#14 on my 2018 Reading Challenge is a book by an author of a different ethnicity than myself. There are several books on my list that would meet this prompt, but I ultimately chose I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. I’ve been wanting to read her poetry for some time, and while this book is a memoir rather than poetry, it’s a well-known title about which there has been much conversation.
I’ve had some difficulty finding the right words for what I think and feel about this book. I liked it. It is well written. But it isn’t an easy read. Angelou writes openly about difficult and unpleasant subjects such as child rape, racism and teenage motherhood.
I enjoyed Angelou’s depictions of her early childhood. Her descriptions are often beautiful and poetic. I was fascinated by her stories of growing up as a black girl in the south. I laughed out loud at some of them. Others made me want to weep. She makes some interesting comments about racism. Particularly fascinating was her description of her time in San Francisco during the second world war.
I chose to listen to this book on audio rather than read a physical copy. If I had it to do over, I would choose the physical book instead. First, with a physical book, I could have better noted the passages I found particularly moving. I was also slightly disappointed in the narration. The version I chose was narrated by Maya Angelou herself, and I thought that would lend it an even greater authenticity. At times, it did just that. Especially when she would break out into song. However, the reading felt stilted and unnatural at times which was really unfortunate, as it’s a beautifully written book.
This is a great book, well-deserving of all the acclaim it has received. I’m glad I chose to read it. Please note, if you haven’t read it before, Angelou’s depiction of the abuse she endured as a child is quite graphic, and could prove traumatic to some.