Finding Focus: From Intention to Action

When I started this blog a few months ago, I didn’t start it with a specific intention. I had recently discovered the bookternet, and wanted to join the bandwagon. Since then, I’ve sporadically written posts and reviews and such, because the only thing I’ve ever been clear about this blog is that reading is my priority and I’m not about to start shaving off reading time in favor of writing, or doing my laundry, or anything.

Curating all of my social media to be all about books- following bloggers and authors, posting pictures of my reading, general book squeeing- was quite the eye-opener. I learned a lot about the intersections of publishing and social justice, #ownvoices, the push for diversity, problematic representation, etc. I’d never been mindful of any of this prior to this year, but it became something I couldn’t unsee. 2016 has been my best reading year by a long shot, but along with it has come a certain mindfulness about how we talk about books and the ginormous influence on readers, I had several “holy shit that’s so effing true!” realizations about all of it. I made friends with wonderful people like Naz and Bina, as well as the #DiverseBookBloggers, who were all dedicating their time to actively promoting diverse books and authors of colour. By this time I was all aboard with the gravity of representation in publishing, having revelatory conversations with book friends and learning so much. The blog still remained as it was- without intention.

I’ve had some time to think about this in the last couple of months, and the lack of intention was starting to really bother me. I was fixated on having a theme of some sort on the blog that was different, not for stats (I still haven’t figured what most of them mean or how I’m supposed to use that data to gain followers), but just to be able t0 contribute in a way that was unlike whatever already existed in what felt like an oversaturated book blogging community. In that time, I was becoming more vocal on twitter about the importance of diversity, and had also been burned pretty badly by some books that I’d read or bought which were just products of the power of patriarchy and white privilege. The more I paid attention, I was stunned by the mediocre bar set for privileged folks to publish their books. I was also outraged by the harassment marginalized authors and bloggers were receiving for daring to speak about problematic content. I was seething, and disillusioned, and filled with an urge to take action.

All of that introspection brought me to this- this was never supposed to be about me. Instead of worrying about how this blog can stand out, I’m going to stop centering myself, and focus on the cause- on boosting marginalized voices and experiences. Clearly, publishing has a long way to go, so why not add my voice to the cause? I’ve realized that at this point we need every person we can get to talk about own voices and diverse books, and the only reason I ever felt we had plenty of people talking about it was me living in my tiny privileged bubble of like-minded book people. It’s high time I acknowledge that privilege, and use it to do something. It doesn’t mean I’ll completely stop reading white/cishet/able authors, but they don’t need me to promote their books for them. Marginalized authors could use every person reading their books to talk about them, and that is what I am going to do.

Long story short- you’ll be looking exclusively at own voices and diverse content on here, starting now. It’s going to get loud here, and I hope you’ll stay with me for the ride.

Epic Reads’ Reading Decathlon Recap

Heyo,

Updates, updates: All my stuff was packed and shipped, and I moved back to Muscat about a week ago. My last few weeks in Chicago were spent catching up with as many friends as I could, and generally taking in as much Chicago as I could before I left. Yes, this did include visiting all my favorite bookstores one last time. It was an emotional rollercoaster of a month and now I’m catching up on sleep, enjoying my mom’s cooking, and just chilling. My body is appreciating this kindness. 

As most of you know, I participated in the Epic Reads’ Reading Decathlon Challenge. They had three different levels of challenges- gold, silver, and bronze- and you could choose to attempt whichever you wanted.

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I chose to go for the gold- mostly because I had a 15 hour flight from Chicago to Muscat and I needed some motivation to kill my time up there reading. Plus, what better way to make a dent in that TBR? I managed to finish 10 books in 9 days, and it was so much fun having all this time to read! 

