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

Author of Colour Readathon

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Hello fabulous people.

I’m pretty stoked that the weekend is here! I have a huge weekend of reading planned…. ah bliss!

I wanted to let you know about the Author of Colour Readathon that will be happening between August 12 and August 19.

The wonderful Polo over at Queer Lit put me on to this readathon. It’s being hosted by Booktuber Dana in Colour and there are 4 challenges:

  1. For each of these points, read a different authors of different ethnicities/races
  2. Read a classic or a work in translation by an author of colour
  3. Read a sci-fi or fantasy book by an author of colour
  4. Read a book of poetry by an author of colour.

Polo has some great tips for making it through all the readathon challenges on their website as well as some recommendations, so make sure you check out their post.

I’m sure if you’ve spent a little time reading this blog you will be aware that reading widely is a goal that I’m constantly working at. I want to make sure that my book buying dollars aren’t going to the smug white folks who get all the marketing. Diverse voices are so important, especially when some broadcasters are giving far right wing supporters to air time. (I find myself very much aligned with the First Dog on the Moon piece which you can find here , which is both more succinct and scathing than I could hope to be.)

My timing for this readathon is pretty good: here’s a look at what I’m planning on reading over the weekend and during the coming week.

I’m so grateful to my library for buying books that I have asked for. I’m part way through Want by Cindy Pon (sci-fi/fantasy) and I’m really enjoying it.

I put down Want in order to pick up Melissa Lucashenko’s new book Too Much Lip. This doesn’t really fit into any of the readathon challenges, but I’m not going to let that stop me!


Another purchase by my library and another sci-fi/fantasy read, I’m looking forward to Rebel Seoul as well!

Another library loan, this title had me immediately. This is poetry so does qualify for the challenge.

Small Country by Gael Faye is translated from the French, so qualifies for the challenge. This recommendation has come from an impeccable source and I’m really looking forward to it.

So those are my plans. Are you going to join in the Author of Colour Readathon? Let me know what you’re going to read?

Cheers,

#BookishBloggersUnite – Impactful Books

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Hi folks,

Welcome to another edition of Bookish Bloggers Unite, a tag put together by a group of friends who wanted to write about books together. This week we’re being hosted by Summer over at Paper Cathedrals, so make sure you check out her blog, and add your link there if you would like to join us

This week we’re talking about impactful books, books that make you think or feel differently, or see the world from a different point of view. As we’re coming to the end of Australian Black History Month, I’m going to talk about impactful books by Aboriginal authors.

Too Afraid to Cry is a memoir by poet Ali Cobby Eckermann. Cobby Eckermann was removed from her mother when a baby and was adopted by a white family along with a number of other Aboriginal children. She didn’t realised she was Aboriginal until later in her childhood when she was bullied for her appearance by students at her school. Abuse and trauma during hr childhood and teen years, followed by her own child being taken away, Cobby Eckermann tells of her journey through addiction and depression, her struggle to find where she belongs. She eventually finds both her birth mother and her son. This book shows the human face to the Stolen Generations and the cyclical trauma placed on Aboriginal people by the government’s terrible policies.

Taboo by Kim Scott has been nominated for the Miles Franklin this year. Based on actual events, Taboo follows Tilly as she finds her way back to her father’s land and people after being raised by her white mother. This happens at the same time as a proposed Peace Park/Plaque being discussed by her father’s family, victims of a local massacre. Taboo is another exploration of loss and trauma and how those things impact today’s Aboriginal people. (One of the white characters keeps saying “I don’t like the word ‘massacre'” in what appears to be an attempt to downplay the event, and it’s a completely infuriating, although accurate, portrayal of the way white Australia seems to want to wash it’s hands of what happened to the Aboriginal population.)

I spotted this article on Twitter yesterday which talks about 500 massacre sites being mapped across the country. You can see the map itself here. It’s a sickening reminder that the government’s plan for the Aboriginal people was for them to be exterminated completely.

I feel like I can’t talk about this book enough, especially to Australians. If you have had any level of education about the Aboriginal people, you would have been taught that prior to invasion, they were a nomadic people who didn’t have any agricultural structures . Dark Emu shows that the Aboriginal people used sowing, harvesting, irrigating and food storage techniques that don’t line up with the “hunter/gatherer” tag their society was usually described as. (And these techniques were deliberately downplayed/hidden by the whites to make Terra Nullius an option. Please read this book.

That’s it from me. What books have significantly impacted you?

Cheers,

#BookishBloggersUnite – 24 in 48 Day 1 Wrap Up

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The Bookish BloggersUnite tag is talking about the 24 in 48 readathon all weekend. You can still sign up and check in for prizes! Also I would recommend having a read of Katy’s post over at The Bookish Cronk for some excellent readathon tips.

I made it to just over 7 hours yesterday which wasn’t awesome. Starting off with a big dense book was a tactical error and made me feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere
(although it is excellent!).

I had some invaluable help during the day.

And I changed up my location in the afternoon so I could get some sun and feed the ducks. But the wind was freezing, so I beat a retreat home after only an hour.

