This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: Recommend a diverse classic. I should start off by saying that I haven’t read enough of them. My classic niche is definitely 1800s England and France, which I think we can agree weren’t the most diverse places. And so many of the “diverse” classics assigned to us in school (To Kill a Mockingbird, Heart of Darkness, Siddhartha) were actually written by white folks. In fact, if I’m being honest, both books I want to recommend today were written in the 1980s, so I don’t know that I can even really call them classics. So if you want a good recommendation for classics by diverse authors, I might recommend this list from Bookriot.
In the end, though, I think I’m going to stick with my wheelhouse, 1800s England. It’s pretty common knowledge now that Oscar Wilde was gay, but at the time homosexuality was still illegal and Wilde actually went to prison as a result of a semi-public affair. And while queer themes are usually veiled in Wilde’s work, his exuberant personality makes them such a joy to read and watch.
Oscar Wilde was most famous for being a playwright, and I highly recommend the 2002 movie version of The Importance of Being Ernset starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, and more. Wilde’s comedy is laugh out loud funny, and these actors really bring the larger than life characters to life.
But Wilde wrote a single novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, that is my recommendation today. It’s a haunting tale of young Dorian, a wealthy socialite so beautiful and self-absorbed that he wishes his portrait would age instead of him. When his wish is mysteriously granted, Dorian leads a life with no other purpose than to fulfill his every desire. As you can imagine, this leads to all kinds of tragedy for the people surrounding Dorian, and soon Dorian’s portrait is unrecognizable.
Apparently 2020 is the year of black covers over here in Sci-Fi/Fantasy land. It wasn’t until after I was looking at my pre-order list that I realized just how many there are, but golly y’all, every book I’ve bought or pre-ordered this year except for one has had a black cover! I wonder if this is something that’s intentional marketing (maybe black books are selling better right now?) or whether it’s just a coincidence. It might say something about how darker books are more popular right now too.
Anyway, I’m not complaining because all of these book covers are just jaw-dropping. Some seriously awesome cover design.
These are in no particular order.
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
In this case I think the black cover is definitely meant to reflect the content of the book. I think there’s dark magic involved, and the school involved seems like it’s probably a pretty dark place in every meaning of the word. Anyway, this cover is sooooo cool looking. I love its simplicity and the way the gold pops against the black. A Deadly Education comes out in September.
A few years ago, back when I was just getting into blogging, there was a trend going around where book bloggers would “reveal” their stats is a big post with overwhelming graphs, numbers, and analysis. They always prefaced the post talking about how uncomfortable it felt and how unusual it is to talk about stats. So I always kind of thought statistics were kind of SECRET, and maybe a big deal.
But I’m on my third year as a book blogger, and I find that I continue to just … not care. Y’all, this is a hobby*, and I refuse to treat it as more than that. I’m here to make friends, not get followers.
So how do you do it? How do you keep from obsessing about something that may seem so important? Well, I’m not an expert. But I do have a few ideas to throw out there that may help.
*This post was written for hobby bloggers, not professional or semi-professional bloggers. Those people should please ignore all the remaining content.
1. Numbers don’t mean anything
This is the most important piece of advice I have to offer. Followers, likes, views, they don’t mean anything. Again, louder for my friends in the back: NUMBERS ARE LITERALLY MEANINGLESS.
If you’ve gotten a comment from my on Instagram or the blogosphere in the last month and a half you’ve probably heard me say “I’ve had that book on my tbr FOREVER, and I just haven’t gotten to it yet!” (Is that the book blogger motto or what?) I’ve also got a quarter million new releases out or coming out in 2020 that I want to read.
The obvious problem here is that I have a hard time prioritizing certain books. As a very much mood reader I tend to skip on heavier or more serious books, even if I *really* want to read them. I DON’T WANT TO DO THAT!!!
So I hand-wrote a list of must-reads in 2020! (Any other type As out there??) Here they are!
Must-Read New Releases
The Year of the Witching Have had this Salem-esque book on my TBR since January, and a fellow bookstagramer just gave me the green-light that it’s not too scary to read. Can’t wait!
The Angel of the Crows First of all, Katherine Addison is my everything. Second of all, an alt-history London with monsters, Jack the Ripper, and a Sherlock vibe? Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!
Deacon King Kong Heard a great interview with James McBride that made me decide to pick this book up. Excited for the slice-of-life storytelling, religious characters, and light satire.
I’ll Be the One I’m in a fluffy mood lately, and this looks like the funnest book on my tbr. Plus East-Asian rep AND body-positive rep!
Honestly I’m not feeling super celebratory this year. Over the top patriotism has bothered me for a while, but this year it feels especially off. We still ate apple pie and hotdogs, and we still went to fireworks (there is no such thing as a bad reason to set off safe, colorful explosives)*, but posting American flags made out of books on Instagram feels icky.
Still, since this year marks the 244th anniversary of signing of the document that started one of the more influential revolutions in history, I thought it might be fun to talk about some of my favorite books about revolutions. These are in no particular order. Half-assed listicles for the win!
