Category Archives: Challenges

Awakening Challenge

Awakening: A New Mini Challenge

I haven’t done one in a while, but there have been several times over the years that I’ve noticed I have a bucket of books with the same title. Off the top of my head, I remember finding that I had 5 called Bound By Blood, 7 that included the phrase Blood Moon, 4 called Blood Lust…Geez, I don’t think I realized they’re all blood related. And because I enjoy finding unexpected patterns and reveling in them, I set these titles aside as reading challenges and read them all together.

I even did the same thing for a character model once, because I kept passing covers on my Goodreads shelves with the same face on them. I called it the Annoying Close-Up Guy Challenge.

‘Annoying closeup guy’ reading challenge wrap-up

I seem to remember not liking many of the books, but the challenge itself, all with essentially the same cover, was extra amusing.

Well, today, I’m setting a new reading challenge for myself. I recently read and reviewed Jennifer Leigh Pezzano’s Awakening. And while I was hunting it up on Goodreads to cross-post my review, I noticed that I have a lot of book with the word Awakening in the title.

Book Review: Awakening, by Jennifer Leigh Pezzano

Between titles and series names I have 25 books that include the word Awakening. And that’s just Awakening, not awakened, or awakens, or just awake. Now, some of these books I’ve read, one of them is on the Did Not Finish shelf, and I’m not prepared to commit to 25 books. (Here they are for reference though.)

books with awakening in the title

So, I’m going to whittle this challenge down to just titles that read Awakening and then stretch it a little to include the two called The Awakening (since they would be shelved as Awakening, The anyway.) That reduces us to 8 books, one of which is an audio book and one I’ve already recently read and reviewed, but I’m counting since it’s what started this challenge in the first place. I actually feel really lucky that these are all either stand-alone or first books in series. How blessed is that?

So, that gives us (in alphabetical order by author’s last name):

 

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
Awakening (Talentborn, #1) by C.S. Churton
Awakening (Triorion, #1), by L.J. Hachmeister
The Awakening (Guardian of Spirits, #1), by Kaylee Johnston
Awakening (Covenant College, #1), by Amanda M. Lee
Awakening (The Luriel Cycle, #1), by Melanie Nilles
Awakening (The Shard Cycle, #)1, by Ono Northey
Awakening, by Jennifer Leigh Pezzano

I’ll come back and link the reviews as I finish the books. I am not, however, going to force myself to read them back-to-backwhich is what I usually dobecause I already promised myself to spend March reading books from my physical bookshelves.

So, I’ll start with the audio book (the Amanda M. Lee Awakening) since I need to fold laundry anyway. Then I’ll start hitting the rest of these between physical books. That way I’m not breaking my March promise to myself completely…just bending it a bit when a new, shiny idea came along.

Am I the only one who does this? I know accidentally having multiple books with the same title can only really happen once your library gets past a certain point. I have literally thousands of ebooks, so it’s less surprising to see this sort of thing happen that it would be if I owned 200 books. But still, anyone else set little mini-challenges for themselves?

 

New art and a new reading challenge

I got a new stretched canvas for my office. The office is the only place in the house that I let myself put anything I choose on the walls, theme, coordination or quality be damned. If I like it, I’ll have it.

Not to suggest that this Icanvas print isn’t quality of a sort, but the rest of the house tends to run toward large, heavily framed prints. It’s not a great photo, but Mizuki by Audrey Kawasaki is what’s above the bed for example:

Though I’ve shrunk it so it doesn’t compete for attention with the canvas that is the point of this post, that frame is almost 30×30 inches (please never let it fall on us in our sleep). So, an unframed whimsical print of science fiction books is a departure from the norm. But I so loved it when I saw it that I insta-bought it, even though I didn’t really have a place for it. (In fact, I wish I’d bought the bigger size.)

