reading diversely

January Recap

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I basically kicked January’s ass. I read 9 books and 34 comics. Whaaaat??? I know, crazy. My goal for the year is 60 books, so I mean… that’s a pretty big dent.

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Be Not Afraid by Alyssa Cole – I bought this at BRL and Alyssa Cole signed it for me! This was my first read of the year –  two black protagonists who are on opposing sides of the Revolutionary War fall in love. Some serious topics packed into this short little romance and it’s great.

All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai – This comes out tomorrow, and if you like interesting time travel mishaps this will be right up your alley.

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Battle Hill Bolero by Daniel Jose Older – Conclusion to the Bone Street Rumba series! Except I kind of refuse to acknowledge it’s the end because I don’t want to leave these characters.

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The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles – So this is a m/m romance, but reads more like a dark, gritty regency fantasy novel. And I’m pretty sure the author is a straight woman, so even though the story was good, the sexy bits felt a bit off. I re-read a couple paragraphs trying to figure out the sexual logistics of what she was describing. I’m not going to count this for “LBGTQ romance” for the Read Harder challenge, I’m going to find something #ownvoices instead.

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Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis – I’m not sure a collection of speeches and essays was the best intro to Davis. But basically we need to connect with movements on an international level, G4S is evil, and she’s very pro-Palestine (which I don’t know nearly enough about to have my own opinion on yet).

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Breasts by Florence Williams – This was both terrifying, funny, and informative. Definitely highly recommend, even if it now has me second-guessing myself every time I put lotion on or use scented body wash or basically do anything that could affect my ladies in the slightest.

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – One of those really hyped up books that sounded like basic chick lit and I let it sit on my Kindle for 2 years, but it turns out it was kind of worth the hype. I was surprised as how much I got into it.

Sweet to the Taste by Alyssa Cole – Listen, you basically need to read ALL the Alyssa Cole, okay? Especially if you find diversity sexy (and if you don’t I’m not sure you’re in the right place).

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Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – CNA is a bombshell. This focuses on four people, all connected in some way, as they make their way through the Biafran War, AKA the Nigerian Civil War. I was totally sucked into the minutiae of their lives. This is definitely my second fave CNA novel (first being Americanah).

STATS – BOOKS

Books read: 9

Female authors: 7 (78%)

Non-white authors: 5 (56%)

Format breakdown: 5 print, 4 e-book

STATS – COMICS

Issues read: 34

Female authors/illustrators: 8

Non-white author/illustrators: 10

Format breakdown: 33 print, 1 digital

So yeah, off to a pretty strong start for 2017! I need to read more comics on Marvel Unlimited, I have it for a year and I’m totally not using it enough. I also need to write more actual reviews… I’ve been writing review blurbs on Litsy but that’s basically it. On the other hand, I wrote hardly any reviews and read a bunch of books… so maybe that’s where my time is better spent. We’ll see.

2016: Wrapping It Up, Thank Goodness

Happy New Year’s Eve! 2016 is finally over (finally!) and now I can do the fun stuff, like dive deep into data about my reading and book-buying and stuff.

I’m pretty excited about my Top Ten Favorite Books of 2016, because man they were stunning.

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  1. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  2. The Mothers by Brit Bennett
  3. Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
  4. Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole
  5. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  6. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  7. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  8. Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare
  9. Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
  10. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Narrowing down my top ten felt extra hard this year, which is why I did a Top Five Runner-Ups post. And I don’t know if I’ve ever had romance in my top five before, but I read some exceptional ones this year.

So, my reading goals for last year were mostly the same as the year before:

  1. Read 50% non-white authors.
  2. Buy more books / spend more dollars on non-white authors.
  3. Maintain roughly 50% gender stats

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Another one of my goals was also for 75% of my reading to come from my own shelves or Scribd, and I failed horribly at that, so let’s just move on now.

