Categories
In The Club

In the Club 07/28/21

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. This week I’m settling into my new digs in Jersey City, NJ. I’ve lived here before, but this feels like a new adventure, probably since it was a few years ago, I’m in a different apartment, and of course I now have this job. I’m definitely in a “new job, new phone, who dis?” mood.

I’m also happy to be near NYC again and able to visit my old haunts from when I was a 20-something-year-old scalawag, who did not traipse around Manhattan at all hours of the night with my friends acting grown *ahem*.

To the Club!

Bookish Goods

From the Library of Book Embosser by PickledStamps

We love this custom book embosser on Etsy!

New Releases

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X. R. Pan

I ADORED The Astonishing Color of After, so I’ve been waiting SO LONG to listen to this one. An Arrow to the Moon is Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology, which is 100% in my wheelhouse.

A graphic of the cover of Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

I just finished listening to Ocean Vuong narrate his latest poetry collection on audio. Ugh, it’s so incredibly beautiful, and there’s nothing like listening to a poet narrate his work. Time Is a Mother was written after Vuong’s mother passed away, and it’s full of longing for the person he loved most.

Riot Recommendations

A pineapple upside down cake recipe showdown!

On defining historical fiction

The most f*cked up books ever

Stop everything you’re doing right now and find out which American Girl doll you are

Why do people say that having your book banned is good?

Oprah defends controversial book club pick

Here is an AAPI care package assembled by the Smithsonian that includes meditations, poems, and films.


Thanks for chilling with me! As always, If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com.

See you next week,

Erica

Categories
In The Club

Reclaiming Our Time

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

So my friend has convinced me to go to a sports-ball event in Philly (by “convinced” I mean to say he said several times there would be food lol) which should be… interesting. I know nothing about track and field, or any sports if you couldn’t tell, but I think it’ll be nice to experience.

As I prepare to be around strangers outside for the first time in a while, let’s get to the club!

Nibbles and Sips

You’ve heard of a pineapple upside down cake, but what about a blackberry one? I’ve been craving and eating a lot of blackberries lately and was looking at some recipes with them. I love pineapple upside down cake, so this seemed like an interesting thing to try. This recipe also calls for pears, which I think mimic the texture of pineapples when baked into cake a little more.

Now for some books!

Women in Law

Ketanji Jackson was confirmed as the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court this past Thursday. This is such a major step in having the people who run the U.S. government actually representing what its citizens look like and experience, but my has it been a time getting to this point (with still more work to do!). I thought it would be nice to discuss some books by or about the women pushing for vital change in our government.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss specific changes brought about by each woman once they were appointed their positions. Also, talk about the general attitudes surrounding each woman that you’ve noticed in your everyday conversations. These women made history or were close to doing so (as in the case of Stacey Abrams, who would have been the first Black female governor when she ran), discuss how this influences public opinion of them compared to their male counterparts.

our time is now stacey abrams cover

Our Time Is Now by Stacey Abrams

Voter suppression is somehow still an issue in this country and Stacey Abrams has been vehemently fighting against it in her state of Georgia. Here, she confers with experts and scholars and offers her own experiences on how to empower citizens and bring voter suppression to an end. I feel like watching the work she’s been doing in Georgia has made people see how much power there can be in organizing. I also think it’s pretty cool how she writes thrillers like While Justice Sleeps. We stan a versatile Queen!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by  Jane Sherron De Hart

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron De Hart

RBG! This book took 15 years to write, and Ginsburg as well as her friends and family were consulted throughout. It details the life of the 107th Supreme Court Justice, showing how influential the Justice was on laws, which was in part because of her unique perspective and experience as a Jewish American, Columbia Law student, and Rutgers professor fighting gender pay discrimination.

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

Sotomayor was the first Latinx person and third woman to be elected to the Supreme Court. In this autobiography, she recounts her life growing up in housing projects in the Bronx and her struggles with having a father dealing with alcoholism. She even had her own struggles with health when she was diagnosed with junior diabetes. Despite not having many professional role models to look up to, she made up her mind to become a lawyer and went on to basically be The Best, graduating from Princeton and Yale Law School with top honors. An icon, in other words.

I’ve mentioned it already, so I give an extensive blurb here again, but Civil Rights Queen by Tomiko Brown-Nagin is also one to pick up.

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

Suggestion Section

Queer poetry collections!

An article on the history of Nazi book burning

Here are the most popular fantasy books on TikTok

Danika makes the case for a variety of queer representation


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 The Club

Exciting New Reads for Spring

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

How has this new month met you? I often complain about how fast the time seems to be going by (which I still think is true!), but I am also excited it’s April and how pretty outside is going to start looking soon. Although, I’m not excited about these new allergens that are awakening. I was just getting used to the winter ones! *sobs in Flonase-Claritin combo*

I am feeling these new releases, however, which are plentiful. So let’s get into a few, shall we?

On to the club!

Nibbles and Sips

I will confess that I haven’t tried this recipe for frozen yogurt bark yet, but I have been eating these ingredients a lot lately in parfaits. A Greek yogurt-blueberry-strawberry-honey-nuts situation has been getting me through some of these mornings. So I thought, those things should work together but frozen, right? Right. I think they will. We’re gonna try it.

