Categories
In Reading Color

Fire T-Shirts, New Releases, and Books Like Abbott Elementary!

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

IRC friends! Good news: my friend got me a kitten! Actually, he literally caught a kitten with his bare hands that was near the library where he works. Yes, he really did, and yes, I know (I’ve been telling him he’s country like me, but he won’t listen). The kitten was understandably scared at first, but quickly warmed up and is now doing parkour (purr-kour?) off my forehead at 2 a.m. Children are poorly behaved no matter the species, I realize.

In other news, poet Danez Smith makes a good point here. Run me my dropss.

Bookish Goods

Decolonize Your Bookshelf Wildflower Shirt by NaokahDesigns

Decolonize Your Bookshelf Wildflower Shirt by NaokahDesigns

This shirt keeps with the theme of education and its needed reform, and will serve as a great note on things we should keep in mind. I also just like the imagery of wildflowers growing out of a book. The shop is Indigenous owned, and the shirt is customizable at $24.

New Releases

cover of Blackwater

Blackwater by Jeannette Arroyo and Ren Graham

This YA graphic novel is being pitched as a mix of Stranger Things and Riverdale. In it, two high school boys become unlikely friends (and then more, eow). Popular track star and part-time delinquent Tony Price and quiet kid Eli Hirsch, who has a chronic illness, contend with the werewolf curses, fishermen ghosts, and general messiness that is high school in the town of Blackwater, Maine. An interesting element of this graphic novel is how Jeannette Arroyo and Ren Graham take turns writing each chapter, so you get a mix of styles.

cover of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Get ready to start hearing about this everywhere. In this retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau, Carlota Moreau is a young woman who has spent her entire life in the luxuriant bubble her father, Dr. Moreau, has created for her in Yucatán, Mexico. Contrasted against her seemingly idyllic life, though, is the existence of her father’s creations—obedient part human, part animal beings who are meant to remain in the shadows. But this carefully curated world starts to fall apart when the son of Dr. Moreau’s patrons, Eduardo Lizalde, arrives.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Abbott Elementary has racked up SEVEN Emmy nominations! You love to see it. If you’re not familiar with the show, you really should watch it. It’s shot in a mockumentary style and follows an idealistic teacher as she begins at an underfunded Philadelphia school. The cast is outstanding and it is genuinely funny, which I think is low key hard to do. (The show has also led to free book fairs for underfunded schools!)

Now, the books here don’t capture all that goodness that is Abbott Elementary individually, but they each offer an element that is similar.

cover image Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson

Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson

Any of Robinson’s books’ll do ya, to be honest. In this one, she covers a wide range of topics — including her hair, the BLM movement, the commercialization of self care, and even some parental values (see: the title). Through all her essays, she offers a similar kind of humor and earnestness —and pop culture reference — as Abbott Elementary does.

And can I just say that the title is a word. I’ve literally had to tell people this before, smh.

Book cover of You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown by  Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty is shy, awkward, and trying to secure her way to an elite college. When she doesn’t win a scholarship, despite her stellar grades and extracurriculars, she’s convinced to try and win the prom queen scholarship. She’ll just have to deal with the competition, spotlight, and internalized self doubt that comes courtesy of growing up as a Black person in a very white, Midwestern area. There’s a bright side to all this, though, in the form of Mack, who is also running for prom queen. Lovely romcom shenanigans ensue.

Liz reminds me of Quinta’s character Janine in Abbott Elementary. Although she’s younger, she’s still kind of awkward, smart, and very hopeful about her future. She is also real about the racism around her.

cover of Not Paved for Us: Black Educators and Public School Reform in Philadelphia by y Camika Royal

Not Paved for Us: Black Educators and Public School Reform in Philadelphia by  Camika Royal

The show’s entire premise is based around the struggles of trying to teach in an underfunded school in Philly, and while this provides many scenarios ripe with humor, it’s not nearly as funny for those living it. So I wanted to share a book that actually looks at the city’s education system. Here, Urban education scholar Camika Royal analyzes 50 years of education reforms in Philadelphia and how they’ve helped the largely Black student population, as well as how they haven’t. Royal makes the point that most of the work to reform schools has been done by teachers, just like in the show.

a tabby kitten sits up on the back of a couch looking alert and inquisitive

Here’s the little aforementioned forehead jumper, if you were curious. I haven’t decided yet, but their name will most likely be Lavender. We shall see!

