Here’s a glimpse of some current reads which lend themselves more to sampling, in a handful of reading sessions, than gobbling in longer periods of time.

Although I no longer need to ponder the ratio of heavy to light volumes in my stack of current reads (because the COVID protective measures have changed my movement in the city), there are still some books in my stack which require a sink-into-your-seat focus and others which afford the opportunity to window-gaze between pages. These are the browse-y or sit-with-tea reads.

Afua Cooper’s Black Matters (2020) includes artwork by Wilfried Raussert, whose photographs also focus on Black lives and experiences. Canadians looking to mend the gaps in their formal studies should seek out Cooper’s writing; I can recommend We Rooted Here and They Can’t Pull Us Up and The Hanging of Angélique. (International readers would also benefit from reading her works, accessible and often narrative-driven, reframing the question of whether there’s any difference between racism in America and in Canada.) These nineteen poems consider various experiences of Black Canadians and their “ongoing, everyday struggles for justice, equality, and peace”.

The first volume of the Naomi series (2019-) by Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker is illustrated by Jamal Campbell (who is also working with N.K. Jemisin to reimagine the Green Lantern mythos, in the Far Sector series).

Because I’m not properly versed in the DC universe, I wasn’t sure if I’d find the story engaging, but I appreciate a coming-of-age story about identity and struggle.

The idea of a place where “nothing ever happens here” that’s suddenly a hotspot, of a truth that the majority of people do not want to acknowledge that’s suddenly inescapable: we are living through a time when believing in a superhero is seductive.

When reading about courage is inspiring. When a young, Black woman must be prepared to stand her ground facing a foe larger and more powerful: “Well get ready, because I am.”

Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed (2014) is one of my favourite cookbooks.

His Afro-diasporic recipes sometimes sound complicated (e.g. Smashed Potatoes, Peas, and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil) but they are straight-forward. (You usually know what to expect just from the name, right?)

If you enjoy these flavours and collect the fundamentals (like, the Chile-Garlic Oil, for instance, which is very simple, actually), cooking with him becomes second-nature.

So if you’re bored with the usual home-made fare? Tired of the take-out options in your immediate community? (Support your local restauranteurs as much as you can, while we all cope with COVID protective measures!) Then try enriching your menu!

A bonus with this volume? Not only does each recipe come with a soundtrack recommendation, but there are even some reading suggestions too!

Lorna Simpson’s Collages (2018) landed on my TBR because I’ve been exploring the poetry and non-fiction of Elizabeth Alexander, who wrote the introduction to this volume.

Simpson’s artwork explores “the richly nuanced language of hair” via vintage advertisements from magazines like Ebony and Jet.

This slim volume (under 200 pages) includes 160 pieces, along with an artist’s statement which also helps situate the viewer.

The cover art hints at the surprises to be found—using a page from a textbook in an unexpected way, or by displaying an ordinary object in an extraordinary manner—and browsing a work like this for a few minutes is both inspiring and refreshing (and, sometimes, startling).

Richard Wagamese’s Embers: One Ojibwe’s Meditations (2016) doesn’t seem like the kind of book one would read through; slim and glossy-paged, it looks like the kind of book that sits on a coffee-table next to a bowl of pine cones or a stack of coasters.

“Mornings have become my table,” he begins. He shares these words as “embers from the tribal fires that used to burn in our villages”.

Divided into stillness, harmony, trust, reverence, persistence, gratitude and joy…some of his writing is openly spiritual, some short conversations are reproduced (including the “yes” bit, recognizable to Wagamese readers), and there are simple statements that resonate beyond the page:.

“A gift is not a gift until it is shared”; “SHOUT something”; and “When there’s a crack in my mirror, I can’t see myself as I am –all I see is the crack.”

Even though I count him among my MRE (MustReadEverything) authors, I didn’t expect to read straight through this book in a series of sittings.

What browse-y or sit-with-tea books have you been enjoying?