Read Harder 2017: First Quarter Progress

Read Harder 2017: The First Quarter

So at the beginning of 2017, I decided to participate in Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 challenge. How is it going?

I have to admit, I’ve been slacking. In three months, I’ve managed to knock off only four points out of 24:

5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi, author of sci-fi novel Ascension)

The Opposite House, by Helen Oyeyemi

Hitting both points 5 and 24, The Opposite House is a novel about a young woman, Maya, who is a member of a black Cuban immigrant family living in London. Maya is haunted by religiosity and the memories of her Cuba. Her story intertwines with that of the orisha Yemaya Saramagua in her strange, disturbing house, with doors that open into London and into Cuba.

Oyeyemi‘s writing is intoxicating. Erasing entirely the lines between the mundane and the supernatural, she makes the ordinary numinous. Some of her writing—Boy, Snow, Bird in particular—has been problematic, but I go in with my eyes open.

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy, by Violet Blue

Filling in point 13 as a non-fiction book about technology, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy by Violet Blue is a beginners’ intro to information security from an individual perspective, and from the perspective of someone likely to be a target, e.g. women, people of colour, queer people, etc.

This is such a great book. It covers simple, non-technical steps you can take now to make your data and online presence more secure, as well as what to do in the case you’ve already been compromised. Written in an engaging tone, it’s equally interesting to read cover to cover as it is useful as a quick reference guide. Now I’m done with it, I’m torn between keeping it for reference and donating it to my local school library.

Power Up!, by Kate Leth and Matt Cummings

I was initially dubious about whether to include this as point 18 as Power Up! is technically a magical girl comic rather than about superheroes per se, but I felt unfair leaving it out, and one might argue that magical girls are a sub-category of superhero, so, essentially: fuck it.

One of Kate Leth‘s own properties, Power Up! is a charming little series about a trio of everyday strangers (and a goldfish) who are granted magical superpowers, and must team up to fight evil. Amie, a fat woman of colour and deadbeat pet store employee, is the main focus and first protagonist.

I haven’t finished the series yet, but the newly-found friendship between the trio is lovely, and the comic deals sensitively with the turbulent emotions that come from realising you’re a magical saviour. The art, by Matt Cummings is super cute too: each character is individually styled, instantly recognisable, and the colours pop right off the page.

Looking back at the last quarter, I realise I really need to get my skates on. I also need to think strategically: at my slow reading pace, I’m never going to make it if I don’t double (or triple!) up. Second quarter, let’s do this!

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