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

-Erica

Categories
In The Club

Summer Hauntings

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

I saw something about the ghosts of family members possessing people and it made me think of generational trauma, which has been getting talked about more in mainstream media lately. It’s always interesting to think of how there are certain things, especially as far as spirituality goes, that get validated by psychology.

As far as ghosts and generational trauma goes, it’s come out lately how trauma may actually change children’s DNA. How ghost possession is said to take over bodies is akin, I think, to how gene expression can be changed by trauma, bringing the parents’ past into the present and projecting onto the new generation. The books I’ve chosen will give a lot in terms of discussion potential surrounding family, generational trauma, and culture.

Now let’s get to the club!

Nibbles and Sips

corona sunrise

Here’s a bright, summer-y drink that looks as cute as I think it tastes like.

Now for some books!

Family Dysfunction With Spiritual Consequences

Cover of Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Jessamyn is broke after graduating and decides to move back to Malaysia— a place she hasn’t been since she was small— to live with family and try to figure things out. At her aunt’s house, she tries to be sociable with her aunt’s friends and manage her expectations for what she wants for herself compared to familial expectations (like their expectation for her to be straight compared to her having an actual girlfriend). Welp, all that takes a back seat once her granny low key possess her. Turns out her grandmother was a medium when she was alive and the avatar for the Black Water Sister deity. Now she wants Jessamyn to get involved in a world of gods, ghosts, and gangsters to avenge the Sister’s honor. Mess only begins to describe it.

cover of Build Your House Around My Body

Build Your House Around My Body by  Violet Kupersmith 

Twenty-two year old Winnie is working as an English teacher in Saigon and believes herself to be as unremarkable as beige wallpaper (literally! bless). She only hopes her ineptitude in all things, especially English, isn’t found out by her colleagues. Well, one day she suddenly goes missing, and from the circumstances of her disappearance unfurl the history of Vietnam. Kupersmith shows how Winnie is connected to another Vietnamese girl who went missing decades before through ghosts, ancestors, and colonialism. The story weaves in and out of the past and the present, connecting things like French expatriates, kids sent to boarding schools, zoos, colonial mansions, and tales of revenge.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

cover of NUCLEAR FAMILY BY JOSEPH HAN

Nuclear Family by Joseph Han

Mr. and Mrs. Cho just started getting more business for their restaurant in Hawai’i and they’re feeling pretty well about things. Until a video of their son, who moved to South Korea to teach English, goes viral. In it, he tries to cross the Korean demilitarized zone into North Korea. Suspicion immediately falls on the Chos and their restaurant sales drop. What no one knows is that their son Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his grandfather who now desperately wants to get back to the family he left behind. As Jacob is detained, his sister Grace slips more into her drug use, and the Chos don’t know what will become of their family or their business. As serious as all this sounds, I promise the book actually has a good dose of humor.

Suggestion Section

Read about the great publishing resignation

The correlation between sundown towns and book bans

Here are some of the best fantasy series to listen to on audiobook

Here are the best mysteries and thrillers out


Categories
In Reading Color

A New Format, Book Marks, New Memoirs, and Road Trips!

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

We’re introducing a new format for newsletters that we think will make the experience more reader-friendly. With it, we’ll include some interesting links, a bookish good, new releases, and a section of riot recommendations. Hope you like it!

Bookish Goods

4 bookmarks with Black women silhouettes and quotes

4 pack of bookmarks by 525DesignShop

I don’t know about you, but I can never have enough bookmarks. These are artful and thoughtful. The pack comes at $12.

New Releases

cover of The Man Who Could Move Clouds by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Contreras grew up in the turbulent Colombia of the ’80s/’90s in a house filled with her mother’s magic. Her grandfather was known as a powerful curandero, or a community healer gifted with “the secrets,” and her mother was the first woman to inherit this gift. She offered fortune telling to clients and could cast out spirits with nothing more than a glass of water.