Now for the books!

Some Sci fi, Some Magic, Some Family Tragedy

cover of Memphis by Tara Stringfellow, featuring illustrations of four Black women sitting amongst grass and flowers

Memphis by Tara Stringfellow

For the first few years of my life, we lived a few hours from Memphis. Then, when I was a teenager, we moved to a town just half an hour drive from it. I also have a good college friend from there. Basically, what I’m saying is that I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book and I feel like I know the women in it.

Here, Joan, her sister, and her mother go back to their family’s home in Memphis, TN in the mid ’90s to escape her abusive father. The house they returned to was built by her grandfather, who was lynched 70 years prior. This wouldn’t be the last time violence touched Joan’s family, and the trauma from all these experiences manifest within the generations in different ways through the years. As an artist, Joan channels this trauma through her portraits of the women of North Memphis. The narrative travels through time to paint a full, and at times heartbreaking, picture of a Black, Southern family.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss Joan’s mother’s decision to move her daughters back into a house where she knew abuse had taken place.

Sea of Tranquility cover

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel 

A couple characters from Mandel’s The Glass Hotel make an appearance here, but it’s not necessary to read it before picking this one up. Mandel weaves together the stories of several people who all hear a brief moment of notes from a violin, followed by a whooshing sound. Weird, right? What’s weirder is that these people inhabit different times— a teenager is exiled from his rich, British family in 1912, a composer plays a video his late sister shot during a concert in 2020, and an author writes a pandemic novel and lives on the moon in 2203. The Time Institute of the year 2401 sends an investigator back in time to sort out the glitch that made all these people experience the same thing at different times. It sounds like a lot of moving pieces, but the narratives complement each other, coming together to make some interesting observations on existence and even pandemic living.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss investigator’s Robert’s findings. Do you think it tied the narratives together well? What do you think Mandel is trying to say about reality?

cover of The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

This is a follow-up to Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad  and has a few familiar characters and their children. This is another case where you don’t really have to have read the first book, though. Here, Bix is a super rich tech guy (think of one of the CEOs or founders of Twitter/Facebook/etc., except he’s Black) and develops a new platform that can hold your consciousness called “Own Your Unconscious.” Naturally, this develops into “Collective Consciousness” where people can upload their memories, which allows them to share with others who have done the same thing. As cringe as it sounds, it also low-key sounds likely to happen. Not everyone is down with sharing consciousnesses, though, and a movement rises up to counter it. Egan uses a number of different view points and chapters that have totally different narrative styles to explore just how far this social media thing can, and will, go.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss how likely you think the premise is. Do you think the platforms are possible, and if so, do you think people will really be as enthusiastic?

the cover of Vagabonds!

Vagabonds! by Eloghosa Osunde

The stories in this collection are gathered and told by the spirits of Lagos, Nigeria. This chorus of spirits see all of the abuse and suffering going on as a result of homophobia and sexism, and people unwilling to conform to society’s rules. These outcasts, or vagabonds, in these stories are the poor, queer people who are used up by the rich with seemingly no consequences. There is hope, though. Osunde’s Lagos has devils and spirits that avenge and protect abused girls, teenagers reading about queer love and finding hope in Akwaeke Emezi novels, and a mysterious power that lets abused women find absolute escape. As gritty and real as the stories can get, the inherent magic of the Vagabonds give the city, and the collection of stories, its beauty.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss the story “Johnny Just Come” and what parallels Johnny’s predicament has to not speaking out on other issues.

Suggestion Section

Memphis is Jenna Bush Hager’s pick for April

Call Us What We Carry is the L.A. Times April Book Club pick

True Biz is Reese’s April pick

Don Cheadle won a Grammy for Audiobook Narration

Oscar-nominated ‘Flee’ to be adapted as YA graphic novel

How much do you know about Joan Didion?

Jess Plummer always writes such interesting articles on comics/ the history of comics. Check out her latest on the whitewashing that is still going on in the industry.

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 The Club

Chaos for Your Book Club

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

How have you been choosing books for your club these days? Or even for yourself? Cassie Gutman over here at BR suggested letting loose a little and choosing books in more random ways. I always like challenges like these, even ones that don’t pertain to books, because they usually force me out of my comfort zone and make me find something new that I genuinely like.

So! I’ve chosen a few prompts to follow from Cassie’s list and included which books they led me to below. It’s definitely a cute thing to do for your next book club meetup.

Now, on to the club!

Nibbles and Sips

I saw a recipe for cereal bowl cookies and it reminded me of the birthday cake truffles (and cereal milk ice cream!!) I would stand in line for at Milk Bar in NYC. Here’s a recipe by Alvin Zhou to make your own! The ingredients list is fairly simple, and is mostly things like flour, sugar, Rice Krispies, and yogurt.

Now on to the books!

Let the Chaos Begin!

Elmo fire meme
There are only a few times throughout the week that I feel this meme represents my life…. okay, only a few times a day…

I picked just a few options from the list that stood out to me. I think I got some good selections!

