Great Reads for Black History Month

Plus great places to pay reparations!

In celebration of Black History Month, what Black authors are you reading in February? If you're hoping to learn about abolition, history and do some nonfiction reading, you might try Mariame Kaba, Ibram X. Kendi, and any of these fantastic writers. Here is a roundup of 25 must-read books, too.

Looking for some fantastic fiction? Nnedi Okorafor, Talia Hibbert, Toni Morrison, Awaeke Emezi and Jacquelyn Woodson are a few of my favorites, but here is a list of a lot of great writers. Here are some moe

As hopefully most folks know, reading and learning is great, but action must be taken to make any lasting change, so be sure to make paying reparations a part of your work in activism for Black lives. Black joy is just as important to know and celebrate, so always learn about Black leaders, change-makers, politicians, artists, scientists and inventors (especially with your kids), too.

Another way to celebrate is to only read Black authors for a year. This is such a great way to discover new-to-you authors and voices, especially if you alter it each year (only LGBTQIA authors, women, indigenous authors, etc.). Who is your favorite Black author of all time, or your favorite new-to-you author? Share them in the chat!

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A TBR Stacked to the Ceiling

What are you reading this month?

This year just hasn't had as much downtime for reading as I'd like. Looking at my previous years, I've noticed that I usually read 3-4 times as many books by now. I'm volunteering nearly as many hours as I work these days, which is rewarding but does take away time from leisure activities. That said, I have an obnoxious pile of books from the library waiting for me patiently, and I'd love to hear what's in yours!

First of all, there's Akata Woman, which I've been dying to read for years. It's the third book in Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch series, which I fell head-over-feet for. Then there are a bunch of collections of short stories, which are my favorite type of writing. These were all selected because they all had stories from Rebeeca Roanhouse in them--or most of them did, anyway. From How to Fracture a Fairytale to Ancestor Approved, A Universe of Wishes to New Suns, I am salivating over this list. There's enough for a vacation!

I also have a bunch of LGBTQIA graphic novels, more short story books and a few books of nonfiction, but those are the ones I'm most excited about. If you want to hear about the rest, let me know, but I'm curious about what you are reading! Share what's on your nightstand, what you've read lately or what's on your TBR pile for the month in the chat.

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Just Say No To Book Bans

How are these even still happening?

If you're a fan of South Park, you might understand my instinct to mimic the counselor, Mr. Mackey, and say, "Book bans are bad. Mmkay?" It really should just be that simple, yet here we are, with more schools, churches and parents targeting books--books that are typically classics with important messages to deliver. The fact that most of the banners are white and many of the books are about people of color isn't lost on many people, either.

Honestly it would be understandable if these parents were targeting books like manuals on how to coerce a person into a sexual encounter. Books like those give me the creeps and as much as I support the right of free speech, I'm on board with other nations, like Germany, who limit it when it comes to harming someone. It would also be understandable if they were so upset by violent books that they asked for a universal violent book ban that included the Bible. That's not a ban I'd support, but at least it would be consistent.

If you're against book bans, be sure to sign these petitions to fight them and share your own actions against them in the chat. Then tell us what your favorite banned books are in the chat! 

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The Extraordinaires

The hilarious superhero romance series we never knew we needed!

Over the past week I've been falling head over feet with T.J. Klune's The Extraordinairies series. These will be some of the quickest reads you'll ever experience not because they're short--the first book is over 400 pages--but because they are so fun and fast-paced that you'll be a third of the way through before you even realize it.

The books are about a teenager who is obsessed with a real-life superhero in his community. He writes fanfiction (that is so believably-written from a 16-year-old perspective that you can't help but giggle through it) and has no idea his best friend is in love with him. There are so many great jokes and moments. If you are looking for a good laugh and warm fuzzies, try this series!

What are you reading this week? What book is lighting you up these days? Share what you are reading in the chat. 

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Saga Returns!

Today is the day!

Fans of the Saga graphic novel have waited years for this day. Geniuses Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have returned, and Saga is back on comic store shelves as of today with issue #55. Who else has their guts in a knot over this issue without even having read it yet?

Without giving away spoilers, the last issue left most fans weeping puddles coping with some of the heaviest feels we've ever experienced in the series--and that's a lot, given how many losses and heavy blows the duo have dealt out over the years. Hazel's family has endured more hardships than any should have to bear and I'm honestly still reeling from the previous issue. Normally I read them by book rather than issue so I can have them all at once but I'm very tempted to get them issue by issue--while still feeling a bit terrified to find out what's in store!

Are you reading Saga? Have you reserved or bought #55 yet? Share your thoughts and predictions in the chat. 

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Fat Representation in 2022

What would you like to see?

As a fat person, I started getting thrilled to see more fat representation in recent years. Plus-sized characters of all genders, but especially of femme leads, makes my heart sing, and my favorite examples are those by Talia Hibbert. Those should definitely be the standard by which we see fat folk representation in my humble opinion. 