One day, Contreras suffers an injury to the head that is not unlike the one suffered decades earlier that precipitated her mother gaining access to her healer abilities. A shared dream between her, her sisters, and her mother ushers Contreras to make a sojourn to Colombia with her mother. There, they plan to (literally) dig up their family tree, uncovering the Indigenous and Spanish sides of her lineage and the violence— both physical and cultural— that is inherent to colonialism and its aftermath. She also has her own reckoning with her family’s gifts and what they mean for her.

cover of Why Didn't You Tell Me? by Carmen Rita Wong

Why Didn’t You Tell Me? by Carmen Rita Wong

In this memoir, Wong has a bone to pick with her Dominican mom. Except she can’t, really, since her mother has already passed away. Before she died, though, she had moved Wong from living with Chinese immigrant Peter Wong— whom she still calls Papi— in Harlem to New Hampshire with Charlie, who was presented as the picture of “ideal” white fatherhood. After a DNA test reveals that neither man is her real father, Wong sets out to unravel the truth behind her parentage, all while trying to reckon with a lifetime of never fitting in.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Riot Recommendations

The mini Hey YA podcast episode I recorded that’s coming out tomorrow highlights a few books with road trips, so I thought I’d come up with a few more for the In Reading Color audience. As I mention in the episode, I wanted to do an episode on road trips because they’re one of the things I think of and like about summer. They can be fun, freeing, and light-hearted opportunities for growth. They can also be catalysts that set already existing issues to boil in a pressurized setting. These books lean towards the latter.

the cover of Kings of B'more

Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas

This is television writer R. Eric Thomas’ YA debut (he also wrote the hilarious Here For It). When it’s revealed that besties Harrison and Linus’ days of hanging out are coming to a close at the end of the week when Linus’ family will move to South Carolina, Harrison is low key devastated. To commemorate their last days together, he comes up with a Black and queer Ferris Bueller’s Day Off-esque list of memorable activities. The mini road trip across Baltimore becomes memorable in some undesirable ways, too, though, as they dodge their overly protective parents and have to contend with racism. This isn’t a super light read, but it has its moments of lightness. It really shines in how dearly it portrays a Black, queer friendship that doesn’t try to veer into the romantic.

sing unburied sing book cover

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

This reminded me so much of Toni Morrison and William Faulkner, specifically As I Lay Dying. In it, 13 year old Jojo and his toddler sister Kayla are forced to leave their grandparents’ home where they live— and where his grandmother lies dying from cancer— to journey with their drug addicted mother to the prison where their father is set to be released. Ghosts— of family members and departed friends—surface as the family contends with the lasting effects of racism, trauma, and general dysfunction.

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

-Erica

Categories
In Reading Color

TEST: Women’s Rights Are Simply Human Rights

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I think that with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there is an urge by some to view everything surrounding it as women’s issues. And they are, but that’s because they’re human rights issues. The forces that threaten equality, at least in the western world, can largely be grouped under the umbrella of the white patriarchy. The concept of intersectionality has shown that they compound each other’s negative effects, thereby strengthening each other’s effectiveness. This is why sexism must be toppled to stop racism, ableism must be abolished to eradicate classism, and so on.

The books I’m discussing today will focus on gender-based violence, but also showcase just how united all of these forms of oppression are in achieving their goal of achieving privilege for the few.

Bookish Goods

enamel bookmark of a Black woman from behind in a swimsuit and hat holding a book

Something cute by Etsy shop

cute la la la $10. (fake link)

New Releases

Believing cover

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill

Okay, so can we be real for a moment and acknowledge how, if those in power had believed Anita Hill in the ’90s about Clarence Thomas, we might not be in this mess today? Okay, cool. Here, Hill recounts her testifying against Thomas’ sexual deviancy as she gets into the origins and pervasiveness of gender-based violence in the U.S. She makes the case of how it not only affects its victims, but everyone. I have to say, her speaking out against a man of power concerning sexual misconduct in 1991 as a Black woman is fearless af and she needs every last one of her flowers.

