Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.
Well, well, well, it’s essentially already April and I must admit that I haven’t read quite as much as I would have liked to by this time. I chalk it up to the usual end-of-day fatigue, but also to the fact that I come across so many interesting books and keep starting new ones without finishing the ones I started before *cries in ADHD*. My two bedside tables are looking mighty wild and full of books right now.
But I’ve got a plan! April is National Poetry Month, so I’m going to keep chipping away at the books I’ve started, while fitting in a few poetry collections — which I have bought a lot of the past few months. I either have copies of or have already started all the poetry and in-verse recommendations I have for you today.
Dried Flower and Gold Resin Book Page Holder by DesignedbyBethville
These book holders’ dried flowers give a cute, spring vibe that I’m here for — and that would look good between the pages of a poetry collection. Just saying. $10
Lone Women by Victor LaValle
LaValle’s latest is a creative blend of Western, horror, fantasy, and historical fiction. It follows Adelaide, a young Black woman, who runs to Montana to become a homesteader in the early 1900s. But with her come her secrets, like the fact that she set her California home on fire with her parents’ dead bodies inside. And then there’s the issue of the huge steamer trunk that accompanies her wherever she goes and remains closed, lest more people start to disappear.
Ada’s Room by
Sharon Dodua Otoo, translated by Jon Cho-Polizzi
There are some Virginia Woolf references in this highly inventive novel by Otoo. For one, It seems like the title and subject matter reference Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and the premise of the book is Orlando-esque. It follows four women, who are really one, as they are reincarnated through time and observed by a curious narrator who takes on odd shapes, including a passport and a broom (like you do). The Ada of 15th century Ghana mourns her child as she fights against Portuguese slavers. Another Ada, living in Victorian England, becomes known as a mathematical genius. The third Ada is imprisoned at an incarceration camp brothel in 1945. And finally, the fourth Ada is a modern-day Ghanian woman in Berlin, pregnant and desperate to find a home before her baby is born. The past and present are interwoven by Otoo’s ingenious writing as all four Adas fight for their survival and a space of their own within society.
More New Releases
The Great Reclamation by Rachel Heng (Historical Fiction)
Chlorine by Jade Song (Fantasy, Horror)
Samuel Ringgold Ward: A Life of Struggle by R. J. M. Blackett (Biography)
Spoken Word: A Cultural History by Joshua Bennett (Nonfiction)
Birdgirl: A Young Environmentalist Looks to the Skies in Search of a Better Future by Mya-Rose Craig (Memoir, Nature)
The Perfumist of Paris by Alka Joshi (Historical Fiction)
Murder Under a Red Moon by Harini Nagendra (Mystery, Historical fiction)
The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts by Soraya Palmer (Fiction, Magical Realism)
Not So Perfect Strangers by L.S. Stratton (Mystery/Thriller)
Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu (YA, Fantasy, Romance)
Chaos & Flame by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland (YA, Fantasy)
Mary Can! by Mary J Blige, illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin (Children’s)
For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.
Above Ground by Clint Smith
Clint Smith, author of the award-winning How the Word is Passed, reflects on the changing powers of fatherhood in this latest collection of poetry. He explores how we are shaped by our families, as well as the pressures of society at large, but then this established form is disrupted when children are born. Once you become a parent, Smith explores how you start to see the world again, through a different perspective, and how this new view helps you grow with your child.
Saints of the Household by Ari Tison
This YA novel combines vignettes and poems to tell the story of two Bribri brothers. One day Jay and Max rush to the aid of their cousin when they hear trouble in the woods. They find her and their high school’s popular soccer player, who they think is hurting her, and beat him so badly that other kids at school ostracize them and they have to go to a series of counseling sessions. The incident also makes them have an existential crisis — are they just as bad as their abusive father, who they can’t trust, even with their mother? As the brothers reckon with their internal struggles, they grow apart, but also realize that Bribri traditions may help them mend.
Alive At The End Of The World by Saeed Jones
Jones ponders on the current state of the world and determines that we’ve been living in an apocalypse. The everyday stressors of our lives, like racism and grief, chip away at us little by little until we are in our own, personal dystopia. But there is sweetness here, too, even as Jones plumbs the depths.
The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On by Franny Choi
This is another new poetry release that deals with the idea of apocalypses (surprise!) and what they mean for marginalized people. Like Jones, Choi’s poems show how the end of the world has always felt just around the corner for people subjected to colonialism, police brutality, and all the other descendants of colonialism. Where Jones’ collection is more self-based, Choi’s zooms out and crosses through time, looking at everything from the Korean Comfort Women of WWII to pop music.
We Are All So Good at Smiling by Amber McBride
Amber McBride absolutely kills it with her YA novels in verse. Her debut, Me (Moth) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. In this January release, we meet Whimsy, who is in the hospital again for clinical depression. When she meets another former patient, Faerry, who is a Fae, the two start to see how interconnected their lives are. But then Faerry goes missing in the terrifying forest at the end of their street. Witches, princesses, and fairy tales lie in the path Whimsy must take to save him, but she’s also aided by some of the forest’s inhabitants, and by her own practice of Hoodoo.
Make sure to check out our latest newsletter, The Deep Dive. It’s full of informed takes, useful advice, and more from experts in the world of books and reading. Subscribe and choose your membership level today at bookriot.substack.com.