Asian Readathon and Sapphicathon TBR (28 April 2020)

This is a transcription for part of my TBR for May 2020.

Hey, welcome to Moony Reads. My name is Bek and today I’m going to be talking about my TBR for the Asian Readathon and for the Sapphicathon. Now, in my last video I did my TBR for the Hero’s Readathon and at that point I thought that that was the only readathon I was
going to participate in. I hadn’t seen really a whole lot for May. And, as I’ve said before, the way that I do end up reading is a little bit more organic. So, I probably shouldn’t set myself up a bunch of TBR’s if I know I’m not going to get to all of them. However, since then I’ve found two readathons that look really interesting. So, I’m going to be putting together TBR’s for those as well.

I’m just gonna go ahead and apologize because throughout this video my phone keeps
slipping. I’m just using a stack of books as a tripod because I don’t actually have one with me. So, we’re just gonna have to be okay with that.

The first read-a-thon that I’m going to talk about is a month-long readathon put together by Read with Cindy. The goal of this readathon is to celebrate Asian Heritage Month and read a bunch of different Asian authors. There are really five different prompts you can follow for this. But, alongside these prompts it is suggested that for each book, you try to read from an author with different ethnicities. I will be doing four of these five prompts. I’m not going to be doing the read a long book because I can’t really get it right at this moment.

So, the prompts that I will be following include: prompt number one, which is to read a book by an Asian author – really simple. The book that I have for that is Lalani of the Distant Sea, which is a children’s book based on Filipino folklore by a Filipino author. It looks really neat and just the cover art and everything. It looks super adorable. If you’ll notice, this version that I have is an ARC. I’ve mentioned before that I work in a bookstore and we get ARCs. Sometimes we get ARCs kind of late, though because I didn’t even notice this ARC in there until the book was actually out on the shelves. I don’t know if that’s a me-not-noticing thing and maybe it was out for a while – maybe somebody returned it – maybe they send ARCs to bookstores at different rates. I don’t really know but I’m glad that I have it and I’m looking forward to reading it as a part of this readathon.

The next prompt is to read a book written by an author that also has Asian characters that you can relate to. So, another part of their identity is something similar to you. For that I actually picked nonfiction, so it’s not the characters – it’s about actual people. But it’s called Restored Selves: Autobiographies of Queer Asia/ Pacific American Activists. I chose this because I’m queer, so I imagine I can relate at least to parts of their stories. I’ve actually had this book for a good little while. I got it from a used bookstore for, like, a dollar fifty. It looks like it was originally published in 2004 and then maybe republished in 2011. I could be wrong about that. Regardless, it’s not, like, new but it’s also not super old. But I’m excited to
get into that.

For the next prompt, we have a book written by an Asian author with an Asian main character that is different from you. For that, I chose American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. And I do not necessarily relate to this character because I’ve never been a young Asian teenage boy, particularly not one stuck in kind of like a spiritual/ fantasy-ish setting. And this for those who don’t know, this is actually a graphic novel. It’s pretty well known, so I recently got a copy of it.

And the final prompts for the Asian Readathon is to read a book recommended by an Asian. For this, I’ll be reading a book that Cindy recommended in the announcement video for this year’s Asian Readathon and that is The Boat, which is a webcomic about Vietnamese immigrants (if I’m not mistaken – obviously I’ve read it so I don’t totally know what it’s about). I mostly picked that because it’s free (it’s a webcomic) and it sounded pretty interesting. The art looks pretty neat. So, there you have the Asian Readathon.

I do have a couple of books that I considered putting in that I’ll probably end up getting to this month. I’m gonna go ahead and mention these to you because it’s something that could work for the Asian Readathon. And I know sometimes people watch these TBR videos for suggestions of what to read.

So, two other books that I might read that technically fit because they’re by Asian authors include Our Dreams at Dusk volume 3. I read the first two and absolutely adored them. It’s basically a series about an LGBT drop-in center. Each book focuses on a different character’s backstory. And I think they’re each different parts of the LGBT community I’m not totally sure because I kind of assumed that this character was just a gay guy — book 1 was also about a gay guy. But I could be wrong. I guess I’ll find out once I read it. And it’s actually written by a non-binary author, so if I don’t get to it in May I plan on getting to it in June when I’m only going to be reading books by trans and non-binary people.

The other book that would work for the Asian Readathon that I’ve got kind of-ish on my TBR is When You Ask Me Where I’m Going by Jasmine Kaur. And it’s a poetry book. I don’t really know a whole lot about it. It sounded neat and, like I mentioned about the ARCs at work, I kind of just saw it laying around so I’ve taken it home – or I took it home several months ago. I have not been at work recently. Because of COVID, bookstores are closed.

