If you’re missing Bridgerton, there’s a new regency-era rom-com movie coming out that you’re going to love. Mr. Malcolm’s List, based on the book by Suzanne Allain, is coming out this July—and the trailer has just been released! The story follows Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton). After being jilted by Mr. Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù), London’s most eligible bachelor, Julia has her mind on revenge. Julia failed to meet every item on Mr. Malcolm’s incredibly rigorous list of requirements for a bride. Now Julia’s friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) will pretend to be his ideal match. The film is directed by Emma Holly Jones in her feature debut, and Suzanne Allain wrote the script.
Register Today for AAPI Communities in Conversation #6
Register here to join the livestream of the sixth installment in the AAPI Communities in Conversation series, featuring Malaka Gharib, author of I Was Their American Dream. The even will take place on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at 1:00 pm ET. You can find more details about the event and about Malaka Gharib’s work here.
Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.
I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but it has been a helluva week. While I’m fed up and angry, I’m also having moments where I need to step away from the news updates and regroup. And I know I’m not the only one.
So, with this newsletter, I’ve decided to talk about some books that can offer some sort of pick-me-up or even a little escapism. Now, of course, what counts as a light-hearted and fun read for me may be different from the next person, so I’ve made sure to include a variety of genres, like romance, fantasy, and contemporary.
Whatever you decide to read, I hope you and yours are safe!
If you’ve ever wondered about wuxia fantasy, this novella is wuxia lite. In it, a nun from the Pure Moon Order joins a group of thieves *clutches pearls*. With this new ragtag team of criminals, she hopes to protect a sacred object. While the characters live in a time of war, they still manage to find happiness through found family, humor, and queer joy. Cho writing is lyrical and the magic in her world subversive.
I haven’t been recommending too many graphic novels in this newsletter, so let me start remedying that by recommending this slice-of-life manga! For those of you unfamiliar, slice-of-life is essentially just as it sounds: you’re following characters who are doing everyday things. As someone who has always gravitated towards the fantastical as far as books are concerned, I’ve only just began to get more into this quiet genre and realized how much I like it. It’s low-key, low-stakes, and very relaxing for me. And, in the case of The Way of the Househusband, it’s also pretty funny.
Main character Tatsu provides a good portion of the comic relief as a former member of the yakuza who now spends his days as a loving househusband to his wife Miku. Turns out you can take the husband out of the yakuza, but you can’t take the yakuza out of the husband. Tatsu’s natural aesthetic and demeanor are just a little too gangster-adjacent and still reflect his time as the much-feared “Immortal Dragon.” And, his facial expressions still make people sweat. They’re also just a little out of place in the clearance section of the grocery store. Tatsu brings a hilarious intensity to the most mundane and everyday househusband chores, and it’s fun to watch him interact with his neighbors.
“Get you a man who can do both! “—Miku, probably
*Bonus*: here’s an ode to the hilariously scary ex-gangster boss.
This is a contemporary and Muslim Pride and Prejudice retelling that tells the story of Ayesha Shamsi. Ayesha dreams of being a poet, but has to sideline that path so she can work as a teacher to pay back money she owes to her uncle. She also has to contend with constant reminders that her causing Hafsa is getting all the marriage proposals. Sheesh.
When she comes to meet the ultra traditional (but handsome) Khalid, the two are turned off from each other, and, well, you know how the rest goes if you’re familiar with Pride and Prejudice. While this is a retelling of a story that’s commonly retold, it breathes new life into it. Ayesha’s poetry-writing, bold character is likable, and her family members entertaining. Plus, Talia Hibbert, author of Get a Life, Chloe Brown, said it’s super romantic, which makes its romantic-ness a scientific fact.
This is a fun romp through a gothic and Vietnamese-inspired fantastical world. When someone is found dead nearby, dragon Prince Thuan grudgingly finds himself once again in the thick of it, politically speaking. While Thuan is salty, his messy fallen angel husband Asmodeus is actually enjoying the investigation. With Thuan’s wit and Asmodeus’ fighting skills, the two try to solve the murder… but their relationship also needs “solving.”
