Saturday, July 25, 2009

Getting The Books

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


Color Online said...

You rock!

I love lists. I have more. Come by and sit a spell. I'm quite chatty. As you can see, I feel right comfortable coming here. :-)

Colleen said...

Yes, Yes, Yes!

If anything is going to change things - and see more books published by POC, more books with minority characters, more books with GBLT characters by GBLT authors, then it will be through all of us who love books blogging about the ones that are out there. It doesn't mean writing about what you don't like - it means trying something new and discovering what you do.

I just finished "Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same" from Unbridled Books about a boy from LA who goes back to the village in AK with his AK Native mother. I've never read a book about AK Native teens before and it was excellent - a great book for teen boys. I'll be writing about it next week but I wonder how many other folks, who might not feel comfortable with a rural AK setting, will pick up the book.

They'll be missing some serious coming-of-age drama, that's for sure.

Terry Doherty said...

Thanks for pointing me to Color Online and the list! The Diversity Rocks book challenge has really helped me push my reading (and reviewing) in new directions. I will definitely think about Susan's challenge.

MissA said...

Thanks so much for joining the challenge and blogging about it! You rock :D
Also I have Riot but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Can't wait for the review =)

Charlotte said...

I'd also like to suggest that bloggers, as well as reading and reviewing, are buying--many of us spend our own money on the books we end up reading and reviewing, and, if we are committed to diversity, we need to shop accordingly...although goodness knows this can be frustrating.

Doret said...

I was looking forward to reading Riot, but I haven't been hearing great things.
Though I love the Nikki & Deja books.

Just finished I Wanna Be Your Shoebox by Cristina Garcia. The MC is Japanese, Cuban and Jewish. She's also a clarinetist who loves classical music and good pop rock (a la the Ramones)and she plays a decent bass.
She's also surfer/skateboarder. The author refused to limit who Yumi was and what she could do. The book was so freakin good. I loved it.

Yes, I sneaked in a mini book mention. I feel no shame especially if it gets one person interested in a very very good book.

Anonymous said...
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Tarie Sabido said...

Thanks for this post/reminder, Liz! I will be joining the challenge unofficially too. :o)

Doret, you've gotten me interested in that book!

Rasco from RIF said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post. I have quoted you at Rasco from RIF today: I look forward to ongoing dialogue on this critical issue.

Ali said...

>>Action is what is important at this point; and for bloggers, action is reading and reviewing.

Yes, exactly! And not just this week, or this month. Thanks for posting this--and feel free to add this post's link to the Diversity Roll Call on Worducopia this week, too, if you'd like.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Great post on this. I'm looking forward to reading some great books by people of color in August, though of course Tanita and I both try to make a point of reading books by/about people of color the rest of the time, too. :) We've especially tried to focus on interviewing authors of color during the Blog Blast Tours, and hope to keep doing that, too. The more bloggers are doing this, I think, the more visible writers of color will become--in many ways bloggers are setting reading trends now, and we have some ability to influence what is checked out or purchased...