A graphic of the cover of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century

Disability Visibility by Alice Wong

blurb blurb blurb

Riot Recommendations

cover of Girls Like Us

Girls Like Us by Randi Pink

I wanted to include a novel since I feel like seeing something through the eyes of the characters helps to make it more real and current for some. Also, this one takes place in the summer before Roe v Wade. It’s about four teenage girls from different backgrounds who are all dealing with unplanned pregnancies. Ola is a teen in rural Georgie who is pregnant, the responsibility of which falls on her younger sister Izella. Then there’s Missippi, who hasn’t fully realized the gravity of her situation. Missippi’s father sends her to Chicago to give birth and it’s there that she meets Susan, who is white and whose father is an anti-choice politician.

co er of We Are Dancing for You: Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women's Coming-of-Age Ceremonies (Indigenous Confluences)

We Are Dancing for You: Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women’s Coming-of-Age Ceremonies (Indigenous Confluences)  by  Cutcha Risling Baldy  

This book shows how the women of the Hoopa Valley Tribe started to revitalize the traditional coming-of-age dance for women called the  Flower Dance. It’s a dance that, like many other aspects of Indigenous culture, hadn’t been practiced in decades. To recover the dance, the women consult their elders, medicine women, oral histories, and even museum archives. Baldy discusses the revitalization of the dance within the context of colonization and the gender inequality— and therefore gender violence— that came with it. There are many parallels between Indigenous women’s experiences with being controlled through reproduction and Black women’s. With both groups, the U.S. government has flip-flopped between forced birth and forced sterilization, with a dose of separating children from families thrown in between.

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Categories
In The Club

Disability Pride Month!

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Last week somehow feels like two weeks ago. I think my brain copes with traumatic events by warping time? Is that a thing? Sounds like a thing. Anyway, I hope everyone is safe and doing well!

July is Disability Pride Month, which I recently learned takes place in July because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990. Which… seems too recent. *heavy sigh* It, like many other Pride celebrations, was started to highlight the brilliance within a marginalized community, while dispelling whichever brand of dehumanization that is attached to it. The following books are a mixture of nonfiction and fiction and do just that.

Nibbles and Sips

green goddess salad

People sometimes try to play me when it comes to salad recipes. Like, yes, it’s all raw, but flavor combinations are always a thing when it comes to food, sheesh! Anywho, this green goddess salad recipe has cucumber, cabbage, nutritional yeast, and all other manner of good things that makes this satisfyingly crunchy, summer-y, and light.

Now for some books!

Books to Reflect the 20% of Americans Who Live With Disabilities

A graphic of the cover of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century

Disability Visibility, edited by Alice Wong

Disability activist Alice Wong has gathered a collection of contemporary, disabled writers with the aim to explore the experiences of disabled people outside of the lens of ableism. The collection includes everything from blog posts to manifestos, Congressional testimony to original essays that highlight the disabled experience in all its glory. Wong also includes more reading options in the form of nonfiction, podcasts, and poetry.

Book club bonus: There have been disabled people who talk about how people may doubt the validity of their disability because it’s not as easily seen. Discuss what this collection of essays says about that and compare to what people have written about having more visible disabilities.

cover of True Biz

True Biz by Sara Nović

“True biz” is a phrase in American Sign Language (ASL) that means “really; seriously; real-talk.” Its use as the title of Nović’s book is to show how ASL is not simply the equivalent of English for Deaf people, but its own language with its own phrases and idioms. Here, we follow the lives of Charlie, Austin, and February, who are all linked through River Valley School for the Deaf. Charlie is a transfer student who will be meeting other Deaf people for the first time; Austin does well at the school, but has new things to figure out when his sister is born hearing; and February is the headmistress who is trying to keep both the school and her marriage together.

Book club bonus: What surprised you about the residential Deaf school?

the cover of Just By Looking at Him

Just by Looking at Him by Ryan O’Connell

O’Connell actually stars in Queer As Folk and Special, and has a few things in common with the main character of Just by Looking At Him, Elliott, who is a TV writer, gay, and has cerebral palsy. Elliott is super-duper going through it, though. Behind his seemingly Instagram perfect life, he’s struggling with alcohol addiction, being unfaithful to his boyfriend, and issues with internalized ableism. There are quite a few laughs to be had as he tries to get his ish together.