3. Pick your favorite animal. Now search for only books with that animal in the title or featured on the cover. (If you chose cats, for example, here’s a whole quiz about cat books you can start with. If you chose ocelots, it may be a bit more difficult to find those.)

cover of The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

So, I wasn’t just mimicking the example animal in the prompt, cats are actually my favorite animals. People who know me know I love all animals, but love-love cats. I got into a random conversation with a stranger a couple days ago (in person, which is kind of weird for me these days) and they were saying how they thought that cats were especially suited to people with lots of books since they are small and quiet (usually!). I’ve also noticed a lot of bookish people having cats rather than dogs, so I feel like ole dude was on to something. Anywho, Japan also loves cats , especially cats who love books because this book is about a cat named Tiger who pops up into socially withdrawn high schooler Rintaro’s life after his grandfather dies. As he’s in the process of mourning for his plain spoken, book loving grandfather, he’s also tasked with running his grandfather’s bookstore and preparing to go live with an aunt he’s never met. With Tiger, he goes on a quest that rivals those of mythological heroes and involves rescuing books from people who don’t seem to fully appreciate them. He learns some valuable life lessons along the way.

4. Have you heard about those people who read the last page of a book first? Try it! See if it grabs you. Does it make you wonder what the rest of the book is like? This is more common than some other methods on this list, but is a great starting point if you’d like to try mood-picking your book. 

cover of Sorrowland by river solomon

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

The last page (which is just a paragraph in the edition I came across) is f i r e. I’ll include it in the next paragraph with a spoiler warning, if you’re interested.

This is about Vern, who is pregnant with twins when she escapes from a cult and the only life she’s ever known. She hides out in the woods, killing animals as necessary and dressing her newly born babies in their hides. As she tries to survive, she realizes she’s being hunted and followed by ghosts. The superhuman changes going on in her body point her towards a truth that involves exposing the secrets of the compound she left and the horrors of how the U.S. has objectified Black bodies.

**major spoiler alert**

Here is the last page, which I think makes a good argument for reading the rest of the book:

“They both sat down, sweaty arm to sweaty arm. They remained until the woods were black but for the patches of moonlight. They remained until they could hear the night calls of one thousand living things, screaming their existence, assuring the world of their survival. Vern screamed back.”

Whew!

6. Ask a mortal enemy what their favorite book is. Alternatively, ask a BFF what their least favorite book is. Read either, and report your own review back to them. 

cover of great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I don’t know anyone in real life who has a mortal enemy, but what a spicy life to live! Anyway, I asked my good friend what his least favorite book was and he said The Great Gatsby. Annnnd, I totally see where he’s coming from. He’s a program coordinator at a public library in Jersey City and he led a book club discussion through the library a few months ago where we discussed the book. When I read it a second time as an adult, I was able to find things I actually appreciated about it. Mostly, I think it’s great for providing a snapshot into what American life was like for a certain group of people in the ’20s. It also gives such great (and damning) insight into the concept and construction of whiteness. So much so, that I feel that the attitudes portrayed by the rich and white characters in the book can be directly tied to many attitudes held today.

9. Head to your music library or streaming service and select “shuffle” without clicking on any specific song or band. Whichever song plays, select a book you think pairs with the ~ vibes ~ of the music. 

Luster by  Raven Leilani

Luster by Raven Leilani

A pleasant consequence of following some of these instructions is the other things you discover. This made me use the “shuffle” function on Spotify, which I never had before. I basically just asked it through a voice command to “play something” and the first song it played was No Love by Summer Walker, featuring SZA (who I LOVE) and Cardi B. Once I got a gist of what the song was about and its general vibes, I immediately thought of Luster.

The book is about Edie, a Black twenty-something year old artist who is just trying to make it. Once she finds herself without her admin job, she starts to live with her lover who’s twice her age and in an open marriage. She realizes that part of the reason she’s been invited into their lives is to help their Black adopted daughter, Akila, become more adjusted. The dynamics of the four people— Edie, her lover, his wife, and their daughter— is just as odd and interesting as you could imagine as it constantly juggles power, sex, and race.

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


Suggestion Section

Roxane Gay reveals first books at her new imprint

This is an interesting look at mental illness and Batman

Some of the best murder mysteries

An article on an author’s search history, which also might make one suspicious to the police 👀


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 The Club

A New Gothic Gathering

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

I noticed a few really good gothic novels coming out soon and wanted to highlight a few of them (as well as one that came out just a few months ago). While I was assembling this list, I noticed a lot of them were written by women. This could very well be some unknown bias on my part (I may have succumbed to targeted marketing!), but it might also be something else. There has actually been a lot of discourse on how women have used gothic literature as a way to voice their anxieties concerning expectations of women when it comes to domesticity, and how they’ve been doing so since at least the 18th century. Ellen Moers coined the term “Female Gothic” to describe just that.

Maybe they were comfortable questioning the status quo concerning female duties within the medium of a horror novel? Science fiction, for instance, often does a great job of detailing social ills while packaging them in a fantastical wrapping, which allows people to suspend biases that might normally show if those same issues were presented overtly. Some female authors writing gothic fiction may have been trying to do something similar by dressing their concerns in a haunted setting. In a lot of gothic novels I’ve come across, I notice that the female protagonist is usually in an undesirable location and possibly even with unsavory people. And, when they try to voice their discontent, they are gaslighted. Then we find out (a lot of times) that their fears were valid. It seems like the gothic subgenre can still say a lot about women’s lives, and the books I’ll mention below do just that, with the added bonus of a deliciously creepy setting.

