reading audit: second quarter 2017

Half the year done, and I read 89 books during that time. If I subtract the 49 from the first part of the year, that seems low, but I actually also read about five unpublished manuscripts as contract work, and I don’t put them on the spreadsheet since that doesn’t seem fair, as they’re not final copies. But if we’re talking pages read and hours spent and content, there is a bit here going unsaid.

I didn’t know what to expect with this one, but I found it a really touching, non-saccharine novel about sisterhood.

My spreadsheet does not calculate things by quarter, and I’m too lazy to figure out how to make it do so, so instead, I’m just updating my stats from the first quarter of the year to see how I’ve done overall in six months.

My ratio of male-female authors/illustrators is 29-65, which makes me very happy, except that I haven’t had to think about adding a category for nonbinary authors, so there’s room for improvement. On that note, 13 books have queer main characters, and I’ve listed nine for queer creators, but I have a feeling my creator number is low, because I just don’t know people’s identities. Still, it’s a lower number than it should be by this time in the year, and I know I have some books on my shelf I could easily use to up that number–I’ve been wanting to read The Paying Guests and Symptoms of Being Human, for example. I also have a small pile of ARCs that I believe include quite a few queer titles, and an extra point of inspiration for reading them is that I can’t bear to give them up without giving them a try, but an LGBTQ+ youth center is opening downtown any day now, and I very much want to gift them a pile of queer YA books–it’s silly, because I know any good book would be welcome, but I especially want them to start with a strong collection of queer lit.

This series for babies is my new favorite thing. I gave my nephews two of them for their first birthdays. Obsessed.

Fifty-three books have people of color as protagonists or co-protagonists, which feels shamefully low, as it means about 40% of books I’ve read are about white people. That’s sad. I can do better. While I find people’s essays about a year of reading only women or only black authors really interesting, that’s not feasible with my life as a reviewer and scholar, but maybe I should make some sort of rule for myself when it comes to my personal reading so that I can amp that up a bit.

I’ve done four audiobooks, and I’m okay with that number. I only do audiobooks in the car. If I take the bus to school or park far away, I get walking time in, but I’ve been using a lot of that for podcasts, and I think I’d ultimately like to prioritize those. Eleven books this year have been read via Kindle, which is to say that I’ve been on the elliptical, stationary bike, or treadmill for enough hours as it takes to read eleven digital books and one or two print books. I thought that 11 seemed low for someone who owns a Kindle, but when I look at it that way, it seems respectable.

It’s been years since I read the original, but regardless, this adaptation is really impressive and extra meaningful in today’s political climate.

77% of the books I’ve read were fiction; the rest were some kind of nonfiction, including poetry. That seems on par with every year of my adult life.

The only area of stats where I can really feel proud, I think, is when it comes to books I already owned versus books I borrowed from the library. Forty were previously owned, 49 were borrowed. And, amazingly, this afternoon I returned four (unread) books to the library, and now I have absolutely ZERO checked out! I don’t remember the last time this was true, except when I’ve been in the process of moving to a different state. This is a huge accomplishment. I don’t even have much on reserve, which means I will continue to read books I already own and either find them a permanent spot on my shelves and stamp them with my personalized ex libris stamp, or I will take them to a good home wherever that might be.

This comes out in September, and it’s definitely a YA microtrend right now, but having read three of those books, I can say this one is the best.

Again I’m mostly disappointed in myself. I hope I can make the next part of the year a lot better. I don’t want to say I get why people say it’s hard to read diversely, but even though I think content-wise I diversified, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Anyway, some favorites scattered throughout this post, which serve as my recommendations for you. Off I go back to blog hiatus.


decolonizing writer representation – the agent challenge!

You guys. You are amazing. Thank you. I can’t believe this is maybe becoming a thing, and so I really want to make it A Thing now. And I was asked to maybe make it for editors, too, so that’s A Thing now as well!

Lost? Read the Storify. Then come back. Also, don’t be scared by the troll below. #sorrynotsorry by my responses. People like that are part of the problem.

Still lost? Here is some background (more links to come):

So here’s what I’m asking you to do. Publicly commit to spending a decent period of time (I would think three months seems enough to make a dent but also not change your worklife forever, since slush piles are also important) closing down your slush pile and using your existing contacts and Twitter followees to find people who #amwriting and are tweeting about diversity, marginalization, multiculturalism, and intersectionality.

If you cannot find those people naturally, you’re not following enough people. You are maybe new to Twitter, which is fine, but you will have to work to get better at it fast. Follow more people, and follow who they are following and retweeting. Twitter will also give you suggestions, and sometimes they are clearly sponsored to say that you should follow Donald Trump, but other times their algorithm is decent.