Book club bonus: Discuss how the intersection of queerness and disability manifests in Elliott’s life.

cover image of the collected schizophrenias by Esme Wang

The Collected Schizophrenias by  Esmé Weijun Wang

Wang’s collection of autobiographical essays will take you on a journey. First, she details what it took to get diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and how those in the medical field even have disagreements concerning procedures surrounding diagnosing. She also shows how schizophrenia has shown up in her life, how she’s used her sense of style to present as high-functioning, and how illnesses like PTSD can compound symptoms. Her essays strike a nice balance of analytical with personal, no doubt in part due to her time as a researcher at Stanford. Make sure to also pick up [Don’t] Call Me Crazy, edited by our own Kelly Jensen, which Wang has contributed to.

Book club bonus: Discuss how medical professionals disagree on mental illness. What implications does this have for patients?

Suggestion Section

A reader’s guide to Disability Pride Month

Honey & Spice is Reese’s July pick

The Dead Romantics is the GMA July pick

Jenna Bush Hager’s July pick is The Measure

Here are some non-murdery mysteries

The latest in censorship news

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_. You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next week,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Women’s Rights Are Simply Human Rights

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I think that with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there is an urge by some to view everything surrounding it as women’s issues. And they are, but that’s because they’re human rights issues. The forces that threaten equality, at least in the western world, can largely be grouped under the umbrella of the white patriarchy. The concept of intersectionality has shown that they compound each other’s negative effects, thereby strengthening each other’s effectiveness. This is why sexism must be toppled to stop racism, ableism must be abolished to eradicate classism, and so on.

The books I’m discussing today will focus on gender-based violence, but also showcase just how united all of these forms of oppression are in achieving their goal of achieving privilege for the few.

Believing cover

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill

Okay, so can we be real for a moment and acknowledge how, if those in power had believed Anita Hill in the ’90s about Clarence Thomas, we might not be in this mess today? Okay, cool. Here, Hill recounts her testifying against Thomas’ sexual deviancy as she gets into the origins and pervasiveness of gender-based violence in the U.S. She makes the case of how it not only affects its victims, but everyone. I have to say, her speaking out against a man of power concerning sexual misconduct in 1991 as a Black woman is fearless af and she needs every last one of her flowers.

co er of We Are Dancing for You: Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women's Coming-of-Age Ceremonies (Indigenous Confluences)

We Are Dancing for You: Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women’s Coming-of-Age Ceremonies (Indigenous Confluences)  by  Cutcha Risling Baldy  

This book shows how the women of the Hoopa Valley Tribe started to revitalize the traditional coming-of-age dance for women called the  Flower Dance. It’s a dance that, like many other aspects of Indigenous culture, hadn’t been practiced in decades. To recover the dance, the women consult their elders, medicine women, oral histories, and even museum archives. Baldy discusses the revitalization of the dance within the context of colonization and the gender inequality— and therefore gender violence— that came with it. There are many parallels between Indigenous women’s experiences with being controlled through reproduction and Black women’s. With both groups, the U.S. government has flip-flopped between forced birth and forced sterilization, with a dose of separating children from families thrown in between.

cover of Girls Like Us

Girls Like Us by Randi Pink

I wanted to include a novel since I feel like seeing something through the eyes of the characters helps to make it more real and current for some. Also, this one takes place in the summer before Roe v Wade. It’s about four teenage girls from different backgrounds who are all dealing with unplanned pregnancies. Ola is a teen in rural Georgie who is pregnant, the responsibility of which falls on her younger sister Izella. Then there’s Missippi, who hasn’t fully realized the gravity of her situation. Missippi’s father sends her to Chicago to give birth and it’s there that she meets Susan, who is white and whose father is an anti-choice politician.

A Little Sumn Extra

See what the stars have to say about your next read

Get a book rec based off your favorite pop star!

Must-read under the radar queer reads from the first half of the year!

