So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo | Buddy Read

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So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In this breakout book, Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape–from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement–offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.

In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. (Read more on goodreads)

Our Thoughts

Alia

I first heard about So You Want to Talk About Race from a person I follow on Twitter, who used it as part of his own anti-racism reading in the past. It is a book that addresses, chapter by chapter, common questions/concerns that people (often white people) have when it comes to talking about race. I think this book is really good because it takes the questions seriously and answers them honestly, with great detail, without forgetting BIPOC frustration that comes with having to answer these questions in real life.

Ijeoma Oluo has clearly had to deal with questions relating to race, sex, affirmative action, workplace harassment and equal opportunity in places of work. Her feelings on this topic are always clear – a mix of frustrations, exhaustion and determination – and yet she addresses issues with a level of professionalism I wish I could have when I talk about these sensitive topics in my own life.

I would recommend this book to anyone, even though it IS directed at white people more than anything. As a person of colour, reading this I was able to still learn more about BIPOC struggle and the unfairness that exists in this world. There were times when she explained some of these struggles with such eloquence that I actually felt validated because I related to them as well.

Favourite Quotes

I remember saying once that if I stopped to feel, really feel, the pain of the racism I encountered, I would start screaming and I would never stop.

If you are white, there is a good chance you may have been poor at some point in your life, you may have been sick, you may have been discriminated against for being fat or being disabled or being short or being unconventionally attractive, you may have been many things – but you have not been a person of colour.

I live in a world where if I have a ‘black sounding’ name, I’m less likely to even be called for an interview. Will I equally benefit from raising minimum wages when I can’t even get a job?

We’re still waiting. We’re still hoping. We’re still left behind.

Julia

This book is a great place to start if you want to learn about anti-racism. It’s beginner friendly, as Oluo uses tons of examples, anecdotes and straight to the point lists to effortlessly explain more “complicated” topics such as: privilege, systemic discrimination, tone policing, and affirmative action.

Even as someone who reads up on about social justice, I still learnt a lot and I will continue to reference this resource. I highlighted a lot of its passages because she just has such a way with better explaining how I feel when it comes to this discourse or my own experiences.

Favourite Quotes

The realities of race have not always been welcome in my life, but they have always been there.

There is a good chance that you, regardless of race, have tried to have these conversations in the past. There is also a good chance that they have not gone well. So “not well” that perhaps you have been afraid to ever have these conversations again.

We couldn’t talk about the ways in which race and racism impacted my life, because he was unwilling to even acknowledge the racism that was impacting my life and he was unable to prfioritize my safety over his comfort – which meant that we couldn’t talk about me.

Racial oppression should always be an emotional topic to discuss […] But it upsets us because it exists, not because we talk about it.

Discussion Questions (taken from the book)

  1. The chapter about privilege is placed right before the chapter on intersectionality. The author has stated in interviews that she placed those chapters in that order because it is impossible to fully understand intersectionality without first comprehending privilege. How do the concepts discussed in the chapter “Why am I always being told to check my privilege?” help deepen your understanding of intersectionality and help implement intersectionality into your life?
  2. The final chapter, “Talking is great, but what else can I do?,” discusses some actions you can take to battle systemic racism using the knowledge you’ve gained from this book and from your conversations on race. What are some actions you can take in your community, your schools, your workplace, and your local government? What are some local antiracism efforts in your community that you can join or support?

You can pick up a copy here.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry | Book Review

I fell in love with The Tea Dragon series overnight (thanks to Hoopla) and then needed to catch up on sleep for 18 hours, like Chamomile. After my power nap, I immediately ordered the physical copies to experience it again. Once I found out that the third and (sadly) final instalment was coming out I knew it had to go on my TBR.

By: Julia Agris

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to NetGalley for giving us an eARC of this graphic novel, for free, to review.

