By DENISE SMITH
February is Black History Month. During 2019, we saw some big award winners released that focus on the African American experience. Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” a memoir by the former first lady that chronicles the experiences that have shaped her life, from her childhood in Chicago through her setbacks and achievements in the White House, was a best seller and in high demand at the La Mesa Branch Library. The New York Times placed it on their “100 Notable Books” list for nonfiction and memoir categories. “Becoming” is the La Mesa Library’s Book Club selection for discussion on Feb. 19, at 10:30 a.m. A copy can be picked up at the front desk.
“Nickel Boys,” Colson Whitehead’s follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize winner for “Underground Railroad,” chronicles the daring survival story of a cotton plantation slave in Georgia, who, after suffering at the hands of both her owners and fellow slaves, races through the Underground Railroad with a relentless slave-catcher close behind. This novel was also placed on the New York Times Notable Books list for fiction and won the Kirkus Prize for fiction, one of the richest literary prizes in the world.
Finally, we saw the release of the movie “If Beale Street Could Talk,” based on the novel by James Baldwin. This movie, about a woman in Harlem desperately scrambling to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime while carrying their first child, won both an Oscar and Golden Globe.
Looking forward, the following February releases are available to put on request.
“Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights,” by Gretchen Sorin, explores the African American mobility experience from the antebellum through the 1960s, going beyond what we saw in the Best Picture Oscar winner. Sorin recounts the freedom and restrictions the open road offered to many in a car during this era.
Walter Mosley, known for his great American noir writing, gives us another entry into his “Leonid McGill” series, with “Trouble Is What I Do.” Detective Leonid McGill is forced to confront the ghost of his felonious past when a 92-year-old Mississippi bluesman is targeted by an infamous assassin.
To put any of these on request, give us a call at 619-469-2151 or visit sdcl.org.
Downloadable books, whether they be ebooks or audiobooks, are becoming more and more popular. But if these formats are a mystery to you, the La Mesa Branch Library will be hosting the Overdrive Digital Bookmobile on Thursday, Feb. 27, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Staff from OverDrive will be aboard to demonstrate how to freely borrow e- and audiobooks anytime, anywhere through their Libby app. Or if you’ve been using the Libby app and have detailed, advanced questions, they are happy to be the experts you’ve been looking for. Bring your own device or experiment with one of theirs, which range from the tiny to large wall touch screens, and experiment with multiple platforms.
— Denise Smith is a librarian at the La Mesa Branch of the San Diego County Library. Call the library at 619-469-2151, visit in person at 8074 Allison Ave. or get information online at sdcl.org.