Dubai opened a new book-shaped library

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In The Club

New Summer Reads

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Friends! I’m writing from the future as I will be out for a few days for my birthday week. My friend is visiting, and I would promise some stories of b-day grade debauchery I could share upon my arrival, but the way my knees and indigestion are set up *cries in early 30s*…

Yeah, so I’ll just leave you with leaked footage from the Joker musical that no one asked for instead.

See you next week!

Nibbles and Sips

Okay, so I know it’s been a little pasta heavy ’round these parts lately, but hear me out. I literally made this sun-dried tomato pasta three times recently and people have loved it. It’s a pretty simple and relatively quick dish, depending on your protein. I opted for shrimp, which has a short cook time. For it, you’ll need:

* 4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
* 1 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
* 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
* 2 tablespoons salted butter
* 1 medium shallot or red onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 pound short cut pasta
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

You cook the protein first with oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and some of the parmesan (if using something like shrimp, undercook a bit first because you’ll add it to the pasta later). Then you remove the protein, add butter and sauté the garlic and onion/shallot. When those are translucent, you add a cup or so of water and the pasta. Add more water to cover the pasta, cover and cook for about half the time the pasta packaging says. Then add the heavy cream, dijon, shrimp/other protein, remaining seasoning, and parmesan, and cook for the rest of the pasta cook time. Add the spinach with about 1 minute left. Thank me later.

Now for some books!

Summery Book Club Books

cover of Acts of Violet

Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore (July 5)

Iconic magician Violet Volk performed thee ultimate magic trick by actually disappearing mid act. And not being seen since. As the tenth anniversary of her disappearance nears, super fan Cameron Frank increases his efforts to secure an interview with Violet’s more responsible and non-magically oriented sister Sasha, who stayed out of the limelight as she raised her daughter. Even as Sasha would rather avoid the subject of her sister, who she still holds some resentment for, she starts experiencing sleepwalking episodes that are connected to Violet. Then there’s Quinn, Sasha’s daughter and Violet’s niece, who idolizes her aunt and wants to find out what happened to her for herself. When I tell you Violet has a grip on the gworls! Gone for 10 years, and people are still talking! Truly iconic.

Book club bonus: What do you think of the more surreal elements of the story? Do you feel they boosted or held back the mystery at the book’s core?

cover of Honey and Spice

Honey and Spice by Bolu Babalola (July 5)

Sweet like plantain, hot like pepper. They taste the best when together…

Bars! If you’re a person of culture, you may recognize the good sis Bolu as the person who shot her shot with Michael B. Jordan. For this, I will always stan her, but Honey & Spice gives even more stanning material. It follows Kiki Banjo, the hostess of popular student radio show Brown Sugar. Quick-witted and even quicker to read down a wasteman (which is just British for “f-boy”), Kiki hopes to keep her fellow Whitehall University students from wasting time with men who are only interested in situationships and other f-boy trappings. Her reputation takes a bit of a nosedive when she’s seen kissing a guy she publicly denounced as a wasteman on her show. To save face, they start fake dating and learn that they may be ready for more than they thought.

This lyrical and funny romance is Babalola’s debut novel, but make sure to also check out her collection of stories, Love in Color.

Book club bonus: What did you think of Kiki and Malakai’s relationship? Would you want to experience something similar? Why or why not?

cover of Harlem Sunset

Harlem Sunset by Nekesa Afia (June 28)

Look at that cover! I’ve been excited about this sequel since I read Dead Dead Girls last year (which I don’t think you need to have read already if you want to pick this one up). Here, 27-year old Louise Lloyd returns to the world of amateur sleuthing in 1920s Harlem. After having helped catch the Girl Killer last year, she now manages her friend’s nightclub the Dove. When one of the girls she was kidnapped with years ago steps back into her life, it spells disaster. The morning after Louise and the girl reconnect, the girl is found dead and Louise’s girlfriend Rosa Maria is covered in her blood. Louise needs to make quick work of the mystery of who killed Nora before it’s too late for Rosa Maria.

