#Bookish Bloggers Unite – Empowering and/or Comfort Reads

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Welcome to another instalment of #BookishBloggersUnite – a tag put together by a group of friends who wanted to talk about books together. I’m hosting this week, so pop your link in the linky at the bottom if you’d like to play along.

The news is pretty rotten wherever you are right now. Here in Australia politicians are continuing to behave in ignorant and appalling ways, and I have nothing but admiration for the Aboriginal community who kicked out the new “Indigenous Envoy” Tony Abbott, whose previous behaviour shows him to be completely incompatible with the job (not to mention that the Aboriginal people were not consulted).

If you are in the US you’ve been subjected to some pretty hideous behaviours from old white guys in the form of Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony to the senate. I hope you’re all taking whatever form of self care you need during this time and not subjecting yourselves to the news cycle, especially if you find it triggering.

This week we will talk about empowering reads, comfort reads or an amalgamation of the two depending on how people are feeling.

I’m feeling a little ragey, so I’m going for some empowering reads.

I’m pretty excited about Clementine Ford’s new release Boys will be Boys which is all about toxic masculinity. I haven’t read this one yet, but if it’s anything like her breakout book Fight Like a Girl it will be totally awesome.

I’ve just started this one today and I’m pretty hooked. Chemaly examines anger and how socially acceptable it is depending on your gender/s and race, and the health effects it has on people who are expected to swallow their anger. I’m really enjoying this and doing some aggressive highlighting.

I think I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I wished I was better with poetry. I don’t always get it and don’t always appreciate it as much as I wish I did. This book by Amanda Lovelace is brilliant. It’s full of love, wisdom, insight and encouragement.

Take care of yourselves people.

#BookishBloggersUnite – Justice League Tag

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Welcome to another #Bookishbloggersunite post! This week we spotted this tag and thought it looked like fun. The Justice League tag was created by The Book Cover Girls . Our host this week is the delightful Katy over at The Bookish Cronk. If you want to join in, just jump over to her blog and add your link.

Just to be clear, my personal knowledge of the Justice League is non existent. I saw Thor: Ragnarok completely due to Taika Waititi’s involvement. Deadpool is probably my fave comic-type character.

Here we go:

Batman: Your favourite antihero.

Shuos Jedao from the Machineries of Empire series.

I’m not sure this guy is classed as an antihero, or if there is anything even much to like about him, but I was definitely drawn in by Shuos Jedao. He is psychotic and entirely unlike ale, and yet I could see his point a lot of the time. (I have to confess I haven’t read Revenant Gun yet! But I have a week off work coming up really soon…)

Aquaman: A book or character that turned out better than you expected.

You know how there are books that everyone seems to love? People rave about them, and you’re not too sure what the appeal is. It doesn’t sound like your kind of book. But then you end up picking it up somewhat reluctantly and it’s completely amazing and you don’t know why you didn’t read it sooner?

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray was that book for me. IT’S JUST SO GOOD! Listen to the audio book if you can – it’s narrated by the author and she is amazing.

Wonder Woman: Most Bad Ass Female Character

I can’t possibly pick just one of these, so here’s a few!

Kameron Hurley writes amazing women. Nyx from God’s War is one of them. She is flawed, looks after her people and kicks a lot of arse (while wearing sandals!). Things might have devolved to a big stinking pile of crap, but she still perseveres.

Kel Cheris from the Machineries of Empire series. There was a moment in Raven Stratagem where I was running around the house jumping and punching the air. (If you’ve read the book, I’m sure you know the moment!)

Essun from the Broken Earth Trilogy. That poor woman went through so much and yet carried herself to the bitter end to do what she knew she must.

I could keep going but I’ll stop there.

Cyborg: Favourite Science Fiction Novel

I’m going to change this up a bit and talk about my favourite sci-fi stories with a cyborg character. Which is of course The Murderbot Diaries !!

Murderbot (it’s name for itself) would prefer to spend it’s days streaming entertainment rather than having to deal with humans, but it can’t help itself. I’m really looking forward to the third instalment coming out soon.

The Flash: A book you sped through

The Book of M is so good folks. It sucked me in and I read it in a day. The story is so artfully told … I’m looking forward to more from Shepherd.

