Tag: diversity

#Bookstagrammer of the Week: @shelfbyshelf

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This Week’s Featured creator: @shelfbyshelf

 

Each week Bookstr is going to be highlighting your favorite Bookstagrammers. A Bookstagrammer is someone who shares all of their literary interests, ranging from book reviews and aesthetically pleasing book pictures to outfit pictures featuring their current reads. Anything that evokes bibliophile feels is on their Instagram pages. Make sure to give these Bookstagrammers the love they deserve! This week we are getting to know a Bookstagram account that celebrates diversity and LGBTQ+: Hunter, or as you would know him on Instagram, @shelfbyshelf.

 

Here is his story:

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📚Meet The Bookstagrammer📚 Hey, you guys!! It’s been a while since I introduced myself. My name’s Hunter, and here’s some fun facts about me! • I’m from South Georgia, currently living in North Florida with my husband and our dog, Willow. • I’ve always liked reading, but it wasn’t until I graduated high school that I began reading such a high volume of books. All of my friends were off at college, and because I didn’t have the opportunity to start school with everyone else, I started reading again. I’d read somewhere that Marilyn Monroe read so much because she wanted to be cultured and knowledgeable—still not sure if that’s true, but I like the idea—, and I thought I could do the same for myself. • I average about 100 books a year. • When I’m not reading, I’m pretending to do yoga—it’s hard, y’all. I also listen to the same music I’ve listened to for ten years. I also watch Beaches and My Best Friends Wedding on repeat. • I lived with my granny for most of my life. Her mom moved in with us when I was 10, and it was like Grey Gardens in the south. My granny is a mix of Little Edie and Margaret White from Carrie (Piper Laurie edition) • I used to make money doing portraits of people, then I did hair, and now I work for the state. But my dream is to be a writer of books, essays, plays, etc. I also wouldn’t mind acting into Oscar glory. My goal at 18 was to win 17 oscars (by the time I was 21), win a Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and the Nobel Prize For literature. And then a Grammy, tony, and Emmy—I wanted to do the full PEGOT. • Anyway, that’s just a little bit about me! If you have any other questions, comment below. And if we haven’t met yet, tell me some fun facts about you! And if we have met, I’m sure there’s still more to learn! Lol so share something new. And thanks to everyone for joining in the fun with me! – – – #books #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #meetthebookstagrammer #yoga #yogi #yogamat #love #hotyoga #pilates #aboutme #epicreads #mysistertheserialkiller #oyinkanbraithwaite #gayboy #lgbt #lgbtqia #gaypride #bookish #doubleday #selfie #thriller #booktalk #books📚 #📚

A post shared by Hunter | Shelf By Shelf (@shelfbyshelf) on

 

image via @shelfbyshelf

 

 

Chapter 1: The Birth of a Bookstagram Account

 

Hunter started out small on Instagram with only his love of books until he received a shout-out from a fellow Bookstagrammer.

 

I’ve been posting about books on Instagram for about seven years, but just in a general capacity. In 2018, my New Year’s resolution was to post a little review for every book I read. I just wanted to share my book thoughts with the few of my friends who read. I had no idea what Bookstagram was, and I thought I was the only one posting about books every day. Then this woman Larissa ( @bklnbooks ) followed me, and at some point she said she wanted to shout-out LGBTQ+ “Bookstagrammers.” I didn’t think I qualified as a Bookstagrammer, but I asked and she said yes. A few months after that, I changed my handle to @shelfbyshelf. It all happened pretty organically.

 

Hunter has a long list of favorite books (never enough favorites, right?), including:

His favorite book cover out of all eleven of those is Fates and Furies.

 

 

image via @shelfbyshelf

 

Hunter’s fun fact is that he is also involved in art.

I occasionally draw portraits—I was known for it for a while, and I have drawings in at least four continents, which I think is pretty nifty.

 

 

Chapter 2: To The Bookstagramming

 

Hunter’s aesthetic features books (of course) and the outdoors.

I didn’t think I had an aesthetic until someone posted a picture and said, “I’m stealing Hunter’s aesthetic!” And it was an angled stack of books. I’m not sure the best way to describe it, but I guess I’d just say, happy Florida green. Which probably isn’t accurate at all.

 

 

So many of Hunter’s pictures are amazing and showcase his personality, but there’s one that makes him feel particularly confident.

My favorite post was when I talked about how so many books that came out in 2017 were about grief of some kind. And my favorite picture is one I posted recently of me in a crop top surrounded by books, because it felt very Call Me By Your Name, and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to post it a year ago.