Now, on to the club!


Nibbles and Sips

salmon croquettes on a dish alongside sauce and lemon wedges

No shade to canned fish lovers, but the only time I’ve probably ever used it is when my mother was teaching me to make salmon croquettes (we called them salmon patties, but I want y’all to think I’m bougie). I come to crave them every now and then. Follow this recipe from Jocelyn, aka Grandbabycakes for your own. I haven’t tried this with an air fryer just yet, but I think that’s the next move. Let me know how it goes if you decide to try it!

With these basic/minimum ingredients, they seem to be something you can kind of whip together whenever:

  • Canned Salmon
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Egg
  • Flour

Now for the books!

The Female Gothic

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas book cover

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

This is being described as Rebecca meets Mexican Gothic, and is about Beatriz trying to get right after the Mexican War of Independence. Her father, General Hernandez, is executed as a result of the war and Beatriz is desperately trying to reestablish her security when widower Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes to her. He’s handsome and monied, so she says yes. Let’s call this “when securing the bag goes wrong part 157” because when she gets to his estate, she starts having terrible dreams, the housekeeper is putting magical symbols on the kitchen door, and maybe worst of all is the Don’s sister is gaslighting her (the nerve!). She starts to suspect that the former lady of the house was murdered and it’s her ghost that haunts the halls, and the only person she can trust to help her unearth the truth is a priest that practices witchcraft.

Gallant by V.E. Schwab cover

Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Olivia grew up in an all-girls school as an outcast because of her muteness. The only person who could communicate with her was the matron who taught her to use sign language, and who is now gone. She can barely even seek solace in her mother’s journals as they eventually descend into madness as she reads them. Well, one day she seems to catch a break when she gets a letter from her uncle inviting her to his estate called Gallant. Naturally, she goes, but finds out that no one actually sent for her. On top of that, there are ghouls and her cousin Matthew is super shady. The Gallant house does hold answers to secrets about what happened to her parents, though, even if it’s not what she expected.

the daughter of doctor moreau

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (July 19, 2022)

Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic also really belongs on this list, but I won’t list it separately so as to not be redundant. This is a remix of The Island of Doctor Moreau and takes place in Mexico in the 19th century. Carlota, the daughter of Dr. Moreau, dreams of a life outside of her father’s invention. She also wonders about Eduardo, while Montgomery, Dr. Moreau’s assistant who suffers from alcoholism, wonders about her. While all of this pining transpires, Dr. Moreau’s half-human, half-animal creations lurk in the shadows, struggling to attain independence even though they were meant to obey. Yeah, there’s a lot going on here. In the best way.

White Smoke cover image

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

This is described as The Haunting of Hill House + Get Out. It’s about Marigold, who moves from California to a Midwestern city with her new stepfather and his obnoxious daughter. Their picturesque house on Maple Street in Cedarville seems perfect, but things keep disappearing, one of her stepsister’s new friends wants her gone, and the ghosts Mari keeps trying to outrun (including that of her past addiction) may not be imaginary.

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

Suggestion Section

Read about this lawyer fighting for trans rights

What does the image of the cat signify in Japanese lit?

Some great new YA dark academia books out in 2022

Here are some more books that cover social horror, a couple ones I’ve mentioned here


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 The Club

Feminism Today

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

Do any of y’all watch the Critics Choice Awards? I only ever followed these film awards somewhat loosely before 2020, and with the pandemic, I’ve followed them even less. What brought the latest one to my attention was my friend speaking with me about a woman coming for the Williams sisters when they didn’t send for her.

While accepting an award for best director, Jane Campion thought the thing to say was “Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys like I have to.” Now, if that makes sense to you, I’m open to interpretations, because it’s giving misogynoir to me. The Williams sisters’ ability to not only preservere in a white-dominated sport, but also to be thee literal best while contending with racism and sexism does not need to be down played so that you can accept your movie award. All in the name of feminism, I guess? Girl, please.

Naturally, everyone came for her and she swiftly gave a tired little apology. This totally avoidable and unnecessary situation has also brought about discussions of the differences in what feminism means for many white women, versus what it means for non-white women.

Today’s books will explore this difference, and touch on what feminism looks like today.

Now, on to the club!


Nibbles and Sips

pistachio and saffron blondies

I always love the addition of pistachio in Indian desserts whenever I come across it, and thought this saffron and pistachio blondie sounded good. Priya Krishna lays out the recipe and instructions for this one-pan masterpiece (it only takes an hour and white chocolate is involved!).

Now for the books!

What Does Feminism Mean to You?

cover of The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century by Amia Srinivasan

The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century by Amia Srinivasan

Srinivasan, a professor at Oxford, examines the idea of sex in the west, specifically the U.S. and the U.K. Through essays that make the argument that a seemingly private thing is actually a public concern, she asks how we should talk and think about sex. She argues that things like gender, class, race, sexuality, and immigration status should be considered when issues concerning consent are raised. Porn and its role in the objectification of women is also tackled, with Srinivasan questioning whether legislation would help in the internet age. She references second-wave feminism of the ’60s and ’70s, and touches on how laws that were seemingly made to protect vulnerable populations actually ended up harming them and strengthening oppressive institutions, especially in the case of sex work.

