Good morning! I have started a new thing that I wanted to tell you about, where I thank journalists when I read a story that I particularly like. There is every reason to do this (especially under the new administration, which we already know will be very hostile to journalists) and no reason not to. Try it!

The NPR Book Concierge has arrived once again! Every year I get zillions of recommendations from this thing, and you should too!

How fantasy movies portray the experience of oppression in near-totally white terms (by the fabulous Zeba Blay).

Vann R. Newkirk II is flames emoji as usual on calling out racism and the value of civility.

The Eritrean soccer league keeps defecting en masse when it goes to games overseas. The author of this article, Alexis Okeowo, allegedly has a book about resisting extremism in Africa, and I am going to read it twice because this article on Eritrean soccer is incredible.

2016 was the year America finally saw the (black) South: A super-great article by Jesmyn Ward. Oh! I forgot to tell you! Last night I dreamed I met Jesmyn Ward, and I wanted to tell her that I admired her work, but all I had read of hers was THIS ONE ARTICLE, and I felt terribly embarrassed that I hadn’t read any of her books yet. I was like “But — I mean, but, I have The Fire This Time at my apartment right now!” and Jesmyn Ward, in my dream, couldn’t have been more polite about it.

The rise of the romance novel (including the genuinely fucking awful The Flame and the Flower, dear God I want those hours of my life back). This article notably includes a picture of romance novelist Rosemary Rogers in a sari because of course.

Authors from around the world discuss colonialism and literature.

It’s been a while since we had a bonkers story in this round-up! Let’s have one: Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants, is embroiled in a deeply weird financial scheme regarding Hatchimals (a prime Christmas gift for children).

Zadie Smith talks about the experimental (or otherwise) nature of multiculturalism and her hopes for the future.

  • Stefanie@SoManyBooks

    I’ve heard about the Sara Gruen thing, so weird! I’m generally not a fan of The Atlantic but I have to admit they’ve really stepped up their game and have been publishing lots of great stuff these last month which has changed my opinion of them.

  • Alley

    Huh. I had never thought of it but that is a great idea about thanking journalists.

  • Uhg The Flame and the Flower was a trash fire. I got 25 pages in and was like, NOPE. That was a good article about romance novels, though.

  • I just went back to read your review of The Flame and the Flower and laughed so hard I had tears. My mother LOVED Kathleen Woodiwiss. Seriously, she had every one of her novels. They were her vacation reading, so when I finally snuck-read one, I was all grossed out knowing what my parents were doing on vacation. I sadly read every one of them too even though I hated them all. I cannot read a “bodice ripper” to this day because of Woodiwiss’ trash and what it conjures for me.

  • Laila@BigReadingLife

    Catching up on blog posts and just read this one – thank you SO MUCH for linking to the Zadie Smith speech. it really was wonderful. I (heart) her.