Black Books For Black History Month!

 

 

 Today we’re going to celebrate black books, authors, and creators! I am of the belief that people should read diversely every month, but there are times to reflect on a particular race, gender, or sexuality, and now’s the time to reflect on black books.

What was the last book you read with a black protagonist/ written by a black author?

 

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If It Makes You Happy, photo cred https://www.instagram.com/killedbyabook/

The last black book I read was If It Makes You Happy, by Claire Kann. I LOVED this book! If you follow, you’ve probably already seen the book BUT PLEASE READ IT. 

 It follows Winnie as she navigates her grandma’s small town life- work at the diner, her relationship with her ungirlfriend, looking out for her brother, and unintentionally winning the town’s pageant with a cute boy. It has tons of rep; black girl magic, polyamory, aromantic love interest, a fat protagonist. 

What’s a good book that uses African oral tradition- something meant to be listened to rather than read?

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The Deep, Rivers Solomon

The Deep is such an impactful short novella- the babies of pregnant african slaves thrown overboard were born as mermaid-like creatures and built a society dependant on not remembering- except for the one Historian. And she’s tired of being everything for the society and nothing for herself- ALSO QUEER! The author is nonbinary and the relationships are gay.

Who’s your favourite black booktuber or blogger?

 JESSE FROM BOWTIES & BOOKS! I love them, and they are a major reason why I’ve been looking more closely at the amount of black books that I read. Jesse runs the Enby book club, which picks out a book with a nonbinary protagonist or nonbinary author. (The club pick for February is Homie) Jesse has a great sense of vintage style and I love the way they edit their voice. 

Quick Pick- Name a book at the top of your head that centers black characters!

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This photo is terrible. I have no one but myself to blame.

Opposite Of Always is centered around a heterosexual couple. Jack and Kate meet. Jack falls for Kate. Kate dies. Repeatedly.

What are your favorite black books? What do you think of these? Did you like the new touches? 

Drunk Book Tag!

I am, unfortunately, not drunk. But I went searching for fun tags to make up for my absence here (my presence was at Queer Science Blog) and found this via Coffee Cocktails And Books. This tag was originally co-created by  chelseadolling reads and Pages And Pens

🍸 1. Wine Coolers: You’re 16 and you finally managed to sneak one of your mom’s Smirnoff Ices. What is one of your most guilty pleasure reads?

Ooh, I don’t… believe in guilty pleasures. If it gives you pleasure and it’s not morally wrong, then go for it!

I’d say there’s some trashy YA m/m romances that don’t get the level of respect I’d hope for. Comes to mind is The Love Interest and Perfect Ten. These get a bad rap due to the amount of straight girls looking to be turned on by gay men-yech. But it’s books like these that get a lot of people questioning their sexuality- so yay.

🍺 2. Beer: You’ve made it to college and are hosting your first kegger! Pick your favorite new adult or college aged book.

That doesn’t really sound like me, but ok. It’s a bit of a tie between An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and If We Were Villians. Remarkable Thing is set a little after college, April May quits her first job to become PR for alien sculptures, and If We Were Villains is set during a Shakespeare troupe’s senior year. 

Hank, Fame, And April May

🍷3. Tequila: You partied too hard last night and drank a liiittle too much Jose Cuervo. What’s a book that you never want to see again (or, your least favorite book?)

I DNF’d 1984 for the amount of weight put on sex. I don’t usually mind sex scenes, but they were literally rebelling against Big Brother by having sex. What do asexuals do to rebel?

🍺4. Beer Bong: What’s a book that you read super fast?

I read If It Makes You Happy in two days, and now I’m in college #RIPspeedreading. Winnie is in a qpr- my fave- is trying to get her grandma’s diner into a cooking contest while having a difficult relationship with her, and was selected in the town’s pageant and has to go to public events with a cute boy. There’s a lot of rep in here; black girl magic, aroace ungirlfriend, polyamory, the works.