Book Club Bonus: What do you think of Srinivasan’s argument on legislation and vulnerable populations? Do you think the further marginalization of the vulnerable with these laws was intentional or merely unfortunate?

White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamas cover

White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad

Hamad covers much ground— from Zimbabwe to the U.S.— in her analysis of the culture and history of white feminism. She starts in the time of slavery in the Americas and how white women fought to keep Black people, which of course included Black women, enslaved to them. She argues how, since then, many of them have endorsed all of the evil trappings that come with colonialism, leaning onto the pedestal created for them by the patriarchy when convenient. Some of them have protected the privileges of “white womanhood” through the years by participating with white men in things like removing Indigenous children from their families and lynchings.

As evidence of this, she offers the example of how some white women will weaponize their tears in order to avoid accountability in the workplace, forcing the woman of color bringing them to task to accept blame lest she be labelled “aggressive.” Her cultural analysis includes everything from the Hunger Games to the lynchings of Mexicans in the American Southwest in the 19th century.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss what you think of the idea of exclusionary feminism having started in the time of slavery (at least for the U.S.). Do you think the type of women who believed in slavery if it benefitted them would be the same to believe in feminism?

Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis

Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis

Let’s take it all the way back, shall we? In this feminist classic, Davis also starts in the time of slavery. Enslaved Black women worked alongside the men in the fields as they, too, tried to fight against slavery whenever possible. These women embodied “hard work, perseverance and self-reliance, a legacy of tenacity, resistance and insistence on sexual equality – in short, a legacy spelling out standards for a new womanhood.” In other words, these women lived by feminist principles, but there has been a history of Black women and other women of color being separated from the movement.

Davis starts to explain when the divide took place as she details how Sarah and Angelina Grimke, two southern white sisters, fought for abolition and feminism simultaneously. Then, during the Suffrage movement, the interests of feminism changed, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott leading their followers to focus on issues that largely did not apply to non white women or working class women. Davis continues through history to the present (this book was published in the early ’80s), discussing contemporary issues (like reproductive rights, etc.).

Book Club Bonus: Discuss the contemporary issues presented by Davis. Are they still relevant today, or have they largely been solved?

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

Suggestion Section

Here are some interesting, genre bending sci fi books

A fun quiz to match the literary animal to its book

Here are the finalists for the 2022 Lambda Literary Awards

Another quiz to find out what your next historical fiction read should be

In case you all didn’t hear about the assistant principal being fired for reading a silly book

Here’s the 2022 International Booker longlist

Cormac McCarthy is publishing two new novels

Fan of Paul Yoon? Here’s a new short story


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 The Club

How About an Audiobook Club with Some Award Winners?

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

These gas prices, man! Pretty soon, my car might have to start running on vibes. Or, maybe I should give Brezzzy’s solution a try. In any case it’s real out here!

Although, there are certainly people who have more things to worry about than rising gas prices. Here are some ways to help out by donating to Ukraine, Yemen, and Ethiopia if you can!

Now, for the club!


Nibbles and Sips

Have you ever heard of caramelized banana pudding?? Typing that out made my eyes water a bit, I have to admit. Chef Millie Peartree shares her banana brilliance here. There are similarities to banana puddings you’ve probably made before, except for the caramelizing and she makes it into a pie instead of a casserole dish or bowl.

side note: how cute and fitting is her name?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 6 bananas, sliced into 1-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 ounces ‘Nilla wafers (approx. 40 wafers), plus a few more
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons/1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Now for the audiobooks!

2022’s Audie Award Winners

Audiobook performances can make or break an audiobook listening experience, elevating the book or dragging it down. There are even some books that I have read that I never would have if it weren’t for their audiobooks *cough* Jane Austen *cough* (you can judge me, it’s fine). And for some disabled folx, audiobooks are the only way to enjoy books, period.

The point is that audiobooks are poppin’, and with the Audie Awards just having been announced this past Friday, I thought it’d be cool to highlight winners and propose you have a book club meeting focused solely on reviewing audiobooks.

cover of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

This took home the audiobook of the year award and was narrated by Ray Porter. It follows Ryland Grace, who just woke up from a looong sleep on a ship in space millions of miles from home. He has a crappy memory and two corpses to contend with. Annd he’s also humanity’s last hope to defeat a threat of epic proportions, but he doesn’t remember that, either. Suffice to say, Ryland is pressed.

Book Club Bonus: Speculative fiction writers have long been credited with predicting the future, but how close to a future reality does this book come, do you think? Has the pandemic changed just how much of speculative fiction you think is possible. Discuss!

A Promised Land cover by Obama

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Obama won the narration by the author award for this presidential memoir. It makes sense, since our former president has a voice like buttah! Anywho, here Obama takes it all the way back to some of his earliest political goals on through his historic eight year term. He includes everything from developing the Affordable Care Act, contending with Vladimir Putin, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and more.

Book Club Bonus: A lot of things get blamed on the president of the moment, even if said president had no hand or control over the issue. Obama talks about some of his limits as president here. Discuss what surprised you.