 

 

 

image via @shelfbyshelf

 

 

Hunter’s personal favorite Bookstagram accounts are both aesthetically pleasing and celebratory of diversity.

I love so many accounts/people on there, but I’ll name a few and why:

@armyofwords – She’s the most thoughtful and widely read reviewer, and the way she engages with the text inspires me to be a better reader.

@thestackspod – an amazing account with an amazing podcast. Also, just a super kind person

@bookedbytim – his account is gorgeous, and he’s a queer icon who is under-appreciated in the community.

@blo288 – Bernie reads a wide variety, and he also posts pictures of himself and his fiancé, and that makes me swoon.

 

 

He wants to tell his fellow Bookstagrammers:

 

Don’t feel pressured to post the right books or read everything the moment it comes out. And remember that there’s a way to be kind in your reviews, even when you hate a book. 

 

 

 

image via @shelfbyshelf

 

When should you look for Hunter’s newest bookish posts and reviews?

I normally just post once a day, and take a break if I need to. I like the consistency—it helps me feel like I’ve accomplished a little something each day—but I also don’t like to feel pressured to post content all throughout each day. One seemed like a good balance for me.

 

Chapter 3: TBR

Hunter’s current TBR books are Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig, and Three Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell. 

 

When asked to choose a publisher to supply him with a lifetime of books, Hunter chose Riverhead.

They have gorgeous covers, diverse authors, great content. I’ve loved every book I’ve read from them.

 

 

image via @shelfbyshelf

 

Chapter 4: What does bookstagram mean to you?

 

Hunter’s love for books has helped him define who he is.

I grew up in South Georgia, and as a poor queer boy from a broken family, I wasn’t liked very much. This page is a reminder to me that you can be your authentic self and find your people, and they will love you for everything you used to be so insecure about.

Aside from posting reviews, I always want to facilitate conversations. Whether it’s about why books can be healing, why it’s important to read diversely, what books teach us about language etc. I try to create posts that will generate a thoughtful and nuanced conversation. And before each post, I remind myself of this post from Kristen Bell’s therapist: “Honesty without tact is cruelty.”

 

Hunter hopes his Bookstagram will bring joy to the world.

I think we sometimes struggle to find joy in our world right now, and I try to spread joy and kindness as much as possible. 

 

 

Well, what did you think of @shelfbyshelf? You HAVE to watch his drunk book talk highlights! Do you have a favorite Bookstagrammer in mind? Contact us through any of our social media platforms and maybe you will see them here next week! 

 

Want to see your favorite Bookstagrammer featured next? Message @bookstrofficial here.

 

Featured image via @shelfbyshelf

 

Why We Need to Address White Assumption in Books

If this were a book and I opened it up by describing a “slim heroine with bright brown eyes, thick long hair, and a dimpled smile” what, or who would you picture? It’s natural for us as readers to assign a look to a character, sometimes even influenced by someone we know or a celebrity that we feel fits the description. But the fact of the matter is that many of you who read that description, without even thinking about it, automatically pictured this heroine as a white woman. And that, dear readers, is what it means to see whiteness as the default.

 

 

But why does this happen? While seeing white as the default isn’t an issue specifically monopolized by literature, the white bias in writing is more unique because of one major factor: it’s all words. Books have only text to rely on to show you the story. This gives us as readers a certain amount of responsibility when it comes to visualization. It’s not like in a television show, movie, or even comic book where the image of the character is clear, leaving less uncertainty about race. For this reason, part of what contributes to us seeing white characters as the literature default is the character description or lack thereof.

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Image via writers HQ

 

Many authors take specific care to describe the skin-tone of non-white characters while not doing the same for their white counterparts. The reason that this is an issue is that it affects others those of different races while also conditioning readers to assume the whiteness of characters even if not explicitly stated as such. By pointing out the race of only characters of color, it’s an implication that characters that are not white are outside the “norm.” The implication then becomes that the “norm” is whiteness. Thus, we default to white when thinking of any character whose race is not specified.

 

 

While much of the burden is on authors to fix this problem, there’s also something important we as readers can do. We must unlearn seeing white as a default or the “norm” and that’s not an easy thing to do. One way to start to do this as readers is to read more books by authors of color. Being able to read books where there is diversity that is baked into the very nature of the characters is powerful. Simultaneously, you’re also supporting authors of color which are helping to diversify the literature we read.

 

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Image via pinterest

 

Something else we as readers need to do is hold ourselves accountable. When we’re reading, we need to be thinking about the role assumption playing in our head-canons, fan-casts, and visualizations of characters. Questioning where in the text you get the idea that a character is white from their descriptor is something that will help you consciously think through your own biases.