🍾5. SPRING BREAK!!!!: You’ve thrown your inhibitions to the wind and end up having a sexy night you’ll never forget. What is your favorite smutty read?

Literally why. Should I do a post about my experience as an ace reading smut?

🍸6. Screwdriver: What the most twisted (HEH) book you’ve ever read?

Ooh, I already mentioned If We Were Villains, so I’m gonna go with Bunny, which could also go with the college question. Let’s rank up the NA! Bunny is basically drugs and The Island Of Doctor Monroe set in an elite MFA program.

🥃7. Long Island Ice Tea: The melting pot of alcoholic beverages. What is one of your favorite diverse reads?

Have… Have you met me?

If it weren’t already taken, I’d go for If It Makes You Happy. 

I opened Goodreads and it came up with My Sister, The Serial Killer, so let’s go with that. It’s set in Nigeria, about a slightly maniac sister that kills her boyfriends, claiming that they tried to hurt her, but never showing any bruises or other signs of abuse. And now she’s got her sights on the guy Korede likes. 

🍹8. Sex on the Beach: A drink that’s great in theory, but wasn’t exactly all it was cracked up to be. What is a book that just didn’t live up to the hype?

Why. 

I read Moriarty by Horowitz during the height of my Sherlocked phase (still love him, just need new content) I read another book by him that was good-ok but this- I had to DNF.

🍷 9. Wine: You’ve just gone through a rough break-up, so you park yourself in bed with your favorite bottle of wine, some ice-cream, and a bucket for your tears. Name a book that made you cry out all of your feels.

Aw.

 I don’t really cry, but I remember doing something like that during We Contain Multitudes. I read it superfast, more as an insult than praise because it’s told in dual POV and I had a hard time telling them apart. A better book with the feels is Everything Leads To You, THE ansty sapphic book. 

🥂10. Strip Club! Your favorite naked hardback.

I don’t usually pay attention to anything naked but I recently found Olivia Defaces Books and she makes beautiful book defacing art.

What are some of your responses? What do you think of having a Drunk Book Tag?

T10T: Covers Of Books I Read Simultaneously

 I unfortunately have yet to get to Every Heart A Doorway, but reading If It Makes You Happy during thicc Out Of Salem was a welcome reprieve during that melancholy book. Both were explorations of queerness, one contemporary and one urban fantasy. 

 These were pretty complementary, yet different enough to be read at the same time. Girls Of Snow And Glass is a lesbian retelling of Snow White, wherein girls learn to control their innate powers that come with being made of snow and having a heart of glass. Bunny was a nice trip; think If We Were Villains. Dark academia is something I definitely love and want to explore more of.

The Deep was short and intense, a story of merpeople descended from overboard slaves, read in the middle of Tarnished Are The Stars, which could’ve been put more succinctly but overall was great with the f/f ship, aroaceness,  and moral greyness.

We Contain Multitudes was depressing and I had to read it quickly to keep track of who was who in this dual viewpoint. Dragon Pearl was a great MG story and I really appreciated the seamlessness of having nonbinary people in this galaxy.

Neverwhere was such a slog! I learned a lot from Juliet Takes A Breath, even though it’s meant for readers in their early teens. There’s shocking stuff about how tampons are bleached and pads not made with natural products release chemicals that cause ovarian cancer! Kings, Queens, And In-Betweens was a fun look at the drag scene. 

Have you read any of these? What do you think of these covers? 

January Wrap-Up///College Update!

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 I have learned the most horrific thing: for one of my journalism classes, I will have to write a blog post between 1200-1800 words! For reference, my recent post are usually  420-490 words, with my last discussion post, Masculinity In The Movies  is composed of 677 words. 

 Don’t worry, this blog is not about to become academicized, I am to create a separate blog about something probably gay and maybe science-y but I’m not sure yet. I hope I learn things that can help me be a better blogger here, but I’m not looking to fundamentally change this space.

