Review || The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Genre: Fantasy | Diverse Rep: West Asian setting + Muslim (#OwnVoices)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

34814099The City of Brass is an epic historical fantasy novel that follows Nahri, a 19-year-old con artist from Cairo, as she discovers that she’s the last descendant of a powerful djinn healer family. With the help of a protective former Daeva slave, Dara, Nahri journeys to the magical city of Daevabad and integrates herself into the ruling family. As she gets to know Ali, the second son of the Qahtani king of Daevabad, Nahri must decide where her loyalties lie and what she will do in order to survive.

I haven’t read a fantasy story in a long time, so the depth of world-building saved this book for me.

As a white American, I’m not familiar with the Islamic myths that Chakraborty draws on, but I loved the seamless weaving of myth and fantasy. We learn about the world of djinn through Nahri, a presumably human girl who gets swept up in a war she doesn’t fully understand. Through Nahri’s perspective, we learn about the different magical creatures and the basics of Daevabad’s political factions.

There were lots of surprises in the story, from Nahri’s background, to the action scenes. The combination of 18th-century Egypt with the mythical world of Daevabad was absolutely stunning.

That being said, I cannot review this book without admitting the mis-balanced pacing.

The beginning of the book is description-heavy as the reader is thrust into an unfamiliar world. We’re still getting to know who these people are and learning new terminology, which often threw me out of the story. On top of that, the entire first half of the book is a long and arduous journey from the human world to Daevabad…and I’d almost lost hope of Nahri and Dara ever arriving.

Of course, once we arrived in Daevabad, I was absolutely hooked. While the first half of the book dragged, the second half seemed to fly by as I got sucked into the political intrigue. The one thing that kept me going in the first half of the book were Ali’s chapters. I really connected with his moral struggle: he believes in equality, yet he’s trapped in a family of pureblood maniacs who care more about keeping their power than doing the right thing.

In fact, one of the best things about this story was the fact that most of the characters are morally gray to some extent. Nahri comes from a background of stealing to survive; Dara murdered countless people during his time as a warrior and as a slave; and Ali chooses his family’s political views over his moral feelings time and time again. Pretty quickly, we learn that Dara and Ali are diametrically opposed, yet it’s not clear that either of them is fully right or wrong. Dara and Ali both have different views of history that affect their current worldview, which acts as an interesting parallel to real life.

My main complaint was that I wasn’t invested in Nahri’s relationship with Dara.

I get that they went through this huge journey together, and that Dara admires her because she’s descended from the people his people have always served…but I just didn’t buy the fact that she was so loyal to him, that she defends him in spite of everythingincluding his borderline abusive treatment of her, which she writes off as just how he is. I don’t think Dara is as evil as the Qahtani family makes him out to be, but I definitely think Nahri is smart enough to see through Dara’s facade.

That being said, I loved the friendship between Nahri and Ali. It starts out with them both using each other for their own ends, but the friendship that develops is so genuine and real.

One of the strongest elements, and something I hope is explored more in the next book, is the racism within Daevabad.

The pureblood djinn are divided up into different tribes who tolerate, but also insult each other. Beyond that, most djinn are incredibly racist against shafit, or non-pureblooded djinn. The shafit live in segregated areas with fewer resources, often living in abject poverty. Meanwhile, the Daeva tribe both looks down on everyone else and convinces the Qahtani rulers to provide them with extra security—all based on the fact that, before the Qahtani family won the throne, the Daevas and the Nahid healers were in charge.

Despite being a book about Islamic myths, though, I’m not convinced that this is the best Muslim rep that’s out there. Since this isn’t my lane, I’m linking to two different #OwnVoices reviewers so you can decide for yourself. I highly suggest you read both Fadwa’s review and Chaima’s.

Overall, do I recommend:

I really enjoyed reading this book. I haven’t read a fantasy in a long time, and this one really sucked me into the world and had me rooting for the characters. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

—find this book—

Goodreads | AbeBooks | Book Depository

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Have you read The City of Brass? What are your thoughts? What is your favorite fantasy series? Let me know in the comments!

If you liked this review and want to see more of what I’m reading, add me on Goodreads!

