Hello and welcome to another episode of “things I would like to read but just end up writing about.” Yay for another list of books that also get to double as a list of book covers to drool over. More importantly, this is also a list of books with a focus on inclusion. The past week or so there’s been an uproar in the Young Adult community (another one) about a book with racist overtones losing a Kirkus star. I’m not going to explain it, because I honestly don’t think the book deserves more press. More importantly, the very fact that there was a controversy points to how inclusive and diverse the YA community is – the ability to even have the conversation, to be able to speak against the status quo, is a step in the right direction that many other genres haven’t been able to do.
Not all of these books are YA, don’t worry.
I wasn’t kidding about the covers. Is it just me or do her eyes follow you? Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone is the story of Zélie Adebola, a young woman determined to fight back (with a renegade princess, a good addition to any story) against the monarchy that banned her magic and murdered her mother. It’s a West African inspired fantasy that’s already made waves on the publishing deal alone, and won’t come out until March 6th, 2018. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Who’s ready for Binti #3? Look out, January 16th, 2018. I’m a little disappointed that Binti: The Night Masquerade didn’t follow the trend for a cover with a close-up thousand yard stare. Then again, this is so beautiful it looks like it belongs on the wall of the Sistine Chapel, so I can’t be too disappointed. I’ve already reviewed Binti for also honey, so I won’t talk too much about the plot. Nnedi Okorafor described her trilogy succinctly as “1 African girl leaves home. 2 African girl comes home. 3 African girl becomes home.” Plus some cool space travel, math, and jellyfish inspired alien species.
P.S. Okorafor’s Akata Warrior just came out, and Who Fears Death is going to be an HBO series headed by George R. R. Martin.
Moving away from Africa, now. This one’s an anthology, actually. It includes 15 retellings of South and East Asian folklore by a stacked cast of authors including Renee Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn, Roshani Chokshi, who wrote Aru Shah and the End of Time for Rick Riordan Imprints, and Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings. There isn’t much information about A Thousand Beginnings and Endings yet, so I’ll just be staring at the cover until that happens.
Let’s stop living in the future for a moment; this book has been out for years, and you can go read it right now! Caroline Weber’s Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution is on my top ten list of books to read. Books to read, full stop, no other limitations.
And you might be thinking, uh, hey, you said this was going to be an inclusive and diverse list, so why Marie Antoinette? Well, first of all, she is one of the most villainized/fetishized/dismissed women in all of human history, and definitely in European history, and even that doesn’t begin to explain her importance in the development of what we call democracy. She deserves a voice, even if you don’t necessarily like what she might say.
This book isn’t just about her clothes. It’s also about the way she used fashion and clothing, about the way she interacted with her environment, about how the social, cultural, and economic factors of eighteenth century France all conspired to make her who she was.
Honestly, I have a lot of respect for Marie Antoinette. I don’t agree with all the things she did, and I’m not here to defend her, but I can also appreciate that she wasn’t what we think she was, and that she went to her death with her head held high.