30 books by women of color that I read this year

"the new jim crow" book next to container of chinese hand-pulled noodles

Some light lunchtime reading.

Inspired by Victoria Law’s decision to read 50 books by people of color in 2014, I decided to do a similar challenge: 25 books by women of color (which turned into 30).  I’m happy to report that I read some really awesome books, and found many authors whose work I’d like to read more of.

I’ve organized the books I read by genre, as Victoria did in her summary post. If you have book recommendations, leave them in the comments! I’m not sure whether I will do another challenge for 2015, but either way I would like to continue reading more books by people of color, especially women and queer poc.

Sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
Two novels about a young black woman who lives in a near-future climate change dystopia and founds her own religion. I loved the first book, but felt the sequel wasn’t as good for many reasons. (For example: the first book came out in 1993, but feels like it could have been written yesterday, whereas the second book was published in 2000 and feels rather dated in its focus on the dangers of fundamentalist Christianity.) Both books are absorbingly written, but incredibly bleak–I recommend reading them only if you’re in the right head-space to process a never-ending string of loss and trauma.

Ash by Malinda Lo


Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
Janet Mock is awesome. That is all.

Crazy Brave: A Memoir by Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo is also awesome. Seriously, you need to read this book.

Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward
This is the heart-breaking story of five young black men in the author’s life, including her brother, who died within four years.

Fugitive Visions: An Adoptee’s Return to Korea by Jane Jeong Trenka

Hapa Girl: A Memoir by May-Lee Chai

A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez
A beautiful book; you can read excerpts here and here. Continue reading

A few poems for National Poetry Month

April is the month of crocuses, light jackets after an endless season of heavy coats, and poetry.

Poetry and I have a complicated relationship. It used to be my Thing, a long time ago.

Poetry is a reminder of paths I didn’t take, paths I only half-took, paths I could still take someday.

Poetry is a reminder that the internet, for all the good it brings (and it brings so much), changes my brain in ways that make it harder to connect with something deep in my core. With the silence that I need to move beyond prose.

Sometimes, in an ironic twist, the internet even brings poetry.

And so, I present a few of my favorite poems that I’ve come across recently, in no particular order:

Hala Alyan: Dear Gaza

Scherezade Siobhan: colored girls won’t be televised

Audre Lord: A Litany for Survival

Naomi Shihab Nye: Gate A-4

Emily (who I know through Boston’s fat community): Dead Women Litter the Sidewalks of Manhattan, 1911

Suheir Hammad: First Writing Since (Poem on Crisis of Terror)

Kamilah Aisha Moon: Imagine

Autostraddle interviews Lauren Zuniga (contains videos of multiple poems)

Joy Harjo: Deer Dancer

Aimee Nezhukumatathil: After the Auction, I Bid You Good-bye

Leah Lakshmi Piepza-Samarasinha: the city of my desire