“What Should I Read?” — Everyone Ever.

Any bookworm born before the internet knows that being a bibliophile can be both lonely and rewarding. Its an interesting conundrum to be faced with. On the one hand, you are never fully part of any conversation because the book grasps your attention.

For example, you might spend all day working hard with the same 3-4 people. Your crew. In the nice summer weather, all of you take your lunch break outside. Every week you spend that thirty mintues completely ignoring them, the sun, the birds chirping, the artillery gunfire shooting blanks, or even the black cat walking by on two legs eating tacos.

As a matter of fact, that crew might point out that– although you get a lot of work done, it appears that you always do it while cradling a book unrelated to the task at hand. They all watch you with questions forming in their heads, can that book really be THAT good? When you do check-in with your peers and reality surrounding you, the first thing anyone asks is,

“What should I read?”

Every non-book lover in search of a meaning in reading.

I love books. It is one of the only things that has remained consistent from youth to my adult life. I don’t just love to read. I LOVE BOOKS. They are individuals with personalities, needs, ambitions. Some of them are weak and deserve to be slaughtered, thrown off of proverbial ledges to never have their pages turned again (I just leave them on the shelf 🤷🏾‍♀️😂). Others though… Sigh… Those other books. I love those guys.

So, my husband invested considerable time bartering to convince me to stop buying my beloved paper editions (some pictured below) and turn to Kindle full-time. (Although Goodreads does make the move a bit more bearable, I’ll admit.) ((And full-time is relative. I may or may not still order a book here or there. 🤫))

Books have personalities. These personalities are engineered by writers that each have a different place in my life and my heart. When you ask me to suggest a book for you, my first thought is,

Well what KIND of book are your trying to read?

Me to myself every time… Like, you trying to READ read orrr….

Now, after all of my rude rebuttals of your verbal overtures, you expect me to produce a title. You want me to suggest something for you, or your spouse, or your teenager daughter that will make eyes light with glow at the power of prose. I get it. You want something to read. Well, this is how I separate my personal reading at this point in the game.

There are 5 general categories that book-baes fall under. They follow in no partiular order:

(but you never list the spouse last, dig? — and the randos never come first.)

N. K. Jemisin & Tomi Adeyemi have been graced with Spouse-Swag. 🙏🏾

I. Spouse-Swag

The most recent book that moved me in that personal way was the Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin [Pic Above]. My heart can still feel the beat of her stories weaving inside me right now. I love it. I’m so excited for when I revisit it three years from now. I enjoy probing her worlds. Jemisin is brilliant. She is the type of author that challenges everything you feel about love and it’s rightful place in society. She pushes the reader to places that are both uncomfortable but so real. Jemisin writes fiction that pushes boundaries. She is wifey material. You bed her books for life and take your time absorbing them. They feed the need for knowledge, romance, and trickery. When you leave the world that an author with Spouse-Swag created, you immediately miss them, and can’t wait to see them again.

Bebe Campbell, Sandra Kitt, & Marcus Major are more great quickie examples. Endless possibilities.

II. Quickies

I always appreciate my quick feel goods too. And I call ’em Quickies. 🤣 — All the feels and none of the attachment. I don’t always remember the titles of each individual book but I know that the writer will get me there. The authors that come to mind dominating that field for me are Eric Jerome Dickey, Pearl Cleage, Georgia Beers, Robin Alexander. Sometimes Quickies challenge you but never much. What they always give is worlds. Humans. People to learn from and attitudes to absorb. Possibilities to consider. Realities to balance. It covers the largest genre span so it includes the naughty, the nice, and the funny. They can be toe-curling, soothing, and satisfying. — Everyone needs a good Quickie sometimes, and my favorites are the repeats. 😈

III. Backbones

I call them the Backbones because the paper version of these books get read and then re-read until the spines are hanging on by the threads of God. These are some of my favorite books, stories and theories too good to be made up. Reality is stranger than fiction. These books can be tough to read, not just stylistically, but in content. Heavy subject matter when characters are made of flesh that bleeds into subsequent centuries. Some of my favorite Backbones are The Divine Law of Compensation by Marianne Williamson and the Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

They are my Backbone. They are what carry my imagination. My passion. I mean, Queen Elizabeth still has my blood rushing thinking about the adrenaline she must have felt standing in front of thousands of her own men wearing the wrong body yelling “who want the motherfuckin smoke” to Spain & France. Lmao. That’s passion. It makes you believe that anything is possible. I need my nonfiction too. It’s what makes me rational. 

My Backbone nonfiction writers provide clarity and ask tough questions, then do the work to answer them. Featured here are Marianne Williamson, Isabel Wilkerson, Evelyn Brooks Higginbottom, Diane Batts-Morrow, and Jared Diamond.

“Let tyrants fear… I come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and distort, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood even in the dustI myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judged, and rewarded of every one of your virtues in the field. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king!

Queen Elizabeth I (Tilsbury)

Who Want the Smoke? As translated by Lil’ Yachy

IV. Homies

These are my Home Skillets! My first loves were memoirs: The Diary of Anne Frank and The Boy Called It by Dave Pelzer. Man, the Homies are usually life-changing because they plop you down squarely in the shoes of someone that has an entirely different life than you, maybe even in a different time period or country. Homies aren’t guaranteed easy reads, but they are always great for teaching or making you laugh. Nothing is more relatable than a well-written memoir. This year, I’m looking forward to reading Michelle Obama’s book.

My Homies Dave Pelzer, Eva Schloss, Mikey Walsh, Ann Kimmage, Nelson Mandela, and John Lewis. 😎

V. Randos

Finally, we have the strays. The Randos. The books that you pick up on sale or that accumulate around you when you have an aversion to throwing out books. It is the physical equivalent of the Amazon Unlimited titles. These authors actually don’t warrant mention. Lol. When I find good Randos, they usually are upgraded to one of the aforementioned categories.

Now that we have some understanding of what KIND of book you may be wanting to read, maybe I can FINALLY answer the question confidently:

What should you read?

You looking for a Spouse, Quickie, some Backbone, a new Homie, or something Rando? Either way, I got you!

Herstun Book Review Scale


Written and Edited By W.D. Herstun

A reflection — This was a lot of fun to write. It is one of the earliest writings on Herstun. It was an opprotunity to be true to myself publicly and I was super nervous I would sound crazy. But every time I read it, I smile. It’s pretty much… Wild. Lol. It’s me!

Updates — Bitmoji.com on Bitmoji Graphics. Credits.
curated by w.d. herstun
Personal Library — My Book-Baes
Giphy.com on the GIFs
Variety — Lil Yachty Photo
Wikipedia — Queen Elizabeth I Photo

Published by W.D. Herstun

Editor-in-Chief. Curator. Dreamer. I want to bring people together, one story at a time. Sometimes, we all just need a little perspective. The arts & humanities can help us regain humanity and change the world. Believe that. Achieve that. #LetsGrow

10 thoughts on ““What Should I Read?” — Everyone Ever.

  1. I love how you categorize your books. i should try doing that. I’ve heard a lot about Jemisin’s work but haven’t had a chance to read it

    1. Thank you so much 🥰
      I’m definitely going to pull some of my reads from your page. I was eyeing your books under 1000 reviews on Amazon and the one that changed your life with Ada in the title as my possibility…

    1. You will love the Warmth of Other Suns. It is a long read but it was a walk down the road with these families. Intensely researched and expertly written. it’s truly a masterpiece. I would recommend it a million times over.

  2. This is such a cool way to separate the books you love, I can’t believe I haven’t thought of categorising my books like this before! It shows how much thought you’ve put into it all, great post 😊 x

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