Diversity Bingo 2017

The second reading challenge I’m participating in this year is Diversity Bingo 2017. (You can read about my first reading challenge here.) I hope this challenge will help me read more diversely without focusing too much in one area (i.e. white gay men).

As of the original date of this post, I’ve read four books (with only one overlap with my other reading challenge). I’ll keep updating this post as I complete more books for this challenge!

Side note: I had an extremely difficult time finding an #ownvoices book with a pansexual main character. Then I found this post by Dahlia Adler/LGBTQ+ Reads about digging into an author’s sexuality when they may not want to publicly discuss it. For this category, I will be picking a book from Dahlia’s list and counting it as another great opportunity to read diversely.

2017DiversityBingo_20170317

  • Romance with a Trans MC:
  • Non-Binary MC (OV):
  • SFF with Disabled MC:
  • Practicing Jewish MC:
  • Indian MC (OV):
  • Displaced MC:
  • MC with a Under-Represented Body:
  • Neuro-Diverse MC (OV):
  • Retelling with MC Belonging to LGBTQIA+:
  • Bixseual MC (OV):
  • MC with an Invisible Disability:
  • MC with Anaphylactic Allergy:
  • MC of Color in SFF:
  • Own Voices Latinx MC:
  • Free Choice: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  • Non-Western (Real World) Setting:
  • Own Voices: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • MC with Chronic Pain:
  • West Asian Setting:
  • Arab MC (OV):
  • MC with Wheelchair:
  • Book by Author of Color:
  • Biracial MC (OV):
  • Pansexual MC (OV):
  • Black MC (OV): The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
  • MC on the Ace Spectrum (OV):
  • LGBTQIA+ MC of Color:
  • Visually Impaired MC:
  • Book set in Central America:
  • Contemporary World Arranged Marriage:
  • Indigenous MC (OV):
  • Diverse Non-Fiction:
  • POC on the Cover:
  • Deaf/deaf/Hard of Hearing MC:
  • Immigrant or Refugee MC: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • Hijabi MC (OV):

Let me know if you’re participating in this reading challenge and which categories you’ve read so far!

~Virginia

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2017

Along the trend of starting projects that I have no idea if I can complete with a new baby, I am participating in two reading challenges this year. First up is Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge. I’m taking this challenge as an opportunity to read outside my comfort zone, and I’m trying to pull from my own books as much as possible. I did buy a handful of books expressly for this challenge, and I’ll be checking out the rest from my library.

As of the original date of this post, I’ve read four books towards this challenge. I’ll continue to update here as I finish more of the items on the list below. If you’re looking for recommendations, check out Book Riot’s suggestion articles and the Goodreads group.

  • Read a book about sports:
  • Read a debut novel:
  • Read a book about books:
  • Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author:
  • Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • Read an all-ages comic:
  • Read a book published between 1900 and 1950:
  • Read a travel memoir:
  • Read a book you’ve read before: Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
  • Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location:
  • Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location:
  • Read a fantasy novel:
  • Read a nonfiction book about technology:
  • Read a book about war:
  • Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+:
  • Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country:
  • Read a classic by an author of color:
  • Read a superhero comic with a female lead: Ms. Marvel, Volume 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson
  • Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey:
  • Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel:
  • Read a book published by a micropress: Deer Woman by Elizabeth LaPensée (Native Realities Press)
  • Read a collection of stories by a woman:
  • Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love:
  • Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color:

Let me know if you’re participating in this reading challenge and some of the books on your list you’re excited to read!

~Virginia

Identifying Racist Books

With the necessary ever-expanding discussion surrounding diversity in books and myriad resources available online, we readers have fewer and fewer excuses to ignore or not recognize harmful representation in books of marginalized groups of which we are not a part. For example, in just the past few months, multiple books have been identified as containing significant racist content but continue to get positive reviews and sales. As a white, straight, able-bodied, cisgender woman, I can never truly know the experience of others note in these privileged groups. However, there are plenty of ways that I can educate myself on different experiences and how to identify harmful representation.

First is sitting down and listening. I follow a great number of awesome activists, readers, and reviewers that read and call out problematic books and discuss the surrounding issues. If you are not part of a particular group, listen to the call outs without getting defensive and without jumping in to add your two cents. I’ve learned that the more defensive I feel about a particular conversation, the more I need to dig into and reflect upon the issue being discussed (this is done quietly by myself). As non-members of particular group, our part in the discussion is to promote marginalized voices and help spread the education to others with our own experiences. Below is a woefully short list to get you started on Twitter.