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So, a couple notes:

  • I read fewer books and fewer comics this year than in 2015, which is a bummer. I’m pretty sure I read so many fewer comics (501 in 2015) because I read hardly any digital ones this year. I got rid of Scribd earlier in the year when they changed with model again, and I didn’t get Marvel Unlimited until November. And this was just a really busy year, so I’m not surprised the number of books I read decreased. I’m actually surprised it only decreased by 5.
  • I tried to go on a book-buying ban for 6 months, and that failed and backfired. I ended up buying about 60 more books this year than the year before.
  • My page count is actually higher than last year – probably because I re-read the first four Outlander books this year.

So we all know that 2016 was a garbage fire for many, many reasons, but I do want to point out a couple awesome things that happened for me this year:

  • Got married to the honeyman!
  • Visited Washington, DC for the first time.
  • Went to Book Riot Live! (This was also one of my 2016 goals, woohoo!)
  • Moved to a bigger apartment.
  • Got two new tattoos (vault symbol and arrow – the arrow is the only thing my family could agree on when we decided to get a matching tattoo)

So, even though 2016 sucked on a massive, general scale – I had lots of good things going on.

And now, I have some pretty simple goals for 2017.

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All right you guys. Have a wonderful night tonight, and let’s go into 2017 positive and determined to kick ass!

Happy New Year!

November Recap

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Alright, November was awesome for a few reasons (trip to DC, trip to NYC for Book Riot Live, Thanksgiving, etc) but it was not awesome in terms of reading time. I was hella busy and I managed to read 4 books. And I finished the fourth one, the audiobook The Clancys of Queens, at like 9 pm on the last day of November which I was happy about but then led to a heated discussion between me and the honeyman about whether or not that “counts” as reading a book. I may or may not have threatened to stab his kneecap with the pen I was holding.

Anyways, let’s see what I read!

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The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey – Such a surprisingly lovely book about zombies! There are zombie children in this book that function like normal children except you know, they have a hunger to eat people. I thought it was great and I really enjoyed reading it. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have some feels about the race-switching in the casting.

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Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley – I read this, my first Walter Mosley, partly because of Luke Cage and partly because I knew he was going to be at Book Riot Live! I missed him at BRL, but this was a really great read. Mystery isn’t so much my jam, but I enjoyed Easy Rawlins and the social commentary in the book enough that I’m definitely going to be picking up the second book.

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Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole – Pretty sure I already had this e-book, but I bought the print copy for Alyssa to sign at BRL (she was so sweet!) and I sat down to read it over a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. Wonderful, short little historical romance about an interracial couple falling in love and fighting for civil rights. I think I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Sofie and Ivan.

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The Clancys of Queens by Tara Clancy –  I saw Tara speak at a panel at BRL and she was just SO great and made everyone laugh and then cry a little bit (myself included) and so I grabbed this on audio ASAP. It’s about her growing up in wildly different environments as a child – working class and kind of broke most of the time, but also spending weekends in the rich Bridgehamptons. It’s very much a love letter to her big, crazy family and so many of them reminded me of my family (I have Italian family members) and you should definitely listen to it on audio because her voice is distinct and she’s a great storyteller.

 

STATS – BOOKS

Books read: 4

Female authors: 2 (50%)

Non-white authors: 2 (50%)

Format breakdown: 2 print, 1 e-book, 1 audiobook

STATS – COMICS

Issues read: 1 (This was the Adulthood is a Myth collection of comics by Sarah Andersen, ALSO from Book Riot Live.)

Female authors/illustrators: 1

Non-white author/illustrators: 0

Format breakdown: Print.

 

Okay then! I’m just realizing how BRL-influenced my reading was this month, holy crap. I can’t believe I didn’t read basically ANY comics this month. My stack is over-flowing, I tell ya.

December Monthly TBR

I can’t believe it’s December. It’s here, you guys. 2016 is almost over and good riddance. I only finished 4 books in November (but I’m halfway through like 4 others.) I’m already looking forward to 2017 reading – especially because January usually means that life in general slows down a bit. So here’s my December TBR, and let’s hope I get around to at least half of it.

  • Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare – This was actually on my November list and I didn’t get around to it but I really do want to soon.
  • Folding the Red Into the Black by Walter Mosely – I bought this at Book Riot Live and it’s some sort of non-fiction I guess? Whatever, I’m trying it because Walter Mosely.
  • Human Acts by Han Kang – I was one of the #readathon winners in October and this is what I picked! It comes out in January so I feel like I should read it now.
  • How to Make White People Laugh by Negin Farsad – Okay so my favorite panel at Book Riot Live by far was “If We’re Not Crying, We’re Laughing” and Negin was on that panel and she was fantastically hilarious. I bought her book ASAP (before BRL was over).
  • Plucked by Rebecca Herzig – I’ve been dying to read this! And I wanted to in November when the paperback was released, and I bought it, but just didn’t have the time. It sounds like just a kind of goofy thing – the history of hair removal – but she goes into the social and political aspects of hair grooming and I’m just so here for it. I’m going to start this as soon as my family leaves (they’re going to be visiting for the next week, so).
  • The Wangs vs The World by Jade Chang – I’m so mad I didn’t read this before going to BRL. I bought it back when it was released in October but you know how it goes. Time and all. Jade was another delightful woman on the same panel as Negin and yeah I need this.

On the Kindle:

  • Difficult Women by Roxane Gay – Comes out in January! But I still haven’t finished the e-galley yet because I’m bad about reading short stories. But I will, I swear.
  • Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran – Another January release. I got approved for this kind of late, but I’m going to try to fit it in because I think it has to do a bit with the immigrant experience and having a child in a place you’re new to.
  • The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp – I feel like I was seeing this everywhere and it grabbed it while it was on a Kindle sale. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about, but I saw the words “occult” “Twitter” “died” and “YouTube” in the description and that hooked me, I guess.

Here’s to hoping December is nice and relaxing! What are you aiming to read this month? I just realized I don’t have a single Christmas-y title in my pile. Hmph.

November Monthly TBR

Woot! October was another decent month (7 books read, 23 comics) and now things are about to get crazy up in here.

So, I don’t even remember if it’s still a thing but almost every year I’d see people participating in Nonfiction November, in which you binge on nonfiction for the month. Well, for the first time ever I actually remembered that before November hit, so I’m doing it whether it’s a “official” thing or not.

Now, this is kind of horrible timing because I’m doing quite a bit of travelling this month, plus Thanksgiving at the end of the month, but whatever I’m gonna try to do it. And I have a couple novels here, for easy plane and bed reading.

  • Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare – Everyone has been praising this romance novel, so I finally bought it. I don’t buy much romance in paperback anymore, but I was at the bookstore and it sounds great, so why not. It was funny seeing the look on my husband’s face though when he saw it.
  • Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley – I’d love to fit this in before Book Riot Live in mid-November, since Walter Mosley will be there!
  • I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi – Funny lady calls people out on their shitty behavior. This should be a riot.
  • For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts’ Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English – I’ve been wanting to read this book for AGES.
  • Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching by Mychal Denzel Smith – Finally diving into this, and I’m sure it will be fantastic as I keep hearing.
  • Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly – I have this on audiobook too, I really want to read it before seeing the movie.
  • Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Jim Al-Khalili and Joe McFadden – Quantum biology! I started reading the first chapter the other night, I’m really looking forward to diving in.
  • The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku – I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet, it came out so long ago and I love Michio Kaku’s books.

Damn, non-fiction needs to chill with these long damn titles. OH and there’s a book coming out in paperback today, Plucked by Rebecca M. Herzig, that I’d like to grab and read as well. It’s about the history of hair removal / grooming and it sounds amazing.

So, what’s on your radar this month?

September Recap

 

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I don’t know what it was, but I kicked September’s ass. I read 8 books and 21 comics. I even reviewed most of the things I read. Maybe it was my super low expectations? Or my tendency to choose reading over unpacking/cleaning/doing anything active or productive? Who knows, but it was awesome. 

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Playing Dead by Elizabeth Greenwood – She kind of lost be when she started talking about whether or not Michael Jackson is still alive, but the parts that focused directly on pseudoside were was kind of fascinating and it’s great on audio.

