Reading August

AugustReads

Finally! I get to read what I want, no more reading lists! But since I was so busy with uni, the number of books I need to review or have made plans to read have stacked up. So I guess there’s a reading list this month, but it is of my own making!

Here’s some of what I want to get through this month:

extremely loud

Extremely Loud: Sound as Weapon by Juliette Volcler (transl. by Carol Volk)

I guess this is my Women in Translation read 😀 Currently reading it and it’s very disturbing indeed!

In this disturbing and wide-ranging account, acclaimed journalist Juliette Volcler looks at the long history of efforts by military and police forces to deploy sound against enemies, criminals, and law-abiding citizens. During the 2004 battle over the Iraqi city of Fallujah, U.S. Marines bolted large speakers to the roofs of their Humvees, blasting AC/DC, Eminem, and Metallica songs through the city’s narrow streets as part of a targeted psychological operation against militants that has now become standard practice in American military operations in Afghanistan. In the historic center of Brussels, nausea-inducing sound waves are unleashed to prevent teenagers from lingering after hours. High-decibel, “nonlethal” sonic weapons have become the tools of choice for crowd control at major political demonstrations from Gaza to Wall Street and as a form of torture at Guantanamo and elsewhere. (goodreads)

sunny

What Sunny Saw in the Flames by Nnedi Okorafor

Also published as Akata Witch. Everything Okorafor writes is amazing, so can’t ait to get started on this one.

What Sunny Saw in the Flames transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, thirteen-year-old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino. Her eyes are so sensitive to the sun that she has to wait until evening to play football. Apart from being good at the beautiful game, she has a special gift: she can see into the future. (goodreads)

underground

The Underground Railway by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her of the Underground Railroad and they plot their escape. Like Gulliver, Cora encounters different worlds on each leg of her journey. (goodreads)

Malice

Malice in Ovenland by Micheline Hess

You’ll never look at your oven the say way again!

Lily Brown is a bright, curious, energetic young girl from Queens, New York. She lives with her mom and loves reading and writing and spending time with her friends. But she hates cleaning! So, when her mom forces her to stay home for the summer instead of going off to some fun soccer or riding camp, Lily fumes. She wanted excitement and adventure. She didn’t want to do chores.Little did she know that the greasy oven in the kitchen was going to give her more excitement and adventure than she could possibly handle. (goodreads)

jemima code

The Jemima Code by Toni Tipton-Martin

Remember me gushing about Critical Food Studies here? I think it was Leslie who then recommended Jemima Code to me, so very excited for this one!

Women of African descent have contributed to America’s food culture for centuries, but their rich and varied involvement is still overshadowed by the demeaning stereotype of an illiterate “Aunt Jemima” who cooked mostly by natural instinct. To discover the true role of black women in the creation of American, and especially southern, cuisine, Toni Tipton-Martin has spent years amassing one of the world’s largest private collections of cookbooks published by African American authors, looking for evidence of their impact on American food, families, and communities and for ways we might use that knowledge to inspire community wellness of every kind. (goodreads)

yetunde

Yetunde: An Ode to my Mother by Segilola Salami

Part of my quest to give self-published lit and authors a shot. Psst, you can currently enter the goodreads giveaway for a copy.

Death is wicked . . .
Follow Yetunde as she narrates her mother’s ode to her grandmother. It is the Yoruba praise poetry for a mother known as Oriki Iya. (goodreads)

fears death

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Yes! More Okorafor! But you see, I HAVE to read this one for Diverse SFF Book Club.

In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means “Who Fears Death?” in an ancient African tongue.

ballad

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

Our current read for Diverse SFF Book Club, I finished this one and it’s very good. Definitely need to check out Lavalle’s other works.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping. (goodreads)

miri castor

The Path to Dawn by Miri Castor

Opal is a young girl living in Dewdrop, a bustling suburb southeast of New York. Life is a constant struggle for her, until she befriends newcomer, Hope Adaire. With the girls’ friendship slowly beginning to grow, Opal’s life begins to change in mysterious ways, as the secrets of Hope’s enigmatic life begins to unfold. (goodreads)

policing planet

Policing the Planet by Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton

Policing has become one of the urgent issues of our time, the target of dramatic movements and front-page coverage from coast to coast in the United States, and, indeed, across the world. Now a star-studded, wide-ranging collection of writers and activists offers a global response, describing ongoing struggles over policing from New York to Ferguson to Los Angeles, as well as London, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, and Mexico City.
This book, combining first-hand accounts from organizers with the research of eminent scholars and contributions by leading artists, traces the global rise of the “broken-windows” style of policing, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, a doctrine that has vastly increased and broadened police power and contributed to the contemporary crisis of policing that has been sparked by notorious incidents of police brutality and killings. (goodreads)

It’s gonna be a busy month! What are y’all reading in August? Any particular plans?