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!
Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.
Happy Tuesday, book lovers! It’s really starting to get green here in Maine. Everything is so lush and chirpy and beautiful, and it’s been such a balm for my heart and lungs. I am still on the mend, but I am getting better every day, and I thank you all for the well wishes. The hardest part about being sick was not being able to read very much. Thankfully, that is behind me now!
And speaking of reading, let’s talk books! At the very top of my list of new releases for this week to acquire are An Olive Grove in Ends by Moses McKenzie, Private Label by Kelly Yang, Rainbow Rainbow by Lydia Conklin, and Half-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith. And on this week’s episode of All the Books! Kelly and I discussed the best books we read for this week and more. And now, it’s time for everyone’s favorite game show: AHHHHHH MY TBR! Here are today’s contestants.
THIS BOOK. It is so dark and smart and will make you uncomfortable and you will thank it. It’s a contemporary twist on fairy tales, where several famous fairy tale characters meet in a support group for survivors. Women like Little Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard’s lover, and Gretel (she of the famous candy house), talk about their modern-day situations and what it is like to exist as a woman in the world and in the public eye. It’s wickedly delicious! I read it last year and still keep thinking about it. (CW for toxic masculinity, disordered eating, body horror, stalking, gaslighting, harassment, emotional abuse, sexual assault, self harm, violence, murder, imprisonment, mental illness.)
Here is a wonderful new start to a middle grade fantasy series for you and/or the young people in your life! Theo Tan isn’t interested in his Chinese heritage; he just wants to be thought of as a “normal” American. But when his brother Jamie dies, and he is visited by his brother’s fox spirit, Kai, it shakes him up. Kai isn’t any happier about the arrangement, but to find a solution to their new partnership and figure out what really happened to his brother, they will have to work together. And Theo will have to embrace his roots if he wants to get the truth. It’s an action-packed, compelling tale of family, grief, and heritage with a clue-filled mystery at its center. (CW for death of a loved one, grief.)
And finally, for my last pick, I chose this book even though I have not finished it, because it has surprised me. Yes, it would have been less of a surprise if I read the description but here we are. I picked it up, thinking it would be something light about the actor Benedict Cumberbatch for my recovering brain, but instead it’s a funny, honest memoir about shame and loving the things we love. Carvan developed a big interest in the Cumberbatch, and her fixation took her by surprise. She explores her thoughts on finding a new passion, why we feel embarrassed about loving some things, and how we need to break out of our shame and grab on to the things we enjoy for dear life. Because baby, this ride isn’t getting any longer. (So far, CW for body shaming, misogny, sexism, illness.)
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!
This week: I am reading Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor and The Chinese Groove by Kathryn Ma.(Titles for 2023 whaaaaaaat.🤪) Outside of books, I have been taking a lot of naps and doing jigsaw puzzles. The song stuck in my head today is Government Center by The Modern Lovers. And as promised, here is a cat picture: One game I like to play is add empty soda flats to the stack and see if Farrokh will still sit on them. Spoiler: He will. He’s like a fuzzy Princess and the Pea.
Thank you, as always, for joining me each week as I rave about books! I am wishing the best for all of you in whatever situation you find yourself in now. And yay, books! – XO, Liberty ❤️
The weather has been pretty wild here, fluctuating between beautiful late spring days, huge thunderstorms, and high humidity and heat waves! I hope you are all doing well, staying safe, and having lots of time to read!
I loved this middle grade book by Lisa Yee. When Maizy and her mom leave their home in Los Angeles to head to Last Chance, Minnesota to spend time with Maizy’s ailing grandfather, Maizy works in the family restaurant and learns more than she could imagine about her family history.