Superman: Saddest Character Death

***SPOILER ALERT***

Holy crap. I’m normally pretty good at seeing endings coming, but Mira Grant astounded me and ripped my heart out with this one! I had to read that section multiple times because I just didn’t believe it. I cried actual tears (which never happens.)

Let me know if you decide to participate – I’d love to know what your choices are for each option!

Cheers,

Aussies Rule Prompt 13 – An Aussie Author of Colour who is not Aboriginal

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Hi folks,

Time for another Aussies Rule post!

One of the things that annoys me about Anglo Australians is that a large number of them seem to have this tacitly ingrained understanding that only white people are born in this country. If you are a person of colour (or have a non-Anglo name) you must have been born overseas. (Unless you are Aboriginal of course, in which case cue a whole different swathe of white misunderstandings and prejudices.) On reflection, I should probably have made this prompt about non Anglo authors rather than authors of colour. Hind sight is awesome!

If you google search “Australian authors” your result will give you a line of mostly white faces, with some Aboriginal representation (well known award winners) and the odd person such as Michelle de Krester who took out the Miles Franklin this year. Here are some more wonderful authors to add to your lists:

  • Alice Pung
  • Gabrielle Wang
  • Benjamin Law
  • Michelle Law
  • Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • Omar Sakr
  • Randa Abdel- Fattah
  • Omar Musa
  • Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Christos Tsiolkas and Peter Polites should also be on this list if I’m looking at it from a non-Anglo point of view.

Benjamin Law and Maxine Beneba Clark are particular favourites of mine (and are worth a follow on twitter) and I was pretty happy when I saw this post from Benjamin Law on twitter a couple of weeks ago.

I wish them every success!

Who have I missed? Let me know your favourite Aussie author of colour or non-Anglo author who isn’t on this list.

While I was researching this list I found this really interesting article about diversity in Australian publishing. (Spoiler alert – it’s terrible). I was talking to a member of my team at work about resistance reading, and she was a little shocked that something as passive as reading could be thought of as an act of resistance. I would again encourage you to your local book stores and libraries and ask for diverse books if they do not stock them. We need diverse stories and diverse representation

Read your Resistance, people!

Cheers,

[Note: I’ve posted previously about Aussies of colour who have come here as immigrants or refugees – I just want to note that I don’t think these people are any less Aussie than those of us who are born here.]

Aussies Rules Prompt 24 – A book shortlisted for the Ned Kelly‚Äôs, Stellas or Miles Franklin

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Hi folks,

I thought I’d drop you another quick list of awesome Aussie titles.

Prompt 24 refers to some of the literary prizes available in this wide brown land. Both the Stella Prize and the Miles Franklin award are named for Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, Aussie author and journalist best known for her novel My Brilliant Career. While the Miles Franklin award is solely for literature, the Stella Prize is for women writing in any genre.

The Ned Kelly Award is for both true crime and crime fiction.

The long and short lists for these three prizes are pretty easy to find, so I’m going to give you the short lists from 2018. I’m sure you will find something of substance there!

Ned Kelly Award Shortlist 2018:

Best Crime Novel:

  • Marlborough Man by Alan Carter
  • Under Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher
  • Redemption Point by Candice Fox
  • Crossing the Lines by Sulari Gentill
  • The Lone Child by Anna George
  • The Student by Iain Ryan

Best First Crime Novel:

  • Wimmera by Mark Brandi
  • The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
  • The Girl in Keller’s Way by Megan Goldin
  • See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Best True Crime:

  • The Contractor by Mark Abernathy
  • Unmaking a Murder: The Mysterious Death of Anna Jane Cheney by Graham Archer
  • The Suitcase Baby by Tanya Bretherton
  • The Fatalist by Campbell McConachie
  • Whiteley on Trial by Gabrielle Coslovich

Stella Prize Shortlist 2018

  • Tracker by Alexis Wright
  • Terra Nullius by Claire Coleman
  • The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar
  • The Life to Come by Michelle de Krester
  • An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen
  • The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe

The Miles Franklin Shortlist 2018

  • No More Boats by Felicity Cartagena
  • The Life to Come by Michelle de Krester
  • The Last Garden by Eve Hornung
  • Storyland by Catherine McKinnon
  • Border Districts by Gerald Murnane
  • Taboo by Kim Scott

Enjoy!

