I’m 3/4 of the way to my goal with only 2/3 of the year gone, so it’s possible I may be able to convert this from 52 books to 52 authors by the end; school starting and eye surgery have slowed me down a bit, but that should still be doable. At any rate, here’s the most recent batch, some of which I reviewed and some I didn’t; feel free to ask questions if you have them.
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.
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.
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?
Got into an interesting conversation on Twitter tonight (I’m writing this Sunday night to pop on Monday morning) and I feel the need to expand on my thoughts a little bit without the restriction of 140 characters, especially since the thread quickly expanded to include four different Twitter handles, and actually talking got kinda difficult quickly.
You can hit up my Twitter stream if you want all the details, but this is the Tweet that caught my attention. I’m stripping the username out of it because the guy was being reasonable and polite the whole time and I’m not writing this to dump on him– plus, again, my Twitter feed is literally to the right of this post anyway if you want to go looking.
The original post was a question:
My only question to you two is this: is it wrong to discriminate against authors based on gender and race?
A bit of background is perhaps necessary: While I am not completely certain where the hashtag campaign originated, it blew up right around the time this article by K. T. Bradford was published at XOJane. The headline for the article really tells you everything you need to know: I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year.
A couple things on that.
1) I am a white, straight, cis male author.
2) I like it when people read my books. I like it more when they read my books via sending me money for them.
3) You should absolutely do this challenge if you’re remotely interested in it, even though it means you won’t be reading any of my books for a year. Although you could decide to start it in May, right after you finish reading The Sanctum of the Sphere.
Is it wrong to discriminate against authors based on gender and race?
Yes. Discrimination is wrong.
However, and this is real goddamn important: DECIDING TO NOT READ SOMEONE’S WORK IS NOT DISCRIMINATING AGAINST THEM. That’s first and foremost. Absolutely nogoddamnbody anywhere owes an author a read of their books. I don’t owe it to anyone to read their books. None of you owe it to me to read my books unless you are my momma or my wife, and even they probably don’t really have to if they don’t want to. As a reader, in order to read your books I have to invest both a) my money and b) my time, which is far more valuable to me. You are not entitled to either of those things.
As a writer, I am similarly not entitled to either of those things from my readers. It takes a special kind of blindness to one’s own privilege to see “I don’t want to give you my money or my time” and interpret it as discrimination. That is not remotely what that word means and you absolutely cannot even begin to think that way unless you believe (and you may not even realize you believe it) that you are somehow entitled to the time and money of other people. It’s simply not true at all.
Furthermore: nowhere does K.T. Bradford say you should never read books by white, straight, cis male authors again. She explicitly challenges her readers to stop reading writers of that persuasion for a year. Even if you could claim discrimination if someone was trying to talk people out of buying your work based on some immutable physical characteristic of yours, your already-bad-and-wrong case gets even weaker when the time-limited aspect is added in. This is not, to use a food metaphor, never eat a cheeseburger again. This is try some goddamn chicken once in a while.
This is, in fact, basically the book version of Lent. A lot of y’all are Christians, right? So maybe you gave up something for Lent. It’s ludicrous to decree that you are discriminating against gambling, or chocolate, or Coke Zero or masturbation or whatever by giving it up for a few months. You’re denying yourself something you like, yes, and maybe a really good candy bar might debut during that forty days or however long Lent is, but it’ll still be there after Lent. And maybe in the meantime you’ll have discovered that you really enjoy playing handball instead of gambling, or eating roasted brussels sprouts instead of chocolate, or vodka instead of Coke Zero, or self-flagellation instead of masturbating. Once Lent is over, you can go right back to those other things– only now you’ve discovered all this other stuff that you like too! Maybe you’ll discover something you liked even more than chocolate!
How would you have known that if you never tried?
Now, all that said: I am not participating in this challenge. I already try to keep an eye out for writers of color and women writers, and if I remember right three of my four top books for the last two years were not by white males, so I’m clearly doing something right. I bought Django Wexler’s first book at least partially because I assumed that being named Django meant he was black, and I still think he’s cheating. I am, in fact, reading The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison right now, and I’m about halfway through it and it’s spectacular. Do I say this so that you’ll give me a cookie? No. I say this to point out that by looking out for the occasional Saladin Ahmed or Helene Wecker or Bill Campbell or Nnedi Okorafor or Ann Leckie or whoever, I’m already getting cookies. And cookies are delicious and you should eat more of them, even if it means that sometimes you’re too full for yet another baked potato.
I may, at some point in this post, have overmixed a metaphor.
tl;dr: Quit being silly, white guys.