Next, pay attention to the reviewers when a well-received book is being called out. If a large contingent of white reviewers are praising a book that a black woman has identified as racist, then there is an problem with the book. Use the resources available to you; Google is your friend when you want to know more about why a book is being called out. While many in the book community are gracious enough to educate, they do not owe us their time or that education. Want to learn about the racism in two initially well-received YA books, Carve the Mark and The Continent? Read Justina Ireland’s blog post here instead of asking her or others about it. (Also skip The Black Witch — both racist and homophobic. See more here from @b00kstorebabe). When seeking information about a problematic book, don’t stop with one point of view. All groups contain a wide range of experiences and voices, and listening to multiple voices will facilitate a broader understanding. Some members of a group may not have a problem with a book, but this does not remotely invalidate the other members that do.

I still have many books on my TBR shelf that contain racist, homophobic, and other problematic themes. Some am I aware of, and some I am most certainly not. Do I read the books that are problematic? In some cases, the answer will be no. I will remove the book from my shelf and move on to something more inclusive. However, in some cases, my privilege will still allow for my interest in the book. In these cases, I will take the problematic content into account when rating (or not rate at all), and I will strive not to discuss those books without reference to that content. This plan is aspirational, and I know I will still get it wrong. The bottom line is that we must take care not to promote problematic books.

While a post on the creators I support on Patreon is coming, one I especially recommend checking out is The Bookavid. Her posts on problematic issues and allyship are an important part of my continuing education, and I recommend checking out her work.

This is one of my first forays into discussing these issues, so I apologize for anything I got wrong or took out of context (and please let me know). A major goal with this post and this blog is to promote marginalized voices and share what I’ve learned with others like me wanting to learn. Let me know some of the awesome people you follow on Twitter that contribute to your education!

~Virginia

March 2017 Readathons

In the last three years or so, I’ve participated in a handful of readathons. For each one, I made a TBR and mostly stuck to it. However, in the last few months, I find myself making lots of readathon TBRs, but not tackling them when each readathon rolls around. I’m not particularly busy, I just don’t read the books I’ve chosen. Most recently I attempted the Impromptu, Information Readathon hosted by Dana at The Book Hoarder. I did not get through my TBR during the actual readathon, but I did read during the week and finished all the books by the next week. Seems like a success to me!

#IIReadathon TBR

  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (completed during the readathon): Undocumented Jamaican immigrant Natasha meets Korean American Daniel the day her family is leaving the US. The instalove in this book could have gone very badly, but the ending really made it work for me. This is a good place to start if you’re looking for a YA book telling an extremely timely story of an immigrant family.
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (completed the day after the readathon): The book centers around a school for children who have gone through doors to other worlds and have returned to our world for one reason or another. The characters were unique and well-written, and the murder plot, while a little meandering, kept me interested. This book has on-the-page asexual and trans representation, and I’ve heard positive reviews from asexual reviewers.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight (completed the week after the readathon): A somewhat challenging pregnancy and the imminent arrival of an actual baby have already put me on a path of not caring about things that really do not matter to me. This book was fun, and the various instructions lined up a lot with what I’ve been considering lately. I particularly enjoyed listing all of the things about which I do and do not give a fuck.

I’m finding it hard to commit to another week-long readathon this month, but fortunately there is an ongoing month-long readathon, All the Shorts Ones, hosted by Novel Cravings, for books less than 300 pages. I have already been gravitating toward getting a lot of my shorter books read, so while I’m not officially participating in the readathon, it completely fits my current goal. I’ll do a wrap-up at the end of the month, but for now I’m planning to knock out a few volumes from the Ms. Marvel and Lumberjanes graphic novel series.

Let me know if you’re participating in any readathons this month and if you’re sticking to your TBRs!

~Virginia

Hello and Currently Reading #1

Hello, all! 38 weeks pregnant sounds like the perfect time to start a new blog, right? Given the current political and cultural climate, I feel the need for a space (besides Twitter) to discuss and shout out diverse books and other things going on in my life. At this point in my pregnancy, I’ve basically taken up residence on my couch, so I may have a little time yet to get up some posts.

Despite my goal of reading more diversely this year, my reading year started out disappointingly white and straight. However, I am finally diving into some of the diverse books on my shelves.

Currently reading:

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay:  A collection of essays about the author’s personal life, race, gender, entertainment, and politics. I love Gay’s voice, and as a bonus, she finally helped me put into words why I dislike that Tosh comedian so much. Her honesty has also facilitated a lot of thought into my own brand of feminism. Intersectionality is my goal, but there is still a long way for me to go. I am finding this book a great step in my personal education.

Dreadnought by April Daniels: This book is the story of a transgender teenager who gets the female body she’s always wanted when a superhero dies at her feet and transfers his powers to her, and y’all. I am only a few chapters in, and this book is delightful. The main character’s reaction to her new body fills my heart with warm fuzzies. I absolutely cannot wait to read more!

              

I’m always looking for more diverse books to read, particularly own voices, so please leave any recommendations in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

~Virginia