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The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu – More action-filled awesome from Wesley Chu. I can’t wait for the next one.

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Here Comes by Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn – Really engrossing but also very heartbreaking, seeing these female characters struggle through life and how hard tourism impacts life in Jamaica.

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The Hike by Drew Magary – Weird and delightful, had a little bit of a video game quest vibe going on. But I like the other’s other novel, The Postmortal, better.

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You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson – Phoebe tackles racism and sexism while talking about her own experiences as a young black female comedian, and she does it while making you laugh out loud. VERY psyched she’s going to be at Book Riot Live in November!

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Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina – Nora’s growing up in NYC during the Son of Sam’s reign of terror, but the things she’s dealing with at home – an increasingly violent brother, and a mother barely scraping by – are almost as horrible. Nora is one of the better depictions of those turbulent teen years that I’ve seen in YA.

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The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – Absolutely bizarre and a little creepy. I don’t think it lived up to the hype I heard, but it was a decent read.

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The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – I am really pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this. I’m hoping to do a full review soon, but it was funny and poignant. Awesome on audio.

 

STATS – BOOKS

Books read: 8

Female authors: 5 (63%)

Non-white authors: 4 (50%)

Format breakdown: 2 e-book, 2 audiobook, 4 print

STATS – COMICS

Issues read: 21

Female authors/illustrators: 0  😦

Non-white author/illustrators: 2

Format breakdown: All print.

This is such a late update, but man September was awesome. So far October has not been so awesome – more busy, less reading. But my focus is basically to read ARCs and books by authors that will be at Book Riot Live in November.

How was your September?

You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

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“Society doesn’t exactly make life terribly easy for black women – and yes, life is hard for everyone – but black women have their own unique battles, a Molotov cocktail of racism and sexism.”

I requested this on Edelweiss because I love funny-lady-memoir books, and ones by WOC are especially hard to come by, so thanks so much to PRH for approving my request! And it’s a double-win, because Phoebe Robinson is going to be at Book Riot Live and now I am extra psyched to possibly meet her in person. (We’ll see how that goes, I’m shy.)

The range of topics in these essays is broad, but man I hope she writes more books because I could read her thoughts on all the things. She’s hilarious and goes off on weird rambling tangents and it’s awesome. Basically, if you like funny-lady books and are even mildly interested in commentary on race and gender, then you’ll enjoy this much. And if you don’t get why you shouldn’t be touching (or asking to touch) a black person’s hair, then you desperately need to read this and many more books. This might be a good starting point.

Fave parts!

  • Why she loves boats.
  • When she talks about her Not-So-Guilty Pleasures and is talking about the famous dudes she’d like to sleep with, and this comes up: “Sure, he’s got biceps and triceps for days. Of course, eing incredibly talented at banging on drums all day means that he is most likely to put his thing down, flip it, and reverse it. But his name is Larry. Y’all. I can’t call out “Larry” during sex. I’m not about that life.”
  • She talks about the hyper-awareness that all black people live with and how exhausting that is.
  • She writes a list of demands to the First Female President, which includes forcing the world to become comfortable with the word “vagina”.
  • She TEARS APART the white lesbian couple who sued the sperm bank they used for giving them a black baby, because having a black child made their lives hard, partly because they live in a racist neighborhood. I enjoyed her critique of those women SO HARD.
  • She talks about coded language, which is often racist but white people will cling to it and claim that their use of those words in that context wasn’t racist. (AKA, that co-worker who told me to avoid a certain suburban apartment complex because it was “ghetto”. What she meant was that there were a lot of non-white people living there. That’s it.) “Coded language allows the speaker to deny any sort of responsibility unless their back is against the wall, in which they’ll generally offer up a paltry ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ non-apology.”
  • Her speaking about the movie Kingsman and how the ending was just stupid and ridiculous. (And I agree, it kind of ruined the whole tone of the movie.)

Go get it and go read it! And then go on YouTube and watch her Woke Bae videos, which are delightful.