The next TBR that I’m going to go over is for the Sapphicathon. Now, this Readathon is only a week long. It goes from the 18th to the 25th, so for this readathon, I actually am going to double up on some of the books – just because I don’t know how feasible it would be during 7 books in a week. That would be pretty ambitious. I do tend to try to do a book per prompt for things, but not this time.

The first prompt for the Sapphicathon is t reread a book. And for that, I’ve chosen Blue is the Warmest Color. This was an excellent book. There is a film of it as well, but I do not recommend that film because the main actresses in the film felt super uncomfortable and the director is a creep. So, pick up the book that’s actually written by a sapphic woman. It’s not as graphic as the movie. If you’ve seen the movie, at least to me it felt like all of it was a sex scene. This is not. It — Less than 10 pages are sex scenes and they’re not even super graphic. There are boobs but nothing super intense by my metric, anyways. But the artwork for this is really interesting. And even if the director hadn’t been questionable, I would still recommend the book over the movie. The movie misses the point of it entirely and a lot of that’s because it’s directed by a cis man. The book is actually looking largely at, kind of, the power of heteronormativity – particularly for queer women (but really I would think that both of the characters in here probably lesbian, just based off of kind of some of the stuff that happens). I will say, if you’re interested in reading this the first, like, two-thirds or three-fourths of the book is fantastic, but the last bit, the pacing is just – it goes so fast, so that was disappointing. However, it’s still an enjoyable read, so I highly recommend it. And this is what I’m gonna be rereading. It’s a graphic novel, so it’ll go a little bit faster.

The next prompt is to read a graphic novel. If you watch my Hero’s Readathon, TBR you’ll know that I have lots of LGBT graphic novels. Three of them are sapphic, but we’re gonna add more. The graphic novel that’s going to be covering this prompt is also going to be covering prompt number three, which is a book with the trope you love. And that is the Kase-San and Yamana Volume 1. I did a full review video for the first 5 Kase-San and… series. And this is the first volume of Kase-San and Yamata, where they’re in college. They’re technically in college the second half of the fifth book, but this is all college days. So, the trope, I guess, would be just pure fluff or romance for romances sake. I absolutely adore this series, so I’m really looking forward to finally getting to this book.

Prompt number 4 for the Sapphicathon is to read a book by an author of color. The book that I’m using for this also covers prompt number six, which is a book that’s been on your TBR for a long time. And that book is Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua. This is a book of essays and poems by Gloria Anzaldua, who is a really important person in Women’s and Gender Studies. She is a Chicano lesbian who talks about her ethnicity and her sexuality. I’m super excited for this. I’ve read bits and pieces of various things by Gloria Anzaldua, but I have yet to read this from cover to cover. So I would like to get that during the Sapphicathon.

The next prompt is a book that you got for free and for that, I chose Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. This was a Christmas – or possibly birthday present – from one of my friends. He even wrote a little bit in the cover, which is just great and adorable. This is kind of a classic young adult queer book. I don’t actually know a whole lot about it, but I’m kind of okay just knowing that it’s a classic.

And the final prompt that I have for the Sapphicathon is free choice. Naturally I put a nonfiction as free choice. So, technically Borderlands/La Frontera would fit it, however I do want to try to cram another book in. Whether or not I’ll finish it, I’m not too sure. But I at least want to start it during the Sapphicathon and that is Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in the 20th Century by Lillian Faderman. This goes decade by decade through the 1900s and talks about different subcultures of lesbians in different cities. I’m super stoked about this. I think that books like this are really important. A lot of gay history books really mostly only focus on gay men, so I am really excited to read this.

There is one more book for this that I considered putting in, but there’s just literally no way that I’m going to be able to read it and these other books in a week. But it’s worth mentioning and that is The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall. It would have fit prompt number six, a book that’s been on your TBR for a long time. This is a classic lesbian novel it was written in the 20s, I believe. And this was, for a lot of people at the time, one of the first
places that they actually saw anything about being a lesbian. So I do want to get to this at some point. So, if by some miracle I actually have time at the end of Sapphicathon, I’ll start this. And I would actually be comfortable reading this into next month.

Next month, I do only want to read books written by trans authors. And at the time that Radclyffe Hall was alive, there wasn’t the same language around gender and things like that. So, there are some scholars that think that Radclyffe Hall might have identified as non-binary or trans had they been around. If nothing else, they’re definitely gender non-conforming and I think that, gender non-conforming people that existed before any sort of terminology, kind of, should be included in things like that. They did heavily impact the LGBT community in general. But also, kind of, what is the trans community now. So, this would also be an important read for then.

