Reading Room: January

Every year I do a reading challenge through the site Goodreads. For the last few years I’ve set my goal as 365 books for the year. It’s not something I realistically think I can achieve but there’s definitely a sense of accomplishment in striving.

There are also a slew of really interesting reading challenges out there from other places. One that I’m also pursuing is this, which I discovered from Bailey Poland‘s Instagram (she’s also the author of Haters, a book I’m engaging with currently):

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To that end, each month I will be put out a list of the books I’ve been able to check off my list.

January

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New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity During the Great Migration by Judith Weisenfeld

Exceptionally well researched, Weisenfeld not only broadens and deepens our understanding of how racial identities are formed and codified but also just how religious community impacts one’s sense of self.

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The Fangirl Life: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal by Kathleen Smith

A fun, accessible, and honest book about embracing your fandom(s). in the course of doing so, she casually shows us all how to live an affirming feminist life by merely doing what we love.

Taking pleasure seriously is perhaps the most fun and rewarding thing a person can do for themselves and others. I dunno if calling this a self-help book is fair to its quality but if it’s self-help to believe we need to embrace our pleasures, then so be it.

It could be argued that Smith’s whole work revolves around addressing this: “Sometimes people have a hard time justifying work that has no reward other than bringing joy to others and themselves.”

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The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis

Estrangement & boredom. Literal alienation. I kinda loved this story. There is no sex, no violence just an individual attempting to carve out a life in a strange world that is exhausting both emotionally and physically.

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Casual Myth by Daniel Casey

I decided to release this poetry chapbook this month adding to my ever-growing catalog as an indie author. I’m also adding it as a reward to those who become a Patron over at Patreon.

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The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

In her epilogue, Hurley describes herself as a “grim optimist.” I can’t think of a better descriptor of this superb collection of essays.

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Pretty Deadly, Vol. 2: The Bear by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Ríos

A strong return, one that expands the mythos wonderfully while creating a profoundly engaging allegory on war, fear, and family.

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All She Wrote by Charmaine L. Glass

This poetry collection of over 180 pages was my first commissioned review of the year.

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We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Re-read this in paperback (my first read was digital) and am still impressed by how such a relatively simple & straightforward assertion can cause all sorts of recoil & backlash. This is a good talk transcribed as well as being a good means to get younger readers introduced to feminist consciousness. 

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The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism by Kristin Dombek

There’s a great balance to this brief book, the essays make problematic out own egoism & projection. However, there are a bit too many easy out or lazy reasoning moments (myopic attacks on Millennials & a general pop-psychology feel).

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Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed

The writing style takes a bit of getting use to & may feel a bit rambling or stream of conscious. However, Ahmed writes a good work that centers the self attempting as well as actively challenging sexism & patriarchy. Her feminist killjoy manifesto towards the end requires backbone but she does the work to get us there.

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Joseph by Dena Rash Guzman

These poems are challenging. Not difficult to read or to understand, Rash Guzman’s collection challenges readers to do what the voice/persona of the poems is doing–wielding a machete at misogyny & patriarchy with a gleeful smile. She is also giving 100% of the royalties for this book to Planned Parenthood.

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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

This was my first purchase for my new Kindle Fire. You can’t really go wrong with Gaiman, although his short fiction tends to leave me less arrested than his novels. I enjoyed the poems in this & his version of Dr.Who fan fiction.

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Forsaken Skies by D. Nolan Clark

Via NetGalley, I had a handful of books that I wasn’t able to finish last year that I re-downloaded to do so. You could argue this sci-fi novel applies a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven kind of plot to far future worldbuilding.

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Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls

Not a recent work but a re-issue, I decided to read this in tandem with Atwood’s novel below. I rather enjoyed it, excellent prose and satirical eye.

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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Just as you can’t go wrong with Gaiman, you can’t really miss the mark with Atwood. In fact, it’s rather ridiculous to say anything about the quality of her work. I enjoyed this as I am a sucker for any and all Shakespearian retellings especially when it comes to The Tempest.

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Stoicism Today: Selected Writings (Volume II) by Patrick Ussher  (Editor)

Over the passed few years, stoicism has seen a bit of a revival. This collection of essays turned out to be more rigorous than I had expected which was delightful. 

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Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online by Bailey Poland 

An eloquent study on how & why online sexism impacts women & then some practical demands on how to rectify.

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Eveningland: Stories by Michael Knight

Each of these short stories (7 in all) is achingly bland & ultimately forgettable. Taking Mobile, Alabama as their setting feels like the only uniqueness but even that fails to rise even to the level of local color.

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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Perhaps not just one of the best nonfiction books but one of the best books of 2016. This kind of journalism is rare in contemporary literature–it’s Studs Terkel-esque–as Desmond weaves the narratives of individuals with statistics we all pretend don’t exist.

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The Ages of the Justice League: Essays on America’s Greatest Superheroes in Changing Times by Joseph J Darowski, Editor

Not as engaging or creative as I had hope but still some quality essays on the JLA as a lens to view and a mirror reflecting US culture.

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Now that you’ve gotten this far through my list of books read this month, you deserve a little bit of a perk. So here is my Reading Room playlist for January. Maybe you’ll enjoy it:

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If you liked this article, then consider supporting me via my Patreon site. 

This article was made possible thanks to support from my patrons:

Rachel Racicot 

Tyler Whitesides 

Patrick Casey

Wckr Spgt

Nathaniel E. Baker

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