In this sweet middle grade story, Miosotis is much more excited about fostering dogs than doing schoolwork. But her papi wants her to excel at school, so he strikes a deal: if Miosotis improves her grades in two classes, she can adopt a dog of her own in the summer.
This counting picture book features a young girl and her uncle as they travel ten blocks through Chinatown and encounter various scenes along the way: one giant panda ride, two lion statues, three swimming turtles, four bonsai trees, five tai chi practitioners… Chinatown in New York City is one of my favorite places, and I loved seeing a picture book set in a Chinatown!
This is such a fantastic book, one written with honesty and heart. When Connor has to put aside hockey lessons so they can afford chemo treatments for his dog Sinbad, he wonders if hockey is the only thing that makes him special. Booklist, in a starred review, said it’s “a vivid, memorable portrayal of a boy within his family, his sport, and his gradually broadening world.”
Jenna Sakai is not having a great school year. She gets dumped by her boyfriend Elliott, her parents get a messy divorce, and her main competition for a big journalism scholarship is none other than her ex. Jenna thinks that distancing herself from relationships is the best option, but someone comes along who makes her want to change her mind. Jenna has to decide whether letting people in is a risk worth taking.
This nonfiction account ofthe author’s efforts to navigate his first semester of sixth grade―who to sit with, not being able to join the football team, Halloween in a handmade costume―is a story of hardship threaded with hope and moments of grace. I think many kids will relate to parts of Rex’s book.
Oprah Daily Reveals the Cover the Cover of Cho Nam-Joo’s Saha
Oprah Daily has another exclusive cover reveal! This time, they’re revealing the cover for Nam-Joo’s Saha, a dystopian novel set amid a run-down housing complex, “charting the fates and foibles of a range of characters as they hold on—barely—in a society devoted to the expansion of inequity.” The novel will be published by Liveright on November 1st.
Sabba Khan and Maisie Chain Win Jhalak Prizes for Writers of Color
Sabba Khan’s debut graphic novel, The Roles We Play, has won the Jhalak prize for best book by a writer of color. This is the first graphic novel to win the award. Meanwhile, the children’s and young adult prize went to Maisie Chan for her children’s novel Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, illustrated by Anh Cao. The Jhalak Prize was established in 2017, co-founded by authors Nikesh Shukla and Sunny Singh. Singh, who serves as director of the prize, said, “This year, the judges have picked two pioneering books that are courageous, full of heart and break new ground for publishing today and open pathways to writers and creatives of colour who shall follow. These are two books for the new literary canon.”
The Raven Earns Bookstore of the Year Honor from Publishers Weekly
The Raven Book Store in downtown Lawrence, KS, was recognized this week by Publishers Weekly as its “Bookstore of the Year.” Four other stores across the country were in the running for this year’s honor: Books Are Magic, in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Mitchell’s Book Corner, in Nantucket, MA; Two Birds Books, in Santa Cruz, CA; and Madison Books, in Seattle, WA. The Raven’s owner Danny Caine called all nominees “amazing stores.” Caine says the bookstore community really roots for one another. In an interview with the Journal-World about the honor, Caine said, “One of the biggest honors of this whole thing was just being able to be mentioned in the same breath so many times with those other great stores that we look to for inspiration and guidance and solidarity and friendship.”
Business As Usual: This Week’s Book Censorship News
Amazon has started a monthly book club called Sarah Selects, named after Amazon’s editorial director for books Sarah Gelman. The club’s first selection will be Half-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith. The book club is available on Amazon Book Clubs, a free service that allows readers to join and create book clubs. Sarah Selects book clubbers will receive an email notification for each monthly selection, and can send in questions for Gelman to consider during her live-streamed Amazon Live interviews with the book club authors. The book club will focus on newly released titles and will feature Gelman’s favorite genres, including fiction, romance, mystery/thriller/suspense, biography, memoir, and pop science.