After I moved Kawasaki’s Where I Rest out of place (this* one –>), I sat staring at the books and telling my husband how happy I was to see Binti and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet included among such giants as Asimov and Le Guin. But also how I was distressed that Martha Well’s All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries) isn’t included. It 100% deserves to be. In fact, once noticed, its absence sapped a little of my love of the print away. I mean, look, I even tweeted at Icanvas about it.

Hey @icanvas_art, if you’re going to include #Binti and #thelongwaytoasmallangryplanet in this stack of classic sci-fi (which I totally agree with) you gotta get #Murderbot in there too! I’d even buy a second copy. 🙂 pic.twitter.com/aaEuuR7Pzu — @rbnsnzsr

This led me to a second thought. If I was so happy to see Binti and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet included, and was desperate to get Murderbot added, why no excitement for The Martian? It was published in 2014, so it’s basically just as contemporary as the others. Part of it might have been that it’s written by a man and I’m always rooting to see women included. But Dune, by Frank Herbert, is one of my all-time favorite books (even if it by a man). So I decided it wasn’t the gender issue. It was simply that I haven’t read it!

All of the books included here are well known, familiar to me, science fiction. Suddenly I had to stop and think how many of them I love by virtue of being sci-fi cannon and how many I had actually read. Before that very moment I’d have told you of course I’ve read all the classics. But once I was really thinking about it, I realized that couldn’t be true. I hadn’t read The Martian, for example. So, off to Goodreads and my reading list I went. And shock followed.

I started Left to right:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: a favorite, read
  • The Martian Chronicles: Ray freaking-Bradbury, NOT READ
  • Brave New World: read in high school
  • Binti: started this whole process, obviously read
  • The Martian: NOT READ
  • The Left Hand of Darkness: read it last year when Le Guin died
  • The Diamond Age: What!? owned but NOT READ
  • Solaris: also NOT READ
  • The Foundation Trilogy: thank god, read the whole series
  • The Time Machine: Wells. freaking Wells, and NOT READ
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: NOT READ
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: read
  • Hyperion: read
  • Neuromancer: read and loved
  • Dawn: by Octavia Butler! NOT READ
  • Dune: a favorite, read
  • Starship Troopers: read
  • Ender’s Game: read
  • Childhood Ends: NOT READ

Eight—almost half of the books—I discovered that I’ve not read. This is a travesty that cannot be allowed to stand. I mean, for one, If I’m going to hang the picture on my wall (even if just my office wall), I should be able to point to it and know I’ve read them all, but also I’m a sci-fi/fantasy junkie and THEY’RE SCI-FI CLASSICS. How did I let this happen? Obviously, I’m going to fix it. It’s July. I have five months until the end of the year, and by that point I will have read these eight books that I have somehow grievously neglected in my life.

I don’t think I’ll bother coming back and linking reviews here. But I am setting it as an official reading challenge for myself. I do so love to have a plan. Wish me happy reading.


*
Yes, I'm totally vain enough that I spread out those two in the back so they could be seen, and there is another on the wall above. They'd been stacked together to be re-hung. I have a new one at the framer's (and a small one waiting to be framed by me) and I'm going to make a collage wall of them. I'll add a picture when it's done. But, though you can probably guess Kawasaki is my husband and my favorite artist, she's not the point of this post. But once I'd posted one, I just ran with it. 

Reading challenge: Characters of color on covers

In my little corner of the internet there has been a resurgence of the argument that people of color aren’t put on book covers because it adversely effects the sales of the book. And because America (I can’t speak for the world) really isn’t a post-race culture, no matter how much some people would like to argue that it is, there is unfortunately probably some truth to this argument. And it will likely remain so until the day it isn’t. I don’t have the answers to how we get there, but I do know that, as a reader, buying, reading and reviewing books with characters of color on the covers is a step in the direction of proving to publishers that they are as safe a bet as anything else.

Unfortunately, I’m not rich. I can’t run out and buy all the books. (How I wish I could buy all the books!) What I can do is make a point of reading and reviewing book I already happen to own that have non-white characters on the front. Below is the list of such books. It doesn’t include anything I’ve already read or that I request from the library (though I’ll add the latter to the challenge retroactively, along with any I find that I’ve missed).

