Recently, I’ve been listening to the Twisted Philly podcast. It covers true crime, haunted history, legends and other weird and spooky topics in the Philly area. Philadelphia has so much history, and not all of it is positive. I like how the host tries to find the historical truth behind legends and hauntings and also discusses important issues like Pennhurst Hospital and racial discrimination in Philadelphia.
I’ve also been reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling. The HP series are classics, even though they’re written for children. People of all ages love Harry Potter. Especially after JK Rowling made transphobic and hurtful comments on Twitter, some fans who grew up with the books and movies feel conflicted about the series that means so much to so many people.
Order of the Phoenix is my favorite book in the series, and I think the message of fighting against corruption and censorship in this book is still really important. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and other celebrities tied to the Wizarding World have spoken out against JK Rowling’s hateful rhetoric, so I think it’s important to reclaim these stories that inspire so many.
Another recommendation of mine is The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson. I’ve had the opportunity to hear Jackson’s lecture “Prison to Pen,” and he’s such an inspiring author. I first read this book in 2017, but my sister borrowed it this summer to re-read it. This memoir based on Jackson’s life in Portland is a book that I recommend to literally everyone I meet.
The narrator’s fight to buy back his childhood home in a neighborhood of Portland that is being gentrified and his complicated relationship with his mother are compelling and real stories for all American readers. The narrative structure is well-written and his use of African American Vernacular English is poignant. With the injustice against Black Americans coming to light, especially in the past two months, it is important to highlight Black voices and not silence them. If you are looking for Black stories written by Black authors, I highly suggest Jackson.