I've been trying to read other books that have been hailed as triumphs among the body pos folks but wow, I'm having a hard time seeing what they're seeing. One of the most celebrated books is nothing more than a Game of Thrones fanfiction work filled with emotional abuse, a herione who expects the hero to read her mind at all times and an obsession with their weight differences and what they have to eat for their roles. There's really nothing wrong with fanfiction--one of my favorite books of 2021 had big Kylo Ren vibes--but this book had plenty of problems. 

For starters, I'm fat but I don't even like donuts much, and having her talk about them all time may have been a tool to normalize that it's okay for fat folks to eat whatever they want, but it was included way too much. Diet culture, which the boyfriend subscribed to for his job, is also triggering for a lot of fat people to read about. Definitely no fun in a romantic read. Then there are all these thin people saying how much they looooove the representation and it's just... no.

I've been trying to make my way through the sequel but it's filled with negging, the characters just as boring as in the first book and it's  oh... so... long and drawn out that it's been difficult to enjoy.

Length for length's sake needs to GO in 2022. I've been over it for many years.

In 2022, I'd love to see more works like Hibbert's--works filled with fat femmes (and especially trans characters) who have more to their personalities than just eating and getting offended when people don't read their minds. Hibbert has so much diversity, representation, and HEAT in her books. They are some of the best I've ever read and they happen to feature fat characters. Hopefully 2022 will bring us more characters like those who embark on adventures and have more interesting things about them to enjoy.

What do you hope to see in your 2022 reads, regarding fat characters or othersie? Share your wish list in the chat.

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Which YA Book Are You Excited About?

Goodreads Has Lists For All Tastes

If you're a fan of YA lit, 2022 is going to have some major hot reads in store for you. Goodreads has compiled several lists of the most anticipated YA books in various genres and all of them look incredible. First there's the general list of most-anticipated YA novels. There are over sixty of them! Only a Monster is at the top of my list to read, as are The Kindred and Blood Scion. Honestly there's not much on this list I would not be interested in.

As far as January alone, here are the books listed as the best of the month. Cold Night, Fast the Wolves sounds really good, and I see some sequels to series I definitely need to check out. What I'd really love is a new book or series to really grip me and not let go--maybe something wih some fantasy, adventure, a hint of romance and political intrigue. I'd love a new world to explore but not one that's too complicated to follow--something like The Lunar Chronicles.

What are you most excited to read, either this month or this year? Which books listed sound most exciting to you--and which ones have you decided to pass on? Share what you think in the chat. 

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2022 Reading Challenges: Start Your Engines!

Or not! Do what feels good for you.

As exciting as reading challenges are, they can also get a little intense--especially in times like these. Many people are already undergoing so much stress that yet another thing to accomplish can feel super daunting, or even take the fun out of it entirely. So while there are all kinds of challenges to participate in--from the annual Goodreads Challenge to super low-key, gentle reading challenges like this one--you could also just not do a challenge. At all.

You could just make a TBR pile that sounds interesting so you remember what you want to read. You could avoid lists altogether, browse your library's books online and just pick out one or two that look interesting for curbside pickup. You could even call and have the librarian suggest something for you based on what you like, or something random. Ask for a book with a blue cover. See what's new in the YA section. Try something new and just do it for the fun of it!

What are your reading goals for 2022? Are you doing any challenges, or are there any new releases you are especially looking forward to? Share them in the chat, and happy reading!

2022 Reading Challenges

What's at the top of your list?

Goodreads just sent out their newsletter featuring some of the most highly anticipated book releases in January 2022 and everything looks so awesome. So many new books are TBR-worthy and in January alone there are enough books coming out to fulfill many a list! June Hur's The Red Palace and Sue Lynn Tan's Daughter of the Moon Goddess look especially exciting.

The rest of the year is going to have lots of great releases, too, from new works by the incredible Seanan McGuire to a really fun-looking collection from Marissa Meyer. Rebecca Roanhorse is continuing a Phoenix saga arc for Marvel and releasing Fevered Star, the follow up to Black Sun. Akata Woman, the third in the Akata Witch series by Nnedi Okorafor, is at the very top of my 2022 list.

What is at the top of your TBR pile for the new year? What books are you adding from previous years and which new releases are you most eager to read? Share them in the chat. 

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The Best Web Comics

Share your favorites!

Many years ago, I started reading Lore Olympus. I thought the web comic was fun and enjoyed what I read, but--like I often do--I fell off the comic once I stopped where an update was coming and never returned. It could've been literally a week! My memory is that terrible sometimes. So when my sister bought the new bound book of the comic, I couldn't have been happier for the author. Way to go!

Then I saw that she had a bunch of stuff for sale at Hot Topic and I thought that was incredible. I'll never forget the art teacher who discouraged me from following my dreams of writing comics because "only serious art sells," and I never took an art class after that. Maybe one day I will, but I'll always wonder how things could've been different if I hadn't listened to her and taken art in college... At any rate, the success of these web comic makers is phenomenal and I love how they have sales, subscribers and Patreons to get folks to support them while they make such great art! 

I'd love to find more web comics to follow, so what are your favorite creators? Who's making really fun, engaging, insightful and gorgeous comics these days? If they're LGBTQIA-focused, even better. Send your suggestions in the chat!

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