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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is by a former Book Rioter and it quickly became one of my favorite science fiction/fantasy titles that has been published in the past few years. It is my go-to recommendation for fans of Young Adult SFF, fans of zombies, and fans of badass female characters.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

The premise is that during the U.S. Civil war after the battle of Gettysburg (so, 1863), all the dead on the battlefield rose up and started walking. The war stopped abruptly so that everyone could focus their attention on dealing with zombies. Why did the dead start walking? It is unknown. The enslaved Black folks were “freed” and then commissioned as zombie-fighters. I keep writing “zombies” but the zombies aren’t called zombies in this story. Instead, they are known as shamblers. Fresh shamblers can move as fast as a living person and it is terrifying.

Our dashing, smartass, amazing protagonist is one Miss Jane McKeene, a Black teen. The story is that her mother was the plantation owner’s wife and her father was a field hand. Against her mother’s wishes, when Jane was 14, she went with the other Black children to go to a combat school, where she would be trained to fight shamblers. Once she graduates, the hope is that she would be hired as an attendant to protect the wealthy white women from shamblers as well as protecting the affluent white women’s virtue.

After the prologue, the story begins just outside of Baltimore at Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls where we meet Jane doing drills with the scythe (we learn that it is not Jane’s favorite weapon. She prefers the sickles). We also meet Katherine Deveraux, one of the other girls at Miss Preston’s. Katherine is Jane’s nemesis, and they’ve butted heads since they first met. Katherine is so light skinned she could pass for white. She is also beautiful and great with a rifle.

The girls are all taken to the university to hear a lecture from a scientist who claims to have created a vaccine. There’s a demonstration.

It does not go well and it is all downhill from there.

This book is full of so much action and is an absolute page-turner, not to mention that there are some lines of dialogue that pulled real laughter from my chest. I even bought a copy for my dad and he loved it just as much. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is clever and fun and a must for your TBR. While you’re there, add Deathless Divide, the sequel to Dread Nation.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick has been an absolutely life-altering read for me. Each of this author’s Instagram posts prompts deep introspection and examination of my toughest relationships as well as my own behavior. This book is an extension of those online nuggets of advice she is known for.

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Nedra Glover Tawwab is a therapist, content creator, and expert at boundaries. While this book is built on the premise that boundaries are healthy and make strong foundations for healthy relationships, it goes well beyond just cheerleading. There is actual concrete advice for drawing boundaries from what words to say and how to say them to advice on when boundaries should be drawn.

So many of us resist drawing boundaries out of fear. Fear that we will appear mean by drawing boundaries. Fear of the guilt that comes with drawing boundaries. Fear that drawing boundaries will end a relationship. Fear that we don’t deserve to have boundaries with a certain person or people, like our parents. She addresses all of this in explicit detail and it is simultaneously a wake-up call and a hug of support.

Tawwab is often asked how we can draw boundaries without feeling guilty and her answer caught me by surprise. Because her answer is, you don’t. Guilt is a natural part of drawing boundaries and her goal is to not try to alleviate guilt, but instead to offer some solid ways to manage the guilt that always comes with the territory. I, for one, was certainly shocked to learn that my guilt around drawing boundaries isn’t because of some internal weakness.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is on understanding the importance of boundaries. What are they? What is the cost of not having boundaries? What are the six types of boundaries? And more. One particularly potent chapter in this section is on what boundary violations look like. I was in a full-body cringe reading about guilt trips. The second part of the book is some solid advice on how to do the boundary work in your own life.

Set Boundaries, Find Peace is the best book I’ve read this year and it may end up being my favorite book of 2021, not to mention an automatic addition to my annual rereads list.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Editor’s Note: You may have received a repeat of Friday’s Read This Book today. If you did, apologies for the repeat, and here’s today’s pick!

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is hands-down one of the most gorgeous books I have ever read. It is a fresh look at pirates and mermaids and magic and romance that really sets it apart from other Young Adult pirate tales.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Content warnings for abduction, violence, including murder, and abuse.

