Three Books that Channel Personal Growth with Lupita Aquino

By Lupita Aquino on February 22, 2021
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When I think of the various forms of love, it occurs to me that I am least versed in self-love. To love seems like it requires some extraordinary act or grand gesture outside of yourself, making self-love seem all the more difficult. However, love can also mean giving yourself space and having the patience to grow and learn. This month, I am focusing on books that have helped me to open channels of personal growth. 

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

In this monumental collection of personal essays, historical essays, short stories and poetry, ninety writers come together to create a collective volume of African-American history spanning from 1619 to 2019. Vibrating with resilience and hope, this collection is a stark reminder that the past is never as distant as we might believe it to be. Throughout these pages, each writer examines how history’s erasure continues to contribute to the present state of systemic racial inequalities faced by the Black community. 

Ibram X. Kendi is a National Book Award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of seven books. He is the Founding Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Kendi is also the 2020-2021 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for the Advanced Study at Harvard University. Keisha N. Blain is an award-winning historian. She is the author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom. She completed a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University and is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Milk Blood Heat: Stories by Dantiel W. Moniz

Milk Blood Heat is a short story collection about female friendships, womanhood, motherhood, grief and loss. There is a collective darkness that weaves in and out of these stories that helps elevate and carefully dissect the emotions experienced by the topics in this book. It gives language to emotions that can only be felt through descriptive and striking passages that make the reader feel like they are witnesses in a room to these stories and characters. Dantiel W. Moniz’s fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, Tin House, The Yale Review and many other notable publications. Milk Blood Heat is her first book. She lives in Northeast Florida. 

Kink: Stories Edited by R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell

Sex and pleasure are more openly discussed in today’s society. However, I believe these discussions are missing the ability to be honest about what molds our sexual pleasures and preferences. Kink, a collection of short stories, opens up that dialogue. Featuring contributors such as Roxane Gay, Alexander Chee, Carmen Maria Machado and more, these stories individually break down the spectrum of desires and pleasures that exist. Every story delivers something special but Vanessa Clark’s ‘Mirror Mirror,’ for me, is one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. This story collection allows us to be more curious, open and accepting of our inner desires. R.O. Kwon is the author of the national bestselling novel, The Incendiaries. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review and The Guardian. She was named one of four writers to watch by The New York Times. Garth Greenwell is the author of Cleanness and What Belongs to you. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, VICE and many other notable publications. He lives in Iowa City with his partner, the poet Luis Muñoz. 


Lupita Aquino—better known as Lupita Reads—is a passionate reader active in both the local and online book community through her Instagram account- @Lupita.Reads. She is the creator of the #LatinxBookstagramTour, a columnist for the Washington Independent Review of Books, and the co-founder and current moderator/curator for LIT on H St. Book Club.

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