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February 22, 2022

My Top 25 Reads of the Past 125 Years #25BetterBooks


Please Note: I’m caring for a loved one receiving treatments (read about it here), so my replies to comments and return visits to bloggers will be delayed. I will get to it eventually, though. Promise. Thanks for your understanding! 


October 2021, the New York Times Book Review staff asked their subscribers to help them choose the best book of the past 125 years. In order to do that, thousands of nominations came in from their subscribers. Then the staff picked 25 finalists and announced them in December.

How exactly did their staff narrow submissions down to 25 finalists?

That’s not entirely clear.

1) They only allowed one book per author to be a finalist and 2) Only 31% of their readers' nominations made it to their list.

Even without those full details, we can still recognize that the results are biased.

Why do I say that?

Because nominations petitioned to a specific set of readers (i.e. their subscribers) will only reflect the likes and interests and reading habits of those readers, especially of the groups that make up the largest percentage of their subscribers’ demographics (age, race, gender, orientation, nationality).

And if the majority of the readers are not reading widely, or don't read current releases (i.e. they favor the classics), if they don’t read from diverse authors, if they read books written mostly by men, or books published or set exclusively in America, then that will come across in the results.


THE RESULTS:

The results shine a light on a clear problem in the publishing industry when it comes to a lack of diversity, from the authors who get published and the kinds of books that get published to the publishers themselves and even the reviewers/influencers who receive books from publishers (or in the case of the Book Review, which books get chosen to be reviewed and ultimately how a book with diverse representation is viewed by the reviewer), as well as what books get featured, displayed, recommended, etc.

Not to mention the horrid push to keep diverse authors and stories out of schools and libraries (namely Black literature and LGBTQIA+ literature, which are the two most challenged/banned categories of books), as well as the effort to keep BIPOC authors from receiving equal footing, awards, and recognition.

(There is a divide in publishing. MANY divides, in fact. There is bias in favor of whiteness and masculinity and heterosexuality. There is racism. There is transphobia. There is Islamophobia. There is Sinophobia. There is antisemitism. There is sexism. There is ableism. There IS a problem.)

 

From what is publicly known about the authors whose books comprised the top 25 list, this is what we know:

  • 21 of the 25 books were written by white authors (let that sink in)
  • while only 4 of the books were written by BIPOC authors
  • 18 of the books were written by men 
  • and only 7 were written by women  
  • 18 of the 25 authors were over the age of 50 
  • 20 of the authors were based in the US 
  • just one identified as having a learning disability 
  • ZERO publicly identified as physically disabled 
  • and ZERO publicly identified as LGBTQIA+


The NYT’s list doesn’t really reflect 125 years of literary history, which isn't just about the classics but books published a year ago. That's literary history, too.

And it’s not as diverse as they claim it is. 

NOTE: This is NOT me saying that the books that make up their 25 finalists, which I chose not to list here, did not shape literature or us as individuals, although there is one book on it that I detest with every fiber of my being. lol

 

#25BETTERBOOKS:

After this list came out Ad Astra (check out their interview on my blog HERE and also check out their Instagram posts HERE and HERE where they spoke so much better on this topic than I can) encouraged us to create our own #25BetterBooks list to demonstrate that:

  • a “best book” list will always be subjective
  • countless diverse authors have shaped us, as well as global literature
  • that the NYT’s list solely reflects their subscribers’ and staffs’ interests
  • and that picking a single book as the ultimate winner for any period of time is unnecessary when so many books are important to us individually and collectively and when so many are worthy of the title. (After all, avid readers know how hard it is to name just one book as their favorite.)


MY LIST:

In that spirit, I had fun creating my own list.

NOTE: I'm late to share my list because I wanted to read some books to see if they’d make it, which is why I’m posting about this in February 2022. lol

My list is not perfect, and I’m not claiming it is. Although it is perfect for ME because I’m not representing anyone else but myself. As such, my list will look different from yours, which is as it should be. 

At the time of posting this, there are COUNTLESS books I hadn’t read yet (or I don’t plan to read). I figure there’s books I’ll be reading this year that could make this list. Thus, this list is not set in stone.

Without further ado, here’s my #25BetterBooks list!

February 15, 2022

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear / Books for Writers

 

Please Note: This post is pre-scheduled. I’m caring for a loved one receiving treatments, so my replies to comments and return visits to bloggers will be delayed. I will get to it eventually, though. Promise. Thanks for your understanding!


First, I want to thank the wonderful people who commented on my last blog post. Your comments gave me warmth deep inside and even made me misty-eyed. Thank you for caring! ❤️


I read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert twice. Once when I was burned out and the second time when the IWSG book club read it in 2018.

You can read Big Magic for the reading challenge for writers I’m hosting called Read With Fey. You can join it on The StoryGraph here. But you don’t have to be on The StoryGraph to participate! Check out all the details here: Read With Fey: Challenge For Writers


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear





I simply LOVE this book. Just love it. Obviously, I’ve read it twice and will undoubtedly read it again. I don’t own a copy, yet. Both times, I checked it out from the library, but this is one that I get so much inspiration from that I will one day buy a print copy to have on my desk.

I really don’t know what to say about this book but to repeat how much I love it, so I’ll share the blurb and quote images I created when I last read it and shared on Instagram. That way you can see the brilliance yourself.

February 01, 2022

Oh, For Shifts’ Sake!


No, that is not a typo in the title.

I am going through massive shifts in my life, in my career, and in myself.

Frankly, it’s scary.

These shifts started last year with some major eye-opening situations in both my professional life and personal life.


Life Shift:

December 2021, my mom was diagnosed with inoperable stage 3-B lung cancer. (She was never a smoker.) I was driving home the night of November 28th after my mom was admitted into the hospital and there was Christmas music on the radio. Every song I heard during those two days she was in the hospital made me cry. Christmas stopped being happy. Christmas music did not bring me joy. 

Fortunately, she came home the next day.

My mom is going through once-a-week chemo treatments and five-days-a-week radiation treatments. Her treatments started in January and will last six weeks in all. I am bringing her to all of her treatments and caring for her.

Her last chemo treatment is on Valentine's Day.


Career Shift:

The day my mom had a biopsy done, I received a rejection that broke me.


Background: In 2020, I submitted to an independent publisher (who shall remain nameless) that rejected my story, but one of the line editors gave me feedback that I used—with the help of an amazing critique partner—to make my story better. I was invited to resubmit in six months. 

April 2021, I resubmitted. 

In June, I received an update from the assistant publisher asking me if they could have more time reviewing my submission. Of course, I granted them more time and my hopes rose, but months went by and no response. Come October (six months after I resubmitted), I started to query agents again. 

Then on the day my mom had her biopsy and got her official staging diagnosis and it was confirmed she has cancer (eight months after I resubmitted), I got the rejection from the publisher. A form rejection. After all that. After resubmitting and them asking for more time, I got a form rejection, and on the worst day possible.