That being said, you probably want to know about the books. Because of the college stuff, I’m only on book 5 of the month. And just FYI, If you click on a link, it’ll take you to Indiebound, an online network of independent bookstores. And if you buy, a small commission will be sent to your favourite blogger! 

 

If It Makes You Happy

 The first book I read this month was If It Makes You Happy, by Claire Kann. I originally confused it for a memoir, but it’s actually fictional. It’s about Winnie, a black, biromantic asexual polygamist. It’s very similar to my own orientation, except I’m pretty sure I’m monoamorous, and it’s something that I want any future love interest to read. Winnie is in a QPR (queerplatonic relationship) with Kara, and might be into adding a boy that chose to become their town festivals’ royalty with her.

 Every summer, Winnie, her brother and cousin work in their grandma’s small-town diner. Their grandma is pretty tough, especially on Winnie because of her weight and “bad attitude.” Winnie does not let white people get away with things, and her Grandma believes that the best policy is the polite policy.

 The festival side is very wrapped up in the boy side. They show up to appearances together, like parties and talent shows. I felt like this took away from Kara time, and that we didn’t get to know Kara as well as some of the other characters. She did seem cool, but we never really saw depth. The same goes to most of the not-Winnie characters, but Kara and the brother are the people that were most underused.

Into The Woods

 This was creepy. It’s a series of graphic short stories (as in comic, not in gore (There was some gore) They follow different people, victims of certain circumstances that include ghosts, resurrection, and other gothic tropes. I especially loved Her Lady’s Hands Are Cold, about a bride of an arranged marriage hearing a song in the walls.  

I was really surprised to get to the author’s page and found out that she’s a married lesbian! The stories center hetrosexual characters, although, me being queer, I kept reimagining them with gay ships.

The art is extremely detailed, but not over detailed. There’s a few different simple color palettes that fit each story. It really works, even though I mostly read manga with a simpler style, maybe I just need to read more creepy stuff.

Out Of Salem

This was hecka queer. We have genderqueer zombie Z and their lesbian werewolf friend Aysel. Their elderly guardian is also a lesbian, and owns a bookshop that hosts werewolf support groups in a time where werewolves are being persecuted for some murders that happen during full moons.

I loved the analogy between the supernatural and the queer. Z’s feeling of decay were similar to my feelings of gender dysphoria. The feeling of distance, knowing that your body is not your own, and needing treatment to better look like yourself.

 The plot centers around both Z’s quest to decay slower and their community’s werewolf intolerance. Both lead them into trouble with the law, and puts their science teacher under house arrest for helping out.

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Bread And Roses, Too

This is a rare white, hetero MG, and that’s because someone gave it to me for christmas. I’m not sure why, but thanks? 

It’s set during the Industrial Revolution’s Bread and Roses strike, a strike that lasted months and sent children to live with foster families. I think it would be a good read for elementary or middle school kids learning about the Industrial Revolution or capitalism in general. Might look around and drop this at a school.

Current Read: Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers

I’m reading this pretty slowly; I started this over a week ago and I’m currently on page 68 of 292. The title is pretty descriptive, but also not; we’ve already covered face lifts, necrophilia, body theft and now researchers are positioning bodies outside to find out the details of the decay process.

Being back at a 4 year- it’s tough. It’s kinda sick that I’m homesick for a shelter, but those people are my friends. It was a smaller, closer community, despite being a severely under resourced community. 

 I have Writer’s group every sunday, but about half of the people have changed. I look forward to getting to know them, but also terrorfied. I hope I can get there a little early to find someone willing to be interviewed for a journalism assignment. 

I don’t expect to be able to read for fun very much in the upcoming months, but I have my eye on a few books for Blackathon- hosted by Jesse @Bowties And Books.  We’ll see how much I read during college! 

And this is a few hundred less than 1200 at 936 words. I guess I’ll have to practice to get ready for the assignment! 

 

Goodreads Recs

At 916 books, I really don’t need to add to my TBR. But I thought it’d be interesting to see what Goodreads recommends to me, even if I never read all of the books I want to read in this universe.