For fans of historical mysteries and Walter Mosley. In 1963 Los Angeles, Harry Ingram, a Korean War veteran, is making a living as a photographer and taking jobs as a process server. On the eve of Martin Luther King’s Freedom Rally, Ingram recognizes a friend’s car mentioned on a police scanner; he ends up showing up to photograph the accident and later realizes when developing the photos that he’ll have to take on a new role of detective to prove it was not an accident.
Armstrong writes one of my favorite series: the Rockton Series. It’s like blending a procedural with a thriller and giving it an interesting setting (remote AF) and premise (a place where people who need to disappear go but you don’t know who is a victim and who is not). Now she’s starting a brand new series which feels like a blend again, this time a procedural with a dash of time travel. In 2019 Mallory is a Vancouver homicide detective visiting her dying grandmother in Edinburgh. But soon she’ll find herself herself in 1869 in the body of Catriona Mitchell, a housemaid to an undertaker. Obviously she’s gonna have to solve a murder while trying to figure out where she is and how…
This takes Hollywood to Tanzania in 1964, as a newly married actress and her husband bring along friends to the Serengeti for their honeymoon. But instead of a safari and adventure there’s a kidnapping and as you can imagine everything goes very wrong from there… I’ve enjoyed Bohjalian’s previous novels The Flight Attendant (adapted into an HBO series), The Red Lotus, and The Guest Room so I’m looking forward to this one.
I love historical fiction and especially love when it’s set during a time period or event that doesn’t get a lot of focus, in this case 1944 Chicago. The book’s background is the rarely discussed time period of the US government’s resettlement program from interment camps in the wake of Pearl Harbor. The mystery component questions how Rose Ito died, having been released first, and her sister Aki being certain that the suicide ruling is not the actual story. Allison Hiroto narrates the audiobook and I was fully immersed in the story.
(TW briefly recounts sexual assault without graphic details / misgendering)
Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!
This week’s pick is a genre mash-up that I really enjoyed by an author who I think is a real master at combining genres to make some really compelling plots! Content warning for murder, abuse, neglect, infidelity, and some sticky ethical questions.
Evelyn Caldwell is an award-winning researcher whose scientific breakthroughs on genetics and cloning are cutting edge. So when she discovers that her husband has used her research to clone her—or rather, a more docile version of her—she’s livid. But there’s nothing she can do to stop him from leaving her for Martine, because exposing him could cost her the funding she desperately needs for her lab. When he ends up dead, both Evelyn and Martine find that they’ve got to work together in order to not arouse suspicions.
I really loved the idea of a sci-fi take on the domestic thriller genre, and this book doesn’t disappoint. Evelyn is a driven character who cares deeply about her work, and her relationship with her husband has all the hallmarks of a man who can’t stand to be second-best next a brilliant wife. The twist of him cloning her, and using her research to neatly trap her into silence, was maddeningly brilliant, and I really enjoyed the fascinating world building Gailey sets up in a world that seems very similar to our own, but with more advanced genetic discoveries. There are limitations to cloning, naturally, but the more that Evelyn and Martine get to know each other, the more Martine seems to defy these limitations. At times, the tension in this book was so thick I could barely stand to put the book down and there are enough twists to satisfy even the most well-read thriller reader. I also really enjoyed that Gailey dug into some big ethical questions about cloning, and forced Evelyn to really consider her own morals. This is a unique take on some well-trod genres, and nearly impossible to put down!
Happy reading! Tirzah
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!
I don’t have a funny or pithy intro for this newsletter because I am so fucking angry. Once again, innocent children have paid the ultimate price for our elected officials’ negligence. I am not exaggerating to say that I’m so angry that I’m shaking. I’ve contacted my representatives. I’ve donated. I’ve signed up for a postcard mailing campaign for swing states for November. But it’s not enough. And the fact that this newsletter is once again packed with links about people continuing to ban LGBTQ books and books about racism, as if that’s the real danger in these children’s lives, is almost unbearable.
