#52booksbywomenofcolor: June update

I’ve officially started my 26th book, which is the halfway point, still with three weeks left in June, so I’m a bit ahead of schedule. I’m continuing to post these to Instagram as I read them (follow me!) but I figure quarterly updates on the blog are OK too. Let me know if there’s anything that I didn’t officially review that you want to know more about.


5:00 PM, Wednesday June 10: 1,994,834 confirmed cases, so we may still hit 2 million today, and 112,647 Americans dead.

#52booksbywomenofcolor: March update

You may recall that I’m doing this little project where I want to read 52 books by women of color this year. I’m on track right now, as this is the last week of March and I’m just over 1/4 of the way to that magic number– technically, The Book of M is book 14 and I’m reading book 15 right now. That said, I haven’t mentioned all of these books on the site, so I thought I’d do a quick cover gallery for the first quarter of the year.

So. So far, 1/4 of the way through #52booksbywomenofcolor, I’ve read the following:

I’ve done official reviews of a few of them, but not all; let me know if there’s anything any of y’all are curious about.

On Reading: 2019-2020

It does sort of fascinate me how since I haven’t had the mental energy to write fiction and don’t have the intestinal fortitude to write about politics this blog has spent 2019 morphing into a book review site. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but it’s interesting to see how the site changes as my priorities change.

You should friend or follow me on Goodreads, if you haven’t yet.

At any rate, pictures first! Here are the books I read this year:

Some statistics that I realize only matter to me (but it’s my blog, and if y’all haven’t realized I’m a numbers nerd by now…)

  • According to Goodreads, that’s 135 books for a total of 49,866 pages. This does have full page-count for some books I DNFed but does not count any of the comic books I read this year, which Goodreads would have allowed me to add had I liked. I probably bought at least a few hundred comics this year. Let’s say around 50K pages and leave it at that.
  • 56 of those books were by authors I hadn’t read anything by before this year.
  • Diversity check: I deliberately didn’t keep track of author stats this year because I wanted to see how I read if I didn’t pay attention to who I was reading all that much. About 61 books were by women– nearly half, which isn’t too bad– and at least 41 were by people of color. I feel like that could have been higher.
  • Why “about” and “at least”? Because for some of them it isn’t quite immediately clear how they identify and for a couple at least I may just be wrong. I remember spending some time thinking Hannu Rajaniemi was Indian; he is Finnish, which makes him literally as white as it is possible to be. 🙂
  • Interestingly, despite those numbers, 12 of the 15 slots in my Best Books list this year went to women or people of color. I did not set that up on purpose.
  • One major failure this year was that I wanted to do a lot more rereading, and … just didn’t. If I remember right, I wanted to reread at least 30 books this year and only made it to fifteen. I have to do better on this score next year; eventually my bookshelves are going to literally collapse on me if I don’t do something.

135 books is quite a lot, even by my standards, and I probably won’t make it to that number again next year. Two goals: nebulously, I want to reread more of my books (again!) and I am going to focus on reading books by women of color this year. I want to have read 52 of them by the end of the year– one for each week in the year, although I don’t promise to literally read one of them each week. I’m thinking about making a point to review each of them as I go along, too, or at least a reviewlet; we’ll see what I do about that. Also, this is 52 books, not 52 authors, so if I end up reading three N.K. Jemisin books all three of them count. Just FYI. Trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary authors will be considered on a case-by-case basis; I’m probably going to count anyone who doesn’t explicitly identify as male, but I’m going to continue to call the list “women of color” because “people who do not identify as male of color” seems a trifle too wordy.

First, though, I gotta finish this big-ass book about cancer I just picked up, because obviously we gotta end 2019 and begin 2020 on a positive note, right?

Call for author recommendations

8:45 on Christmas Eve is totally the best time to do this, right? I’m sure I’ll get tons of responses.

One of my focuses for my reading next year is going to be on books by women of color. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to set it up; a percentage of my overall books is a possibility, as is simply setting a raw number of books that I want to read– I’m tempted to say 52, a book a week, but that’s going to mean a pretty good number of new authors.

Anyway, I need y’all to give me some names of authors to read. My rather considerable booklist on Goodreads is here, and I’m not exactly coming at this from a place of complete ignorance (you can leave out Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin, to start) but there have got to be lots of women of color out there that I don’t know about and I want to know about them. I generally prefer speculative fiction, as you probably already know, but any genre, fiction or nonfiction, is just fine. Recommend some books!

(Also: if you know of authors of color who identify as nonbinary, or genderfluid, or basically anything other than male, go ahead and toss their names in here. So JY Yang, who was AFAB but currently identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, counts, but Yoon Ha Lee, a trans man, does not. If you’re not sure if someone counts go ahead and tell me about them and I’ll sort it out myself later.)