So those are all the books that I’m going to be reading for the Asian Readathon and the Sapphicathon. I do think that both of these readathons are really important. Acknowledging Asian Heritage Month is super important. A lot of the times, I think, when we talk about authors of color, Asian people tend to get left out of that conversation. In general during
discussions of racism, Asians get left out just because how they experience all of that is different than other minorities. Granted, every minority has a different experience because they have different histories, so it’s really important to be able to see from those different perspectives. Sapphicathon is also really important because so many of the hyped books are
very male. You get lots of books that are talked about in terms of like gay men, but people don’t tend to focus as much on woman who love women. So, this is a good time for that. Especially since Pride Month is next month. So, it’s good to go ahead and read some. And I know for me specifically, I want to go ahead and read some of the sapphic books that I have before then because I’m only going to be reading trans authors.

So, I think all of these books that I have that are sapphic are written by cis women with the exception – I already mentioned how Radclyffe Hall its a little bit more up in the air gender-wise – but for the most part I’m just reading cis women, so these are books that I wouldn’t be able to get to next months anyways. Even though they are good if you are looking for some gay ladies side to your pride TBR.

That’s about all that I’ve got. If you’ve read any of these books, let me know what you thought. If you’re going to be doing the Asian Readathon or the Sapphicathon, let me know. You can maybe talk about the book that you’re most anticipating for that. And thank you so much for watching! Bye

Hero’s Readathon TBR || Fae Thief (22 April 2020)

This is a transcription for my Hero’s Readathon TBR for May 2020.

Hey, welcome to Moony Reads. My name is Bek and today I’m going to be talking about my TBR for the Hero’s Read-a-thon. Hopefully you all don’t mind the setup. Everything is a little bit up in the air right now, so this is sort of what I have. Hopefully the lighting isn’t too terrible.

But, for those of you who don’t know, the Heroes Read-a-thon is a read-a-thon that is happening all throughout May. Sage Reads set it up. This is the first year that they’ve done this. With this read-a-thon, you pick basically a character type; you choose a race and you choose, I guess, a class. And depending on what race in class you choose, you have different prompts that you follow for all the books that you’re reading for the read-a-thon.

The character that I chose for the read-a-thon is a fae thief. Since I chose the race Fae, I can only read books with LGBT representation. And since I chose the class of thief, I cannot buy any books. I only have – am able to use books that I already have or that I borrow – or steal, I suppose, although I don’t think that I would condone that. So, all of the books that I’m reading for this read-a-thon have to have LGBT representation and have to be books that I already own or can borrow.

For this read-a-thon, they set up a bingo board that takes you through the hero’s journey and I have chosen one book for each of those points on the bingo board. Hopefully I’ll get through all of them. I think, with stuff like this I always try to have one book per prompt and it doesn’t always end up working that way, but this is what I’m aiming for.

The first prompt and the read-a-thon is “Call to Action: a book set outside the house” and for that I have Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden. This is a graphic novel and it appears to be a roadtrip book. On the cover they’re in the car and the side of the book says that they are on a journey through West Texas. So, I’m thinking that most of this probably happens outside of the house. This book doesn’t state clearly that there is LGBT elements in it, but I read On a Sunbeam by Tilly Walden and that was very very gay, so I would be surprised if this wasn’t. I’m pretty sure this is on some of the LGBTQ Goodreads lists and things like that.

The next prompt that we have is “Meet Your Mentor: a book written by an author you admire.” For that prompt, I will be reading Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein. Kate Bornstein has been writing on gender for a very long time. They are non-binary and kick a lot of ass, so I’m looking forward to reading the whole book. I’ve read parts of it — I’ve read a couple of chapters and other excerpts that she’s written in general, but I have yet to read it from cover to cover.

The next prompt that we have is “Crossing the Threshold: a coming of age or coming-out story.” For that prompt, I chose Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. This is another graphic novel and it definitely seems to be coming of age, if not possibly coming out as well. Because in the description, it mostly talks about like relationship stuff and then grief and it mentions sexuality as well in there. So, we’ll see what this is like.

Next up on the hero’s journey is “Trials and Failures” and for that you have to read a book that you started and never finished. And for that I’m going to be reading Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness. This is Jonathan Van Ness’s memoir. If you’ve ever seen Queer Eye, he’s on there. I know he’s recently come out as non-binary any also talks about being HIV positive. I started this book and got about a quarter of the way through, but I had to pause it a little bit. It was good so far. It had Jonathan’s voice which makes it quirky and interesting, but they kept coming back to kind of the childhood sexual assault and I had to chill out and not read that for a little while. I think that I can go back to it, though.

Next, we have “Death and Rebirth: a book that has been on your TBR for over a year.” The book that I have for that is another memoir it is When They Call You a Terrorist: a Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrice Khan-Cullors and Asha Bendele. I’m not sure how much they talk about like being LGBT in this, but I do know that Patrice Khan-Cullors is queer. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time and I’ve been really stoked for it, so hopefully I will be able to get to it this month.

