Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Oh, look at me finishing two books in quick succession.

I’m just going to dive right into the post. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The story follows Sophie. A Haitian girl being raised by her aunt at the age of 12 when her mother sends for her from New York. You follow her to New York to marrying to returning home to the tragedy of her mother’s suicide.

I’ve owned this book a couple of years now and knew absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t know the author. I didn’t know the premise. I didn’t know the themes. The story blew me away from page one. Haiti is arguably the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and you know it immediately. But as soon as you wrap your head around Sophie’s surroundings they completely change as she heads to New York to be reunited with her mother she doesn’t know. She soon realizes how difficult her mother’s life really is. This is important because of the conversations people are having TODAY. So many people in America want to paint immigrants as criminals, worthless, and illegal. But so much more often than not, they’re just like Sophie’s mother. Working multiple jobs and supporting family back home.

But the book isn’t only about being an immigrant and trying to find where we belong. Sophie suffers from bulimia and sex phobia, as it’s described in the book, and her mother suffers from severe mental illness, ultimately leading to her suicide. Sophie seeks help in multiple ways. I’m not going to say I suffer from anything, but I know how it feels to be entirely unhappy with every aspect of life, and to feel like no one is coming through that door to help.

Those are the two things I’ve taken from this book. That we should look at immigrants just as we would anyone else, and that we all have the ability to free ourselves from things we can and cannot control. Sophie begins the story as a struggling girl and ends it as a struggling woman. It’s okay to struggle. And it’s okay to seek help when you need it.

An absolute gem of a book.

Whoops.

Yesterday I wrote about Amazon largely ignoring readers during its annual Prime Day. I may have been mistaken.

There’s a new book I’m interested in coming out next week. I happened to see a tweet from its author stating that the book was 70% off on Amazon. I checked. It was. A brand new release was $8.40. I decided to buy it. Then noticed that Amazon was (and still is) running a promo on books. $5 off $15. Not exactly the mountain of savings you could have from other items, but it is something. The promo code is primebooks17.

Also, this week is coupon week at my local HPB.

Readers Largely Ignored On Prime Day

Today is Prime Day on Amazon. The site’s Black Friday type day in July. All Amazon devices are marked down, including Kindles. But I already have a Fire tablet. I’m in no need of an ereader.

Last night once I settled in after work I decided to take a look at the deals. There are many. But very few on anything I’d want. Largely absent from the deals? Books.

I understand that books may not be as sexy as other items, but why not I Clyde them when other media is included? There are a few books included, but hardly enough to write about.

I’d like to see $1, $2, and $3 paperback categories. Hardcovers for $5 or $10. That’s my idea of real deals on Prime Day. I’ll be sitting this one out for the third straight year.

Remember When…

Remember when Amazon launched as a bookstore? Remember when Amazon was simply an online retailer? Remember when there was no such thing as ebooks until Amazon launched the Kindle?

Amazon gets criticized for everything it does. The company just recently agreed to buy Whole Foods, which may bring changes to the grocer once the deal is finalized.

What I don’t understand is that there are numerous companies in different aspects of our lives. But Amazon can never escape blame for anything. The company doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend it, but I think it’s time we acknowledge that Amazon’s offerings are aren’t so bad. So it isn’t just a bookstore anymore, and that’s a good thing.

The Power of Social Media

So there’s this site called Twitter, right? You may have heard of it. Well Bill Gates recommended a book during a thread he posted to the site. Today the book was the top selling title on Amazon. Welp.

I won’t even tell you which book it is. Just go look for yourself. 

Amazon is Still Causing Heartache for Publishers

We’ve all used Amazon. Some of us more than others. I imagine most of us are aware of the site’s option to buy with 1 click, right? I never use it, but I know it’s there. Now Amazon is allowing third party sellers to bid for the buy with 1 click option. Which isn’t new at all. Amazon has allowed this for other products but had excluded books. No longer.

What this means is that a third party could potentially be the first option to buy on the product page rather than the copy of the book Amazon purchased from the publisher.

My problem with this whole thing isn’t with Amazon. It’s with book publishers thinking they’re so much better than every other business. I’ve bought so many different products on Amazon when the first option is a third party seller and there was an option to buy from Amazon too. Publishers publish books to make money. THE END. Let’s not be fooled by their crying over not being the first option on Amazon.

How come publishers aren’t attacking Half Price Books? Their books are being sold by the hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions, and they aren’t seeing a dime from those sales. But Amazon is the bad guy. Like always.

Amazon has Confirmed its 10th Bookstore

Welp.

By thevebd of thus calendar year Amazon will have 10 (!) bookstores. Who would have thought this day would ever come? I’m still waiting for one in Houston. I feel left out at the moment. They began in Washington state and went to the east coast, then back to Washington. I mean, there’s this whole swath of land they just passed over!

I probably wouldn’t even buy anything. I just want to see what all the fuss is about. Is that so bad? Houston has plenty of commercial space available for one of these stores. Come here!

And There’s More

I just wrote about Holocaust denial books that are available on Amazon, right? Of course there are even more books on the site that have no business seeing the light of day. This time I’m talking about books that claim to “cure” illnesses and ailments.

Autism appears to be written about quite a bit. Books utilizing what’s called MMS claim to be able to cure autism, among others. Except there is nothing scientific about the so-called treatment. And it’s been linked to at least one death in recent years.

Y’all know I don’t have kids. I can only imagine how difficult it might be to have a child with any kind of developmental deficiency. The medical bills and lost wages can quickly add up. So a part of me understands why someone would go to books in search of a cure for something inflicting their family.

With that being said, this isn’t the way to accomplish anything. Doctors and nurses can point you to the right literature. And there’s always the option of adoption if the diagnosis is known beforehand. No one is responsible for making another family whole, but there are so many people who would be excellent parents and would appropriately care for a child with special needs. No one should be subject to bogus treatments that only endanger rather than treat.

Autism, for example, doesn’t need to be cured. If these parents or people buying these bogus books had ever met someone with autism, then they’d know that.

Amazon is in Some Hot Water

Amazon is in hot water right now. The website has Holocaust denial books listed for sale.

This is difficult for me to defend at all. Some might say free speech. Others might say history. But is it okay to sale a book most likely branding itself as fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth?

I’m not sure where this falls on the list of issues facing the company, but it’s mist definitely an issue. I’d argue Holocaust denial is one of the most dangerous things we encounter as humans. Why? Because it opens the door to repeat history. To repeat a major aspect of the worst armed conflict the world has ever known.

I have a wristband I bought at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum last year when I visited DC. It says “What you do matters.” Take note, Amazon. Because what you do matters.

I’ve worn that wristband everyday since I bought it. To remind myself that my voice and actions are important to ensure that we never go back to our worst days as humans.