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev Book Cover

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawn Walton

This won the Audie award for fiction and was narrated by Janina Edwards, Bahni Turpin, James Langton, André De Shields, Dennis Boutsikaris, Steve West, Gabra Zackman, Robin Miles, and a full cast. Phew! “Full cast,” indeed! This is about Opal, a young, Black woman from Detroit as she figures out what she wants to do with her life in the early seventies. She’s not the type to conform to social standards and wants to be a star. So when she meets the British songwriter Neville Charles, she decides to pursue her musical dream with him. Then, when another band flies the confederate flag at a concert, tragedy strikes. Years later, journalist Sunny is covering Opal and Nev’s musical history and some shocking things come to light. This is told through oral tradition, which is especially suited to an audiobook.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss what the club thought of the revelation. Does it change things? If so, how?

Local Missing Woman by Mary Kubica cover

Local Missing Woman by Mary Kubica

This won for thriller/suspense and was narrated by Brittany Pressley, Jennifer Jill Araya, Gary Tiedemann, and Jesse Vilinsky. It takes place in a peaceful town where Shelby Tebow goes missing. Then, so do Meredith Dickey and Delilah, her young daughter. The case goes cold, but then eleven years later, Delilah shows up! A whole lot of wtf-isms ensue.

Book Club Bonus: A good mystery will surprise you with the reveal, but still lay the groundwork for it to be feasible in the build up to it. Discuss how you felt this book built up to its final conclusion.

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

Suggestion Section

Colson Whitehead tweeted the name of his new book

Frolic’s book of the month is Hook, Line and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Reese’s March book pick is The Club by Ellery Lloyd 

Here’s a reflection on Goodreads. What do you think of the site?

A library grants itself the power to ban books

Danika Ellis explores how appropriate sex is in YA books


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 The Club

Influential Ukrainian, Argentinian, and Taiwanese Women Writers

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

Since March is Women’s History Month and March 8th is International Women’s Day, I thought it would be interesting to highlight some books by women writers that have been influential in other parts of the world (this is relative, of course).

To think of how some of what these authors were writing about were controversial at the time can be both heartening and sad. For one, we’ve definitely made progress in terms of there being more women and other marginalized identities publishing (mandatory disclaimer: there should be more, of course). On the other hand, I think that a couple of these books didn’t take place that long ago, which means that these issues were happening recently. Either way, it’s cool to look back on how people were writing back then, and the books I’ve chosen below can get delightfully trippy and experimental.

On to the club!


Nibbles and Sips

apple empanadas with dulce de leech dipping sauce

You’ve had empanadas, but have you ever had apple empanadas? With a dulce de leche dipping sauce?? Yeah, you need this. Layla Pujol shows us how it’s done. I don’t think I need to tell you how dangerous these are.

Now for the books!


cover of Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex by Oksana Zabuzhko, translated by  Halyna Hryn

Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex by Oksana Zabuzhko, translated by Halyna Hryn 

This is considered to be thee most successful Ukrainian novel of the ’90s. Zabuzhko is a poet, foremost, and tells the story of another poet in a winding stream of conscious style. The narrator visits Harvard as a professor of Slavic studies and is forever changed. Suddenly, being back in Ukraine feels stifling and she beings to question her culture’s conventions. A parallel is drawn between her own subjugation at the hands of her lover and her country’s through history. There was a lot of controversy when this book came out, but that helped keep it on the bestseller’s list for more than ten years.

Book Club Bonus: Zabuzhko contends with her attraction to a domineering lover. Discuss what drew her to this subjugation.

Side note: I just wanted to say that the author did not have to call me out so early in the book on the subject of house plants: “Now both plants have the appearance of having been watered with sulfuric acid for the last three weeks.” Ma’am.

cover of Thus Were Their Faces by Silvina Ocampo

Thus Were Their Faces by Silvina Ocampo, translate by Daniel Balderston  

Argentinian Ocampo has had everyone from Jorge Luis Borges to Helen Oyeyemi singing her praises on her skill with short stories and novellas. Her stories tend to include the unsettling and grotesque, like a house of sugar that leads to possession, talking horse statues, and children locking away their mothers. She studied painting and other various forms of surrealist art, which no doubt had influence on her very original stories.

Book Club Bonus: Borges was friends with Ocampo’s husband and a great admirer of her work. He once made observations on her “strange taste for a certain kind of an innocent and oblique cruelty. I attribute this to the interest, the astonished interest, that evil inspires in a noble soul.” She grew up in a privileged household, and was, as a result, a “lady.” Discuss this need of Borges to define her often dark stories. Do you think he’s on to something, or is this an unwillingness on his part to fully identify someone like Ocampo with her stories?

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

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

Miaojin was Taiwan’s first openly lesbian writer, being active in the late ’80s/early ’90s. She was studying clinical psychology and feminism with French philosopher Hélène Cixous when she met a tragic end at 26. The award-winning Notes of a Crocodile was released at the height of Taiwanese media’s unhealthy obsession with lesbians. It’s about a group of queer students at a prestigious college after Taiwan came out of martial-law. The narrator Lazi (which is a slang term for “lesbian”) details the goings-on of her crew who do everything but studying with a mix of vignettes and observations on life. She’s attracted to an older women who is ambivalent towards her, but is still reveling in her new freedom and romantic ideals.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss the analogies contained within Miaojin’s crocodile fable where, once it got back from work, the crocodile “removed the sweat-soaked human suit clinging to its body.”