The next step of the hero’s journey is “Revelation.” And for that, you had to pick a book that you think is going to be 5 stars. For that, I chose Motor Crush Volume 1. This is a comic series with LGBT characters and motorcycles. The artwork looks really great. I would be really surprised if I didn’t give this a really good rating. The LGBTQ graphic novels that I read tend to get 5 stars a little bit more easily just because I tend to really like them. And I’ve heard a bunch of really great stuff about Motor Crush.

Sorry for the change in angles and probably worse lighting. I don’t have my tripod, so I’m just kind of like vlog-style holding my phone.

But the next prompt that we have is “Atonement: a book that broadens your worldview.” For this prompt I’m going to be reading Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator: Uncommon Love and Life by Amy Gahran. This book is about polyamory or non-monogamy, It really talks about lots of different sorts of relationship setups. I’m not sure how the author identifies, so far as like if she’s queer or anything like that. However there is a section in this book a chapter that explicitly and the title talks about asexuality and aromanticism, so there’s definitely a discussion of LGBT representation in some capacity in this book.

The next step that we have is “A Gift From the Gods: book recommended by a booktuber or a friend.” So, for this one I chose a book I think it has been recommended to me by a friend before, but I’ve definitely seen it at least once on booktube. And it is actually one of the reading picks for the Enby Book Club that is Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe. And this is a memoir that is written as a graphic novel.

For the final prompt, we have “Return [Changed]: an author you have never heard of until now”. For that, I’m choosing a book that I have access to through Scribd. That book is Love Retold by Tikva Wolf. This is another graphic novel/comic collection. I’m pretty sure it’s nonfiction based off of their experience. It’s a reflection on love specifically within a non-monogamous context. So, they’re talking about their different experiences as being non-monogamous and queer.

So, those are all the books that I have for each prompt. Really this is going to be acting as my TBR in May in general just because I don’t want to add a whole bunch more.

The only other book that I know for sure that I’ll be working on is Moving Politics, which I have been working on. And if you look this right here where the main section of the bookmark is is about where I’m at. We still have a little bit of time in April, though so I’m hoping that I can get there, which is to the beginning of the third part. There are three main parts in the book, so doing a part per month would be ideal for sure. The good thing about this book, and one of the reasons it’s worth mentioning kind of within the specific here is readathon, is that it also fits what I already have. So, Moving Politics is about ACT UP, which was a queer organization and it’s something that I already have; I actually received it as a Christmas gift, so I didn’t purchase it at all. So, it fits my race in my class and if for some reason I don’t get to one of the other books this could cover Meet your Mentor, technically because this person was involved in ACT UP and anyone who’s involved in that, I definitely would be looking up to. It would also cover Trials and Failures, kind of – I never really stopped reading it though so maybe not so much, so. It would definitely also fit Atonement because this is something that has had a huge impact on how I see social movements – or it’s I guess added to some things that I’ve already known and it’s made me think about a whole lot. And it would also technically fit Return because I didn’t know anything about the author going into it.

That is the only other book that I have that I know for sure that I’m going to be reading. I have ideas for audiobooks and other things like that, but I just want to sort of go and see where this takes me.

Thank you all so much for watching this. I am so sorry about this setup. It is absolutely abysmal especially compared to all of my nice books that I usually have sitting around. And right now we just have sad stacks. That sort of life at the moment – sad stacks. Maybe my next video will have better lighting. Probably not. Hopefully you found some of the books that are on my TBR interesting.

If you’re going to be a part of the Heroes Read-a-thon, definitely let me know in the comments. If you’ve read any of the books that I’ve talked about, let me know how they were, And I will see you in the next video. Bye!

#StayAtHomeReadingRush Rambling Wrap-Up (20 April 2020)

This is a transcription of my Stay at Home Reading Rush video.

Hey! Welcome to Moony Reads. My name is Bek and today I’m going to be talking about the Stay at Home Reading Rush and the books that I decided to read for that. The Stay at Home Reading Rush was a challenge put together by the Reading Rush, which is an already established read-a-thon. They usually have a larger read-a-thon, I think in the summer. So
this was just a smaller spring one. This was a four day read-a-thon, so it was pretty quick. So, I’ll talk about each of the prompts and the books that I decided to read for them.

The first prompt was to read a book with a house on the cover. This one, I did not actually get to. I did plan to read A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez, Which is a memoir. I just didn’t end up getting to it in the four days that I had. I do plan on reading it at some point, though. I saw Daisy Hernandez speak at a Woman’s and Gender Studies conference and she seems really awesome. I also use Colonize This! in class, which is a book that she edited with Bashra Rehman on women of color and their feminism. So, I’m really interested in her memoir – just didn’t end up getting to it.

