Cover Image: This Here Flesh

This Here Flesh

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Member Reviews

Stunning, creative, heart-exploding collection of essays, prayers, and liturgies. I cannot wait to introduce this books to colleagues, students, and beloveds. Brava Cole Arthur Riley!
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I'll never forget the compelling spiritual truths shared through carefully crafted family vignettes. I enjoy reading intergenerational stories, and this one did not let me down. I would also recommend this book to any young person suffering from a potentially fatal or chronic illness. In ways that I cannot, Arthur Riley is able to express the experience of living in a prematurely deteriorating body.
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Books about faith usually are not my cup of tea. But if they were all like This Here Flesh, I would read more of them. Cole Arthur Riley has written a book about faith and liberation that speaks to me and validates my constant conflict with God. 

The author takes stories from her life, weaving the good and terrible into how she approaches her relationship with God and what it will take for Black people to truly be free. She doesn’t push faith on us, rather she lets us look into her life and the lives of her father and gramma, exposing the awful things that happened to them while also giving us access to their joy. The author herself expresses her feelings about her failing body, acknowledging her anger about its disintegration but also recognizing the miracle of what it can still do.

I have my own issues with God, and my faith at times has been almost non-existent. But that doesn’t make me a bad person, as some Christians would have you think. It makes me a human being. Reading This Here Flesh didn’t make me feel like a failure or a heathen. It let me know that we ALL have our crosses to bear when it comes to our faith and whatever God we believe in, and we all can find our way to true freedom in our own way.
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I wanted this one to feel more cohesive, but also found so many lines that stood alone as gorgeous gemstones that I highlighted the crap out of it. Both/and. About 3.5 stars over all, with rounding up for the highlights.
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There’s no doubt Riley is a thoughtful writer. There’s much lyricism to be found in her words, often ones that reach into the past to reach for answers in her own lineage. But there’s also an interesting balance she seems to be aiming for in this book that didn’t quite work for me—like the narrative rushed through more compelling moments of personal history to get to the “quotable self help revelations.” Though I definitely understood there was a religious component to Riley’s self discovery, I didn’t know how heavily the Christianity would show through every chapter, sometimes hinting towards a larger view of spirituality, but more often than not, feeling like a sermon. There’s beauty here, but it wasn’t quite working for this reader.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the e-ARC. This is a stunning book; it's challenging, beautifully written and thought provoking.
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The ruminations and meditations of the author about life in America as a Black person, a woman, and a person who suffers from chronic illness, as well as the lives of her father and grandmother.

The work is very powerfully and compellingly written.  As a reviewer I cannot do justice to the raw power and vulnerability of her prose.  It is a work to be read and experienced; one feels as if one is receiving power and energy from that vulnerability and the setting forth of the story, and one can understand the reason for faith, yet doubt, and yet faith the author experiences.  

Go read and experience.
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There are no words for how profoundly I was affected by this book. It is the first time in many, many years that I have had to intentionally stop reading at points to let an author's words seep into my soul. I cannot possibly recommend this highly enough. It's January and I've already decided this is the book that everyone is getting as gifts this year. Read it and then read it again.
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Thank you for the opportunity to review this book. It was both fresh and timeless. Readers who have met @blackliturgies on social media will delight at her storytelling and wise insights here. She's a real wordsmith. I deeply appreciated this book
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THIS HERE FLESH by Cole Arthur Reilly is a stunning achievement. Her words are a gift that, time and again, wrecked me in the most beautiful ways.

The fifteen chapters are framed around insights on dignity, place, belonging, fear, lament, liberation, and more. Arthur Reilly's vulnerability in sharing insights gained from physical limitations, from being a Black woman of faith, and her transparency when discussing her Gramma and her father, lead to deep reflections. 

Time and again, I found myself near tears, or openly crying (not a familiar response). As I reflected on this reaction, occurring across different days and weeks, I think it's due to how refreshing such honesty is, how welcoming to read the hope, to have her name truths. The phrase "defiant rootedness," for example, so perfectly captures the idea of perseverance and hope in spite of all, the insistence of one's worth and determination to remain. 

Some books you meet at the right moment, and at a time when I've been more introspective and reflective, this has been a perfect companion, a welcome balm when things have felt fragile and uncertain in the world. 

(I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)
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For anyone who's followed Cole Arthur Riley and her incredible work on social media, this book is a logical extension and expansion of that work. For those who haven't, this book will likely be surprising. It's the sort of book that you sit with, that you'll want to reread multiple times. It's the work of a contemplative who believes in the power of action; the power of words to move us to action and to shape and form both us and the world around us. With her own family's story woven throughout, this book is a gift to her reader.
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There are simply not enough superlatives in the English language to describe the beauty and power of this book.

Cole Arthur Riley brings the voices of her ancestors in conversation with the likes of Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Howard Thurman, bell hooks, and many others to explore subjects like rest, joy, lament, liberation, and so many more.

She writes from a deeply integrated and soulful place that is sure to speak life into anyone feeling weary and burdened by life in this world.

I cannot recommend this highly enough. Please read it. It will breathe life into your soul.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is one that I read in a day but that will leave me pondering over its contents for a long, long while. I started following the author, Cole Arthur Riley (@blackliturgies) on Instagram a while ago, and when I saw she had written a book, I knew I had to read it. The way Riley shares her reflections on spirituality intertwined with the stories of her life and the lives of those who have shaped her is just poignant, thought-provoking, courageous, beautiful, and much needed. Absolutely will be buying a physical copy of this one, because it deserves a highlighter and tiny notes written in the margins.
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Beautifully written, honest, and insightful. The first few chapters were my favorite, personally, with a dozen sections underlined/highlighted. There is language in this book, if that bothers you, so something to keep in mind. This is one to sit with after reading.
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I don't think I fully understood what this book was attempting to do going into it, and I still don't understand coming out of it, but it wasn't written for me. It has very Christian themes and somewhat assumes that the reader is a Christian as well. Strong writing, though.
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Thanks to Convergent Books and Netgalley fo the opportunity to read and review this title prior to publication.

I don't remember how I heard about this book, and I was a little unsure about it as I began, since this is a debut. Wow. I plan to purchase this for my own shelves and maybe a few extra copies to give away. This book also landed in one of my top books of 2021! The author's writing was exquisite, and the organization of chapters and ideas was perfect. I found myself waking in the middle of the night to read this and then not being able to sleep because she made me think and feel. This was a perfect meditative book to close out 2021, and I look forward to dipping back in and out in the coming years. Grateful for the way she weaves her narrative and meditation on topics such as fear, lament, joy, and memory, among others. Highly, highly recommend!
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This was insightful, intimate, and beautifully written. Cole Arthur Riley speaks to the part of me that remembers what faith should feel like.
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