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

Suggestion Section

11 Ukrainian Books Available in English Translation

 Groundskeeping by Lee Cole is March’s book for Today

March’s GMA Book Club pick is The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh

Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Lopez to write kids’ book

Roxane Gay’s book club pick for March is How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Interesting memoirs for 2022

Interesting history on literary salons

The 2022 PEN American Literary Award winners have been announced


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 time,

-E

Categories
In The Club

The Appalachia of My Eye

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

This past weekend I got cursed out by a dog. I was babysitting this super cute pittie, Blue, who likes cheese, naps, and nibbling on my hands (I know I’m a snack, but sis!). Blue is very particular about bed time and would take herself to bed promptly at 12 am. If she found that I was also not in bed at that time, but instead downstairs doing something like, I don’t know, watching TV, she’d come down to yell at me to get to bed. Apparently even dogs have better sleep schedules than me. *my father’s disapproval hums in the background*

I like house-sitting once in a while because it kind of feels like a mini vacation and gives me a chance to reset somewhat. Before my excursions with judgmental pitbulls, the last little get away I had was my (socially distanced) trip to the Poconos for Christmas, which led to me learning that it was part of the Appalachian Mountains. Turns out I don’t know much about the Appalachian region, but I’ve been seeing more books that take place in the area lately, and got curious. First off, I just realized I’m from there. Kinda. Once I started to investigate which areas constituted the region, East Tennessee was obviously counted, but Nashville was sometimes counted and other times it wasn’t. This may be because, although Nashville doesn’t have mountains that are apart of the system, the Nashville Basin is part of the Great Appalachian Valley.

Geographical technicalities aside, the area also has its own culture. One that I used to, and I think many others, have the wrong idea about. The expansive area stretches through thirteen states, including New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and the culture has a mix of Indigenous, African, and European influences. It’s interesting to think of these states as having a similar sub culture. We know all too well about how people affect their physical environment, but what about the feedback we get from the environment? To me, the fact that Appalachian culture exists across states that are very different from each other otherwise suggests that our physical environments strongly influence our language and therefore our thought patterns, our food, how we dress, and everything else that can come to be thought of as a culture. The term “Affrilachia” refers to the ways Black people have contributed all of those things to the Appalachian way of life, and was coined by Frank X Walker to give visibility to the diversity of the area.

In today’s club, we’ll get into a few books that dispel stereotypes about the region.

Now, come on and git to the club!


Nibbles and Sips

mascarpone, mushroom, and spinach pizza

I started buying these bougie frozen pizzas from Lidl and I’m hooked! One of my favorites is a mascarpone and mushroom one, so I thought I’d try my hand at it. Alice gives some good directions on how to make one, website name notwithstanding, but I don’t think they’re too complicated overall.

For the topping: olive oil, mushrooms, spinach, red onion, mascarpone cheese (need a little less than a cup), and about 6 oz mozzarella

Instructions:

  • preheat the oven to 350 F
  • pre-cook veggies separately, but not all the way; I do this to take some of the water out of them
  • Roll the dough out to form two 11 inch pizzas and put into oiled pan (I use a cast iron skillet); go ahead and rub a lil olive oil on the edges of that bad boy
  • spread mascarpone on dough
  • add veggies and mozzarella
  • bake for 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden, etc. (you know the drill!)

Now for the books!

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

(Mostly) Affrilachian Lit

cover of Affrilachia by Frank X Walker

Affrilachia by Frank X Walker

This collection of poems is essential for a list like this. As I mentioned before, Walker came up with the label “Affrilachia” to give visibility to Black people from the region. With this collection, Walker distills his experiences as a creative growing up Black and male in Kentucky, thorough the medium of poetry, shining a light on another corner of the Black American experience.

Book Club Bonus: If you’ve read other poetry collections by Black people that are about their lives, how does this one differ? Everyone has different experiences, and we’re all our own people, but based on this collection, how do you think growing up in the region changes Black childhoods?

cover of What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte

What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte

In response to Catte’s title, I say “a lot.” Catte read Hillbilly Elegy and felt some type of way, and with good reason. In this book, the East Tennessean historian shouts down the harmful stereotypes— like the idea that the region consists solely of white people with supremacist ideologies— espoused in J.D. Vance’s book. She counters Vance’s stereotypical portrayal of the area by showing how diverse it is, and even how many of the people leading the area’s progress are young minorities (while its problems are perpetuated by corporations). She also highlights the region’s activism and how there was great support for political candidates like Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential election. (She’s not Black, but I included her here because she’s a native of the region and talks about its diversity.)

Book Club Bonus: If anyone in your book club read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, this would be a great opportunity to discuss Catte’s criticisms of it. Also, how do Catte’s descriptions of the area make you feel about it? Why do you think stereotypical views of it are so persistent?

The Birds of Opulence  by Crystal Wilkinson cover

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson

Wilkinson drops us into a fictional town called Opulence located in the mountains of Kentucky. There, we follow several generations of women from two families as they struggle with mental illness, secrets, coming of age, womanhood, sexuality, and assault. We also see how the town both is both blessed and cursed by its mountainous surroundings. The writing is lyrical and poetic, as can be expected from a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets group and Kentucky’s Poet Laureate since 2021.