The next prompt was to read a book in the same room the whole time. And the book that I ended up reading all in the same room was Greta Thunberg’s No One is Too Small to Make a Difference. This is a collection of her speeches that she’s made at various places. At the beginning of each one, it tells you where she was and the date. And all of these are from late 2018 to late 2019.

If you don’t know, Greta Thunberg is a climate activist. She advocates for everybody – but especially companies and politicians – to do what we need to do to make climate change stop happening at the rate that it is. She basically advocates to listen to scientists so that the world doesn’t end up being a terrible place in just a matter of a decade or less. And she started being interested in climate – or, really, worried about the sort of thing that it would do – starting when she was like eight. She actually started a school strike a little bit later and that’s one of the things that she known for. She wasn’t necessarily supported by her parents or anything. She just did this because she saw that it was a problem and she is worried for herself and everybody else who’s in the younger generations. I really enjoyed a lot of these speeches.

Obviously some of it was repetitive because she is making the same point just to multiple audiences, but it was really incredible to hear someone who was 15 and then 16, I believe, talking about all of these points. Whenever I see stuff like this where it’s like children advocating for something, it makes me sort of hopeful for the future on one hand. Because I know that, like, when I was that age, I didn’t really know much about anything. I think I was interested in like banned books and I thought that banning books was wrong, but I didn’t get the whole thing. And there were so many ways where I did not understand some very basic things. But the grasp that she seems to have on this – she doesn’t just say “oh, this is a problem and we need to listen to scientists” – even though that is the crux of the majority of for argument, which seems pretty simple. She also talks about the fact that with this climate crisis also comes inequity within the climate crisis – the fact that the people who contributed to the carbon monoxide and methane gas rising and using fossil fuels – the people who do that least end up having to see the impact of climate change more quickly than anybody else
and with more intensity. So she addresses kind of the inequity of climate change, but she also talks about the fact that there’s a really big piece of culture that’s perpetuating this – like the reason that we don’t have these policies and that people don’t want to look at the issues and don’t want to fully understand them is the fact that getting as much as you possibly can is sort of built into the culture that we’ve created. She doesn’t say in those exact words that, you know, it’s capitalism but that’s what you get from it.

And it’s just amazing that somebody her age would be able – or would end up coming to that conclusion. Or at the very least from my perspective – granted I’m from Tennessee. So, like, not a whole lot of people I guess over here were thinking about that. So, while it is hopeful that, you know, they’re kind of thinking ahead, it’s also devastating honestly that they’re having to think about this. And the reason that she goes through and she talks about all this is because she’s scared; she’s worried. She talks about, you know, “everybody should be in a panic” – in a useful panic and since nobody else’s she is (and other people, a lot of whom are younger and climate activists) have to be too. So, most of what she’s saying is based off of various scientific facts. She even refers to specific studies and things like that, so you get that scientific piece, but there’s also this palpable sense of anger – righteous anger. That – again, there’s the sense of hope but also this kind of devastating sense that somebody (especially from such a young age) has to engage in that in those sort of emotions.

I also found that piece of it very relatable, I think. I don’t like being angry and I have a tendency to push those sort of emotions away. But when it comes to various things that are related to social problems especially, you know, with those specific stuff that I’ve looked at it’s been LGBT studies – it’s been especially looking at like the trans experience and how people are treated – and feeling that anger, especially when you feel like nobody else is engaging in the appropriate amount of anger… the way that that feels is really hard to describe and the sadness that’s kind of inherent in that sort of anger. And that’s what a lot of the things that she said or minded me of or I guess the emotion that I got from the book reminded me of. So, I got a lot out of this book. I think that Greta Thunberg as an activist is an interesting person and I think that it also says a lot about kind of the world and where it’s at at this point. It also has me looking forward to reading the few climate-related books that I got an e-book last month.

The next prompt was to read a book set somewhere you wish to go. And the book that I chose for that was Nevada by Imogene Binnie. And the place that I was thinking of when I picked up this book actually was not Nevada. I honestly don’t know very much about Nevada; I don’t have strong opinions. I’ve never been to it. However, if you look at the back of the book, the main character is in New York, at the very least, in the beginning. And the bulk of the book is set in New York. The last maybe third of the book isn’t.

This was a really interesting read There are a lot of intricate elements in the book that, I think, are related to the main character and how you’re – not only how you’re supposed to understand her but how she understands herself. Honestly, this gave me kind of Catcher in the Rye vibes. It’s very focused on the character. There is more plot in this book than in and Catcher in the Rye and it’s not directly comparable in some ways… and I don’t want anybody’s expectations to be set really high – or I guess really low if you don’t like Catcher in the Rye. Although, honestly if you didn’t like Catcher in the Rye, you probably wouldn’t like this book unless the reason that you didn’t like Catcher in the Rye was that it was assigned to you, in which case you should reread Catcher in the Rye and also read this book. But they’re similar in that I think that both books are saying something about the characters. And something sort of about human nature, in general, kind of coming of age – although Catcher in the Rye is more focused on an adolescent. The character in this book is about 30 or so. So, she’s gotten past adolescence and understands herself to a certain point.