Mailbox Monday

mailboxmonday

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists

It’s been ages since I’ve participated in this meme, but it’s lovely to see that it’s still around. You’ve probably noticed it’s been a bit more quiet around here and many know I’m one step away from graduating, but I need to concentrate on studying and so I thought I’ll leave you with bookish envy until I return August 4th.

Usually, I don’t get that many books in my mailbox but this week has been lovely and added three exciting works to my shelves:

feminist bookstore movement

The Feminist Bookstore Movement: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability (Kristen Hogan)

From the 1970s through the 1990s more than one hundred feminist bookstores built a transnational network that helped shape some of feminism’s most complex conversations. Kristen Hogan traces the feminist bookstore movement’s rise and eventual fall, restoring its radical work to public feminist memory. The bookwomen at the heart of this story mostly lesbians and including women of color measured their success not by profit, but by developing theories and practices of lesbian antiracism and feminist accountability. (Amazon)

on being included

On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (Sara Ahmed)

What does diversity do? What are we doing when we use the language of diversity? Sara Ahmed offers an account of the diversity world based on interviews with diversity practitioners in higher education, as well as her own experience of doing diversity work. Diversity is an ordinary even unremarkable feature of institutional life. And yet, diversity practitioners often experience institutions as resistant to their work, as captured through their use of the metaphor of the “brick wall.” On Being Included offers an explanation of this apparent paradox. It explores the gap between symbolic commitments to diversity and the experience of those who embody diversity. (Goodreads)

underground

The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her of the Underground Railroad and they plot their escape. (Goodreads)

The first two books I splurged on when Duke UP had a 50% sale and I’ve been wanting them for quite some time. Sara Ahmed is one of my favorite activist academics even if she is intimidatingly smart and I love the intro. Hogan’s books sounds amazing and it’s a topic I wish I knew more about. It’s written by a white woman but I’ll be interested to see how she works the antiracism angle. And finally @BlackBrainFood (must follow for amazing tweets on Black culture) over on twitter send me their copy of Whitehead’s new book, I’m so excited to read this!

Which books are new on your shelves? Bought or otherwise acquired.

On Building A Personal Library: Attempts At Decolonizing My Shelves

personal library blog pic

I’ll be graduating soon and for the first time ever, really, I will not be spending most of my book money on course literature. Which is not to say that many of these books were not ones I enjoyed and want to keep, but some were indeed books I lugged around with me from place to place and never touched after the term paper was handed in. So in considering the current state of my shelves, how much I’ve grown as a reader and a person over the last years and also that I will probably be moving again sometime this year, well I decided it was a good time to start thinking about building a personal library.

My first step will be getting rid of more books (no worries, I’ll donate them). I’ve been sorting out books over the last year and frankly, it has been a relief. Not beholden to any institution or reading list any longer, I started looking through my bookstacks, yes also those in the very back, and found that about half of my library is made up of classics, dudebro lit and other mainstream white works. And so, I find my shelves are in desperate need of decolonizing.

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case in point

Why do this? For me, this is a project of personal growth and working at transformation and social justice. It’s not a corset I’m trying to make myself fit into, or strange restrictions to make my reading life harder. This is who I am and who I hope to be and I want to surround myself with the thoughts and experiences of other people at the margins. I want to look at my shelves as a how-to on transformation, a place of support and an archive of knowledge.

Consider this an intro post, because writing about building a personal library is something I want come back to more often in the coming months, partly to document my progress (yes, there will be pics) and partly to think more on various specific building blocks. These are the acquisition of backlists of my favorite writers, secondary literature and non-fiction on race, feminism, food justice and history of medicine, and novels by women of color and further intersections beyond the few core texts I have. An example is that I have started to look for German writers of color, which is much more difficult than it should be and so I need to educate myself on where to find these works because I want to connect more with my own history. Hopefully, decolonizing my shelves will go hand in hand with decolonizing my mind. Big words, but this is necessary.