This book is told via points of view of a few different characters. One of these characters (and one of our heroes) is Florian, formerly Flora. He and his brother Alfie joined the crew on the pirate ship, the Dove, when they were children. They were small, starving, orphaned, and prepared to do anything, even kill, to have the opportunity for somewhere to belong. The opportunity to join the crew of the Dove arose, and it was an offer they could not refuse.

The Nameless Captain, the captain of the Dove, has a hustle where he disguises the ship as a passenger ship for wealthy folks. After a couple weeks into the journey, far enough from land where the “passengers” cannot escape and get to a shore, the captain then tells them they’re all prisoners and he will sell them off into slavery for a significant profit.

One of these wealthy passengers of the Dove is Lady Evelyn Hasagawa, a young high-born Imperial woman. Her parents are sending her off to get married against her will, one of the reasons being that she is queer and the parents are awful. Florian is ordered by the Nameless Captain to guard Lady Hasagawa, especially from the more aggressive men on the crew.

In this story, the sea is sentient and has one really big rule, which is to not harm the mermaids. The thing is, mermaid’s blood, when drunk by humans, is a powerful drug that can take memories away. If you drink mermaid’s blood, then you are automatically an enemy of the sea and an enemy of the Pirate Supreme, who serves the sea.

Of course, the crew of the Dove has no interest in following the rules of the sea.

This book centers queer characters of color in a beautiful, sweeping adventure that is just a delight and it is definitely a must-read.


Before I go, if you haven’t heard, we’ve got a giveaway for a chance to win an iPad Mini! Enter here.

That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

Categories
Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty

Michael W. Twitty is a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter. The Cooking Gene is culinary history, cultural history, and Twitty’s personal genealogical discoveries all woven together. His U.S. geographical focus is what he refers to as the Old South, which is what he calls, “the former slaveholding states and the history and culture they collectively birthed from the days of contact through civil rights.” Twitty traces what many Americans know as southern food back to its roots through the enslaved people who developed it and back to parts of Africa as well. He brings us along with him, through stories and chats with other food historians, through his work as a cook for civil war reenactments, personal stories, and information from his deep research.

Most every page of this book taught me something I never knew or had never even considered. There were no timers in the kitchens that the enslaved cooked in, so sometimes the songs they would sing were used as timers for the cooking. How the racist trope associating watermelon with Black Americans is even more depraved than I had known, as watermelon was actually a life-saver to perpetually dehydrated enslaved people working in the fields.

Twitty shares his personal experience with genealogy as a Black person in America. It is far from simple. While the internet makes it so much easier to access things like historical records, when it comes to enslaved people and descendants, detailed notes weren’t necessarily kept. Families were broken up and sold off. Slavers didn’t necessarily keep records of where people were abducted from.

Twitty does such a fantastic and often difficult job of tying the past to our present. His writing humanizes enslaved people in ways that they often aren’t, such as how many enslaved people were sent to France for culinary school and to be taught pastry-making. These were skilled workers. If they were paid, they would have been considered professionals, even experts in their field.

This book is a brilliant study on how food, racism, power, and justice are linked.


Before I go, if you haven’t heard, we’ve got a giveaway for a chance to win an iPad Mini! Enter here.

That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

Categories
Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is another must-read, especially for women of all types, and extra-especially if you consider yourself a feminist. This book is a powerful manifesto by one of my favorite contemporary voices in intersectional feminism.

The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy

Content warnings: frequent use of the word “fuck,” advocating for violence, discussions of sexual assault, violence against women, genital mutilation, and lots of misogyny.

This book is incredibly intense as is clear from the first line, “I wrote this book with enough rage to fuel a rocket.” The author did not come to play nor coddle. She has zero tolerance for the patriarchy, including the women who uphold it who she refers to as “the foot soldiers of the patriarchy.”

Mona Eltahawy is known for starting the hashtags #MosqueMeToo and #IBeatMyAssaulter. She is also known for making a bunch of folks in Australia clutch their pearls, when, on Australian national television she asked, “How many rapists do we have to kill to get men to stop raping?” If you are the kind of person who thinks that violence is never the answer, then this book is maybe not for you.

As titled, this manifesto goes through the seven necessary sins that we must embrace to destroy the patriarchy. Not fight nor combat but destroy. Mona Eltahawy wants our feminist tagline to be “fucking fear me!” The sins are Anger, Attention, Profanity, Ambition, Power, Violence, and Lust. After the introduction, she goes through each sin and tells us how each is integral to our tearing it all down and moving forward.