 

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Image via the black youth project

 

The last thing you can do goes beyond literature and it has to do with confronting the way you think of race in general. Oftentimes we’re presented with a fairly stereotypical view of non-white races. When we hear the word “blonde” we automatically think white, ignoring the fact that people of color can be born naturally blonde or that hair dye exists in the 21st century or that in fantasy books there are people with naturally purple hair so a person of color with naturally blonde hair isn’t out of that realm’s reality. Latinx people can have light skin or dark skin, same with Black people, Asian people, Native people, etc. So reading about a character that has “fair skin” or a character that blushes when they’re frazzled still does not automatically make them white. People of color are far from homogenous and all it takes is a simple google search to see that. Expanding your own world-view and taking some time to look a bit more into the way race can be presented will go a long way in keeping yourself from automatically assuming whiteness.

 

Image result for assumed whiteness

Image via Cosmopolitian

 

Unfortunately, many of the characters we read about whose races are explicitly mentioned actually are meant to be white by the authors and a lot of that comes from their own white bias. But being able to recognize our own biases, hold ourselves accountable, and change our own world views is going to make for a plethora of authors, both old and new, who have a vastly more progressive approach to writing racial diversity in literature.

 

 

Featured image via The New York Times

This Beautiful Middle-Grade Novel About Native American Identity Is a Game Changer

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day doesn’t come out until October 1st, but it’s already making waves. Day’s debut is inspired by her own family’s history and follows a girl named Edie Green who uncovers her family’s secrets, and discovers her true identity as Native American.

Christine Day and I Can Make This Promise | Images Via HarperCollins

 

Tackling themes of identity, coming-of-age and First Nations family separations, Christine Day, who is Upper Skagit, has written a beautiful, sensitive and hopeful debut, and in doing so has added some much needed First Nations representation to the middle-grade reading pool.

All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers.

Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.

Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?

While the story is inspired by Day’s own family history, the book is not autobiographical. In an interview with The Horn Book Inc., Day stated:

In earlier drafts of this book, the family’s story was almost identical to mine. When I finally departed from the full, absolute truth of my personal history, I fell in love with the revision process. It was so liberating and inspiring to blur the lines between fact and fiction. Everything in this book still feels like it could be true to me. But it no longer feels like I’ve said too much.

I Can Make This Promise has received starred reviews from both Kirkus Reviews, who calls it, “enlightening and a must-read for anyone interested in issues surrounding identity and adoption”, and Publishers Weekly who have dubbed it “an affecting novel [that] also considers historical truths about how Native Americans have been treated throughout U.S. history, particularly underlining family separations.” Cherokee Nation’s Traci Sorell, award-winning author of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, says “Day’s novel brings an accessible, much-needed perspective about the very real consequences of Indigenous children being taken from their families and Native Nations. The absence of one’s tribal community, loss of culture and lack of connection to relatives have ripple effects for generations.”

Described by Hayley Chewins, author of The Turnaway Girls, as a book that “manages to be both deeply sad and brightly hopeful”, I Can Make This Promise approaches difficult subject matter with the sensitivity and skill required by any great children’s author, which is what Day undoubtedly is.

Day holds a master’s degree from the University of Washington, where she wrote her thesis on Coast Salish weaving traditions. A huge ice cream fan, (her favorite flavors are Rainbow Sherbet by Baskin-Robbins and Half Baked by Ben & Jerry’s, for those wondering), Day is also super into Harry Potter (rating Prisoner of Azkaban as her number one!) and the Marvel Comics Universe.  You can find her online at bychristineday.com, where she has writing tips, a discussion guide for educators, a blog, fun facts and more! You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with her news, as there is sure to be lots to come!

6 Reasons You Should Read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows Duology

After finishing Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, it bumped The Lunar Chronicles right out of the top-spot as my favorite book series (sorry Marissa Meyer, but you’re always in my heart). This high-fantasy heist series is a striking read. I can’t get enough of the characters, the narrative, the world. Despite having read it a few years ago, to this day it’s left me with the biggest book-hangover of my life. Here are the top six reasons why you need to read this duology too.

 

 

6. You don’t have to read her first series to understand it

Grisha Trilogy

Image via Goodreads

 

While technically a sequel series to Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, you definitely don’t have to be well-versed in the world to dive right into these books. I personally didn’t read any of the original series and was still able to fall head-first into everything Six of Crows had to offer. It’s completely different than the first series with all new characters. And while I’m told there are a few minor cameos by characters from the Grisha Trilogy, this duology works brilliantly as a standalone.