The main character is a trans woman. She is already living in the city, she’s past this sort of coming out and whatever. But she very clearly is having kind of a life crisis and realizing how little she understands herself. But with all of the stuff that you learn about her and her character, I think not only do you get it from just what you have from her, but the whole kind of means the storytelling lends itself to understanding these sort of things about her. This book is written in third person, but its third person limited for the most part. Sometimes, it will focus on other characters but the majority the book focuses on Maria. And throughout it you do get kind of this conflicted message of who she is as a character. You get the idea that she has made sacrifices for people, but you also see a whole lot of selfishness. Similarly, you can see kind of some of her values being conflicting. Even in her image you – there’s kind of an understanding of some sort of like punk vibes, but that doesn’t carry through to everything – even though, I think, she thinks that it should or does in a certain degree.

Another interesting decision within this, too, is that they don’t really use quotation marks when they’re having conversations. And throughout the book you also – especially, I think, towards the end – rather than saying “Maria said this” it’ll say “Maria was like…” and then have the rest of the phrase. So, it’s kind of conversational. And there are other elements that make it sound sort of conversational. And that was an interesting choice. And I almost wondered in part of the book (and honestly this could have been because of a typo – it’s kind of hard to say if it was intentional or not) I also wonder if this book was supposed to be at least mostly narrated by Maria, even though it’s in third person. Maybe I’m kind of going out there a little bit, but that sort of the vibe that I got for some of it. And it would also make sense of some of the contradictions and understanding her character. Really, Maria being the narrator talking in third person would make sense because, like I said, a lot of the story is that she doesn’t know who she is.

Additionally, they do talk a decent amount about dissociation. Regardless of whatever literary or characterization choice dissociation might have impacted, I do think that it was intentionally included as a part of kind of a discussion on gender that gets left out. And I think that that’s really important that they decided to include that. It’s something that I personally relate to. You don’t really get to hear a lot about dissociation or – at least for me, it took a long time to understand that I was experiencing it or what it meant or anything like that. So, the fact that they do discuss it and incorporate it into this book is really important all by itself, as well. They talk about it in relation, to you know, how she feels about her body in terms of gender but also just how she can relate to herself because of how she grew up not fitting the gender that she was supposed to.

And even outside of that, some of the choices that she had to make throughout it, she ends up talking about how she’s done these different things she’s sacrificed a number of things or she has acted in certain ways because it’s what she thought that other people has wanted from her. And that focus on what other people want has outweighed a lot of actual decisions that she would end up making and she’s realizing that she doesn’t understand who she is at all. And all of that is super relatable for me. But on, you know, in the same token that she has been acting for other people she’s also a pretty selfish person. And it gets to kind of a ridiculous point especially towards the end of the book. But it’s interesting how both of those things can be true at the same time. Because even if you are making decisions based on what other people are feeling – that seems like an unselfish thing to do – but there can be a certain amount of selfishness in avoiding conflict. Maybe this is just more me meditating myself rather than the character, because she is also very outwardly selfish in other ways too – again especially towards the end.

Now, I did think this book was really brilliant. It was absolutely fascinating, but I do think that there were some points for improvement or some things that I wasn’t really sure about, really. I thought the first part of the book (which is probably the first 2/3) was a lot stronger than the second part. In the second part, you get introduced to a new character and I think that it could have been done better. Especially if it had been a little bit longer, because she goes into these almost a monologues when she’s with this character. And they’re important pieces of conversations on, like, what it means to be trans. And you get some of those throughout the whole book, you get a whole lot about like how she relates to her body, like I said, they talked about like dissociation and things like that. And then in the second part, it talks about some more problematic frameworks that people have come up with that don’t actually make sense and sort of perpetuate, not only transphobia and transmisogyny, but they come from just plain old misogyny and I think that that’s important to talk about but I don’t think that it was done as successfully as it could have been done. I also think that the ending was maybe a little bit too open. I understand the need for a book like this to have an open ending, but I think that in introducing that other character, they could have done done maybe a little bit more than they actually did.

Regardless, I think this was a very interesting book. This is one that I would definitely read again with even more intention and more critically looking at it. Honestly, reading it beside Catcher in the Rye might even be interesting – it might be nothing, you know it could just be me being weird. But I think that it could potentially be an interesting look into characterization and how using somebody’s perspective of themselves can say something more about, kind of, the human condition in general. Maybe I’ll do that at some point, maybe I won’t. But this was a very interesting book. It’s definitely not for everybody, just like Catcher in the Rye isn’t for everybody. There are some people who really detest it because
they like plot driven things, so if you’re somebody who doesn’t like, kind of, literally weird books maybe don’t pick this up. But if you’re interested in engaging in something that’s a little bit more weird definitely character focused, character driven definitely go with it. If you like stories that are a little bit more cut-and-dry or follow kind of a typical format, maybe don’t go into this. But I had a lot of fun with it and I would like to read it again.