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Behind the Blogger Book Tag

As a new blogger, I’m so honored to be tagged to do this Behind the Blogger post! This tag was created by Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx and I was tagged by Paper Procrastinators. Thank you so much for including me!!

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THE RULES:

• Thank the person who nominated you
• Answer all the questions down below
• Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
• Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

THE QUESTIONS:

1. Why did you start blogging and why have you kept blogging?

I originally started blogging in 2017. At that time, I was living in a small town where I was isolated from any sort of community. I loved blogging because it was a way for me to connect to other people with similar interests.

While I gave up blogging in the fall of that year because the rest of my life became overwhelming (read: I was depressed), I decided to come back this year when I realized just how much I missed the community. I love having a place to share my thoughts about books, mental health, and writing.

2. What is your favorite type of blog post to write?

Discussion posts are by far my favorite overall category, but recently I’ve realized how much I love writing about, well, my writing life. Writing can feel like such an isolating pursuit, but sharing my thoughts on my process has shown me that I’m not alone in my weird writing quirks and experiences.

3. What are your top 3 favorite blog posts?

How did I “become” a writer?
Top Ten Tuesday: Forgotten Bands That Got Me Through Depression
Embracing my love of self-help books

4. What are some of your favorite things to do to relax?

I love a good cozy yoga, the kind that’s literally just meant for self-care. I’m also a huge fan of bubble baths.

5. What are 3 of your favorite things?

This is really hard to answer, so I’m going to list three of my favorite beverages:
cortados (more or less a 4-oz latte); iced citrus mint green tea; Angry Orchard cider

6. What are your proudest blogging moments?

I’m always really proud of myself when I take the plunge and reach out to a blogger I admire. I tend to be pretty anxious when it comes to interacting with people, but blogging has shown me that so often when you say nice things to someone, they appreciate it, and they may even discover your blog right back.

7. What are your hobbies outside of blogging?

Obviously: reading and writing. I’ve also recently taken up bullet journaling, and while my spreads aren’t as “artistic” as I’d like, it’s a hobby that I’m really glad I’m attempting.

8. Describe your personality in 3 words.

Stubborn, [com]passionate, curious.

9. What are your top 3 pet peeves?

People who don’t know how to drive properly and yet insist on thrusting themselves in my way; customers who want me to Google things for them; strangers who try to give me life advice because I “still work in a bookstore”

10. What’s something your followers don’t know about you?

I have scoliosis: my back is curved in two places. It was never bad enough for a brace or surgery, thankfully, but it does pain me to varying extents depending on the day.

I TAG YOU:

Wendy @ what the log had to say
Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books
Ayah @ Dystopian Citzn
Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers
Destiny @ Howling Libraries

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#MentalHealthMonday || Are my meds working?

#MentalHealthMonday is a (sometimes) weekly discussion series I discovered through Wendy @ what the log had to say. You can read more of my #MentalHealthMonday posts here.

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Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Today I want to talk about something pretty personal: my relationship with anti-depressant meds.

I first started taking medication for depression when I was not-quite-18.

I was a senior in high school, and my inexplicable depression had finally reached the point where I couldn’t—and didn’t want to—handle it on my own. I was prescribed a low dose of Lexapro by my family’s general practitioner. This was also around the time I started therapy.

I honestly don’t remember how well the meds worked. I do remember getting some relief, but at the same time, it was a pretty tumultuous time for me in general. I graduated high school and started college; I was also involved in a pretty toxic relationship with an older guy that definitely took a toll on my mental health. It’s hard to say if the meds stopped working, or if life just got really hard.

Somewhere in my college years, I switched from Lexapro to Cymbalta—which I would not recommend. Cymbalta is designed to work differently from other anti-depressants; instead of a traditional SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), Cymbalta also acts on Norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter that affects your mood. Cymbalta did work for me, but it also has a really short half life. What that means is that it passes through the body quickly. When I would miss even one dose I would get terrible withdrawal symptoms like headaches and mood swings.

After Cymbalta, I took Prozac, perhaps the most famous anti-depressant in America at least. Prozac has an extremely long half life…which means that after a while your body often gets used to it…which makes it feel like it’s stopped working. This is a vicious cycle that I don’t think people talk about often enough: you start taking the drugs to feel better, but then you become dependent on them to not feel like total trash.

