Archive for November, 2014


Yay, I did it! I made it through the whole month!

I don’t know if you noticed, but I tried to focus on diversity this month. For the most part, anyway. Given all the recent talk about the lack of diversity in the publishing industry, I thought it would be a good idea to try and be more mindful about what I consume, and to be more of an advocate when recommending and promoting things. This blog is obviously only something I do when I feel like it, and I almost only talk about things I like, but there’s no reason to not be more inclusive in what I read and talk about. If my unofficial goal is to read 200 books a year, I can do better than my current ratio of roughly 15-20% of them being written by non-white authors–that’s a number I make routinely, without trying. Imagine what I could do if I tried!

So my goal for 2015 is 200 books, but regardless of how many I actually read, 20-30% should be by non-white authors. And I don’t really think that’s an insurmountable goal at all.

Diversity Gap

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Thug Notes

I really love Thug Notes. It’s funny, and the analysis is on point. And did I mention it’s funny?

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This is a picture book biography aimed at young readers. It has incredibly vibrant art, filled with color and movement, which draws readers unfamiliar with Josephine Baker fully into her story. What I particularly like about this book is that it does a wonderful job of capturing the wit and energy associated with Josephine, both as an individual and as a performer, but it in no way glosses over the difficulties she faced throughout her life, both personally and professionally. It would have been very easy for this to have been just a celebration of her accomplishments, without addressing any of her shortcomings. Another wonderful inclusion is a list of titles for further reading; even if the titles are more advanced than this book, having them listed (as full and complete citations, no less, not simply title and author!) is really a nice touch that shows the scholarship that went into this book–there is also a source cited for every quotation used–but is also an incredible resource for anyone who wants to know more about Josephine after reading this book. There’s so much work that went into this relatively short book, that it’s clear that the subject is something of a passion for both the author and the illustrator. Highly recommended.

Josephine The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

Source: borrowed from library

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Oscar Wao is a fat ghetto nerd who can’t get laid. His older sister Lola rebels at every turn. Their mother Beli had to flee the Dominican Republic after a disastrous love affair when she was only 16. Their grandfather ran afoul of Trujillo and ended up in a prison camp. The family is cursed by a powerful fukú that follows them from generation to generation, ruining lives completely and utterly. But despite this they persevere. For a while it looks like Oscar and Lola have broken free of the curse, even though their lives are difficult and complicated and messy. When the fukú finally strikes, it does so with terrible consequences.

There is a lot that happens in this book, it’s fast-paced, brutal, and graphic both in terms of language and violence. Yet it also has passages of great beauty. My only complaint about the book is that the ending is very abrupt. Yunior, who is the main narrator for Diaz’s short fiction (which I own but have not yet read), also narrates Oscar Wao. I really can’t recommended this one highly enough, despite the flawed ending; the narrative voice is profane and irritating and compassionate and completely believable, just like a real person, and Oscar himself is an amazing character. Everyone probably knows an Oscar, or perhaps even is an Oscar, but hopefully not everyone’s story will end the way his does. Fully deserving of its Pulitzer win.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Source: borrowed from library, but I have since bought my own copy

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Wordless Wednesday

stained glass

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The Ferguson Municipal Public Library is staying open as long as it is safe for patrons and staff.

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library has a donation button on their main page.

For more information, see their Twitter and Facebook.


Ferguson Library logo

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There have been a slew of articles lately about how to read, and what to read, and whether or not it’s wrong to read certain kinds of things. Which all seems sort of silly to me, as these articles seem to miss a very basic point: PEOPLE ARE READING. That’s a very very good thing.

And really, whose business is it to criticize what others read? Sure, *I* might not choose to read a certain book or a certain author or a certain subject, but those are my own personal choices for me. And they should not be applied to anyone else. They can even change when applied to me! So it’s beyond the height of arrogance to assume that you or I know what anyone else should be, ought to be reading.

If someone asks for an opinion or a suggestion, that’s a little bit different. It’s still not in any way a decree, and should never be taken as such.

So get off your collective high horse, article writers! And everybody else, keep on reading what you love!

love to read

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