my cup of tea: Lists of things I adore & want to signal boost. Some have structure/theme, some don’t. Looseleaf Editions are the ones that don’t. For more in the my cup of tea series, amble here.
The other day, as I was binging on book blogs to fill my to-read list (that ever-growing monster), I came across a review that referred to a girl of color protagonist as “random and unnecessary diversity.” I cringed. It was at once shocking and unsurprising. As a frequent book blog peruser, I stumble across this sort of trash often. Casual oppression masked as literary musing. Yet again, I yearned for a list of trustworthy book blogs. Not just blogs that aren’t blatantly racist/misogynist/etc., but ones that actively fight for marginalized voices. Ones that not only celebrate diversity on the surface, but truly champion justice from the roots.
So I decided to make my own list. These are four of my personal favorite book blogs, ones I know I can always trust.
This pagoda of green, where words jangle within the blood, is run by Kaye (@gildedspine), a brilliant young advocate of diversity. Kaye is the creator of the viral #YesAllWomen movement, as well as #NotYourStockMuslim.
I adore this blog’s intersectional feminist lens, the YA focus, and the pastel dreamscape. Because of Kaye’s advocacy for girls & women, her devotion to diversity, and her ethical backbone, I know I can trust her recommendations.
Kaye’s voice is magical. Whether she’s writing about the pain of speaking out as a marginalized person or getting giddy over gorgeous tomes, it is always raw and lovely.
Rowena’s book reviews cover a litany of genres (philosophy, psychology, history, sociology, etc.), always in the thoughtful analysis of a scholarly soul. Unlike many book blogs, Rowena is more erudite than exclamation-point. Don’t let that fool you though—erudite does not always mean boring! Far from. Her worldly words make me feel like I’d love to sit down with her to chat about books and culture and and history—all over cups of hot tea, of course.
Rowena reads and reviews prolifically. And she does not shirk from complexities. As a Black woman of the diaspora, she addresses colonialism and patriarchy and white supremacy face on. I’ve read too many essays from white scholars trying to skirt around the most foundational injustices of our world, so to me, Rowena is a relief. She writes, “I’m a woman moulded and shaped by three continents; my life has always been about border epistemology: navigating between cultures.”
One of the many reasons I am drawn to Rowena and her reveries is because she always challenges me. The beauty of this blog comes from its great depth. The reveries are full of deep thinking and deep feeling. The poignancy is so clearly authentic too. Never pretentious. Every post reminds me to dive into the depths myself—to read deeper, think deeper, and feel deeper.
Most unique of all, Les Reveries de Rowena is marked by a pervasive sense of kindness. Yes—kindness. A true, beautiful, rare goodness of human spirit. And if you’re wondering how kindness can play into writing about complex books—well, go read for yourself!
This is the adventure blog of an up-and-coming author—adventures of both the page and the world. Nicole Dacanay writes about her journey as a fantasy novelist and her explorations of the outdoor world (particularly in US National Parks). The book reviews in this blog often weave those adventures together.
I adore this blog because it is such a sweet, bright corner of the over-saturated internet. All of the travel posts flare up my wanderlust (which is, I suspect, the point), and all of the writing posts make me feel so encouraged and inspired (which is quite a sought-after feeling as a perpetually “writer’s block”-stricken person). Some sample favorites: on pivoting in drafts and manuscripts & six of 2015’s most badass YA ladies.
The recurring themes of W&W are ones that are close to my heart: heroines, storytelling, perseverance, wildlife, and pursuing your passions no matter what. I can’t wait until Nicole Dacanay is a famous name someday, and I can say that I was one of her earliest fans.
The 80 Books Blog is run by two women, Heather and Tqwana. They both work in the publishing industry, and are self-proclaimed nerds (aka kindred spirits). The blog’s premise is an established one, and lovely enough that it never seems cliche to me: reading is like traveling. Both are ways to explore the world, have adventures, and learn new things.
The 80 Books Blog is hilarious! Many times, I found myself giggling into my keyboard while reading a post. I especially love the Hot Air series, in which they sound off on current issues in the literary/publishing world. They hold back no punches, and it’s awesome.
Heather and Tqwana write, “Diversity isn’t a trend; it’s real life, and it’s time the industry start reflecting that. We’re just doing our part.” Their reviews are rooted in inclusivity and justice. Reviews and rants are written powerfully and empathetically. No fake PR drivel or wishy-washy “commitment to multiculturalism” like in so many platforms in the publishing industry. I highly recommend The 80 Books Blog! To start, check out their personally curated favorite posts of 2015.
I know that there are more than four trustworthy blogs out there in the world, so I’ll have to collect another list later! What are YOUR favorite book blogs? I’m always looking, so let me know!