TW: s*xual assault

Book Club Bonus: I’ve seen the question asked before about why some Black people stayed in the South during the Great Migration, while around 6 million others moved north. How does this book answer that question?

Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks cover

Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks

bell! The late iconic feminist writer bell hooks offers vignettes on what it was like growing up in the ’50s as a Black girl in the South. She tells how she realized at an early age the difference in gender roles, and how colorism and racism were enforced. She describes living in a household with a distant and sometimes physically abusive Father where she’s grappled with her own identity in relation to “… a rich magical world of southern black culture that was sometimes paradisiacal and at other times terrifying.” As a child, she was a loner but found solace in books, which, same Auntie bell, same. hooks also has a poetry collection titled Appalachian Elegy.

Book Club Bonus: bell alternates between first and third person for this book, which some might find to be odd. Discuss the choice of using third person for a memoir. What does it add and what does it take away? Do you think it’s a way to detach from the story or simply an artistic choice?

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

Suggestion Section

Looky here! Most Texans don’t even approve of politicians challenging books

Here are some of the most influential fantasy books of all time

Books to read in your 30s

Britney Spears Gets $15M for her Memoir

How Ursula Nordstrom helped make queer children’s books mainstream


Blue, the nibbling, judgmental pitbull
Dog tax: here’s Blue looking very cute with her toys everywhere

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 time,

-E

Categories
In The Club

Black History Month, Censored

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

I never thought I’d ever experienced a Black History month where people were actively trying to undo it while it was going on. But apparently the 2020s are full of terrible surprises and here we are. How is a student group (meaning the students named themselves) called “Black and Proud” getting censored during Black history month? Are they going to censor Queer Pride during Pride month, too? I’m wondering how far and how long this is going to go before more of the general public starts protesting or we are thrown into the Middle Ages 2.0

This was entirely foreseeable if you’ve been following the extensive censorship coverage that we’ve been doing over here at Book Riot. And listen, as much as I want teachers to say eff the man and still teach these things, their jobs could very well be in danger. The Florida education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, recently said this:

“I’ve censored or fired or terminated numerous teachers,” he said. “There was an entire classroom memorialized to Black Lives Matter and we made sure she was terminated.”

The nerve. It’s quotes like these that make it seem like books like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 are nonfiction.

So, let’s get to the club and undo some of this willful unlearning of history!


Nibbles and Sips

I know I mentioned sweet potato pie last week, but have you ever had— or even heard of— sweet potato biscuits?? Me neither, but I know I need them ASAP. These have the added perk of being vegan if you’re on the look out for that, but even if you’re not vegan, I know in my heart you’ll love these. I’ve been following Sweet Potato Soul on YouTube for years and she never disappoints.

Now for the books!

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

The Fight to Learn Our History Continues On

cover of The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne

What a life! Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little in 1925, went from being the son of a preacher to a petty criminal to being a civil rights icon. Les Payne started writing this biography in the ’90s with the intention of painting an accurate picture of X that dispelled all the myths that seem to attach themselves to Black American leaders. The result is this tome, which follows X from his birth to his assassination in 1965. It shows how he was a bookish kid, set up a meeting with the KKK, and even how his death might have been connected to the CIA and FBI.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss what shocked you about Malcolm X’s life? How different is what you learned in this book from what you previously knew about him?

cover of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, Edited by  Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, Edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor 

The Combahee River Collective was a group of Black feminist socialists that met in Boston in the mid ’70s. Their primary focus was to advocate for the rights of Black women (especially queer Black women), whose needs were not being met by the Civil Rights movement or the feminist movement because of what would later be called “intersectionality,” or the amplifying of marginalizing factors that work against the individual. This book has the organization’s major text, The Combahee River Collective Statement, interviews with founding members as well as more contemporary Black activist leaders. The focus of the book is the state of Black activism and Black feminism/womanism today compared to how it was when the Collective was first started, as well as capitalism’s role in all of this

Book Club Bonus: Discuss how do the white patriarchy and capitalism complement each other. Is it possible to have one and not the other? Specifically, is it possible to still have capitalism after having done away with sexism, racism, and classism?

cover of Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall,  Hugo Martinez (Illustrator)

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall,  Hugo Martinez (Illustrator)

Ever wondered where the women were during slave revolts? Rebecca Hall did, too. Here, she shows just how involved Black women were in rebelling against enslavement, often participating in and even leading revolts. Through research, Hall fleshes out the stories of these warrior women alongside her own story of fighting the system as a tenant rights attorney. The beautiful black and white illustrations really strengthen the text.

Book Club Bonus: There are two revolts led by women that took place in New York City that are shown here. Discuss misconceptions this graphic novel does away with concerning how the South vs. the North are perceived in terms of each region’s handling of slavery and the overall treatment of Black people.

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

Suggestion Section

Here’s a light-hearted quiz for people who want a book recommendation based on discount Valentine candy

Jenna Bush Hager has a production deal for her book club

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman revealed the title and cover of her new book on Donald Trump

Here are some tips on starting your own teen book club

The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck is Oprah’s new book club pick


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 time,

-E