Continue reading “Epic Reads’ Reading Decathlon Recap”

August 8th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Continue reading “August 8th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”

July 18th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

img_20160516_170058.jpg

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Continue reading “July 18th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”

You need to follow all of them. “Diversity Is Not A Trend – 15 Blogs and Websites Committed To Diversity In Literature Year-Round — Read Diverse Books”

After three months of actively engaging in and exploring the book-blogging community, I have discovered even more blogs and websites that share my mission — to promote and give visibility to the stories written by people of color and other marginalized voices. These are people and organizations committed to year-round, life-long promotion of stories that…

via Diversity Is Not A Trend – 15 Blogs and Websites Committed To Diversity In Literature Year-Round — Read Diverse Books

What’s Wrong With Autism Speaks? A Collection of Resources

This. All of this. Take the time to read this if you can read only one thing today.

So Much Stranger, So Much Darker, So Much Madder, So Much Better

April is coming, which means stores will have puzzle pieces everywhere, places will be lighting up blue, and walks for the cure will take place across the country. All of this in support of autism awareness with most of the funds going to Autism Speaks.

Most likely, as some point throughout the month, you will see a variety of advertisements and awareness campaigns from Autism Speaks as well as be asked to donate some money. Maybe it’s just buying things that donate a part of the proceeds.

Before you donate, please take a moment to look into this organization and what it’s awareness and fundraising is really doing for the people it claims to support.
While Autism Speaks is the most recognized autism nonprofit, many autistics are strongly against this organization with many calling it a hate group. Let’s explore some of the reason’s why.

Where Does All the…

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Book Riot Read Harder 2016

Read a horror book: The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

Read a nonfiction book about science: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Read a collection of essays: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe L. Moraga (Editor), Gloria E. Anzaldúa (Editor), Toni Cade Bambara (Foreward)

Read a book out loud to someone else: We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes On Race And Resegregation by Jeff Chang

Read a middle grade novel: George by Alex Gino

Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography): Notorious R.B.G: The Life And Times Of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Irin Carmon

Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Read a book originally published in the decade you were born: Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award: Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

Read a book over 500 pages long: The Queen Of The Night by Alexander Chee

Read a book under 100 pages: The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman

Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender: All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Read a book that is set in the Middle East: The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia: Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Read the first book in a series by a person of color: Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older

Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years: Bitch Planet Volume 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better: The BFG by Roald Dahl

Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes: Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy

Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction): Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction): Lafayette In The Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Read a food memoir: Dinner With Edward: A Story Of An Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent

Read a play: Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarthy (fight me, I dare you)

Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

You gotta start somewhere, yeah?

After a lot of hemming and hawing, I’m entering the blogosphere. For anyone who’s known me for a while, feel free to skip this post.

For those of you that are interested, here’s a rough timeline:

I was born in India but spent the first 17 years of my life in Muscat, Oman (don’t stress about having to Google that, I’ve got all the information you need right here). I moved to India to do my undergrad, and then moved to Chicago in 2013 for grad school.

In the process of all of these things, I read a LOT (reading under the duvet using a flashlight past my bedtime was a nighttime ritual that began in middle school). Then grad school happened, and I was swamped with so much academic reading that I barely had the time, or energy to read much else. However, with the people I was fortunate to meet in-person and/or interact with in the twitterverse, I became more cognizant of the social justice movement and engaged in educating myself in causes that I was passionate about (diversity, intersectional feminism, etc).  

Since the beginning of this year, I have gained some of my previous reading mojo which has led to several awesome things- creating interventions for my reading behavior, reading mindfully, connecting with members of the bookternet, geeking out about books with fellow booknerds, actively participating in readathons and reading challenges, and in general making my reading more meaningful and fulfilling. For all of this, I have to thank the good folks over at Book Riot, who are doing phenomenal work for the bookish community. They’ve (inadvertently) been pivotal in this whole attempt-to-put-thoughts-about-books-onto-paper thing. 

Anyway, I don’t really know how I will be going about this. I mean, talking about books I’m enjoying- it shouldn’t be too hard yeah?

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Anyway, if you stumbled on this page on your way to read things written by people who know what they’re talking about, thank you for making it all the way to the end of the post. Feel free to say hi! 

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Books completed (2016)

This is a running list of the books (prose only, maybe graphic novels) I’ve finished reading in 2016. You can click on the title to be redirected to its Goodreads page: 

January

February

March

April

May

June

July