February – April 2017 | Book Musings

Time has a way of getting away from me, especially when I become immersed in a book or a similar task. The last three months have been a wild, unexpected, exhausting, somewhat harrowing journey and the books that I read were definitely a form of escape for me.

Many of the books I read over the last three months have also been a source of exploration, of discovery, and searching for a better understanding of the world I live in. They were both a bubble from the outside world, as well as a vehicle for exploring different narratives and voices that I haven’t a chance to before.

The world is full of discrimination, discrimination that has been prevalent, rampant, and insidiously steeped into our history and continues to remain so today. The topic of discrimination played heavily in my mind throughout February and March, as it was Black History Month and Women’s Month, respectively. Discrimination comes in many different forms, it has done so for centuries, and for me, learning more about them, in all their different forms, their origins, their histories, their perpetuation in our society today is one way in which, I believe, we can help eradicate it. If we see it, we recognize it, we can work stop it. For me, learning about that history, that perpetuation in our modern society is through books.

I read a total of twenty-three books over the last few months. They ranged from non-fiction, fiction, comic books, a couple of romances, and a few young adult novels and while they are definitely all worth a read, summarizing so many different books in one post seems a bit excessive. So I’m going to talk about my favourites that I’ve read over the past three months.

Here’s the list of the books I read:

  1. Love in a Fallen City – Eileen Chang
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – K. Rowling
  3. Black Panther, Issues 8 – 10 – Script by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Art by Chris Sprouse & Brian Stelfreeze (#9)
  4. Black Panther: World of Wakanda, Issues #1-3 – Script by Roxanne Gay, Art by Alitha Martinez
  5. Invincible Iron Man, Issues #1-3 – Script by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Stefano Caselli
  6. The Fire This Time – Jesmyn Ward
  7. Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur, Volume 1: BFF – Script by Brandon Montclare & Amy Reeder, Art by Natacha Bustos
  8. Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight – Alyssa Cole
  9. Just Married – Jenna Bayley-Burke
  10. Men We Reaped – Jesmyn Ward
  11. A Study in Charlotte – Brittany Cavallaro
  12. The Last of August – Brittany Cavallaro
  13. Silk, Issues #15-17 – Script by Robbie Thompson, Art by Irene Strychalski
  14. Marvel, Issues # 13-15 – Script by G. Willow Wilson, Art by Mirka Andolfo (#13) & Takeshi Miyazawa (#14/15)
  15. Teaching My Mother to Give Birth – Warsan Shire
  16. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban –K. Rowling
  17. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  18. Trade Me – Courtney Milan
  19. The Year of the Crocodile – Courtney Milan
  20. Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World – Kelly Jensen
  21. Haven – Rebekah Weatherspoon
  22. Night Sky With Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong
  23. The Coldest City – Script by Antony Johnston, Art by Sam Hart

 

The one book that has stuck with me most and a contender for one of my favourite books of the year is The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward. I had heard a lot about the book since its publication and it most definitely lives up to all the hype it received. It is a book I think everyone needs to read, especially if you live in the U.S. Each and every essay is different in the collection and each and every one of them is powerful, heartbreaking, visceral, and hopeful in their own way. Black lives in the United States of America have been subjugated, assaulted, and oppressed since the conception of the state and it continues to persist today. These essays show a sliver into the lives of African-Americans and what they face on a daily basis. One of the essays that struck me was one about the freedom to walk in the U.S and how that freedom is constricted if you are an African-American male. This collection really shows how as Daniel Jose Older puts it, “American equality and exceptionalism are lies.” Jesmyn Ward is one hell of a talented writer in her own right and I totally suggest reading her memoir Men We Reaped as well.

I read quite a few comics over the last few months but I’ve got one particular favourite, Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur, Volume One: BFF. I loved everything about this series from reading the first trade issue. The characters, the storyline, the dialogue, the art, the colouring, all of it came together and made reading it such an enjoyable act. Lunella Lafayette is not your typical nine-year-old. The girl’s a genius, and she even has her own secret lair in her elementary school. She also happens to have Inhuman DNA, which hasn’t been activated by Terrigenesis (the process which activates your Inhuman DNA) and she has no plans to anytime soon. It’s in this pursuit of trying to lock down her Inhuman DNA that she meets a time travelling dinosaur, Devil Dinosaur. This was such a fun series that’s smartly written and definitely worth checking out and definitely great for younger kids as well.

Two other series that are definitely worth checking out are Black Panther: World of Wakanda series, written by the brilliant Roxane Gay, and the new Invincible Iron Man series starring Riri Williams as the new Iron Man. Not only do these series prominently feature Black women, their relationships with one another, and LGBTQ relationships in the case of World of Wakanda, they are also really good reads and a different narrative that hasn’t really been explored in mainstream comics. Be advised, Black Panther: World of Wakanda only consists of five issues so you might want to wait till the trade issue of the series drops to pick it up.

A Study of Charlotte and its sequel The Last of August were two books that I never expected to be so fully immersed in as quickly as I became immersed in them. (Note to publishers, dropping the price of an e-book of the previous novel before the publication of the next one in a series is a fantastic idea. Please continue.) Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are the descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. And like their ancestors, they are on the case of a mysterious murder at their private school that implicates the both of them in A Study of Charlotte. Both books are filled with twists and turns, family secrets unearthed, murders, mystery and a relationship between two individuals that drives the entire series. I was left stunned at the end of The Last August and cannot wait for the final book in this trilogy.

If you didn’t know already, I’m a big fan of the romance genre. I love a good romance novel. I highly enjoyed all the romances I read over the last three months but the stand out of them was Trade Me by Courtney Milan. I’ve been actively trying to read more romance novels with WOC heroines and/or written by WOC and Trade Me fit perfectly into what I have been looking for. Trade Me tells the story of Tina and Blake who attempt to trade lives after a heated discussion on their differing socio-economic circumstances in one of their university class. This trade quickly spirals into something that splinters into every part of their lives and romance blossoms between them. What I loved most about the book is how relatable the character of Tina is and how much I saw myself in the character. I haven’t read many romance novels with first-generation Chinese-Americans heroines and Courtney really did a fantastic and realistic job in portraying Tina and her family. Representation matters, especially in a genre like romance. The Year of the Crocodile is the follow-up novella to Tina and Blake’s story.

The last favourite book that I’ve recently read is Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen. This book is a collection of essays, poetry, and artwork written by a diverse set of authors. Some of the pieces have been previously published and are reprinted in the book but others are entirely new and definitely worth a read as a whole. I found essays and voices that I haven’t read before and I’m grateful for having read them and look forward to reading more from them. For me, as an intersectional feminist still trying to figure out this world that I live in, it helped me reaffirm my ideas on what feminism is and the diversity that it needs to include in order to move forward. My feminism will be different from someone else’s because of our diverse experiences, backgrounds, and abilities, but we still believe in and work towards equality for all, in all spheres, no matter what gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and/or ability. None of us are free until all of us are free and that’s one of the core tenants of my feminism and how I see feminism.

Those are some of my favourite books that I’ve read in the past three months. Hopefully, you’ll pick them up as well and enjoy them as much as I did. Thanks for reading! 😘

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