Aussies Rule Prompt 22 – Winners of the David Unaipon Award

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should note that this post may contain the names and images of deceased persons.

Hi folks,

Welcome to another instalment of the Aussies Rule Challenge. This week I thought I would talk about winners of the David Unaipon award.

David Unaipon (he’s on our $50 note) was from the Ngarrindjeri people, and was and inventor and author. He was commissioned by the University of Adelaide to capture a book of Aboriginal stories, and he was the first Aboriginal writer to be published in English.

The David Unaipon Award is part of the Queensland Literary Awards, and is for the best writing of the year by an unpublished Aboriginal writer.

Here are some recent winners for you to check out:

Enjoy!

Aussies Rule Challenge 11 – A book that features Aboriginal Spirituality

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Hi folks, it’s been a while since I’ve posted specifically about the Aussies Rule Challenge (life has been doing a thing) but we’re back! How is it September already? How is your challenge going?

I thought I would talk about prompt 11 today, which is a book that features Aboriginal spirituality (by an Aboriginal author).

The more I explore Aboriginal writing the less I realise I know (true for all things for me, but definitely in this area). Most of the reading I have done of Aboriginal writing up until recently seems to have been of memoir styled stories. A number of fiction writers that I have read more recently beautifully weave their spirituality through their works, and this are the ones I’m going to be suggesting today. This is probably the smallest number of authors and books that I have suggested for a prompt, but I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them.

Alexis Wright

Kim Scott

Melissa Lucashenko

What other books would you add to this list?

Cheers,

Reading as Resistance

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Hi folks!

I don’t normally overtly talk about politics on the blog, but some stuff has happened in the Australian federal parliament this week that has really upset me. I know most of my readers are not located in Australia, so rather than rabbit in about how crappy it is that we now seem to have some neo-Natzi in the parliament who my fellow Australians have voted for and who my tax dollars are supporting, I thought a post about reading as resistance might be helpful.

Reading and books are amazing. Studies have shown that reading can improve empathy and if we have empathy, things like racism becomes less of a thing. (Ranty note: the above study references that literary fiction rather than genre fiction – Danielle Steele in particular – is needed to positively impact empathy. I think this is nonsense and as long as you are reading genre fiction that thoughtfully challenges the status quo it will have the same effect. I can’t imagine your average reader reading Octavia Butler, Yoon Ha Lee, Nnedi Okorafor, or Claire Coleman and not having the way they view the world changed.)

Reading diversely has helped me gain a broader range of perspectives on life from a range people who I would never have met in my day to day life and from points of view I couldn’t experience as a cis white woman.

The media, marketing and politicians all want to impact the way that we think, which is why, particularly in the tiny Australian publishing market, certain books are advertised a lot and placed in particular spot in chain bookstores and other books seem to sneak into the shelves when they are stocked at all.

If you are not already, you can make your reading an act of resistance. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Start a diverse reading book club at work
  • Talk to people about the diverse books you read. Talk to anyone: your mum, your friends, your partner
  • Talk about diverse books on social media: there’s plenty of people interested in books on places like Litsy, Tumblr and Instagram. Take your diverse reads to the people!
  • Talk to your local book store: If you can afford to support the author, order your books in at your local book store. Talk to the staff about how cool diverse books are. Book store staff are also generally readers and want to read amazing books. My local bookstore staff are great at this, which I appreciate.
  • Ask your library to stock diverse books: If your library doesn’t have the diverse books you want to read, they should have a method for you to be able to make requests. My library is particularly awesome at this. Books in libraries are great for authors as well – more people will have the opportunity to meet a new favourite, and it could lead the library to buying more of their books.
  • Read in public! One Aussie author self published his first book and advertised it my reading it on public transport. You reading a book in public is a way of you making a book recommendation to any readers who see you. Read on the train, on the bus, in your local cafe, in the park, at the hair salon.

Do you have any other ideas? Have any of these been successful for you?

Cheers