This is my second post in what I hope will become a regular feature on this blog, with a round-up of the best book-related posts I’ve read this week.
To start things off, I can’t recommend Book Riot’s Reading Diversely FAQ enough. They’re only partway through the series, but the questions and answers have been great so far. They focus on reading more books by POC authors, but acknowledge that there are a lot of facets of diversity. Given that one of my reading goals for this year was to read more widely, I’ve been loving this series. To the notion that white people can’t relate to POC characters, Amanda says:
When people say they don’t “relate” to someone, they mean that they have little in common with them- but what does that have to do with fiction? […] Our most beloved, respected, and popular books are full of characters the majority of us have nothing in common with, but about whom we enjoy reading because they’re imparting a message about the human experience and because the characters, no matter how different from us they are, have emotions and thoughts we can understand, grasp, and feel empathy for. If we can do it with a Hobbit or an 18th century preacher’s daughter, we can do it with a living human being who happens to be from Cuba or Nigeria or India or Japan.
This is an older post, but on The Book Smugglers Rachel Bach (also known as Rachel Aaron, whom I mentioned earlier this week) discusses gender in science fiction. I’m actually reading Fortune’s Pawn right now, so this was a particularly interesting post to read. I adore Devi, for reasons pretty well encapsulated in this paragraph:
The very qualities that make Devi Devi–her pride, her pigheaded refusal to back down even when outnumbered, her fierce aggression–would be macho to the point of absurdity in a male character. A guy at the top of the food chain beating his chest at the world is just obnoxious, but the same behavior from a girl who has clawed her way up the ladder on nothing but grit, talent, and ambition is brave and admirable and a little dangerous.
Devi reminds me of a female version of Firefly‘s Jayne Cobb. She even names her guns.
I do find Devi more likeable than Jayne, partly for the reasons Rachel outlines and partly because we’re inside her head as readers. We see her human emotions in a way we don’t see Jayne’s as viewers.
At the Scottish Book Trust, Emma Healey talks about bringing your novel to life. I particularly like number 3, as I am an unashamed floorplan lover. At the same time, I could do with a more detailed map of my world than the vague concentric circles I drew on a spare bit of paper when I realised I didn’t know if one country was to the east or west of another. As Healey says, this kind of knowledge is important:
Making the surroundings more concrete meant that I felt I knew my characters’ world as well as they did and I never had that confusion about whether one of them should be turning left or right to get to their destinations, and I never described something as being within reach when it was far beyond it.
And it’s back to Book Riot for their video on How to Bust TBR Guilt. My favourite part is when Amanda says you need to stop anthropomorphising your books. Why, yes, I do feel like my books are silently judging me when I sit watching Buffy instead of reading them. She does raise a point that really resonated with me, though, pointing out that the acquisition of books can be a source of enjoyment itself, and if you have the money and space to do it there’s nothing to feel guilty about. And I do enjoy it. I love getting that email from the library saying a book’s available. I love browsing the shelves and reading the blurbs. I love getting parcels in the post. I can afford to buy books on a whim for the first time in a long time, so why not? Okay, so I don’t have the space, but everyone loves having piles of books all over the house, right? Right?
That’s it for this week. I hope you liked these posts.