Weekend Reads #106: On the Assumption That White Means Universal

There is an assumption in publishing (and in Hollywood, actually) that books by Black authors aren’t universal, that they won’t appeal to a wide (White) audience. I recently read two articles that touch on this topic (one on LitHub and another on Tor.com) and they reminded me of a blog post by notable sci-fi author N.K. Jemisin that I read a couple years ago on why she doesn’t want her books to be placed in the African American section of bookstores and libraries. I reread Jemisin’s blog post this morning and although it was published a decade ago, back in March 2010, it still applies today.

These days, the African American section of bookstores I visit contain sociology books and history books that pertain to Black experiences in America. No longer (it seems) is that section an amalgamation of books by Black authors no matter the genre or whether or not they are fiction or nonfiction; no longer (it seems) is it a place where all books written by Black authors are dumped. But despite this improvement, publishing still has a problem with how it promotes books by Black authors.

To me, it’s recently, within the past year or so, that publishing increased its promotion of books by Black authors somewhat. I may be wrong on the timeframe, but up until then, whenever I saw a recently published novel by a Black author, they were often pushed toward Black audiences only, unlike books by White authors that were promoted to everyone, regardless of race, because of their “wide” appeal.

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Weekend Reads #105: Black Lives Matter

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

I don’t have a discussion post this week. This is just a quick chit-chat because I can hardly think straight right now. There’s so much going on at the moment. So many people are upset and in uproar. I’ve been having conversations about the current political and social climate all week that by end of the day on Thursday, my mind was so wrung out that I couldn’t think straight much less contribute well during a virtual work meeting.

Despite the corona pandemic, as a Black person, I’m happy to be alive at this time. Yes, it is a traumatic time. Yes, I’ve been anxious, depressed, confused, and angry just about everyday, but I am happy to be alive at this time to witness the movements and pushes for change to better Black lives and to see the urge for this change and support for it spread around the world, to see other nations stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Reflecting on 2019: Life

2019 was a good year. 😀

I saw and did many amazing things and reached goals I thought I wouldn’t. I am proud, glad, and grateful for all I did and accomplished in 2019 and am thankful for all the help I received.

My word for 2019 was Movements, a simple word but it drove everything I did. 2019 was about making significant progress in the things and areas I wanted improve. And I did exactly that. Unfortunately, at times my blog was neglected as other parts of my life became more busy, but I will be back on track in this new year.

I’m so happy with myself right now. 🙂 It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way, so I intend to relish every moment of this feeling. In fairly recent past years (lol I find that whole phrase funny), I’ve been through personally trying times: moments of deep sadness, anger, and worthlessness. Blogging and reading helped to distract me and prevent me from wallowing in such dark feelings. And sometimes I’d get lucky and stumble on books that were centered on exactly what I was feeling, experiencing, tackling. The book that stands out the most at this moment is Pema Chödrön’s Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better, which I’ve mentioned and recommended many times, especially to those going through a difficult period. That book was very helpful in making me change my internal dialogue and push on through such dark moments.

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Reflecting on 2018: Life

Believe it or not, self-discipline is something I still need to work on. 2018 was dedicated to improving my self-discipline, but I stated the goal and immediately forgot about it. I did try to curb my appetites and refrain from overindulging in things I love, but I wasn’t very successful. I was unable to prevent myself from succumbing to immediate gratification and my bank account often hurt because of it.

Looking forward, I plan to continue working on my self-discipline in 2019. My progress is slow, but I made small achievements toward the later part of 2018 and I’d like to build on them and go further in 2019. However, self-discipline will not be my theme for 2019. Instead, 2019 will be about making major Movements — that is, taking leaps that I’ve been fearful of to achieve my topmost goals.

I foresee, well, hope, that by the end of 2019 I will have achieved at least 2 of my topmost goals, which are huge goals that I’m anxious about. I don’t know what I’ll do with myself once I’ve achieved them.

So, cheers to making major Movements in 2019!

Happy New Year,

Z

Weekend Reads #90: I’m Just Procrastinating

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend, but I don’t have a topic this weekend. Just my random thoughts:

Staying committed to a thing from beginning to end is not something I’m good at. I always get distracted somewhere in between and go off on a tangent, never able to find my way back to what I was working on before. That’s why I’m surprised I’ve stuck with this blogging thing for so long. I thought I’d have gotten distracted by something else by now and given it up. But no. I’m still here posting away about whatever catches my fancy.