However, these are some of my favorite people, organizations, and websites to follow who have already made a point of promoting equity and social justice and retweet the voices of the people. These links are all to their Twitters. That’s because Twitter is Really Fucking Important. It’s where kidlit and YA people gather and socialize, for one, and it’s a platform that really does a lot better at welcoming and amplifying the voices of marginalized folks, so it’s important that you use it.

Some DOs and DON’Ts of this challenge:


  • Be willing to be listed here and thus accept that writers from marginalized backgrounds may solicit YOU, and if they mention this challenge, you should accept their submission during this period. Rules. This is my thing I made up, so this is a rule now.
  • Cut it the fuck out with “diverse” or “multicultural” and start using the term “marginalized” to describe people and “social justice” or “equity” to describe what it is we’re trying to change. Also, learn what hegemony means. Also, recall that “diverse” when used as shorthand for “marginalized” includes race, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and religion, among others, and you’re either cool with all of those things or you’re not welcome here.
  • Make sure that your website, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc note prominently that you are specifically doing this challenge so that people don’t worry that you’re an illegitimate agent for soliciting authors directly. I’m not trying to ruin your reputation here, really. You could even say I’m trying to make you a hero, really.
  • Ask the marginalized people you’re following, especially if they are already represented and published, if they have referrals for you. Published writers have unpublished friends, all of them. And then you can avoid the whole “this agent is soliciting me out of nowhere, so they must be illegitimate” thing.
  • Consider working with people with partials? That’s something you have to decide for yourself, and I’ve never worked in publishing (wanted to intern, never got the opportunity) so I have no idea just how overworked you are (but like teachers, I can make the assumption you are overworked and underpaid unless you represent Stephenie Meyer), but I would think that if you’re into nurturing voices that have been marginalized, you maybe want to consider mentoring them, not just taking on a fully developed manuscript, though that’s based on your time and your interests and stuff. But at the very least I would hope that you’d also work with the people you solicit submissions from and help them find opportunities for MFAs, online courses, mentorship programs, or whatever. You have connections, and there are additional ways to utilize them for good beyond offering representation.


  • Say you’re going to do it and then back out. Say exactly when you’re going to do it. I’ll post that along with your information.
  • Pat yourself on the back too much. This is a #nocookies zone. I will pat you on the back and say thanks for participating, and I will mean it 100% sincerely, and then you will sit back and just do your job. This is your job.

Here is where you can sign up:

If you’re an editor, please make the applicable slight changes to the DOs and DON’Ts to make them apply to your work, and then sign up here:

Participating Agents:

Lydia Moed, the Rights Factory (the emerita! The original signup!). Closing her slush pile from June to September. lydia @ therightsfactory . com

Participating Editors:


in which i ramble about the a+ diversity in quantico and crazy ex-girlfriend

source:imdbI scarcely watch live television because I’m a Millennial, and I have gotten entirely used to no commercials, or at least only 90 seconds of commercials because I don’t feel like paying for Hulu. This means that I rely on word of mouth or remembering to check out roundups of new shows on websites like Variety so that I can try them out.

So two television shows I’ve found, even though I don’t even know what nights they air, are Quantico and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. They’re great, they’re funny (the latter), and they do a lot of shit right. Obviously they’re not perfect, because what show is, but I’m going to be really supportive here, because they are doing things better than most other shows ever hope to do. I’m going to tell you why they’re amazing, and I’m going to do so with a fair amount of rage directed at all the people who claim that diversity is an “agenda” and that there needs to be a “reason” for someone to be nonwhite. Because we all know that to be white is to be raceless and normal and universal, because race doesn’t inform the living experience of a white person, right? Ha.

I’ve somewhat grown tired of crime procedurals, because obviously they’re unrealistic, and frankly I don’t think it helps people understand how much policing is based in institutional racism when we have a disproportionate number of saintly cops on TV (I’m not saying 100% of cops are bad, but there’s very little nuance on any show about them). Like the only time you see a “bad” cop is someone with a good heart who got swept up in financial corruption. Bleh.

But I’m all about Quantico, because the casting was clearly inspired by the Shondaland approach. You know, where you actually cast based on “quality”* and let everyone audition so that you can see who best fits the role you made up in your head instead of narrowing the field before you see it – for no fucking reason.** Anyway. The main character, Alex Parrish, was clearly created with a white person in mind, because look at that name. But Priyanka Chopra plays the character, and the only change that seems to have been made is that since they didn’t change the name, they threw in the idea that she was biracial and gave her a white father. Easy peasy! I’m down with that. Continue reading