What’s the start of your personal library? Are you happy with it or do you have any plans?

Building an Archive: The #DiverseBookBloggers Directory

ddbb header done

More exciting #DiverseBookBloggers news: We now have a directory up and running! It’s still a work in progress but please stop by and if you’re a diverse book blogger make sure to add your blog! And send me a photo of your header for example if you’d like one included. Also, we have badges! Stop by and make sure to grab one for your blog/space and link back to the directory. There’s also an “I support”- badge for allies, we’d appreciate the support and spreading of the word 🙂

FINAL iamdbb badgeFINAL isupport ddb badge

There’s a resource page, where we list book lists by bloggers that highlight for example Mexican-American authors or Chican@ Speculative Fiction etc. Please let me know if you have created such a list on your blog, we’d love to add it to the directory! An index page with categories for easier navigation will be up soon.

The directory will hopefully function as an archive and a resource for bloggers, authors and publishers. We’d like to make an impact collectively! So please stop by, browse, add your blog and follow us! I’m admin, so feel free to contact me with any concerns and questions you might have.

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feature

In other #DiverseBookBloggers news, Whitney at Brown Books & Green Tea has started a fantastic new feature in which she will spotlight diverse book bloggers. She was kind enough to ask me to start things off and asked me some tough questions. Thanks so much, Whitney! So if you’re still not tired of hearing from me, make sure to read what I had to say here. And make sure to follow her for smart and in-depth reviews of diverse books!

What’s the last diverse book you read? Let me know in the comments!

5 on my tbr

It’s been a while – again. I’m swamped with work at the moment, but then today I remembered the no-pressure-blogging resolution for this year. So, how about a quick post with five books that are currently on my tbr (it’s what I call my shoe box full of post-it notes with scrawls of titles and authors a.k.a. the ton of books I wish I had lying around). Have some pretty pics of pretty books:

Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (Saidiya Hartman)

hartman

Though I’ve read quite a bit about the Black Atlantic, Hartman’s work is still on my tbr. I’ve recently finished Cvetkovich’s Depression (which is amazing!) and she references and makes use of Lose Your Mother in her arguments. I really want to read this one now.

Die Tapetentür (Marlen Haushofer)

haushofer

My wonderful friend Vishy gave me Haushofer’s The Wall and I absolutely loved it (and I will review that one soon). So I thought I’d check out her other works and this one sounded great plus my library actually has a copy. The main character in this one is a librarian! and I hope Haushofer’s portrayal of women will be as great here.

Life after Life (Kate Atkinson)

atkinson

Absolutely love Atkinson’s crime fiction and most of all her biting sense of humor and nastiness of character descriptions. Time to try her novels and this one is recent and I’ve been seeing a lot of it on the blogosphere etc. Though it usually takes me ages to get to new books.

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy (Nikki Loftin)

loftin

A kind of Hänsel & Gretel revisited for middle-graders, it sounds like huge fun and some reviewers made daring Roald Dahl comparisons (careful with such comparisons please!!). This can only lead to disappointed expectations, but I want to give it a try anyway since I’m also a sucker for the cover art.

Brown Skin, White Masks (Hamid Dabashi)

dabashi

To make up for my shallow cover art comment, here’s an academic tbr (see I have depth) ;P I read more of those nowadays it seems, but I only recently discovered Dabashi’s work even existed. The Fanon book was amazing and this one basically connects it with Orientalism and our era and discusses the problems of intellectual migrants and informing on one’s home country. Will have to see about the quality of the arguments, but if it does what it advertises then I really want to include it in all future discussions of colonialism and Orientalism.

Have you read these books? Do you want to?

Also, self-conscious blogger question: Are posts like this of interest to you or do you prefer in-depth reviews?

Vote what books I will review next!

(The New Yorker, November 2006) via

 

While I’m quite happy with the number of books I read, the downside is that there is lots to review. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing reviews, it gives me a chance to organize my thoughts on a book and try my best to get you all to read it. But I seem to get slower and slower with writing them up, or I’m reading more than I used to. Whatever it is, the list of unreviewed books is more than daunting. So I thought I’d let you decide what books I should review next. That way, you get to read about books you are really interested in, and I know where to start 🙂

 

See what I mean, too many books to review. Oh, and multiple answers are allowed! 🙂

2010 in Books

Happy new year, everyone! I hope you all had a great time welcoming 2011!