I fell in love with The Tea Dragon series overnight (thanks to Hoopla) and then needed to catch up on sleep for 18 hours, like Chamomile. After my power nap, I immediately ordered the physical copies to experience it again. Once I found out that the third and (sadly) final instalment was coming out I knew it had to go on my TBR.

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The Tea Dragon Tapestry

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon series!

Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. (Read more on goodreads)

Throughout the series, we were introduced to a multitude of different (and diverse) characters – it is in this book that we finally get to see them meet. Additionally, we get to see Greta and Minette’s friendship grow deeper as they both struggle with personal problems. Greta is unsure what to make for her blacksmith apprenticeship test AND trying to make Ginseng happy after the death of her previous owner. Meanwhile, Minette is dealing with a lost sense of guidance.

The themes of loss (of a person, passion, identify, path), longing and even belonging are all relatable. Although simple, they are basic human emotions seeing these characters handling it while they support each other makes you root for them all the way.

Not only do the cast make you want to keep reading but, just a glance at the art should be enough of a reason for you to pick this up.

O’Neill’s art style the perfect mix of adorable and whimsical. Everything feels organic, all doodles are in the right place, all Tea Dragons looking cute as heck… it makes me want to rip out every page and poster them around my house. In Chapter Two, there is a beautiful full-page spread of Minette’s dream sequence and WOW can I live there forever?

One might say that there is no giant plot twists or action-packed scenes. That is because the story is very character driven, which is what I enjoyed the most besides the art. The characters feel genuine and help each other grow – they want to see their friends/ family succeed. This is what moves the story forward. Their care for one another is like a warm hug.

“Everything that happens is part of your wholeness. The sadness, the loss, the hurt, as well as the joy, the love, the friendship — it is all part of your tapestry […] remember, that you are already whole.”

katie o’neill, the tea dragon tapestry

The age group for this book is: children, middle grade, and young adult. I recommend it to everyone no matter the age. It’s filled with diversity and very real human problems. It has supportive characters! It has beautiful messages about growth and relationships! It has ADORABLE TEA DRAGONS (need I say more) and if that’s not enough O’Neill has provided supplemental lore into the world of Tea Dragons at the back of the book again.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry will be released on September 1st, 2020 and you know I will be picking it up, alongside the card game.

My Riot | Book Review

If you know me by now, then you know that I love graphic novels. So when I saw My Riot was on NetGalley I knew that I had to immediately read it.

By: Julia Agris

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to NetGalley for giving us an eARC of this graphic novel, for free, to review.

If you know me by now, then you know that I love graphic novels. So when I saw My Riot was on NetGalley I knew that I had to immediately read it.

My Riot by Rick Spears

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Set in the early ’90s, My Riot is about a trio of teen girls team up to form a rock band and shake off society’s expectations of what it means to be a young woman coming of age in the modern world.

1991—Val, a teenager from a conservative family, has grown up dreaming of becoming a ballerina, but recently something has changed. She’s begun feeling pressure to conform to a specific idea of beauty, body type, and a personality that just doesn’t fit.

Trigger warnings: body image shaming, eating disorders, sexism, slut-shaming

Chapter 1, “A Riot of Our Own” opens with Val at her first job interview, revealing (too much about herself) what most teenagers feel at that age. After being told by her ballet instructor that she should start smoking to shed five pounds, she mets Kat. She seems to be the badass type, who I honestly wish we got to know more about.

Kat introduces her to Rudie and her first punk rock show. Together, the three of them end up forming an all-girl punk band named The Proper Ladies.

In Chapter 2, “A Romantic ‘Pas de Deux'”, they nailed the feeling of a mosh pit and that’s when I knew I’d really like this graphic novel. You can tell that Val is falling hard for this scene. Later on, she even mentions, “Confusing things are somehow made clear in the chaos of clashing guitars.”

This is such coming of age story where the girls get to find their own voices, writing music about body image and even birth control. The Proper Ladies ring true to the the Riot Grrrl movement – a wave of underground feminist punk music. It’s a story of female friendship, support and empowerment.

