By Ebony Baker
Books can be teachers, entertainers, nurturers, therapists, and more. For Alexis Patterson, an avid reader, audio book fanatic and book blogger @TheBrooklynBookworm, a love for books began at an early age.
Today, I would like to introduce our friend Alexis as she launches her new book club with Friends NYC! Alexis will be regularly introducing books to our Friends audience on Instagram Live, in conversation with Friends NYC owners Mary and Emma, along with available authors. Our first book is The Queen, which we will be discussing on IG Live on July 14 6pm. Get your copy and let's get reading!
(Psst..text BOOK to 900900 to sign up for reminders)
Q. Alexis, please tell us about yourself and where your love for books originated from?
A. My name is Alexis Patterson and I am a Virgo and mostly interested in art, food, and anything astrology-related. Growing up in Coral Springs, Florida, I have a blended personality of a retired grandmother and New York City socialite. When it comes to reading, I love stories that include diverse characters and anything that makes me laugh and/or cry. I feel very lucky to have my dream job working as the Manager of Strategic Events & Special Projects for the Penguin Random House Audio team, where I plan, produce, and execute engaging events and activities that promote the joy of audiobook listening. The first time I remember falling in love with a book was when I was nine years old reading A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620 by Kathryn Lasky. I remember checking this book out from my local library and instantly becoming obsessed with Remember Patience Whipple’s story of sailing from England to the New World on the Mayflower. Remember’s diary was the first time I gained an intimate glimpse into someone else’s mind and learned deeply about a specific historical event. I loved reading about her daily life on the Mayflower and her relationships with her family and friends. I found her diary entries incredibly compelling–one entry would be about how bored she was on the ship and the next would be about watching bodies being thrown overboard into the sea. I was so captivated. The Dear America series fostered my love of reading, history, and public libraries!
Q. What is your favorite book? And why?
A. All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. I have read this book three times and each time it brings with it a brand new and more enriching experience. I LOVE bell hooks’ simple and straightforward way of talking about love. Love is not some abstract fantasy or obscure mystery, but a choice that we must make and commit to every day through our actions and the ways in which we connect with everything around us. We all need to practice love ethics (honesty, responsibility, accountability, trust, respect, openness) in order to be fully alive and fully human. This book is very healing and a great reminder that we need to create space not only for love but for grief, relief, misery, and joy.
Q. If your favorite artist/ icon asked you for a book recommendation, what would you recommend?
A. I would hands down recommend the book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to my favorite artist Solange. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the ultimate friendship and self-discovery story. It is heartbreaking, honest, and powerful. When you first meet Eleanor, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmingly sad for her. Eleanor has a simple and lonely life without any family or friends. At thirty, she’s coasting through the only job she’s ever had and has no ambition for anything better or more challenging. She is also painstakingly oblivious to social cues and norms, and some of her interactions are so uncomfortable, I physically cringed while reading the book. Despite all of these shortcomings, I fell in love with Eleanor and I did not want this book to end. All of us have felt loneliness at some point in our lives, and Eleanor’s story serves as a reminder that a bit of kindness and friendship can truly be life-saving.
Q. Why did you choose The Queen as the first book in the Friends Book Club?
A. I chose The Queen by Josh Levin as the first book club pick because I am really intrigued by the 1970’s “welfare queen” Linda Taylor’s story. She was a con artist and a criminal. Although she seemed to have no ethical compass and managed to live an entire life rife with crime and welfare scams, she sadly became a tool in the Reagan administration to demonize actual poverty-stricken Black women and poor people of color. Author and Slate editor Josh Levin forces the reader to question what we have done as a society to create situations like these. The nation goes into panic at a welfare cheat, but, due to economic inequality, people in our country go hungry, become homeless, and struggle to survive every day. I love a good true crime story, especially about a real person that you can both despise and also sympathize with.
Photographer: Karina Brioukhova (@khovsky)
Q. What hopes do you have in starting this book club? What would you want viewers/ readers to gain from it?
A. I love building communities, especially with fellow book lovers. I am hoping through this book club I will meet some dope people and create a safe space to learn new ideas and perspectives and talk about interesting topics. Through our conversations, I am hoping to empower people to read more and explore their own stories.
We encourage you all to tune into the book club and join in on the conversation --> @friendsnyc IG Live on 7/14/2020 6pm. Text BOOK to 900900 to receive reminders & new book announcements. Happy Reading, Friends!