Too Busy Reading about Pirates: A Links Round-Up

Okay, full disclosure, in a bid to make my watch of Black Sails last longer, I have been reading a lot of pirate books in the evenings. I checked out I think fifteen of them from my library, and that’s not counting the ones I own from the last time I got interested in pirates. So I haven’t had as much time to compile links for you. I’ve made up for it by including the very very best links.

First up, the Book Smugglers are running a Kickstarter so that they can continue to do what they do and pay more dollars to diverse SFF creators. They’re an incredible publisher and resource, and you should support them. Do it do it do it!

Once you’ve done that, if you have dollars left over, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is raising money for a feature film! You can donate there as well if you want to see Phryne’s fabulous wardrobe and Jack’s strangely seductive inability to stand up straight on your screens again.

Boys in college predictably were always trying to get me to watch Boondock Saints, a movie I was confident I would loathe. So this brutal Nathan Rabin piece about its director brought tears of joy to my eyes. (I have still never seen Boondock Saints.)

Taylor Swift and medieval studies have the same problem: Nazis love them. Both of them need to do something about it.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the queen of school resegregation reporting, has a new piece up at the New York Times about how southern school districts are resegregating through secession. Basically southern schools are beginning to follow the northern blueprint of separating school systems at the metropolitan, rather than the parish (county) level.

God actually blessed us with a new Nikole Hannah-Jones piece and a new Ta-Nehisi Coates piece in the same week. Here’s Coates on Trump and white supremacy.

Why Louie CK needs to address ongoing allegations of harassment. Most notably:

One of the most persistent and damaging cultural myths about sexual assault is that the people who commit it are uniquely evil—that they are not the same as the people you are friends with, or related to, or dating, or a fan of, the people that you trust or that you like.

Rembert Browne is typically brilliant on the subject of Colin Kaepernick and what white America expects of black folks it loves.

Sorry this was short, and I wish you a very happy weekend! My Saints will be playing the Partytots, so I anticipate a grim ending to mine. May your teams all win.

Let’s Hope August Is Better: A Links Round-Up

Alton Sterling was killed in Louisiana (which is where I live) on Tuesday, July 5th. Roxane Gay talks about his life and his death. Rembert Browne on people who don’t want anyone not like them to exist at all. Ijeoma Olua on the tragedy in Dallas and how we should (and shouldn’t) respond to it. Ta-Nehisi Coates on the unbreakable link between violence by police officers and violence against them.

In the wake of Black Lives Matter pulling out of the Pride parade in San Francisco due to increased police presence, some thoughts on the disconnect between the two major civil rights fights of our day.

A profile of our nation’s top ASL interpreter for hip-hop artists. My one complaint about this article is that it does not include sufficient videos of Amber Galloway Gallego being awesome.

Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer spent four months as a guard in a for-profit prison in Louisiana and wrote a massive report on it. It’s basically exactly what you’d expect from our broken-ass prison system.

Suki Kim, author of Without You There Is No Us, talks about categorizing her book (a work of investigative journalism) as a memoir, and the persistent devaluing of women’s work. It made me scrutinize my own reaction to the ethics of her book, and I hope I’ll be more cognizant of that when reviewing journalism by women in the future.

Why plots are so important (also, has anyone read Emily Barton’s book, The Book of Esther? I am tentatively interested but want more information from y’all).

Your summer comic book recommendations, from Kieron Gillen, Kate Leth, and Marjorie Liu. Bid adieu to your productivity.

Queerbaiting in Captain America

The Millions released their book preview for the second half of 2016, and it is EPIC. I also discovered just yesterday that there’s a nonfiction one too.

THE SCIENCE OF BOOKS: All books everywhere with no exceptions whatsoever1 follows one of six emotional arcs. Oh how I love a taxonomy, my precious.

Rumaan Alam inquires what makes a book diverse, and wonders if his own novel — about straight white women — can be considered diverse.2

On Twitter last week I told a story about a good dog from history that doesn’t die tragically. You can read that story here.

Finally, and completely frivolously, please enjoy this wonderful review of the Blake Lively shark movie by Wesley Morris (one of my favorite cultural critics ever), which is brilliant on the subject of interchangeable celebrities.

  1. This may be hyperbole
  2. Pet peeve: A BOOK cannot be diverse. Groups can be diverse, an individual cannot. Dictionary Curmudgeon Gin Jenny urges you to get off her lawn.

It’s the End of 2015 (as we know it)

So here we are at the end of 2015. I had this idea that maybe in 2016 I’ll get really good about writing down all the super-excellent things that happen to me that year, and that way I won’t be struggling to think of them when the end of the year rolls around.