After the Prozac stopped working, I switched back to Lexapro, which made me so nauseous in the first two weeks that I almost threw in the towel. I kept taking Lexapro, then quit abruptly in the fall of 2014. I then entered the actual worst depressive episode of my life. I’d just moved to New York City and was making some pretty poor choices when it comes to my overall health. It was only through many long months of therapy and the act of separating myself from people who weren’t good for me that I managed to pull through.

Finally, in the fall of 2017, I couldn’t take it anymore and went back on meds: this time, on a low dose of Zoloft. Due to lack of health insurance, I weened myself off Zoloft last summer, but began taking it again in the fall of 2018. I am currently still taking medication, although I admittedly sometimes forget a day here and there.

Are my meds working?

When I go back to see my doctor, he always asks questions about how the medication is working. I never seem to be able to answer. I’ve stopped crying every day, which is something. Now that I no longer work in the coffee industry, I’m actually getting decent sleep. And while I do experience nerves leading up to important events, I don’t feel constantly on edge about the state of my life. In general, I go about my day feeling like I can do whatever it is that I need to do—as opposed to feeling overwhelmed and completely incapable of managing.

There’s a part of me that weirdly hates feeling so even-keeled though. Growing up and living with depression for most of my life, feeling okay about being alive is a weird feeling for me. It doesn’t feel like me. I’ve always been the kind of person who cries regularly as a form of catharsis, but I don’t really cry anymore. I don’t even journal the way I used to, pouring out pages and pages about how I’m feeling. If anyone asked me how I’m feeling, I don’t even know how to answer that.

At the same time, I know I still have so many depressive thought patterns to work through. I can’t afford therapy (again) even though I know that’s what would truly help me. Part of me wonders if I’ll ever have the time to truly work through all my cognitive distortions.

Does this mean my meds are working? Hell, for all I know, “just okay” is how non-depressed people feel. Maybe this is what being alive is supposed to feel like. And then I feel guilty, because I know I should be grateful that medication still works for me, when so many people have reached the point where nothing really helps them.

I guess I just wish I didn’t need medication to feel like I’m capable of managing my life.

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If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear your experiences with medication. Do meds work for you, or not really? Have you experienced the on-again-off-again situation like I have? Let me know in the comments.

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The Artist’s Way: Week 1 Check-In

Welcome to Week 1 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

In case you missed it, here is my intro post, explaining what the project is, why we’re doing it, and what you can expect. The short version is, Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety

193BBC44-CCBD-45F5-AF0E-8016C42F40E4“This week initiates your creative recovery. You may feel both giddy and defiant, hopeful and skeptical.”

Week 1 of The Artist’s Way encourages you to think about the people in your life who have hindered or encouraged your creativity, whether it’s parents or other family members, art teachers, friends, exes…anyone. Julia Cameron talks a lot about how important it is for creative beings to feel that they’re supported, and how dangerous it is for us when we’re not supported.

Throughout this week, I felt pretty hopeful about the process. Since I’ve gone through The Artist’s Way before, my main goal is to continue to be open to change, even when things seem a little hokey and out there.

Week 1 Check-In

1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you?

This week, I did morning pages 7 out of 7 days. For the first time, I actually wrote three full pages in my spiral notebook (aka Christine’s Sh*t Book—because it’s full of miscellany and my unedited thoughts).

I’ve been journaling for a long time, so it’s a little complicated for me to do morning pages. I am so good at writing about what’s going on in my head, but I tend to do it in an oddly formulaic way: I write what’s bothering me, then try to sort out a solution (almost as if the page is my therapist).

This week, I tried to combat that tendency by ending each morning’s pages with affirmations from pages 36-37 of The Artist’s Way. Some of these are really cheesy, whereas others seemed to resonate more with me. At the end of my pages each day, I worked through the next three affirmations and recorded my brain’s reactions to them. It was interesting to see how much of my “blurts” are really just Depression Brain, popping in to remind me how much I suck.

