever, and most of our relationships won’t even last our whole lives. Nevertheless, I understand why people feel the need to say it. In the moment that you’re with your person and you feel this immense love for them, you feel the need to express this sentiment that you want this to last forever. I find myself in this predicament often now. However, I feel there’s a certain falsehood by saying “I will love you forever” or “I want to be with you forever”. Because this may not end up being true two days from now, 6 months from now or 3 years from now. But in the moment I do mean it. So in order to stay true to what you are trying to say in the moment, while also staying true to your future self, we should say “forever, now”. 

    I love you forever, now. I’m yours forever,  now. I want to be yours forever, now. 

    The Women of Brewster Place

    I was supposed to write this review many moons ago, i.e. when I had initially finished the book and still had the post-glow read. Unfortunately the best laid plans often go awry.

    Although I did not maintain the post-glow read, I can definitely still say that this book was a true joy to read and I can see why it was developed into a show. The depth of the characters made you want to know more about them! You were definitely left wanting to spend more time getting to know each individual character.

    I was most stricken by the character Cora Lee. Her childhood obsession with baby dolls that becomes an adult obsession with having babies of her own, speaks volumes to the concept of: “old habits die hard”. I was totally enchanted by this character, particularly given that I have no such affinity towards babies, so it was hard for me to grasp her obsession. But it seems that Cora Lee was most interested in the newness and freshness of babies. Babies represent what is pure in this world, and they are solely dependent on you for their care. Eventually they grow up and the world takes away this innocence that seems to fascinate Cora Lee so. Her marked indifference and almost disenchantment with her older children is particular,  especially given that they were all babies at one point. However, it seems that for Cora Lee it is not about the person that the baby will become. Her focus is solely on the idea of a baby; she is not interested by the facets and differences between babies.

    The other characters of this story are just as unique and enchanting, and will strike everyone in different ways. Everyone that reads this book will take to at least one of the characters.

    Definitely a worthy read. One that will highlight for you the importance of maintaining relationships while also showing the importance of letting some of them go. You have to be picky; not all relationships are worthwhile.

    Please read and happy adventuring!

    “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” – John Green

     

    Book Deals for August 4th

    Greetings friends!

    It seems today is an exciting day! So many book deals! I usually count on BookBub for my ebook deals, but it seems that Book Riots daily email had many more interesting things. I don’t like their daily email setup as much as BookBub, but at the end of the day it’s about getting the deals.

    In today’s exciting book deals there are:

    • Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy
      • This book is a slow one but it is definitely worth the read! I was most stricken by the uniqueness of the father in this story, and loved the way his son described him.
    • The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel (P.S.)
      • I never actually finished this book, however, it seems that a lot of people really enjoyed it. I usually really like fantasy books but this book was almost too fantastical for me. I couldn’t see how a golem and a jinni would ever really interact. I like my fantasy books to remain within the realm of logic. I know the author is trying to use these mythical beings from two different religions/cultures to make a point, but it did not jive with me.
    • Let the Great World Spin: A Novel
      • I bought this one today! I have been wanting to read this book forever and was just waiting for it to go on sale.
    • The Inheritance Trilogy
      • LOVE LOVE LOVE. This is definitely for those of you who love fantasy. And if you enjoy Sherrilyn Kenyon’s work, especially Acheron, you will enjoy these books. Very much of the same vein.
    • We Should All Be Feminists
      • It’s by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Not other explanation necessary

    *Decided to start using my own photos sometimes, (1) just because and (2) in the hopes I will get in the habit of taking more pictures.