Here For It, or, How Not to Lose Your Soul in America, by R. Eric Thomas

R. Eric Thomas, the columnist behind the popular “Eric Reads the News” on, is smart. And charming. And funny. And in Here for It, his first collection of essays, he uses this smart charming humor to explore his life as a gay, black, Christian man and what it means to be different--and to be one’s truest self.

Thomas bounces between disparate topics across his essays: Michelle Obama and Mister Rogers; racial slurs and horror movies; scented candles and Pride; family and religion and first loves and true love. (There are also lots of mentions of Beyoncé throughout). Though seemingly unrelated, this wide spread is evidence of Thomas’ skill as a storyteller, a testament to his ability to use one small anecdote as an entry point into larger conversations about racism, pride, religion, and mental health--just to name a few.

“The comedic surprise I’m always trying to get to in [my] column is hope” (11), a concept that is borne out across every page in Here for It. It’s rare to laugh out loud in the midst of a story that ends in a suicide; it’s unusual to guffaw when reading about racism. Thomas’ sense of humor, though, invites readers to laugh while acknowledging the very real, very large problems facing our world today. And in between it all, that laughter succeeds in delivering just what Thomas aims to do in his columns: hope.