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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Break From the Books: Beenie Man & Bounty Killer #Verzuz battle

I’m taking a break from books and bookish things to talk about the epic event I witnessed this past weekend. An event that I sorely needed during this dull corona time since I’m staying home, as advised, and thus am unable to attend any summer parties or other events. And I’m SO happy this event happened on Memorial Day weekend (in the U.S.) as a replacement (to me) of the events that are cancelled due to corona.

But you must be wondering what event I’m talking about (if you didn’t read this title of this post). Well, it’s the latest episode of Timbaland and Swizz Beatz’s Verzuz battle on Instagram. This time it was between two great Jamaican performers, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer. Yo!! I was BEYOND excited for this!! I grew up listening to their songs. I was a kid when the competition (the war) between them was fierce, but I still remember the hype around their clashes and I still love their songs.

It was great to see them on stage together again, performing together and entertaining people. OH MY GOSH!! This performance was SO needed and so good. Great songs, nuff jokes, and good vibes. Man, I LOVE IT!!

I had to share it on here. I had to take a break from all di book dem and share this bit of my culture.

There were SO many great moments too!! I loved that they began it by playing the Jamaican national anthem, I loved the back and forth between the artists (like a clash!!), I loved the dancing, I loved the shout-outs (especially when they shout out Rihanna, who was tuning in. That was hilarious!) The part with the police tho!! YO!! That’s how you know a party is good: Babylon come through trying to shut it down. (Lol!)

Oh man! It was great. If you love Jamaican dancehall music, check it out. If you love any music, check it. If you want something entertaining, something hype, check it out. If you love hip-hop, def check it out. Hip-hop was born out of Jamaican dancehall. Just check it out, man, and enjoy it. 🙂

If I had to choose one as the winner, I’d say Bounty Killer took this. He was so entertaining! Beenie Man is my dude. I LOVE his songs and he did great too (him and him belly 😀 ), but Bounty tek it fi mi!

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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“A Time Code” by Ruth Ozeki

A Time CodeQuick overview:

A Time Code is the first in a series of books called The Face where a writer pens a short memoir about their face. Ruth Ozeki structures A Time Code using an observation method she found in “The Power of Patience,” an essay by Harvard professor of art history and architecture Jennifer L. Roberts.

In her essay, Roberts says she tries to teach her students immersive attention by sending them to a museum or gallery to spend three full hours observing a piece of art and detailing their observations, questions, and speculations. Likewise, Ozeki details her observations, questions, and speculations about her face while looking at it in a mirror for three full hours.

Sounds difficult, doesn’t it? Ozeki is a Zen Buddhist priest but even she began to get fidgety after a while. She records her thoughts by first stating the time and then jotting down her thoughts. For example:

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Weekend Reads #51: What Does It Mean to Read Diversely?

Weekend Reads is a weekly discussion on a variety of topics. At the end of the post, I’ll include what I plan to read on the weekend.

This weekend’s question:

What does the term “diverse” mean to you? And what does it mean to read diversely?

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