The artwork is quite simple colour-wise but I feel like this adds to the feel of 90’s zine culture.

As I said, I wish we got to learn a bit more about the other girls (Kat and Rudie) however Val’s growth had me rooting for her the entire time. I grew up as a scen/emo kid and I related to this so hard.

My Riot‘s public release date is: September 8th, 2020 and you bet you can catch me picking up a physical copy.

Top 5: LGBTQ+ Reads for Pride Month

As we reach the middle of Pride Month, it is important to highlight the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community.

By: Julia Agris

As we reach the middle of Pride Month, it is important to highlight the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. So, I wanted to share some of my favourite fictional reads that have LGBTQ+ representation. I enjoyed, felt all kind of feels, and now want to re-read these books after writing this.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship… (Read more on goodreads)

I definitely got major feels (see: very teary-eyed) while reading this book back in 2015 because the characters felt so real. Dante is the right amount of opinionated sass and Ari adds the needed teenage angst. Their relationship and dynamic with their families are realistic and moving.

The plot is simple: Ari and Dante are struggling to figure out who they are and learn about the important role that relationships play in finding that out.

“I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get–and never would get.”

– Benjamin alire sáenz, aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe
LGBA 2019 – Orlando, FL
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Kim Reaper Vol. 1: Grim Beginnings by Sarah Graley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Like most university students, Kim works a part-time job to make ends meet. Unlike most university students, Kim’s job is pretty cool: she’s a grim reaper, tasked with guiding souls into the afterlife. (Read more on goodreads)

This pick is for my graphic novel fans!

I actually laughed out loud quite a lot while devouring this volume that is everything I’ve ever wanted about a cute emo reaper. You can peep my full review here.

“Girl, you can slay, but you need to get it under control.”

sarah graley, kim reaper vol. 1
LGBA 2019 – Orlando, FL
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Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. (Read more on goodreads)

This book took me on an unexpected emotional rollercoaster. Then the movie destroyed me – thanks Timothée Chalamet!

Elio’s inner thoughts (and sometimes turmoil) as he pines over Oliver are so unfiltered that I felt like I was reading his diary. It’s so personal that I felt like I was either: a) his closest friend or b) totally invading his privacy. Aciman’s writing makes this journey so beautiful but also sad as hell.

This is a dreamy coming of age story about a young boy’s sexual awakening set against an alluring Italian summer.

Back in 2018, I made a bookmix because I had too many feelings which you can view here.

“This felt special. Like showing someone your private chapel, your secret hunt, the place where, as with the berm, one comes to be alone, to dream of others. This is where I dreamed of you before you came into my life.”

andré aciman, call me by your name
LGBA 2019 – Orlando, FL
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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. (Read more on goodreads)

I finished this read so quickly because it was just that enjoyable. Don’t even get me started on how much I enjoyed the movie as well!

Some parts were a bit cheesy but I guess that’s high school romance for you. It’s also realistic in the characters and their relationships. They are messy, dramatic, scared and sometimes selfish but that’s adolescence for ya.

“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

becky albertalli, simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda
LGBA 2019 – Orlando, FL
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What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it. (Read more on goodreads)

Some of the story is a bit predictable but Ben is what carried me to the end. These two are sweet, as friends and on their date do-overs, and left me smiling throughout a lot of their journey in NYC.

However, while I loved everything about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda I did not enjoy the pettiness and insecurities in The Upside of Unrequited (felt so problematic!). I feel that aspect of Albertalli’s writing really showed in the character of Arthur.

“I barely know him. I guess that is every relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.” 

– becky albertalli, what if it’s us
LGBA 2019 – Orlando, FL

Special Shout-out

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. (Read more on goodreads)

If you haven’t read the Six of Crows duology yet… what are you HONESTLY doing?

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

leigh bardugo, crooked kingdom