I think it is important for bloggers to be aware; to ask questions, including questioning themselves. Which is why for the Liar issue, I think it is just as important to ask "what am I doing?" as to react to the specific book and publisher.
As I said in comments to my post Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover, that means thinking about books beyond "what are my friends reading," "what do I want to read next," "what does my library have," and "what have the publishers sent me." For book reviews, two things are important: knowing about the book and having access to it.
Color Online offered a tremendous list of resources for both knowing and getting in those comments and I wanted to highlight them in this post; all below are from Color Online so "I" doesn't mean me!
"1)Request your library buy it. Many will when a patron asks. I have a wonderful library system and every request has been purchased.
2)Look for dated POC on trade sites like Paperback.swap. I understand we can't buy every book we want to read. I know I can't.
3)Contact the author directly. Many will send you a copy. They don't have endless stashes but believe me they love being asked to review their books.
4)Send me a review of book by POC writer. Every month I do a drawing for a free book for reviews we publish.
5)Color Online hosts a trivia quiz. Same deal. Enter the drawing win a book. And winners pick their prizes from our Prize Bucket.
6)Book Loan Program at Color Online. For all active members at Color Online, I will loan you a book. Just pay for return shipping. I run a library with more than 3000 books. Our collection is 90% women 80% POC. "
Color Online follows this up at her website with a Challenge: Read and review POC books through the month of August. We'll have a random drawing for 3 reviewers at the end of the challenge.
Wondering what to read for the Challenge? Susan at Color Online offers this list of Great YA By or About Women of Color. When I see a list, I have to count. Of the current 47 titles, I have read ten.
I know that sometimes, when something is being spoken about in the blogosphere, people think "It's already been said; there's nothing new for me to add; I'm not going to post." Doret notes in a comment, "I've noticed many bloggers who don't review a lot of books featuring poc have decided to avoid this topic." Doret, I've noticed that, also.
I think bloggers need to speak up. Address this issue. Commit to reading and reviewing more books that feature people of color, whether it's officially (like the Challenge, above) or unofficially (like me, who tends not to be a challenge participant.) Bloggers are first and foremost readers, and readers who influence other readers; bloggers talking about books that feature people of color is a powerful message to send to publishers and authors.
Action is what is important at this point; and for bloggers, action is reading and reviewing.
Enough of that; I have books to read (a Nikki and Deja book) and reviews to write (Riot by Walter Dean Myers).
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
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