Friday, 10 February 2017

6 Books on a Friday: Tempest BHM Challenge edition

2016 was the year I fell back in love with reading - especially science fiction and fantasy books - in a biiiig way (like, 200+ things logged on Goodreads big), but I didn't do a lot of talking about that reading because I didn't really do any writing that wasn't strictly necessary for work, or a Star Wars prequels rewrite (more on that someday). 2017 is the year I promised myself I'd change that, but here we are already almost halfway through February. Whoops!
No time like the present to begin. I was inspired by K. Tempest Bradford (of the Tempest Challenge, in which one stops reading all white male authors for a year), who at the beginning of the month released a related challenge to, every day in February 2017, "read something by a Black person that isn’t only about pre-Civil War American slavery, the Civil War, or the Civil Rights Era."
I have not been tremendously successful with this in the first ten days - I did kick off the month with The Shadowed Sun, which rounded off my N.K. Jemison novel backlist, but then I read this white dude (slow but recommended) and this white lady (disappointing). But there's no reason not to start now! I therefore present a 6-book list of things I will totally read before the month is out.
(Why 6? Because 6 is the number of books displayed on each page in my Kindle library, and is therefore the perfect number of things to put in a read-now collection that you can see all at once and choose from without being overwhelmed).

1. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson. Magic-influenced urban dystopia about an inner-city Toronto abandoned by the rich and the people who live there - and what happens when the rich decide they need them again. This has been languishing in the Samples collection of my Kindle for almost as long as I learned I could download samples of books I wanted to hold off on buying. I think it's because of the combination of urban fantasy and sci fi dystopia, which are both genres I don't usually seek out. However, I do think Hopkinson (a Jamaican-born Caribbean writer) is a huge gap in my reading right now and I'm looking forward to finally getting to experience her stuff.
2. The Best of all Possible Worlds by Karen Lord. Why are all the covers for this book so terrible? Especially the sample on my kindle, which has flowers and a hummingbird, by which I mean no disrespect to flowers and hummingbirds or the covers that include them, but it doesn't exactly scream "aliens and culture clashes and ancient mysteries!" to me, and I'm quite particular about having at least one of those things in my reading most of the time. Ah, but such trivialities won't matter soon. Lord is a Barbadian writer with a few other interesting-looking books to date, but again new to me, and I've got high hopes for this one.
3. Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou. I love the Virago covers of Angelou's books almost as much as I love what's been inside the couple I've read so far, which makes the fact that I've not read very many even more embarrassing. The sooner I read this one, the sooner I can justify buying more pretty-covered books!
4. The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Maybe I should read Imago, which is the third book in the Lilith's Brood trilogy, before this, but really I have a very strong sense that this is required reading in the reality we currently inhabit. Faith and struggle in a divided, declining world. Apparently it specifically references the 2016 US elections as the moment humanity begins to fall apart, which given Butler died in 2006 and wrote this book in the early 90s is... impressive.
5. Babel-17 by Samuel Delany. Delany is, of course, the logical choice if I'm going to add a dude to this list. I'm going for this book particularly because Arrival is making me want some more "linguists save the universe" stories, and it's also way shorter than Dhalgren, which is the other one of his I probably ought to read (but will need a holiday to do so.
6. Acacia by David Anthony Durham. Alright, one more man (and urgh another USian, sorry). I only found out about this series recently (through the Tempest Reading Challenge youtube series!) but it sounds super intriguing: taking on the epic fantasy doorstopper genre in a subversive morally ambiguous way. And who doesn't have time for more fantasy doorstoppers in their lives? (Also, as both this and Delany prove, the best way to get me to read books by men is to find ones with women on the cover. Ayep).
And a bonus audiobook: I've been listening to a lot of novella-length things recently, as getting through a full novel, and the next thing in the collection I'm working through is the Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle. Yet another USian! But what can you do (read Lovecraft homages without ever reading Lovecraft, that's what).
I'll be back to tell you all how these things went - if I've inspired you to consider your own near-future reading list, I'd love to hear what you're planning! Reading lists can never be long enough.