Fantasy

BleedingEarth

Bleeding Earth, Kaitlin Ward, 3.5 stars, pub 2015

While kinda low rated, the premise is very intriguing; the Earth is bleeding, but lesbians just want to be lesbians. And the covverrr!

Fiction 

KissingTheWitch

Kissing The Witch, Emma Donoghue, 3.89 stars, pub 1993

Gay fairy tales; Cinderella with her Fairy Godmother and other lesbians that our fairy tales always needed. 

Graphic Novel

megahex

Megahex, Simon Hanselmann, 3.95 stars, pub 2014

This one I’m hesitant about because the reviews mention sexual assault, but it otherwise seems up my alley; weird, stoner fic that explores the inner workings of bums. I’m getting adult Bill and Ted vibes. 

Historical Fiction

Things

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, 3.66 stars, pub 1959

The description is vague, but it was a quote that got me interested:

“The drums were still beating, persistent and unchanging. Their sound was no longer a separate thing from the living village. It was like the pulsation of its heart. It throbbed in the air, in the sunshine, and even in the trees, and filled the village with excitement.” – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Horror

BeautifulDarkness

Beautiful Darkness, Fabien Vehlmann, Kerascoët (Illustrator), Helge Dascher (Translator) 3.87 stars, pub 2009

This beautiful cover hides a sinister look at polite society. 

Humour 

DirtyJob

A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore, 4.07 stars, pub 2006

It seems like a perfectly ordinary man is now the grim reaper!

Mystery 

CCat

Copycat, Erica Spindler, 4.08 stars, pub 2000

Five years ago, three people were murdered. Now it looks like a copycat killer has come up- and the orignal murderer is willing to assist our detective in finding them. 

Nonfiction 

NowPanic

Now Panic And Freak Out, Various, 4.0 stars, pub 2010

Bad advice for good people; this book has quotations on why you should absolutely not keep calm and carry on. 

Poetry 

Pahala

Saturday Night At The Pahala Theatre,Lois-Ann Yamanaka, 3.95 stars, pub 1993

This is a hawaiian poetry collection with a cool cover.

Young Adult

BSOG

Between Shades Of Grey, Ruta Sepetys, 4.37, pub 2011

I have yet to read a Ruta Sepetys, and I really should. I remember Jenny Lawson writing about how this is her daughter’s favourite book and people would confuse it with the BDSM thing. This Shades Of Grey is set in WW2 with a teen that draws the horrific events.

And that’s it! Of course I won’t actually be able to tell if Goodreads recs works until I’ve read them, but they seem pretty cool.

Do you think your Goodreads recs are accurate? Have you read any of these?

TED Talk Tuesday: Masculinity In The Movies

 

 

 I’ve been on an exploration of what masculinity means to me for a while now. Traditionally, masc is about power, about protecting and being strong, about controlling your emotions. 

 Masculinity, as well as femininity, is also a construct. We perpetuate it in our culture, media, and education. Those things change. As Colin’s talk goes through different eras of media, I realised how feminist The Wizard of Oz is. There are more men than women, but all of the women have more important roles than any of the men.

 We have the Tin Man, he’s quite wise and gentle, but is in search of a heart. We have the Cowardly Lion; the name speaks for itself. And we have the Scarecrow, who is the most manlike of the trio as he has no brain.

 The trio are very unmasculine but are still kind, protective men. They are what women want their men to be. The Wizard Of Oz was made in 1939, a time of war, based on a book written by a man. And it is wonderful.

Then, we have Star Wars. I love Darth Vader, he does as he wishes and has a cool costume. I love that he can be so Forceful, and is the strong silent type. But it is true that the original Star Wars only had two women and the prequels had one. I have not seen the new Star Wars yet, please be patient. I have heard that due to the backlash, Rose’s character was significantly cut. I do not personally like Rose because A) FinnPoe and B) Why introduce a new major character in the second movie? If you’re going to give a major character a love interest, introduce them in the first movie. 

