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Publisher's Summary

Farah Jasmine Griffin’s beloved father died when she was nine, bequeathing her an unparalleled inheritance in closets full of remarkable books and other records of Black genius. In Read Until You Understand - a line from a note he wrote to her - she shares a lifetime of discoveries: the ideas that framed the US Constitution and that inspired Malcolm X’s fervent speeches, the soulful music of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, the daring literature of Phillis Wheatley and Toni Morrison, the artistry of Romare Bearden, and many others. 

Having taught a popular Columbia University survey course of Black literature, she explores themes such as grace, justice, rage, self-determination, beauty, and mercy to help listeners grapple with the ongoing project that is American democracy. Joining her experiences in Black communities with her immersion in the glorious works of Black artists, Read Until You Understand is a powerful testament to the enduring wisdom of Black culture and history.

©2021 Farah Jasmine Griffin (P)2021 Recorded Books, Inc.

What listeners say about Read Until You Understand

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Brilliant!!!

I absolutely loved this text, part memoir part historical reference, Professor Griffin weaves the words of some of our most beloved authors, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, James Baldwin into this collection of essays. She discusses topics as varied as mercy, justice and the "transformative potential of love " with an engaging and easily understandable method. I highly recommend this book.

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Love it beautiful

Love this book very well done will tell friends and family to buy this book

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Yes, I know

This is unlistenable.

Not because it’s “wrong”, but because it’s not something to listen to in this form. The author is right in everything she states. It’s just that the content she presents in this compressed form of a book, and probably more specifically an audio book, is impossible to ingest, work with. At least I couldn’t.

The holocaust was an inhumane atrocity. I’ve read quite a number of books on the subject. But: Would I listen to a multi-hour monotone read-out of those atrocities? No, sorry. The suppression of blacks in the United States is continuing on for hundreds of years, and certainly has killed as many humans in that same time span. Do I want to listen to a monotone read-out of those atrocities? No, really sorry. I know this cannot, inherently, be “entertaining”, but I still have to be able to live with it.

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A beautiful meditation

I really loved Read Until You Understand. Especially the way Prof. Griffin moves between memoir, history, and literary readings. I wish more literary scholars wrote so honestly and beautifully. Thank you. 🙏🏽

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I would like this to be in print

I work with an organization that helps people in recovery from substance abuse. This would be a great resource for exploring literature of the Black experience in America. Please make a print version.

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Read so you will understand!

This book is part memoir, part black literature class part intoxicating language and ell worth the time!

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Great example of why an author reading their work is impactful

I enjoyed the intertwining of the author’s personal story with the writings that she recommends. While it’s obvious that she’s not a professional reader for this type of material, she does have the speaking experience as an educator and knows the material well. Additionally, in telling her story, the emotional impact of what she shares is palpable.

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Got it....

Loved the heading and understand what your father meant. I now use the same thought with my daughter hoping that she too will understand as she reads.
Ahhhh!! we could spend an whole day, year on music, so many melodies, so many names.
Thank you for sharing. This will be the generation in which we learn that all life's matter. One love.

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Beautiful work of art!

work of art loved it
books I have yet to read
calming narration- thank you

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A History Lesson

this book should be required reading by all students. I learned so much. things I was never taught in school.