This is not nice, neat, clean feminism. It’s also not centered on Americans, as so much tends to be. It is a global view of feminism focusing on all women. There is so much going on in countries outside of the U.S. with regards to feminism and the fight for human rights that I learned about in this book.

This is another book that I read annually and encourage everyone to give a try.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is a must-read for everyone. If you have a body, then this book is for you. If you are a person who has been reading various books on social justice and marginalized groups it is imperative that this book be added to your rotation.

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon, creator of Your Fat Friend

Content warnings for discussion of graphic catcalling and sexual harassment, anti-fatness from microaggressions to outright active aggression, discussion of eating disorders and disordered eating, death related to anti-fatness, and use of the word obese (used sparingly and mostly in quotes).

Yes I’m going to use the word “fat” as a descriptor because “fat” is not a bad word. The main focus of this book is on fat justice for very fat people, that is, there are many people who don’t even get basic needs met because they are fat. This happens in so many ways, such as the pay gap between fat and straight size people, lack of public safety due to anti-fat violence, and denial to public spaces.

Anti-fatness is the last “socially acceptable” (sarcasm) way to hate people. Most people are frowned upon for being racist or homophobic but anti-fatness runs rampant and unchecked. This book is not about “wellness” aka repackaged diet culture. It is not about body positivity and loving the body we’re in. It is not even really about body neutrality or fat acceptance or body sovereignty. This book is about fat justice. About including the fattest among us in our social justice movements and about making sure fat people have access to basic things like clothing and equal pay and travel accommodations.

The citations alone are worth the price of admission. I love a well-resourced book, especially to hand over to people who automatically think that being fat is the same as being unhealthy. The author goes in-depth into things like how BMI is a garbage indicator of health (fun fact, it wasn’t even created as such in the first place!), and how there is no solid data illustrating that dieting achieves long-term weight loss. In fact, some conditions associated with being fat may actually be long-term effects of dieting.

If you’re not outraged before you read this book, then you may find flames shooting from your ears by the end of it. I love a book that changes how I see the world and this is absolutely one of those books.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

Categories
Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick has been painfully and unexpectedly relevant over the past year. The topic is always relevant, more than I knew before reading it, but especially with the pandemic and the need to shelter in place to literally save lives. It is about a public health concern so obvious once you see it, but almost always shrouded in shame.

Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World by Vivek H. Murthy

Content warning for suicide, which includes a graphic description, and drug use.

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy is the 19th & 21st Surgeon General of the United States. While he was serving as the 19th Surgeon General, he found that there was a common thread among the “major” public health issues like addiction, violence, anxiety, and depression. This common thread is loneliness.

This book is a deep dive into loneliness as something that everyone experiences at some point and also loneliness as a major public health issue. He also talks extensively about the shame that can happen around loneliness, how it’s something that people don’t talk much about, that we often feel like it’s our own fault if we experience it, or that we alone are the only ones who deal with loneliness. This book was written pre-pandemic and I imagine that some of this has shifted, but not necessarily enough.

Together isn’t entirely gloomy. It has some beautiful, uplifting stories about people who recognize loneliness for what it is and have organized to combat it in their own lives and their own communities, sometimes creating programs that reach further out to other parts of the county. There is also an exploration of loneliness in various cultures which is fascinating and it resonated deeply. Dr. Murthy also discusses isolation, childhood loneliness, and the effects of loneliness and isolation on children. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Murthy offers ways to combat loneliness, which has been especially hard to do during this pandemic.

This book has altered the way I look at the world and at my relationships and community and for that alone, I highly recommend it.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

Categories
Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is, in my opinion, one of the best books of 2020. It’s on a lot of recent book lists in response to the rise in anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander violence. It has spent multiple weeks on the New York Times’ Best Sellers list and deservedly so.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

Content warnings for racism, primarily anti-Asian racism, lychings, rape, violence against women including murder.