And the final prompt for the Stay at Home Reading Rush was to read a book that will make you smile. And for this, I actually chose to read fanfiction. I don’t know if that’s really allowed. Is there some kind of read-a-thon taboo with that? I don’t know. I was already planning on reading through old fanfiction – fanfictions that were some of my favorites in middle school and early high school for a reading vlog. So, I just decided to add that to this. I read – I didn’t read all of it because I started it a little bit before the reading challenge and I still have a couple chapters left – but I read the majority of An Aversion to Change, which was on Mugglenet Fanfiction. It’s a Draco/Hermione fic – so Dramione, which was one of my main ships back then. Not really something I look at so much now.

And it actually wasn’t so bad. It definitely did make me smile, because thinking back on how I would read a lot of this and – I wasn’t as critical and really wasn’t as knowledgeable about a lot. There are definitely holes in the characterization, but they’re also kind of classic holes that are in the characterization. This is also a fic that has some of like the Dramione staples. It has the head boy/head girl trope where they have to share a common room. It has a masquerade ball. So, it’s pretty classic in those ways. But they do add another interesting element to it by including an original character. I think for nostalgic value, it was good but as far as characterization goes there are a lot of decisions that are made that are out of character. In some of it, Draco is a little bit to mean and there’s a lot that’s like questionable so far as relationship dynamics go – which can definitely be a problem in certain Dramione fics, which is why I say, you know, they’re like classic characterizations – or some of the decisions that they make are ones that aren’t uncommon in Dramiones – at least Dramiones of the time. I don’t know what things look like after like 2009, honestly.

So, there are definitely some problems in it but for its time it was pretty decent. I don’t know. I wouldn’t really recommend it now just because some of the relationship dynamics are questionable. Also the way that Hermione is characterized is very scared. There definitely, like, some sexism in there that needs to be worked out. But it’s been fun to reread and fun to kind of reremember the story because there are parts of it that, like, “I think I know how this is gonna happen” but I wasn’t totally sure and then, like, remembering it as the story progresses is really fun. So yeah.

Those are the four reading prompts and what I read for them. I also participated in the Instagram challenges that they put up, so if you want to see my pictures for those, you can check out my Instagram. If you participated in the Stay at Home Reading Rush, let me know what you read and what you thought about them. If you’re participating in any other readathons, let me know. I know there’s a whole lot going on right now. Thank you all so much for watching. Bye!

[A note, as it has been several months since this video was made: I’ve said it before, but JK Rowling is a TERF and I do not support that. I actually didn’t do the rest of the fanfic readthrough I mentioned in this because I didn’t want to support her work with a vlog and reading HP stuff is making me sad. Also, the most recent round of the Reading Rush had a lot of issues, so look into that — lot of people have addressed it better than I have.]

March Book Haul (9 April 2020)

This is a transcription of my March book haul video.

Hey, welcome to Moony Reads. My name is Bek and today I’m going to be talking about all the books that I bought in the month of March. I’m gonna start off with a little bit of fiction first.

I have The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. This is a dystopian novel centered around Indigenous people by an Indigenous person. The synopsis just sounded really interesting. I actually heard about it through one of Et Tu Brody’s videos that I can link in the description. So I’m pretty excited about this. It looks really good and it’s won a lot of awards. I was surprised that the first that I’d heard about it was through their video.

Next, I have the e-book of A Blade So Black by LL McKinney. I actually read this for the Zodiacathon, so if you want to know more about what I thought about that you can go check out that vlog.

Next, we have some graphic novels. First there is American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. This book kind of focuses on two characters. You have the one main character who’s kind of going through coming-of-age high school sort of things, and the other character is the Monkey King who’s looking for somebody to take his place on the throne. Their lives somehow get intertwined. It sounds interesting and I’ve heard a lot of good things about this. So, I’m looking forward to it.

Next, I have the first two volumes of Motor Crush, which involves gays and motorcycles and that’s pretty much all that I needed to know to know that I should buy it – mostly because of my experience with RoadQueen, which was fantastic. But even beyond that, there’s a lot of other good stuff. I’ve heard a lot of people recommend it. It kind of focuses on racing – so motorcycle racing – and there is kind of illegal performance-enhancing drugs involved. It sounds super cool, the artwork looks badass – so this is definitely a series that I am looking forward to getting into.

Next, we have Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. Mariko Tamaki was one of the authors of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me and that’s how I ended up finding this book and why I decided to get it. But this is a realistic fiction, kind of, coming of age that deals with death and sexuality, among other things.