In general, I feel like the morning pages feel a lot harder when I’m thinking about having to do them. Once I actually sit down and get the pen moving, I’m reminded how much healing can take place on the page.

2. Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

A confession: Artist Dates are actually really hard for me.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy time spent alone—I actually prefer being alone most of the time. It’s more that I’m not really well-practiced when it comes to doing nice things for myself without any purpose other than just taking care of myself.

For Week 1, I decided to start off pretty simple: I took myself out to coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops. I succeeded in purposefully hanging out with myself. I did find myself a little too concerned with appearing/actually being productive: I ended up working through some of the Week 1 exercises in my notebook, and I even wrote a little scene from my past. I’m proud that I took the time to spend with myself and invest in my creative recovery, but I’m hoping that by Week 12 I am better about spending completely unproductive time with myself in play.

3. Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

Without getting too personal:

  • I realized that I definitely need to work through my God concept (or rather, lack thereof) in my morning pages.
  • I discovered that to this day, my exes are still affecting my sense of creative self-worth.
  • I learned that I need to work on learning how to play at creativity without giving in to the itching need to be productive.

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Thanks for stopping by and keeping up with my progress on The Artist’s Way journey! Are you participating with us? Do you think you would give The Artist’s Way a try based on my recommendation? Let me know what you think, and happy creating!

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Why I’m Embracing My Love of Self-Help Books + My Recommendations

Hello bookish friends! Welcome back to Lady Gets Lit!

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Today I’m bringing you another bookish discussion! One of my goals this year is to write more discussion posts, whether it’s about books, writing, or mental health.

I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to Self-Help books.

When I was about ten years old, I went through this phase where I was obsessed with Chicken Soup for the Soul. I read the one for kids, then I read the one for pet owners, then I read the one for pre-teens, then I read the one for teens (which definitely scarred me a little bit). Why did I love these books so much? Because as cliched as the feelings were, they rang true to some extent. Reading them was cathartic in a way I didn’t know how to articulate.

I’ve been in the closet about my love of Self-Help (or, as we call it at work now, Personal Growth) books for a long time.

As I got older, I started to realize how these types of books essentially say the same thing in a variety of ways. In some ways, Self-Help capitalizes on human emotions and struggles. These authors claim to have all the answers to the problems of being human, yet most of their advice boils down to things we could figure out on our own.

More than that, Self-Help gets a bad rap as being pretty hokey, encouraging you to live like you’re already rich, manifest your own destiny, and other (potentially harmful) ideas. As someone who grew up Christian, these ideas sound a lot like the oft-touted “pray about it!” that appears in religious circles. Some of these solutions aren’t necessarily practical for most people.

For a long time, I resisted the pull of Self-Help. Instead, I went to therapy, I made compulsive to-do lists, and I asked a lot from myself. And then, on a whim—and because I could read it for free—I picked up You Are A Badass.

Jen Sincero’s book didn’t change my life. I read through it pretty quickly, and while I found myself nodding along at certain points, I didn’t necessarily buy into all of what she says. Most of the advice is recycled and reformatted from what other writers have said time and time again. Additionally, much of her advice erases the experiences of people dealing with mental health issues; for instance, she insists on having a positive attitude, which is nearly impossible for me when I’m in the midst of a depressive episode.

I didn’t love You Are A Badass, but it did spur me on to read more.

Here’s the thing: there’s a reason Personal Growth books are so popular—because many people are always looking for ways to become better than they are currently.

There’s a lot of unhelpful, cheap trash in the Self-Help genre. It’s not always possible to quit that job you hate, to treat yourself like you’re already as wealthy as you hope to be. Not everyone can (or should) manifest their own destiny.

And yet, there’s a lot of hope in these books. There’s a lot of wise advice that is only repetitive because, for many of us, it takes repeating for it to really sink in.

So I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned along the way—even if it’s cheesy and repetitive. Because I’m done living in the closet with my love of Self-Help / Personal Growth.

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things I’ve learned from self-help books

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled – Life sucks, but once we accept that life is hard, it ceases to be hard.

Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird – You will never achieve success or happiness as a writer if you only write out of the hope of becoming published. You have to love writing, otherwise it’s not worth it.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness – The key to mindfulness is to try and be fully present with whatever it is that you’re doing—even if it’s washing the dishes.

