Recent Reads – January to March 2018

As I discussed in a previous blog post, I review every book that I read on Goodreads.

I do this in my dual roles of both writer and reader, the former to help my fellow writers try to generate book sales, and the latter because I just enjoy sharing my opinions about what I’m reading.

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Should Writers Write Book Reviews?

I review every book that I read on Goodreads.

I do this because I’m a writer with aspirations of future publication and strong book sales.

I’m aware of how crucial reviews are to authors, both in helping produce those strong sales and in enabling one to (traditionally) publish subsequent books.

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For the (Carnal, Courtly, and Hypocritical) Love of Books

Books I’ve stolen borrowed from others (and haven’t even read yet)

I almost never lend people books.  But I have no problem borrowing those that belong to others.

I fully acknowledge the hypocrisy, and perhaps even level of selfishness, that applies to this policy of mine.

I’m not even a particularly good borrower of other people’s books.  Or rather, good returner of them, I should say.

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On Writers, Sensitivity, and the Supposed Threat to Free Speech

Last week, I wrote about sensitivity readers.

That is to say, about those who are subject matter experts on different forms of marginalization in society, who writers can recruit to help them bring verisimilitude to the portrayal of marginalized characters in fiction.

The use of sensitivity readers is a growing trend in fiction as more and more stories about marginalized characters are being published – particularly since more and more of these sorts of stories are being written by writers who themselves are not marginalized.

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On Writers, Sensitivity, and the Savvy of Modern Readers

Fiction writers have always employed the advice and experiences of subject-matter experts to help bring authenticity to their stories.

Sensitivity readers, as it happens, are subject-matter experts on experiences with different types of marginalization in mainstream society.

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The Problem with Historical Fiction (and the Power of Historical Fiction)

The historical fiction shelf you won't find in most bookstores and libraries

The historical fiction shelf you won’t find in most bookstores and libraries

The problem with historical fiction is that it’s not actually genre.

Not the way romance or mystery or thriller are genres.

There are no defining characteristics – no genre conventions – of historical fiction other than the story taking place in a non-contemporary time period in which the manners, social conditions, and other details of the era are clearly depicted.

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Whitewashing is Still a Problem in Mainstream Media (even if it’s not happening this time)

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek: Into Darkness, playing the role of an important non-white character from the Star Trek universe

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek: Into Darkness, playing the role of an important non-white character from the Star Trek universe

I’ve always had a fondness for stories about female warriors.

Among my favourites is Hua Mulan, the legendary subject of an Ancient Chinese epic poem about a young woman takes her aged father’s place in the military by disguising herself as a boy.

In the 1998 Disney cartoon, Mulan, she is shown exhibit bravery, ingenuity, and honour, and succeeds in helping save China from invaders.

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