Why am I writing about this? I don’t know. I just wanted to do a Weekend Reads post. I wanted to share my thoughts on a thing and write something insightful, but nothing was coming so I just wrote whatever popped up in my mind. This is what came out — my lack of commitment to my projects.

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Weekend Reads #88: Mourning My Favorite Character…for no good reason

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This weekend’s topic:

I want Fitz back!

**Quick note: Spoilers below for Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, Liveship Traders trilogy, and Tawney Man trilogy. DO NOT spoil me for anything that comes after those books. Thanks!

Do you mourn your books? Do you lament stories you’ve completed? Do you grieve for plots that have petered to an end, never to flow forth in a story again? Do you pine for the moments you spent with characters you love and for the wondrous events you read, emotions you felt, epic friendships that seemed as if they’d last forever, love so true that nothing would come between them, and quests so grand and heroic that you had to pause a moment and take a breath when reading about them?

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Weekend Reads #86: High-School Experiences

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I’m currently reading.

This week’s topic:

High-school experiences

That just popped into my head. I didn’t have a topic for this weekend but when I started writing about not having a topic, I thought back to a podcast I listened to a while back where two authors of YA novels said “everyone’s high-school experience was horrible” and if your experience wasn’t horrible, then you were doing something wrong. (Not the exact words, but that’s the gist of it.)

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Weekend Reads #84: Recent Books I DNF

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I’m currently reading.

(Yeah, I know the weekend has passed, but I was busy.)

This week’s topic:

Books I DNF

(FYI: DNF means did not finish.)

This post isn’t about my struggle to DNF books or whether or not it’s right to do so or whether or not we should rate books we DNF. I think all such choices are entirely up to the reader and though we are book bloggers, we should remember that we are readers first; so if you don’t like a book, it’s okay to stop reading it. And if you have a strong opinion on it, though you haven’t yet completed the book, it’s a free world (for the most part) so share your opinion and rate the book on Goodreads and/or your blog, if you feel like doing so.

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Weekend Reads #83: I try audiobooks for the first time…sort of

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This week’s topic:

Audiobooks

Much has changed since the last time I reviewed audiobooks on here. For example, I’ve listened to more audiobooks since then and now realize that whether or not I enjoy an audiobook depends on who narrates it.

Such was the case in my last audiobook review, where I discussed listening to the audio version of Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief, a YA novel by Rick Riordan, and You, a thriller novel by Caroline Kepnes. I had vastly different experiences with both audiobooks because I hated the former but loved the later.

My experience with the audiobooks I’ll mention in this post is similar — I love one but hate the other, — but there is a difference. Up until this post, I’ve only used audiobooks to reread books. I did so because I feared that my mind would wander as I listen and I would miss important parts of the story. Also, since I’m a visual learner, I thought that I would miss certain details that I love to pay attention to when I read the physical/e- book, such as the author’s writing. I thought that listening to an audio version of a new-to-me book would lessen my reading experience of it. And after listening to The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, narr. by Finty Williams, and The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, narr. by a cast of actors, it seems I was right.

…sort of.

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Weekend Reads #82: Can’t Focus

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This week’s topic:

Lacking focus

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve taken time to sit and write. I no longer seek a moment of peace to engage in this activity. I sometimes feel as if I no longer think because it’s becoming harder to hear my thoughts in this modern world filled with noise and distraction.

That’s what happens when I take a moment to think and write — I get distracted. My phone vibrates and I have to pick it up to see why. I overhear a conversation and I have to get up and find out what’s being said. I recall a TV show or movie and I have to look it up and watch it for a while to remember what it’s about. An odd bit of fact pops in my head and I have to research it immediately on Google, though I have no need for the fact at that time.

It’s either that or my house is so noisy that I can’t think straight or hear my thoughts. I live with my family and my parents recently learned how to play the silly videos their friends send them on their phone. I hate whomever it was who taught them to do that. The speaker on their phones isn’t great so when heard from afar (because they play the videos loud), the sound is squeaky and annoying. It grinds my nerves. There’s no way for me to concentrate through that. The only thoughts that come through is “SMASH. PHONE.”

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