Jen Sincero, You Are A Badass – Don’t let anyone else define your self-worth, and don’t waste your time chasing external validation.

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way – I am allowed to nurture myself.

Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – You can’t possible care about everything, so choose your values wisely and don’t waste your time on what’s not valuable to you.

Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, Make Time – There’s power in choosing one thing each day that you’re going to focus on and then setting aside time specifically to do that. Also, delete all the distracting crap off your phone.

Erin Falconer, How to Get Sh*t Done – Beyond just getting clear about what you want (not what other people want), narrow your goals to three big things. You can’t possibly do more than that, but if you’re specific about your Big Three, you can focus your energy on accomplishing them.

Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face – When you make promises to yourself that you can’t keep, you’re training yourself that your words don’t matter, and that you don’t matter. Stop lying to yourself.

bonus: self-help books on my TBR

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Do you read Self-Help books? Who are your go-to authors for inspiration? Are you a closet fan of a category of books? I’d love to hear from you!

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Review || We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Note: This is a backlist review from my previous blog. To see more of my reading life, add me on Goodreads!

Genre: YA Contemporary | Diversity: #OwnVoices queer rep

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

28243032You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

We Are Okay is the kind of short novel that you could read in a matter of hours, but it sticks with you long after you’ve put it down. The story follows college freshman Marin, alone in her dorm room over winter break, as her best friend Mabel arrives from California, forcing Marin to confront her grief over losing her grandfather.

Nina LaCour’s poignant writing about grief is amazing.

This is my second read from Nina LaCour and I was not disappointed. She has a real gift for using simple language with beautiful descriptions. Every single word matters, and each one works together to create emotions in the reader. For a short book (it’s about 230 pages), I never once felt that things were rushed or not dealt with adequately.

Although the main storyline takes place over the course of three days, it’s mostly about Marin’s grieving process. Right before moving to New York for college, Marin’s grandfather drowned. Since then, she’s worked very hard at essentially not confronting her feelings, for reasons that become clear as you read the story.

This isn’t a plot-driven book whatsoever. Instead, it’s emotionally driven by Marin’s thoughts, memories, and grieving process.

The alternating past/present storyline develops Marin’s character both before and after losing Gramps.

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for this narrative style. While Mabel struggles to get Marin to talk about her feelings in the present tense section, the past narrative follows Marin as she graduates high school and enters her final summer at home in San Francisco. In these sections, we get glimpses of her relationship with Gramps: mostly, the two keep to themselves, valuing each other’s privacy over sharing intimate details.

Marin never knew her mom, either, as Claire died of a surfing injury when Marin was too little to form memories. In the present, Marin struggles to grieve her grandfather, despite feeling a wide variety of feelings about their life together.

This isn’t a story about queerness.

While I read this book for the lesbian rep, We Are Okay isn’t really about being queer. Marin likes girls. She and Mabel were romantically involved over the summer—but the story isn’t about their relationship or Marin coming out.

I actually really enjoyed this aspect. Neither of the girls uses labels for their sexuality, either because labels aren’t important to them, or because it never comes up. While you can pretty easily read Marin as lesbian, Mabel is now dating a guy. As much as I would’ve loved to have the words “lesbian” and “bisexual” used, I did appreciate that Mabel’s decision to date a guy after dating a girl isn’t questioned or subjected to any sort of biphobia.

Ultimately, this is a book about grief, and about family—whether it’s your biological family, or the ones who bring you into their fold when you need it most.

overall: We Are Okay is definitely one of my top reads of 2017.

I could’ve read this book in one sitting, but I really tried to savor every word. It’s definitely one I’ll read again at some point. The deceptively simple language combined with the raw, honest portrayal of grief, made for a heart-wrenching experience. For anyone who’s lost someone close to them—or even someone experiencing serious depression—I think this book will help you feel less alone.

—find this book—

Goodreads | B&N | IndieBound

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Have you read any books by Nina LaCour, and do you love her as much as I do? What is your favorite understated, underhyped YA book? Let me know in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Each week, bloggers come together to build a list on pre-selected topics. If you’d like to join in, check out That Artsy Reader Girl’s post for more info!