Book club bonus: Even though I know the era wasn’t a walk in the park for a lot of people, especially people with marginalized identities, reading about the ’20s can be really fun sometimes. Discuss some of the elements, good and bad, of the time that you were surprised by.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Suggestion Section

Here are some more book club friendly reads

Best mysteries with a twist

The Subversive Verse of Shel Silverstein (also, A1 title!)

Here are some current bookish trends (which ones have you noticed yourself)?


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_. You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next week,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Queer Books in Translation

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I’m really looking forward to the next few days I have off and even have a (very ambitious) list of books I’d like to read. Naturally, I know they can’t all be read in a week, but such are the book life struggles!

Also, I thought I should follow up on the impact of Beyonce’s single that was released last week. The influence! If you haven’t listened, you need to. It’s ’90s house with a touch of Big Freedia. There’s even a little delicious shade that comes with.

As one of the funnest months (my birthday! Pride!) ends, I wanted to highlight a few queer, translated books.

cover of Notes of a Crocodile by Notes of a Crocodile by

Notes of a Crocodile by by Qiu Miaojin, translated by Bonnie Huie

I’ve written in another newsletter about how Miaojin was Taiwan’s first openly lesbian writer who was active in the late ’80s/early 90s. And Notes of a Crocodile seems autobiographical. In it, the alienation college student Lazi feels because of her attraction to women leads to severe depression. The novel is structured as eight notebooks, which detail Lazi’s romantic struggles, as well as the lives of her complicated friends. This is a queer coming-of-age novel that is more character than plot based and really captures the essence of feeling alienated from others. Miaojin wasn’t able to see her novel achieve cult classic status, sadly, as she passed away in ’95.

cover of disoriental

Disoriental by by Négar Djavadi, translated by Tina A. Kover 

This won the 2019 Lambda award for bisexual fiction and is both a family saga and story of Iranian history. Kimiâ Sadr serves as narrator and is the youngest daughter in a family of intellectuals who speak out against the government. She jumps back and forth through time, telling a story that juxtaposes her current experience with her family’s past, effectively telling Iran’s past in the process. While waiting in a fertility clinic in France, where she and her family fled to when she was ten, she recounts her childhood as a person descended from a harem. The story’s many characters, changing timelines, and historical events are tragic at times, but can also be funny, with Sadr occasionally breaking the fourth wall.

the cover of Violets by Kyung-Sook Shin

Violets by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated by Anton Hur 

San is a young woman in South Korea in 1970s who first faces rejection from her parents, and the stigma of her father having left, and later rejection from the one person who made her feel less alone. Now 22 and working in a florist’s shop, San continues to struggle with relationships, partially because how things ended with her childhood friend still haunts her.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

Boston Globe-Horn book award winners announced

Which of these book trends have you noticed?

Do you know what Twitterature is?

Librarian vandalizes two public libraries and more censorship news


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
Today In Books

ACLU Files Motion To Dismiss Obscenity Proceedings Against Two Books: Today in Books

ACLU Files Motion To Dismiss Obscenity Proceedings Against Two Books

Today, the ACLU tweeted that it had filed a motion with its clients to have the obscenity proceedings against the books Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas dismissed by a Virginia court. The dismissal is being made on the grounds that the books are not obscene according to the law, and that baseless claims of obscenity should not tread upon First Amendment rights. The ACLU’s clients are as follows: “local bookstores Prince Books, Read Books, One More Page Books, and bbgb tales for kids, as well as American Booksellers for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, Inc., Authors Guild, Inc., American Library Association, Virginia Library Association, and Freedom to Read Foundation.”

Long Island Library Bans LBGTQ+ Books from Children’s Section

In Long Island, NY, the Smithtown Library Board of trustees voted 4-2  on Tuesday to have all LGBTQ+ books and Pride displays removed from the children’s section in its four libraries. The vote comes amidst a nationwide push by conservatives to censor books in public libraries— and sometimes even bookstores— that center marginalized narratives. The decision has been met with widespread opposition. Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted “For many LGBTQ+ kids, libraries are one of the few spaces where they can be welcomed and affirmed for who they are. Our public spaces should be accepting our young people — not rejecting them. To LGBTQ+ New Yorkers: We stand with you, we support you, & you are welcome here.”