This book is phenomenal and some of the best creative nonfiction I have ever read. It is simultaneously the embrace of a shared experience, a kick in the face, and a punch in the heart. Cathy Park Hong explores her immediate, singular experiences as a daughter of Korean immigrants in some parts of the book, while interrogating the wide range of experiences of Asian Americans and Asians in America. We are not a monolith, yet so often treated as such. Our oppressions range from shared to pointedly personal. The author writes about the external oppressions, the hate, and the racism in both American history and American present as well as in academia and media. She also writes about the unique ways that we as Asians sometimes interact with other Asians who are not our same ethnicity.

The places Hong brings us as readers are unexpected but deeply relevant. She goes into detail about the United Airlines Express Flight 3411, when a Vietnamese American passenger, David Dao Duy Anh was violently removed from the plane when he did not give up his seat. Many of us saw the two-minute viral video, but Hong tells us so much about the story I hadn’t realized. It is absolutely heartbreaking. Another section is dedicated to the artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, who was brutally raped and murdered. The case had little coverage, and though her work has been shown in many places, Hong was curious as to why no one would talk about her death. The chapter about the ways that language is used to both racially oppress and racially glorify is alone worth the price of admission.

This book has fundamentally changed the way I think, especially the way I think about what I see in the media. It’s an absolutely fantastic read.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book

Read this book

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is some nonfiction that came out last year that should be considered required reading for anyone who considers themselves a feminist. The term “feminism” can evoke so many different thoughts and feelings in each of us and this book aims to expand our thinking.

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

Content warnings for anti-Blackness, eating disorders, and domestic violence. There are definitely a number of heavy subjects in this book but that is part of the point: there are all kinds of difficult things we absolutely must talk about when we talk about feminism. Each chapter discusses the different ways in which “mainstream” feminism has failed and continues to fail so many women who are not white, cisgender, able bodied, affluent, and straight.

While some of the chapters focus on Black women and the author’s experience as a Black woman, they also expand to include a variety of the intersections of identity at which any one of us may exist. A few of the focuses include hunger & food insecurity, eating disorders in the Black community, education access, housing access, colorism, maternal mortality, gun violence, and more.

The chapter on gun violence is particularly powerful, as gun violence isn’t often immediately considered a feminist issue. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 1 in 4 women have been victims of severe physical violence and The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%. Gun violence in certain areas is keeping girls from going to school. Not only are women victims of gun violence, but also the mothers, wives, and sisters of victims.

This book allows for such great opportunities for readers to step back and examine our own feminist views and learn where they can be expanded and where we each may have some work to do to better include all women. It is a must-read for anyone considering themself a feminist and/or an anti-racist.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

Categories
Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is the one book I recommend to every adult any time I get a chance to recommend a book. It came out in 2019 and I quickly made it one of my annual rereads. I’ve bought multiple copies as gifts and own two physical copies myself so even if I loan one out, I always have access to a copy.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. and Amelia Nagoski, DMA

Though the focus of this book is women of all types, I stand by my recommendation for all adults regardless of gender. Burnout, that is, prolonged physical, mental, and/or emotional stress is something with which many of us are all too familiar. Maybe even more so since the current pandemic began.

This book is not going to tell you that the cure for burnout is to have a gratitude journal or color in an adult coloring book or even to do something that is likely not possible, like work less, change jobs, leave your family, etc. Instead, the book is filled with an exploration of why we suffer from burnout and research-based suggestions for what to do about the stress when we can’t necessarily get rid of the stressors. Even if we do get rid of the stressor, we still have to find ways to get rid of the stress itself otherwise it builds up and voila! Burnout.

While exercise is definitely at the top of the list of ways to alleviate stress (thanks, I hate it), they offer other ways to complete the stress cycle as well. That being said, their argument for exercise includes details on how moving our bodies can help reduce the stress cycle and it is so darn compelling that I ended up buying an exercise bike after reading this book. Much to my chagrin, the authors are right.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hyper-critical of books in the self-improvement genre so I’m still surprised at how much I love this book. The wealth of citations and robust bibliography are enough to make me swoon. It’s conversational and has relatable anecdotes that help readers feel optimistic about managing stress. Bonus, it’s also excellent on audiobook!

That’s it for now, book lovers!

Patricia


Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, and Twitter.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.