This weeks topic: things that make me pick up a book. While we’re all guilty of judging a book by its cover, we also all have different things we look for in books. I’m excited to see what everyone’s thoughts are!

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Top Ten Things That Make Me Pick Up A Book

1. diversity on the cover

There’s nothing that gets me to pick up a book and read the blurb like a gorgeous cover with obvious diversity. I love seeing POC on the cover, but I’ve also felt blessed to see so many queer couples on the covers of YA books lately. (I’m thinking specifically of The Music of What Happens, which is our next pick for my book club with friends.)

2. walking past a book that’s face out at work

Since I started working in a bookstore, I’ve developed this weird almost photographic memory of where books are physically on the shelves. There are certain books that I’ve walked past enough times on my way to the breakroom that I finally just get curious. If the cover has a pop of color, gorgeous artwork, or an intriguing title, I’ll probably pick it up when I’m avoiding doing real work, just to see what it’s all about.

3. Netgalley

I think we’re all guilty of scrolling through NetGalley, even when we’ve got a million other books and ARCs to read. Even when I get rejected for a digital ARC, I definitely add to my digital TBR through books I see on Netgalley.

4. Goodreads recommendations

Goodreads is a dangerous place for me. Not only do I see what everyone else is reading (and what they’re thinking as they’re reading), but every time I click on a book there’s that sidebar that suggests similar books. I’ve added waaaay too many books to my TBR this way.

5. my Dad

My dad is a retired electrical engineer who has oddly great taste in literature. For every book I thrust on him to read, he’s got an idea of something completely outside my normal zone of reading. For instance, he’s the one who encouraged me to try Louise Penny’s mystery books and I’m so glad I did!

6. my Aunt Linda

I really am blessed with bookish family members. Throughout my life, my dad’s sister has encouraged my love of reading. She was actually the first person I ever knew to get an e-reader when kindles first came out! Last Christmas, she bought me a kindle fire that’s logged into her amazon account so that I have access to all the books she has in her cloud. As much as part of me hates supporting the Big A, I can’t turn down free books! I’ve discovered a lot of great books this way.

7. my friends IRL

I recently read The City of Brass, which I’d heard about/seen around before. It was on my vague radar, but it was a good friend IRL who convinced me to finally check it out. I also have a small book club with a few friends from work that’s slowly growing; our goal is to read one queer book a month and talk about it, and it’s been really fun to take turns recommending books for the next meeting.

8. diversity in the blurb

One of the things I love about the book community is how it’s made publishing more conscious of not only including diverse books in their lineup, but also making sure that readers can recognize a diverse book when they pick one up. Nothing makes me happier than reading a blurb where it’s clear that the main characters are diverse (or even just potentially diverse!). Generally, if it’s a diverse book, I’ll probably add it to my TBR, but I’m a lot pickier with non-diverse books.

9. is it queer though?

Same thing, really: if it’s queer, I’ll probably read it. This probably stems from the fact that I literally didn’t acknowledge myself as bi until I was in my 20s because I’d never seen myself represented in books. I love that there are so many books with queer rep for teens and adults alike.

10. blogger reviews!!

This is really the number one reason I will purchase a book. Despite getting a hefty discount, I spend way too much of my paycheck on books, so I’m trying to become pickier about what I actually buy. I seek out reviews from people I trust, especially if the reviewer is #OwnVoices for the rep in the book.

The more time I spend blog hopping, too, the more I discover bloggers with similar taste to my own. If Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books recommends something, I will not only buy said book, but probably flail about it until I die. I also follow Fadwa @ Word Wonders religiously – her reviews are golden and everything she writes has such a distinctive voice. When it comes to bi rep and mental health, I trust Wendy @ what the log more than anyone else.

Obviously there are so many more bloggers I could mention here who’ve recommended books I’ve fallen in love with. I owe this community so much: for encouraging me to read more diversely; for inspiring me to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to genre; for reminding me that books are powerful.

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What makes you pick up a book? Do you judge books by their covers, or do you wait to read the blurb? Do you judge books by their first chapter? Let me know what you think!

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