If you haven’t contacted your representatives, do so now. Phone, email, mail them a letter…doesn’t matter. Contact them directly and ask them what they are planning to do to keep our kids safe at school. Keep contacting them. Ask them why protecting guns is more important than protecting children. Ask the pro-life people why it’s more important to legislate a person’s uterus than it is to protect children who have already been born. Don’t let up.
I feel like I’m overstepping an enormous professional boundary right now to be so openly political, but fuck that. We’re going to talk about libraries now because that’s what this newsletter is supposed to do, but do not let your elected officials off the hook. Let them know how badly they’ve failed us.
State Farm has dropped its support of the GenderCool Project, which provides LGBTQ-themed children’s books to teachers and libraries. State Farm now says that “Conversations about gender and identity should happen at home with parents.” How much do you want to bet they’re still going to have some sort of Pride presence on social media next month?
The overwhelming majority of textbook reviewers in Florida found no evidence of objectionable content. Three reviewers did, however, and one of the reviewers has ties to Moms for Liberty, while the other two have ties to Hillsdale College in Michigan, which has become influential in conservative politics.
Two Vinton (IA) residents attended a library board meeting to ask the library to a) reconsider the books being put on display and b) publish a list of the books being used at future storytime events. The board denied both of these requests.
I’m still ending on a cat photo, because sometimes the only things that keep me from screaming into the void are these fuzzy babies. These photos come courtesy of Blaine, who wasn’t feeling well earlier this week, and Dini decided that the best thing to do was flop on Blaine’s stomach like a fish. It didn’t…not…help Blaine feel better, so…success?
If you’re feeling the same rage as I am, try to channel it into something productive this weekend, whether that’s cleaning out a closet or contacting your Senators. Rest. And then come back to fight. I’ll see you on Tuesday.
Hello and happy Friday, nonfiction friends. It’s the end of an exceptionally heavy week, and I don’t have much to say other than I hope you are taking care of yourself and have found a way to turn grief or rage into action, however small.
If you really want to show off your love for nonfiction, consider this bookish wall print! It comes in a variety of sizes, papers, and framing options, so you can make it look right at home near your collection.
For this week’s new releases, I want to highlight a couple of essay collections newly out in paperback:
In this book, critic Melissa Febos explores the narratives women are told about being female and how to get away from those stories. She begins with her body changing at 11, then follows with other experiences where she defined herself by her relationships and perceptions she had about herself. Eventually, she set about trying to reframe the ideas she had about safety, happiness, and freedom to reimagine relationships and herself.
This collection seeks to explore borders, the natural world, and the stories we tell ourselves through the lens of travel and movement. In one essay, Aminatta Forna writes about the charms of air travel (how nostalgic!). In another, she explores narratives and expectations for young Africans traveling to the United States for school. In others, she brings her perspective as an African person to issues of race in America. This is a beautiful collection!
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is publishing a young adult graphic novel called Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game. The book is a memoir of his experience as a high school student, trying to choose between a career in baseball or football.
In a release about the book, Kapernick said: “Many of my experiences in high school helped to anchor me in my understanding of Blackness, my community, and my sense of worth … High school affirmed for me that it’s sometimes only by transgressing social expectations that we’re able to transform into our truest selves.”
Inspired by that book, here are two other graphic novels about sports you might want to pick up:
Before he was a full time graphic novelist, Gene Luen Yang was a high school teacher in California. In this book, he chronicles a single season of his school’s varsity basketball team, the Dragons, as they try to win the California State Championships. I love this comic so much – it’s like an inspirational sports movie in book form.
For a decade, figure skating was the center of Tillie Walden’s life and identity. But after switching schools, discovering art, and falling in love with a girl, she started to question whether she really fit into that world anymore. Eventually, she finds the courage to quit and see what else might be out there.
For more nonfiction reads, head over to the podcast service of your choice and download For Real, which I co-host with my dear friend Alice. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @kimthedork. Happy weekend!