2010 was a great year. In late December 2009 I moved my blog from Vox to wordpress and so 2010 was the year I really started book blogging and discovered a wonderful community and my tbr list exploded from all the amazing books that I found through your blogs. So I want to say thanks to everyone for being so nice and inspiring and interesting people with wonderful blogs!

As for my reading in 2010, I managed to read 100 books which makes me quite happy since this (well 100) was something I was hoping for last year (when I read 90 books, and 100 is a more satisfying number). I  also like those even numbers, so I squeezed in the Crispin and what a fun quick read it was! I spent quite a bit of time trying to come up with a list of favorites, it’ so difficult! But here’s my top 16 in no particular order and likely to change very day:

1.) The Female Malady (Elaine Showalter)

2.) The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam (Lauren Liebenberg)

3.) The Night Watch (Sarah Waters)

4.) Cider with Rosie (Laurie Lee)

5.) Regarding the Pain of Others (Susan Sontag)

6.) After the Armistice Ball (Catriona McPherson)

7.) The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag (Alan Bradley)

8.) What Was Lost (Catherine O’Flynn)

9.) Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn)

10.) The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (Maggie O’ Farrell)

11.) A Single Man (Christopher Isherwood)

12.) The Moving Toyshop (Edmund Crispin)

13.) In the Shadow No Towers (Art Spiegelman)

14.) Beside the Sea (Véronique Olmi)

15.) Man Walks Into A Room (Nicole Krauss)

16.) Ex Libris (Anna Fadiman)

 

A few stats:

 

I read ten more books in 2010 than in 2009, but the more striking difference was the amount of books I read by female authors (61 to 39). I think my reading has usually been quite balanced with regard to gender but in 2010 I seem to have discriminated against male authors’ works 😉

Looking at the ratio of fiction to non-fiction I read, it’s very obvious that I almost exclusively read fiction, with a lousy 11 non-fiction Also, most of the non-fiction I read were memoirs. Perhaps I should start counting the articles I read for uni, but I really hope I’ll read more non-fiction this year without making a resolution out of it. Any non-fiction that you can recommend, which also makes good reading?

Since graphic literature isn’t my favorite medium, I’m a bit proud that I read a couple of comics in 2010 (small steps, right?). And the most prominent genre is of course crime! 🙂 So here’s a break-down of genres plus graphic literature (and some of them overlap):

Heh, I guess it’s no surprise that I read a lot of mysteries, it’s my escapism and comfort genre. But I did branch out and only read two Christies! In terms of nationality, I clearly favour English (American) literature. Perhaps that will change at some point (when I’m done with uni?). So here’s the nationality breakdown (cause I just enjoy playing with my new notebook so much)

 

 

So that was my reading year 2010. What are my plans for 2011? Jo from Bibliojunkie and I are hosting the Read A Myth Challenge which I’m very excited about and I hope a lot of you will join us in. I also couldn’t resist signing up for A Year of Feminist Classics which sounds fantastic. Other than that I will read whatever I want, whenever I feel like it!

 

To review or not to review?

Sometime this year I told myself I was going to try to be a good book blogger and actually post reviews. I´ve been slacking this month though, partly because I´m home for the holidays and have to fight for the computer and because the books read are piling up. So I thought I´d post a list of books I´ve read this month and you get to decide if and what book(s) you´d like me to review (don´t want to bore my three readers 😉 ).

Here´s the list:

Fingersmith (Sarah Waters)

Wild Seed (Olivia E. Butler)

The Clothes They Stood Up In and The Lady in the Van (Alan Bennett)

Rape. A Love Story (Joyce Carol Oates)

A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Barbara Robinson)

I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)

Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates)

EDIT: Alright, thank you all for commenting and voting! This is the result so far:

I Capture the Castle (4 votes)

Revolutionary Road (3)

A Clockwork Orange (1)

Rape. A Love Story (1)

The Clothes They Stood Up In and The Lady in the Van (1)

Reviews for I Capture the Castle and Revolutionary Road will be up tomorrow.

New Blog

Vox got on my nerves just one too many times. I like sidebars, Vox doesn´t. Especially not widgets. It´s not possible to import the old entries from Vox (and I´m not in the mood to do this manually) but everyone who reads my Vox post is on worpress anyway . I might still post links to this blog on Vox though.