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: #SHERA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER

Y’all.

I had He-Man toys as a kid.  I grew up in the eighties; it was inevitable.  I didn’t really pay a hell of a lot of attention to She-Ra because … well, I was a boy.  And She-Ra was for girls.  I also watched the He-Man cartoon, and I have very detailed memories of being very angry with WGN because at some point or another they chose to commit the cardinal sin of pre-empting an episode of He-Man with a Cubs game.  

I don’t think I ever watched the She-Ra cartoon.  I remember that she said “For the honor of Greyskull” instead of “By the power of Greyskull,” but I think that’s cultural osmosis and not an actual memory.  I could not have told you the names of a single member of her supporting cast prior to this week.

Honestly, I only decided to watch the show because it seemed to be pissing off a bunch of whiny manbaby manchildren, and I like it when those people’s feelings are hurt.  If that makes me a bad person, I can live with it.  

I probably shouldn’t even make this part of the CCPR series, y’all, because I loved every second of this show.  The three of us watched the first two episodes together and we had to force our son to go to bed at his bedtime because he wanted to stay up and watch more.  We watched the other eleven episodes in two big gulps over the next couple of days.  This is absolutely 100% unequivocally the best show I’ve ever done one of these pieces on, and I’m only not calling it my favorite animated series of all time because I feel like the second I hit Publish on this piece I’ll remember what my favorite animated series really is and I’ll feel dumb.

I’m not gonna lie: a large portion of my affection for this show is somewhat political.  I love what this show is as much as how it is what it is.  But before I get into that, I want to be super clear about something: the show is hilarious and touching and action-packed and the voice acting is superb and even before we get into any of the representation issues it’s a great show.  My son loved it so much that he’s created his own characters inspired by the show and he’s been drawing comic books about them and creating statues of them in Minecraft all day.  My son does not love the show because of politics.  My son loves the show because it’s awesome.

To wit: when She-Ra first turns Swift Wind, her horse, into a … pegacorn?  Unisus?  Rainbow horned wing-beast thing, the horse’s reaction to its new wings and horn had all three of us laughing so hard we could barely breathe.  Sea Hawk’s insistence on setting his ships on fire was a running joke that never got any less funny.  The relationship between She-Ra and Catra– an invention of the new series, from my understanding– is complex and heartbreaking, especially for a show where friendship is such an important theme, and it feels real.  Adora’s fish-out-of-water reaction to … well, virtually everything after leaving the Horde is great.  I love even the minor characters, with Mermista, Entrapta and Scorpia being particular favorites. The animation style, which got a lot of unnecessary abuse, is exactly appropriate for the show, and the facial expressions are worthy of The Amazing World of Gumball.  It’s phenomenal, all the way through.

But yeah.  Let’s talk about the cast.  This is what She-Ra’s cast of characters used to look like:

I mean, the two on the outside are both purple…

This is what the cast of the new show looks like:

So straight off the jump we’re in a better place here.  The cast of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is deliberately and intentionally diverse, both in the appearances of the characters and the actual voice cast.  Glimmer is actually kinda chubby, and Spinnerella is flat-out fat,and it’s never once remarked upon by any of the characters.  That’s just what they look like.  It’s heavy on women characters, as a show with the words Princesses of Power might be expected to be, but it’s not just a palette swap with typical cartoons, where the women have less agency and less characterization.  Bow may be the only male of the three principals with Adora and Glimmer, but he’s a solid character on his own right and his relationship with Sea Hawk is hilarious.

(A moment, please, to just appreciate the He-Man style of naming characters.  This show features a sorceress character called Castaspella, mercifully called “Casta” most of the time, and a character who throws nets whose name is Netossa.  And in case “Netossa” is too subtle for you, she actually explains it onscreen.  The character named Perfuma is once represented by some random object while the group is making a plan and she insists on being represented by a perfume bottle.  The names are ridiculous.)

And, oh, guys, it’s so gay.  So very very very very very very very gay.

This show is so gay it makes Queer Eye look like 19 Kids and Counting.

Bow wears a midriff with a heart on it.  At one point he needs to wear a tuxedo for a ball.  His tuxedo has a cummerbund on it.  He tears off the cummerbund so he can continue to rock his abs in his formalwear at the ball.  Which he attends with a girl, but oh my God his reaction when he realizes Sea Hawk is there.

The bad guys are literally wiped away by a giant rainbow wave of love in the final episode.

Spoiler alert, I guess.  I mean, if you didn’t know the good guys win at the end of the season.  You probably coulda guessed.  

Oh, and the goddamn horse ends up being a socialist.

You need to watch this show.  If that means you need to get Netflix, do it.  It’s great.  I can’t wait for the second season.  Neither can my seven-year-old son.  If my recommendation doesn’t work for you, take his.