Now, the choice of these books was problematic in as many ways as you can imagine. For one, I simply scrolled through my Goodreads bookshelves and took from them the books that had obviously non-white characters. I’m sure I missed some. I’m sure that if I’d marked other versions of some books not included, they might have been included, and conversely wouldn’t have included some I did. What to do with images that were clearly meant to be from one culture, but the model was white? Does it count if the book is a biography and the publisher had no choice but to put the person on the cover of their own book, or if the book is set in a largely homogenous time/country, like feudal Japan. What if it is a picture of an often objectified and exotified group, like Geisha? What if I strongly suspect the actual text will turn out to be a White Savior story, or problematic in some other fashion? And lastly, I had to make a visual judgement, sometimes on nothing more than a shadowed, headless torso. I just plain  might have gotten some wrong. When in doubt, I chose to be more inclusive than less. I took the same route when faced with characters of color in obviously secondary position on a cover. Hopefully, it’s the intent that counts here.

There are 78 books in that list (I’ll put links at the end of this post) and, while that might seem like a lot, it is pulled from a very large pool. I own a lot of unread books. Many of them don’t have people on the front at all, but of those that do, they are largely white people. So, no special props for me because I happen to own 78 books I’m simultaneously saying are comparatively rare.

This first challenge post really isn’t anything more than a reference point for myself and a chance to invite others to both join me and discuss the idea. What do you think, small drop in a big pond but worthwhile, performative, interested in joining me?


Links:

Trapped on Draconica
Incoming Alert
The Good Negress
Would it Be Okay to Love You?
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
The Dragon’s Passion
Underworld: Sex, Drugs, and a Loaded Gun
The End of Eden
The Dark Horse of Shanghai
Project SNOW  —-  Review
Degranon
From the Ashes
Shatterproof  —  Review
Prince Charming Wanted (Indian Maidens Bust Loose)
Alpha Moon
Khe
Purgatory Reign
Strength to Let Go
The Girl With Two Names
The Brotherhood of Merlin —–  Review.
From Far Away To Very Close: Seda’s Story
Keeping Score
Empress Orchid
Damned If You Do: The Complete Collection
Hotsuka’s Story
The Art of Three
Dreaming on an Arabian Carpet
I Love It Rough
I Like ‘Em Pretty
Tiger Lily
Halcyon: The Complete Steampunk Trilogy
The Burning Sky
Kiss Me to Spring Time
Human Property Hanging in the Family Tree Yields a Harvest
I Got You
More Than Words
The Beast of Callaire
The Powers of Callaire
Melokai —-   Review
Lost in Space
Of Beasts and Bonds
Moonlight   —  Review
Between the Lies
Psycho Save Us
Their Eyes Were Watching God
New Leaf
Third Vampire Shadows
The Drowning King
Earthrise .  —   Review
The Turnarounders and The Arbuckle Rescue
The Disassembled Life of Duncan Cole
M.C. Higgins, the Great
Black Like Me
Infinite Hope
Crimes of the Heart
To the Edge of the Sky
World Whisperer
The Handoff
A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea
The Orphan Fleet
The Reluctant Sacrifice  Review

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now
A Woman’s Nails
Stranded with the Navy SEALReview
Anytime Soon
Almost Black
Schoolgirl Apocalypse
Exiled, Malcom
Black Beauty
Shadow Unit 1
Boss
Girl in the Glass
The Geisha and The Monk
Fall of Sky City
Carolina Daemonic
Hope in the Hood
Blood Awakening

Added to the challenge:

From Scratch —  Review
Tangled
Tender Secrets
Shadowshaper — Review
Drunk on Men
The Glass Admiral  —  Review
Black Gold
Happy Hour at Casa Dracula — Review
Dhata Mays — Review
A Princess in theoryReview — Review
The Black God’s Drums Review