Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.
Friends, can someone tell me why brunch is so expensive? It’s cute and everything, but these prices are really trying me. It’s upsetting me and my homegirl.
For the next couple months, my friend dates might just need to be little book buying excursions where we go sit and read in the park or sumn *cries in I just wanna have funds*.
Dancing Ladies book sleeve by JosiesBookCosies
Book sleeves are trying to become the new tote bag for me — meaning I keep wanting to buy more and more, and this one is so cute. Almost hypnotic (or is that just me?). $18+
Bliss Montage by Ling Ma
I’m excited to read this one. The official blurb mentions it being a collection of stories in which fantasy breaks through our reality to “wake us up,” which is an interesting thing for a fantasy to do. One story follows two girls who take a drug that makes them invisible as a way to commemorate a last night in New York. Their engaging in invisible shenanigans eventually leads them to analyzing their friendship, and they realize that they felt obligated to be friends only because they were both immigrants from China. The other stories sound just as trippy, and I’m super here for these surreal scenarios jostling free some epiphanies.
Also, I really really like this cover for some reason. It’s like, Erica, it’s just a bag of oranges, but it’s doing something for me…
The Birdcatcher by Gayl Jones
Three Black American expatriates live on the island of Ibiza. Two of them are married, and the third is the friend of the married woman, Amanda Wordlaw. Fittingly, Amanda is a writer, and her friend, Catherine, is a sculptor…who just so happens to keep trying to kill her husband. You would think once would be enough, but the good sir wants more, I guess. Each time she tries to kill him, he has her institutionalized, only for her to be released and try it again. For this and other reasons, the three make for an eccentric trio on the very white Island. Jones weaves references to classic literature as she depicts the artists’ experiences.
For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.
This year, Banned Books Week will take place from September 18-24. Its theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” While simply reading books that people have tried to ban or have been banned is not enough to combat the flood of censorship attempts, it’s always a good time to talk about censorship, the kind of books that tend to be censored, and what can be done about it.
If you hadn’t already guessed, many of the books that conservative groups try to restrict access to are written by authors of color and/or queer people. I’ll discuss a couple of the most banned of 2021 now, but if you want to know more about censorship, our own Kelly Jensen has been doing phenomenal work (I honestly haven’t seen anyone else covering the recent cases as much as she has been), which you can read here. You can also sign up for out Literary Activism newsletter.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Johnson chronicles his life growing up a Black, queer boy in New Jersey, as well as his experiences as a young adult in college in Virginia. He recounts the trauma that is often experienced by queer youth of color, but he also speaks of the joy, like his time spent with his grandmother. The racists and bigots and big madT about this one; it’s the third most challenged book of 2021.
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
This is another YA book, this time a love story set in the very racist Texas of 1937. It follows Mexican American Naomi Vargas and Black American Wash Fuller as they navigate East Texas and all its bleak racism, as well as their own forbidden feelings for each other. This novel can get very depressing, but it does such an excellent job of showing what life could be like for a Mexican girl in that time. It’s also been nominated for a few awards. It was fourth most challenged book (Kelly Jensen actually wrote it being pulled for review in Texas.)