My best thing of 2015 (brace yourself for a shock) was the musical Hamilton. Not a full week after I whined to my friends that I feared there would never be another musical that made me feel the way Wicked and Rent made me feel, and maybe my feelings about those musicals (and the others I love) were just a function of youthful emoness, lo there came Hamilton into my life. If you haven’t listened to the cast recording yet, find a way to do it. Then come back and tell me how much you loved it. Please and thank you.

In books, I’ve picked out a few faves for the year. Some of these I’ve talked about ad nauseam already, so bear with me.

Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson, was the first webcomic I read for my “Read More Webcomics” resolution of 2015 (which went brilliantly for me, if you are wondering). Also probably my most-recommended book of 2015.

How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon, has been inexplicably overlooked, and I cannot understand why. In addition to being painfully topical, it’s also a beautifully written, thoughtful look at some of the issues that arise when a black child is suddenly dead and nobody can understand why. I can’t say enough about this book and this author. Check it out.

And now for a total change of pace, I loved Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl, when I didn’t remotely expect to. It’s witty and tender, and full of characters you just want to see succeed.

Congo, by David van Reybrouck, laid out the history of a huge, messy country in a way that was perpetually readable and relied as much as possible on the testimony and memories of the Congolese people themselves. If historians like David van Reybrouck could write histories of all the African nations, I’d be done with my Africa reading project in just a few years.

Touch, by Claire North, kept me up late trying to guess what was going to happen next. At least one book a year reminds me why I love reading so much, and Touch was that book for me this year.

Predictably, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, has arrived on my best-of this year. I didn’t review it in this space because it was hard to feel that I had anything to add about this book, after so many glowing reviews have emerged of it. I’ve admired Coates’s writing for years for its measured insights and unwillingness to rely on easy answers. Between the World and Me is a tragic, beautiful, necessary book.

The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow, did absolutely none of the things I expected it to do. It was a perpetual surprise, and it’s made me excited to see what Erin Bow will do next with this world.

As with the Coates book, I don’t feel I have anything super valuable to add about Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which has basked in plenty of accolades already and doesn’t need my additional input. However, I will say that I had no expectation of liking this book and only read it so I could get to Bring Up the Bodies, which I also didn’t especially expect to like. But there you go. Life is full of surprises.

Finally, a shout-out to 1796 Broadway, a monster of an epistolary fanfic which, like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in its time, kept me up late on several occasions where I kept saying “oh I’ll just do one more and then I’ll go to bed.” Ha, ha, Jenny. You know that’s not what’s really going to happen.

In statistics, female authors were far more heavily represented in my reading than male, and I continue to be fine with that.

I read 18% of my books because I was familiar with the authors from previous books I’d read of theirs, while another 45% of my book recommendations came from you lovely people! If that number seems low, please note that many of the books in the “author fondness” category became favorites of mine due to your unfailing advocacy. So actually I got closer to 53% of my books from bloggers. Another 15% I picked up based on professional reviews; 6% were books I spotted in publishers’ catalogs or that publishers pitched to me; and a small sliver, 3%, were books I picked up randomly at the library.

84% of everything I read came from the library. Lovely, lovely library, please never change. I cherish you so much. I borrowed two books from friends, owned eight, read seven online (from apps like Marvel Now and Comixology), and read fifteen in ARC format (either ebooks or physical). About a fourth (27%) of my reads were ebooks, and the rest were physical books. That is how I roll when subways and purse heavinesses are not a consideration.

I read less SFF this year than I think is typical for me, only 26%, whereas fiction-not-otherwise-classified accounted for 30% of my reading. Actually, that seems okay. Maybe I’d like to read slightly more SFF than ungenre fiction, but those percentages seem fine. 10% of my reading was comics, which I’d like to see go up a bit in the new year, and 14% was nonfiction, which rocks. I read more books in translation this year, seventeen, than I’ve probably ever read in a year before.

My goal for 2015 was to read no more than 65% white authors, and no more than 60% American authors. These stats are probably a little off, because I couldn’t always find interviews where the author self-identifies as one ethnicity or nationality over another, but anyway, employing US census categories, I ended up with 44% authors of color, and 50% authors hailing from countries other than America. I read books by authors from 38 different countries, and it was glorious.

How was your reading year? Did you meet your goals? Did you read anything of exceptional wonderfulness?

Worth the Hype in #AMonthofFaves

Are you participating in A Month of Faves, hosted by Estella’s Revenge and GirlXOXO and Traveling with T? Today’s topic is, Which books have you read this year that were TOTALLY worth the hype?

Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl is one for me! I’ve never liked Nick Hornby before, but Funny Girl made me feel happy all way through.

The Turner House, Angela Flournoy. So, so assured for a debut novel, and it managed to make me love it despite being constantly compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whom I do not care for. Way to go, Angela Flournoy.