I finished:

  • Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
  • Ruby Moonlight by Ali Cobby Eckermann
  • Too Afraid to Cry by Ali Cobby Eckermann.

This year you can submit the titles of your books through the 24 in 48 website. The titles are getting added to Goodreads, and I suspect that spreadsheet queen Rachel Manwill will have some cool stats for us about page numbers, authors of colour and LGBTQI+ representation once the dusts settles.

I’m about to kick off day 2 with Taboo by Kim Scott on audio. This biggest dilemma I’m working on right now is do I want to work on a baby blanket or socks?

Let me know how your day one went! You can link your day 1 wrap up post in the linky below.

Cheers!


#BookishBloggersUnite – July 24 in 48 Readathon

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Welcome to this weekend’s edition of Bookish Bloggers Unite, a tag that was started by a group of friends who wanted to talk about books together.

This weekend we’ll be posting about the 24 in 48 Readathon. You can still sign up and follow all Readathon related shenanigans here. Massive ups to Rachel Manwill, and her able assistants Kristen and Kerry. If you’re not familiar with the readathon, the goal is to read for 24 hours out of the 48 of the weekend. I have never made it to 24, but its a lot of fun trying!

Jade over at Bindros Bookshelf is hosting the Aussie and NZ kick off post, and we’ll have other hosts over the course of the weekend.

Here’s my stack for this weekend:

You’re right -it’s not much of a stack – I’m envisaging Tracker will take most of my time at nearly 600 pages. I’m also going to do Taboo on audio so I can rest my eyes and work on some yarn related projects at the same time.

It’s just after 6 am and I’m going to get into it!

Are you participating? Head over to Bindros Bookshelf and show us your stacks!

Cheers,

#BookishBloggersUnite – Comfort Reads

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Hi folks, welcome to your weekly edition of Bookish Bloggers Unite, a tag that was started by a group of friends wanting to blog about books together. This week is all about comfort reads, and we’re being hosted by the lovely Kimmy over at Pingwings. Make sure you check out her blog! Remember you can join in at any time by adding your link to the host’s post.

Sometimes when the world is a dumpster fire and life seems tough, pushing through a new book can be more than you can manage, especially if you try to read challenging material on the regular. There are times you need to let your brain relax into the familiar, comfortable and beloved reads that get you know will get you through. Here are mine:

Becky Chambers, where were you all my life? I love The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet so much. The characters are all unique and have depth, it’s queer, there are great aliens and different cultures and it always makes me laugh. (The audio is brilliant as well.)

Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series are another familiar spot for me to lay my reading head. There are so many of them, you can dip in and out without getting bored. I love his humour and social commentary. My favourite though are the books about the Night Watch characters. Vimes and his crew always welcome me back into their stories.

The last one is a little embarrassing, but here we go.

This is my battered copy of Swann’s Way that dates back to the late 90s. I’m really sorry, but I just love Proust. I am a classics nerd, and originally read it (off my own bat, not for an assignment) when I was studying a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit. It took me a year to read all of In Search of Lost Time and I was hooked. I love the language and the way he weaves the story. This is the ultimate comfort read for me – I even have a digital copy on my iPad for easy access.

What books do you turn to when you need a bookish hug?

Cheers!

#BookishBloggersUnite – Influential Childhood Books

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Welcome to another edition of Bookish Bloggers Unite. The #bookishbloggersunite tag came about when a bunch of likeminded friends wanted to talk about books together. This week we’re talking about influential childhood books, and we’re being hosted by the wonderful Katy over at The Bookish Cronk.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t able to read. I also don’t really remember any favourite picture books from my childhood. There is one series that loomed large for me.

I had every Trixie Belden book and I read them obsessively over and over from the age of about 7. I was already a tomboy, now I just needed a club and adventures – none of which really materialised. I even managed to convince my parents to get me some Bob-White quails (so cute!) Trixie was great – she was strong, independent and wouldn’t take any crap. As much as I loved these books, I haven’t tried to reread them as an adult as I’m worried about how they would hold up. I don’t remember a single character who wasn’t white.

As I got a bit older and entered high school, I discovered another series of mystery novels – Arthur Upfield’s “Bony” Books.

I don’t need to reread these as an adult – what I can remember has me cringing for real. Plot summary for those of you not familiar with these gems. Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte (aka Bony) is “half” Aboriginal and works on police cases in the outback. He is subjected to racism until the people he is dealing with realise he’s a police Inspector. The final nail went into the coffin of these books for me when a movie was put together in the early 90s with a white actor “blacking up” to play the lead. No, no, no. It is also a sad indictment on my education that I learned way more about Aboriginal culture from these books than anything else in the formal curriculum. (Not saying that was accurate or appropriate, merely noting the meagre offerings.) Shame on you, Queensland Education.

Of course the holy grail of my childhood reading was this.

Adams taught me about language, pacing, comedy and social commentary. I still love this book so much (and I also still have a digital watch.)

What books shaped you growing up? You can join in by adding your link to Katy’s blog post.

Cheers!