 Back to the point, Star Wars is a very masculine franchise. until Rey came about, our major girl wore a metal bikini while enslaved to a slug. I love Leia, but I do wish we had seen her with girl friends her own age.  

Luke is quite a typical bland white boy. He can be annoying and dumb enough for incest, and the major story is that he must balance his emotions to control the Force. We have Han Solo, the cool guy who doesn’t abide by any rules, and Chewie, the hairy guy. 

What does this say? That it’s a man’s world. Not a co-ed world; a man’s world where every woman somehow serves a man. None of these men are horrible themselves, but because we do not see them interact with other genders, we take their role modeling into wrong directions. We are forceful when we should be considerate, rule-defying when we should be respectful.

May I just say, both of these movies would’ve been perfect places for nonbinary rep as they are so fantastical, but noooo.

Then we have the feminist Pixar movies. Brave and Frozen passed the Bechdel test, and explored issues that had nothing to do with men. Mother-daughter and sister-sister relationships were explored, the good, the irritating and the trauma. They also clearly showed good men like Kristoff and Eugene (Tangled). Both are masculine, but they returned to the days of Wizard Of Oz. They can be kind, gross, skeptical, strong, and emotional.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand this whole masc v femme thing, I’m way too removed from gender. I don’t think anyone of any gender does. But I do think it’s about being a good person in a world with preset notions of you. You may reject or take in what you choose, but depending on your gender, race, sexuality, or disability you have privileges and disadvantages. Masc v femme is a cultural way of navigating that, but obviously doesn’t come naturally to people. You can choose to learn and grow from experience and TED talks, and adjust your thinking accordingly. 

What’s your favourite TED talk on masculinity? What do you think influences the femme v masc culture? How can nonbinary people be included in a binary world? 

 

I Match My Classes With Books!

I am *finally* returning to state this semester after two years. I will see remeet old friends, some about to graduate and some that also suffered leaves for various reasons. As is, I should graduate in 3 years with two summer classes, but we’ll see.

JMC Beginning Reporting 

This is a class all about asking strangers questions and writing them in a coherent way. We go out in pairs and find someone to ask a small set of preset questions ask expanding questions as we go. 

Book Of Joy

I haven’t talked a lot about this book, but the reason I say something now is it’s Q&A format. Douglas Abrams is asking the Dalai Lama XIV and his bff, Desmond Tutu a series of questions concerning joy. It taught me the importance of a gratitude journal, to remember to do things for the sake of doing them, and that simple things like pudding can be a great source of joy.

My Best Friend Made Me Read The Book Of Joy?!

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JMC Intro To Multimedia 

This is something that I struggle with, especially the audio part. (Obviously I’m a great blogger.) It’s time consuming and hard to make a video and I applaud all of the booktubers and youtubers in general. There’s also photography involved, which I tend to be good with. 

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Tash is an asexual youtuber working on a successful adaptation of the love of her life, Anna Karenina. She manages her team of actors while dealing with fame and how to date boys when you have no sexual desire. 

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Stats

I hate stats. It’s the only type of maths that I vaguely understand. I hope it will be useful to my work in some capacity, but forbid that I actually have to do any maths after this semester. 

The Sun Is Also A Star

I loved this book. It’s the only YA off the top of my head that interspaces its chapters with factual information concerning astronomy. I love how the main character is a logical person that wants to be a data scientist. 

PSCI Environmental Politics  

The course description is a little complicated, but basically we’re looking at environmental issues across different levels of society and how to implement policies to fit those challenges. This is required for a potential minor, Environmental Science Management. 

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency/ Hitchhiker’s Guide

I Love Douglas Adams. I love how everything is connected, how there’s little random bits that add up to create the end. I also love the Dirk Gently netflix adaptation that was unhappily canceled, so please complain to Netflix about that. It’s just weird and wonderful. 

What are your classes this semester? Do you know the perfect book that goes along with your favourite class?