The Wicked + the Divine, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Shitdamn with this series from Image Comics. It’s about celebrity and myths and family, and it’s a murder mystery where you know whodunnit, and I’ve never read anything like this comic before.

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’m stealing this one from Andi, and I hope she won’t mind! It’s as beautifully written and devastatingly honest as you’ve heard from everyone.

What books have you read this year that deserved all the hype they’re getting?

You should buy the Hamilton cast recording: A links round-up

If you haven’t yet listened to the Hamilton cast recording, you are not living your best life. It’s out today for digital download, and you should buy it. As of this posting, you can also stream it on NPR First Listen.

Did you miss my linguistics nerdery? Great news: Here’s an article about how language shapes our brains.

Jenny Zhang on being a writer of color and the Best American Poetry mess.

If you like Return of the Jedi but hate the Ewoks, you understand feminist criticism.

Remembering to use a trans person’s preferred pronouns is no harder than remembering to use a woman’s married name: An appeal for good manners.

A high fantasy novel without incestuous subtext.

Awesome Person Sofia Samatar interviews Awesome Person Sarah McCarry about monster girls.

I heave enormous sighs every time I read about the Stonewall movie: Learning about Stonewall was my way into intersectional feminism, way back in high school, and I want there to be an awesome movie about it. But want must be my master. Here’s the wonderful Meredith Talusan on trans erasure.

Also: Stonewall is apparently terrible. A real stinker.

I gazed blankly at the news that Ta-Nehisi Coates is going to write a run on Black Panther for Marvel, for like twenty seconds. It sounds like the kind of joke somebody would make to illustrate why Marvel is so much better than DC. BUT IT IS REAL.

Strunk and White, grammar cops.

The Season for Franzen Mockery Has Begun: A links round-up

Franzen’s new book is out soon, and every joke the internet makes at its expense is music to my ears, yet also I sort of wonder if Franzen and his publisher and The Atlantic and The New Republic are pranking us. They must be, right? This can’t really be real? Anyway, for now let’s just enjoy making fun of Jonathan Franzen, as the founding fathers intended.

Fantasy author NK Jemisin on disrupting the status quo. Note that the author of the interview refers to “stereotypical fantasy series like Lord of the Rings,” which is sort of insane because Lord of the Rings didn’t partake of those stereotypes, it invented them, so settle down with that.

And also, a good thing to know about about tragic queerness in NK Jemisin’s latest book, The Fifth Season, before you start reading it (featuring spoilers).

Same-sex desire in African fiction.

A female author sent out manuscript queries under a male pseudonym, and you’ll never guess what happened next! (Except, yes you will. You’re not naive.)

It turns out that writing a romance novel in which a Jew in Nazi Germany falls in love with the commandant of her concentration camp is not the world’s greatest idea. But Anne Rice is fine with it because of course she is.

Mary Engelbreit is doing a thing to support the Black Lives Matter movement, and that’s going to have to mark the official end of the days in which it was fine for me to mix her up with Lisa Frank.

Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates in conversation.

Relatedly: A thoughtful response to that David Brooks review of Between the World and Me.

When we talk about trigger warnings, I feel like we do not often enough point out that people mostly want them as a heads-up, not an excuse note. But let’s do keep that in mind.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I will be reading the latest books from Amitav Ghosh and Meredith Duran, which I think sums me up as a reader pretty thoroughly.

Who-all’s being brilliant on the internet: A links round-up

On “trash food,” class, and the South.

The short history of spoiler warnings.

You should just assume that I’m going to link to everything Elizabeth Minkel ever writes. Here she is talking about the gendered reaction to responses to Zayn Malik’s departure from One Direction vs. responses to Jeremy Clarkson’s departure from Top Gear.

Foz Meadows, being typically fascinating about the way gifs are changing critical discourse. She does seem to think that academic journals are profit-making beasts. Are they? I do not know. I have only worked on the books and online side of academic publishing, where we are all broke and well-intentioned.

Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, and Courtney Summers, author of All the Rage, are in conversation at Book Riot about stories of sexual assault. It’s really good.

Pop culture genius Adam Sternbergh invents the term “purge-watching” for when you’re watching a show unlovingly just so you can have it off your docket. This is a term we needed. Well-played, sir.

There is an open-access journal called Neo-Victorian Studies, and that’s pretty much all I did on Tuesday.

Ta-Nehisi Coates fears that the movies have ruined X-Men (I know, dude), but he’s got a lot of other thoughts on the rise of superheroes.

What it’s like to be a first-generation scholarship student at an Ivy League.

Oh, you may have missed it, but there’s a new Star Wars teaser. It ends by trying to make every Star Wars fan in the whole world cry. But my heart is made of stone.