 

5. It doesn’t play into YA fiction tropes

YA love triangle

Image via WordPress

 

Spoiler alert: there are no lost princesses in this duology! No love triangles, no “I’m not like other girls” girls, and absolutely no Chosen Ones. Even though this is a fantasy novel (and a high fantasy one at that), it strays greatly from the YA conventions of the fantasy genre. With those elements gone, it makes way for a truly unpredictable narrative. With the absence of these stylistic tropes, this series makes way for different aspects of YA to be explored. Not to mention without the comforting predictability of the high fantasy story structure, you’re constantly on your toes while you’re reading.

 

 

4. It delves into real-world issues

 

World Vs. Money

Image via Investopedia

 

Ketterdam is where the duology is primarily set and it’s a nation that is so dedicated to capitalism that it’s a religion to them. Bardugo uses these books to explore the dangers of a country that values money above all else. As a consequence of this world, we see characters as members of gangs, having to be prostitutes, and being plagued by illness and addiction. Bardugo paints a grimy world—one that requires her teenage-aged protagonists to grow up faster than most and she writes the psyche of each character so incredibly well.

 

3. The writing is extraordinary

 

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Image via WordPress

 

Bardugo’s one of those authors whose writing just hits you. She balances the serious with the loving and the heartbreaking. And despite how grim the subject matter might seem, the duology still manages to be uplifting, relatable and hilarious. Not to mention quotable as hell. Careful, though. You might end up with a Six of Crows quote as your Twitter bio.

 

 

2. The diversity is on point

 

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Image via We Heart It

 

Much needed discussions in the YA community about diversity are finally being had. And as a tough critic on the lack of book characters of color and how they’re treated when they are there, I can actually give these series a stamp of approval. Not only are the characters racially diverse, but Bardugo is also inclusive in other ways. There’s a character that is plus sized, characters with both physical and mental disabilities, and LGBT+ representation. And when I say LGBT+ representation, I don’t just mean That One Gay Character in the main friend group and his under-developed boyfriend. I’m talking MULTIPLE queer characters of varying identities that are fleshed out. Not only is this diversity baked into the narrative, but it’s also not tokenized or stereotyped. Bardugo strikes a nice balance between writing her diversity so obscurely that nobody knows they are until she retroactively tells us in interviews (looking at you J.K. Rowling) and making that diversity the sole trait of those characters. She’s able to write diverse characters as people and that’s what we want when we ask for representation.

 

1. It’s going to be a TV series

 

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Image via Vox

 

This is your chance to be the “I saw it first” friend. As of January of this year, Netflix has ordered an eight episode series of Shadow & Bone and Six of Crows. While there’s no details on how yet, the show will be combining both of Bardugo’s book series to make the show. Get a jump on the narrative by reading the Six of Crows duology. Not only will you be ahead of the curve for what is sure to be a highly talked about adaptation, but it’ll also be fun watching the world and character you know come to life onscreen.

 

Featured image via Affinity Magazine

The Academy Ensures Diversity with Gemma Chan, Gillian Flynn, Winston Duke and Letitia Wright Among New Inductees

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released its list of invitees for 2019. The list seems more women and people of color included than ever before, many of them tied to recent book adaptations.

After the “Oscars So White” controversy of 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is stepping up and becoming more inclusive by inviting more women and people of color. Finally they are paying respect to some incredibly talented people in the film industry, many of whom have been ignored for years.

 

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Image via azatty

 

The official release opens up with the statistical difference this year’s new members make. “The 2019 class is 50% women, 29% people of color, and represents 59 countries.” Looking through the list you’ll notice a number of these invitees were a part of the two most talked about adaptations of 2018 – Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, two films that were praised not only as fantastic films and adaptations but also for the impact they have on an industry that has been so lacking in diversity.

 

 

Crazy Rich Asians helped actress Gemma Chan attained an invite, as well as director Jonathan M. Chu

 

Actress Gemma Chan | Image via NY Post

 

Sterling K. Brown, Winston Duke, and Letitia Wright from Black Panther earned invites of their own, along with make-up artist Tym Shutchai Buacharern, and visual effects artist Jessica Harris.

 

Sterling K. Brown | Image via Hollywood Reporter

 

Many more have been included, such as actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad) and cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw (The Sun Is Also A Star), and author of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn.

 

Gillian Flynn | Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau

 

 

 

With so many other amazing novels and series out there just waiting to be adapted for the big screen, more roles and opportunities for women and people of color are sure to be created!