*plus outside is apparently VERY low-risk of Covid spread, so I figured this was a good opportunity to get my kids out of the house for the first time in months
The Hunger Games Trilogy
Obviously! A good dystopia needs a good revolution, but my favorite thing about this revolution is how messy it is. Both sides are willing to do pretty terrible things in the name of victory, and in the end Katniss doles out justice on a whim. Nothing is black and white in this series, especially Katniss, which is what I think STILL separates this book from all the other YA dystopias out there. Plus the side-characters are SO COMPELLING!!!
The last 365 days or so I’ve made a big effort to read more in a variety of genres. The result is that I’ve read some amazing books that I would never have read before! So I thought I would take some time to share with you all my favorite book from each genre.
Literary Fiction: Bel Canto
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’re probably tired of hearing about Bel Canto. But I’m going to tell you again anyway. In an unnamed South American Country, a group of rich industrialists get together for a birthday dinner/concert. A group of guerrilla terrorists show up to kidnap the president of the country, who isn’t there. Their indecision leads them to being stuck with a hundred hostages when the military shows up. The terrorists and the businessmen get to know each other, form friendships, and even fall in love. It’s beautiful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s just wonderful.
Greetings Potterheads and book nerds! This is a special day, the start of a special week. The LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL here in the US. In my neighborhood we had a parade for seniors on Friday (they drove around the neighborhood honking their horns), and graduation is ACTUALLY HAPPENING next weekend. Outdoors and in face masks, but actually happening. I’m so happy for seniors that they aren’t going to loose this special moment. (Especially since, let’s be honest, high schoolers around here aren’t social distancing anyway.)
In honor of the end of the school year and school yearbooks, this year I’m hosting a Harry Potter superlatives awards. These are based on your votes, and may the best character win. 🙂
This was a close one! But I have to say, I’m happy with your pick. This character doesn’t smile often, but when they do they light up the room, and our hearts.
Hey y’all! It’s yearbook time of year! It’s easy for me to feel nostalgic rather than devastated about yearbooks right now, but I know that isn’t the case for high schoolers, especially seniors. But I thought it might be fun to take one of my favorite end-of-year activities from high school and apply it to Harry Potter.
Anyone else love superlatives? I lived for them. They were, hands down, my favorite part of band banquet. I still have my little purple recorder from the third time I was voted the biggest band nerd. I use it as a talking piece at school. Man, I miss those days. *pauses to reflect* If there’s one thing Hogwarts didn’t have but it needed, it’s superlatives.
FRIENDS! I need you to vote!! Pretty please with sugar on top!!!!
I am fighting with twitter, I don’t know why it’s got to show you two dang tweets at a time. Do you best to not vote for things twice while I try fix it. Grr.
Fred Weasley, Albus Dumbledore, Lee Jordan, Luna Lovegood
Oh, all great choices! I don’t know how you’re going to pick, I just it’s a matter of opinion. Good luck to everyone!
Hi there friends! It’s the yearbook time of year. Maybe it’s because so many end of year things have been cancelled and so we’re putting it all online, or maybe I’ve just been on Twitter too much, but I’m seeing so much about prom, graduations, and yearbooks. It’s making me feel nostalgic. Also, heartbroken for seniors, but let’s try for some positivity here!
One of my favorite things in the yearbook were the superlative awards.
Full disclosure, my high school was so gigantic that yearbook superlatives were irrelevant. Superlatives for your extracurricular were everything. I was in band. I was the biggest band nerd three years in a row. It remains my crowning achievement in life.
Okay, okay, so they’re basically a huge popularity contest. But the idea is so fun! Who has the best smile? Who’s most likely to be president? Who is going on American Idol? (A kid I went to high school with was ACTUALLY on The Voice, so that’s cool!) So I thought it might be fun to make bookish superlatives a thing.
And if we’re going to do bookish superlatives, what better place to start than Harry Potter? Because if going to Leaky Con last year taught me anything, it’s that Potterheads are still obsessed and we LOVE dung like this.
Well, it’s official. If Joe Exotic is on this blog, he’s everywhere. Tiger King-fever has swept the globe. Why? What is so fascinating and why is it impossible to look away?
I think it’s because we are all unknowingly obsessed with the very niche sub-genre Nonviolent True Crime. True Crime books are so much fun because they are ABSOLUTELY BANANAS, and they are REAL. But, serial killers are macabre and disturbing. Hence, Joe Exotic. Terrible crimes, low gore, outrageous personality, bingo! Since discovering this genre just over a year ago, I have officially become obsessed. I am always on the lookout for my next true-crime fix.
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, here are some of my favorites.
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
If the unending spiral of increasingly heinous crimes is what appealed to you about Tiger King, then Bad Blood is the right book for you! Elizabeth Holmes started out well-intentioned, wanting to bring to the world a machine that could run multiple blood tests on just one drop of blood. She raised a ton of money, had elite silicon valley executives on board, and created a state-of-the-art facility. But the machine never worked. The longer you read the more outrageous the lies, deception, and illicit activities get. By the end it all completely bonkers, and I loved every second of it.