Blumhouse Producing Film Adaptation of Blind Spot by Paula Hawkins

Blumhouse Television has purchased the rights to Paula Hawkins’ 2022 novella Blind Spot. The production company specializes in thrillers and has produced hits like The Purge, Get Out, Paranormal Activity, and Sharp Objects. Blind Spot follows Edie after one of her lifelong best friends Jake is murdered and their mutual friend Ryan is charged with the homicide. Edie goes on to isolate herself in her grief in the place she and Ryan lived in, but realizes there may be someone after her, too. Casting is currently underway for the film adaptation.

What is Twitterature? An Introduction to the Genre

From one-tweet fiction to serialized short stories and retellings, Twitterature demonstrated the literary possibilities of Twitter.

Categories
In The Club

Interesting Nonfiction Histories

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Well, Beyonce has released a new song, so the day has been made. I will say, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but that’s a good thing. (Also, I guess I can’t really say what I was expecting?) If you haven’t listened yet, it opens with a Big Freedia sample (which is alway correct) and gives ’90s House music + working class struggles. I lol’d a bit at Beyonce singing about quitting her job, but I appreciate her sympathizing with us commoners. In short, it’s a bop!

Get into it while I get into this club!

Nibbles and Sips

elotes

“Corn ribs” had a moment on TikTok, and they seemed like an interesting way to mashup a couple summer time faves (although, I obviously don’t expect them to taste anything like actual ribs, but it’s cute that they look like them). But then I was confused because they just sound like elotes, but cut differently. I’m pretty sure they are, but I’ll still include the video if you’d like to see it. I love corn in the summer!

Now for the books!

A History of…

I don’t think I’ve been recommending enough nonfiction and thought I’d highlight a few today. Two of these books feature more zoomed out histories of their topics (while still having personal anecdotes), and one is history-by-way-of-memoir.

cover of Unwell Women

Unwell Women by Elinor Leghorn

There is a long history of people in the medical field not taking women seriously. Leghorn experienced this firsthand after finally being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. But the diagnosis only came after a long period of being gaslit into thinking she was imagining her symptoms. Here, she examines the intersection of women, illness, and the field of medicine— which has largely been controlled by men. The history of how women and their illnesses have been treated by medicine goes all the way from the wandering wombs of Ancient Greece to the sterilization that was forced on Black women in the American South.

Book club bonus: Women have worked as midwives all over the world and in different cultures for a long time. As medicine became more standardized, though, it seems as if the profession decreased. Discuss this. Why do you think that happened and do you think women would be better served if there were more midwives, or would patriarchal views still be upheld?

cover of Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity

Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Riley Snorton

In this book, Snorton details the rich history of Black transpeople, especially how they have been cut out of the narrative of trans and queer history. By using the narratives of enslaved people seeking freedom, Afro-modernist literature, journalism, and other sources, Snorton shows just how much race has determined how topics like queerness and gender have been represented.

Book club bonus: Discuss why you think heteronormativity and race are so strongly linked.

cover of 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoir

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoir by Ai Weiwei

Through this memoir by world renowned artist Ai Weiwei, we’re shown how some of the major forces in China shaped it the last 100 years. He tells the story of his father, Ai Qing, who was a poet and formerly close to Mao Zedong. Once he fell out of favor, he and his family — including a young Ai Weiwei— were exiled to Little Siberia where he was sentenced to hard labor. Once Weiwei returns to China after having studied art in America, his art becomes known all over the world, as does his work as a human rights activist. By telling the story of his and his father’s lives— and their struggles to express themselves as artists while contending with totalitarianism— he tells the story of China.

Book club bonus: Discuss the parallels between Ai Weiwei and his father. They both had things in common, but vastly different outcomes. What do you think was the turning point for either one?

Suggestion Section

A cute quiz to see if you’re Frog or Toad

Friends! It’s time to take a reading vacation!

Books where chosen ones refused the call

Books by up-and-coming trans and nonbinary authors

Malorie Blackman wins Pin Pinter prize

George M. Johnson, the author of All Boys Aren’t Blue, named as honorary chair of Banned Books Week

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_. You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next week,

-Erica