Diverseathon was Sept. 12-19 and I am woefully late in writing a wrap-up. I didn’t even manage to make a video and figure out iMovie to post a tbr on YouTube.
If you’re unfamiliar with Diverseathon, it was a weeklong readathon hosted by four booktubers. Here’s a link to the announcement video. It was originally started in response to a booktuber stating something along the lines that diversity in books isn’t that important or necessary. I haven’t actually seen the original video because I don’t really want to bother when I could have spent that time reading. Diversity in books is something I’m really passionate about and when I first heard about Diverseathon I decided instantly that it was something I needed to participate in. It was fantastic. I met a bunch of awesome people, got some book recommendations, gave a bunch of book recommendations, read some excellent books and had a great time.
I started Diverseathon with a loose plan of what I wanted to read and succeeded on some, failed on others. It’s all a success though because I read some really great books, primarily from my tbr.
Half a Lifelong Romance was my first pick for Diverseathon and one of the books I ended up finishing (mainly because it was super good, but also due back at the library). I stumbled across it in Chapters one day, fell in love with the cover and blurb, and knew I had to read it. After a long wait I finally managed to get it from the library.
This book was excellent and I’ll be eventually writing a longer review for it. After Women in Translation Month this past August I’ve been trying to continue reading translated book, particularly translated books written by women. Half a Lifelong Romance is set in 1930s China, following the lives of two young lovers as they draw closer and then are forced apart by dark family circumstances on both sides. It’s a beautiful and heartfelt book, with a simple and clean writing that still manages to convey so much emotion. I’m definitely planning on reading more of Eileen Chang’s work.
I didn’t have time to read a whole bunch of novels during Diverseathon so I figured I’d start a couple short story collections and finish them when I had time. I’ve since finished Clockwork Canada, and it was excellent, as I noted in my review. You could probably argue on technicality that this book doesn’t count as a diverse book because I’m Canadian. I’ll challenge you on that though. Part of the reason I chose Clockwork Canada is because how the collection aimed to tell stories that challenged British colonial steampunk narratives and tell stories of Canadian history from marginalized voices and perspectives. And I think the collection managed to do just that, telling stories from sea to sea to sea.
I also chose to read some graphic novels, because I love them and because I didn’t have time to read a whole lot of novels. I somehow stumbled across this series on Tumblr when Orthodox Jewish book recommendations ended up on my dash. A graphic novel about troll-fighting 11-year old Orthodox Jewish girl sounded pretty cool though so I added it to my pile. I also managed to read the second and third books in the series during Diverseathon.
How Mirka Got Her Sword is a fantastic graphic novel with beautiful art. I loved how although the books involve magic and other supernatural elements, the real morals of the stories centre around family, faith, friendship, hard work and perseverance. Mirka isn’t the best or most talented, but she’s able to use the skills and knowledge she’s learned from her siblings and stepmother to overcome obstacles.
Nnedi Okorafor is an author who has been on my tbr for far too long. I decided Diverseathon was an excellent time to change that by reading Binti. Bonus points for being a novella. Binti is excellent. I tend not to read a lot of sci-fi, something I’m trying to change. And when I do read it, it tends to be more along the lines of future earth with robots, AI technology and other scary things about computers, rather then aliens. So this is really the first story I can remember reading in recent memory that deals with aliens and interspecies relationships. Binti is such a fantastic novella though, and totally deserves all the awards and hype. It transforms colonial sci-fi tropes, presenting a story where violence in not the only answer. I think it worked well as a novella but did want a longer story. It’s hard to write a novella with aliens and a complicated planetary history due to the space constraints. I was left with wanting to know more history and I’m hoping that the sequel will answer my questions.
I didn’t actually end up finishing this book. I started it, then got caught up in other things and wasn’t able to renew it at the library. Fire Shut Up in My Bones is Charles M. Blow’s memoir, detailing his childhood, sexual abuse and how everything comes to a head in university. It won the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Best Bisexual Non-fiction. I tend to read a lot of books written by and about queer women, and wanted to change that for Diverseathon by reading a book by a queer man. Even though I didn’t finish this, it’s still in my tbr and I’ll be picking up again once I can get my hands on a copy.
Another short story collection, which I didn’t have time to complete but will be finishing during Own Voices October. A Safe Girl to Love is a collection of short stories featuring various young trans women going through life and trying to figure things out. Trans voices continue to be marginalized so it was really important to me to read a book about trans women that was also written by a trans woman. It also helps that Plett is Canadian (Can Lit ftw). Plett’s writing is beautiful and flows so smoothly. She’s got a really knack at getting you to fall deep inside the story and relate to the characters. A Safe Girl to Love is also the 2015 Lambda Award Winner for Best Transgender Fiction and totally deserves it from the few stories I’ve read.
And that concluded my Diverseathon reads. I was considering starting Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear, but decided against it as I wanted to read more books that were diverse to my identities in particular. I’m still a strong supported of women in SFF and it’s definitely still in my tbr.
Now the month has moved onto Own Voices October, which I’m excited to be participating in. I’ve already finished two books for it, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, and A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar. Reviews for both are forthcoming. If you’re interested in participating, check out the announcement video, and tag your posts, photos, tweets, etc with #ownvoicesoctober.