Next I’m going to show you all some of the books that I got specifically for my reading list on HIV and AIDS activism in the US. I can link that full list if you’re interested in checking that out.

The first book is fiction, actually, and that’s The Gifts of the Body by Rebecca Brown. I was recommended this book on Instagram. This is about a woman who is a caretaker for people who have HIV and AIDS. It talks about grief and also dignity for the dying and things like that and this comes from an author who was an at-home care provider during the heights of the AIDS epidemic.

The next three within this category are all nonfiction. First, we have a memoir: Queer and Loathing by David Feinberg. In this, he talks about some of his experiences with activism but he also talks about kind of the end of his life and dealing with AIDS himself.

Next we have The Secret Epidemic: The Story of AIDS and Black America by Jacob Levinson. This talks about the impact of the AIDS epidemic in different parts of the Black community.

And finally in this category we have How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France, So this looks at the actual impact that a lot of the activism had and kind of how we went from the heights of the AIDS epidemic to it now being a more manageable condition.

The next books that I have are all nonfiction this first one that I have is Stepping Off The Relationship Escalator: Uncommon Love and Life by Amy Gahram and this book focuses on polyamory and non-monogamy. It talks about different ways that you can practice non-monogamy, different like relationship setups – but it also has information about how to deal with an array of types of relationships in terms of, like, how to deal with people and like a personal growth kind of situation.

Next, I’m going to talk about some of the non-fiction books that I have on race and gender. This first one just focuses on race, but it is Black Skin White Masks by Franz Fanon. And this book was originally written in 1952, but it is a psychological study looking at like the psyche of Black people who are in this very white-centered oppressive world. So, it takes psychology and sociology and sort of mixes them. It sounds really interesting. I feel like I’d heard about it a little bit before, but really hearing about it on Briana’s Library a few times really made me want to get it. So, if you want to hear more about this definitely check out their video.

Next, I have How We Get Free: Black Feminism in the Combahee River Collective edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. This book is basically a historical look at Black feminism. Tt
starts off with writings from the Combahee River Collective, which was a feminist organization in the 60s and 70s, but then it looks at writing from people since then too – ending with a work from a more contemporary activist. And it basically talks about this period of Black feminism and how it’s still relevant today. This is one that I saw kind of floating around Instagram, but I’ve also done a little bit of research into the Combahee River Collective, so I was more interested in learning more about kind of their stances and their history.

The next book that I have is #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women. This is a collection of essays, poetry, and art from indigenous women. This kind of gives you a look into what it’s like to be a Native American woman in modern day.

A lot of the next books that I’m gonna be talking about are ebooks and that is because there is a sale that went on. There were several free ebooks and a lot more that we’re like three
dollars, so of course I couldn’t stop myself from buying a ton of them. But a number of them were also on race and gender. First, we have Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump. This is kind of a deeper looking identity politics using older Black revolutionary writings. So, it looks at all of that within the current political context and how this political context has impacted identity politics or how identity politics has been used in some ways. This looks to me like it’s going to be talking a little bit more about, kind of, the insidious nature of racism through some of the way that certain people use identity politics. I could be wrong, but it looked like a really interesting read regardless.

Nextwe have Racecraft: The Sole Inequality of American Life and this is by Karen and Barbara Fields. from the synopsis, it looks like this is a sociological look at how racism shapes racial categories and also how all of that is impacted by other kinds of oppression as well.

Next, we have Latinx: the New Force in American Politics and Culture and that is by Ed Morales. This is a critical look at racial categories in the United States. To quote part of the synopsis on Goodreads, the book is “a challenge to America’s infamously black-white racial regime.” And they kind of compare it to Race Matters by Cornel West, which I’m actually planning on reading this month. So, hopefully I can finish reading that and then read this immediately after. That’s the plan at any rate.

Next, we have De Colores Means All of Us, which was originally published in the 1990s, I believe. But it looks at activism, organizing, and empowerment from a Latina perspective.

Next, we have Black Macho and the Myth of the Super Woman. This book was originally published in the late 70s and then there are some updates in the 90s. But it looks at how Blackness has been masculinized in a lot of society and they talked about the negative myths that this is created, specifically for Black women.

And then we have Invisibility Blues by Michele Wallace. This is a historical analysis of Black feminism and a look at its role in today’s society.

And finally we have Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto, which draws on feminism of women in various countries, particularly within the global south. And they’ve sort of created a manifesto that’s anti-racist and anti-capitalist, after the stuff that those activists have done. That is it for race and gender.

Now we can move on to books on sexuality. First, I have Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship. I am really not jazzed about the fact that they put this in the very center of the book cover. I would try to peel it off but I’m a little afraid of damaging it. But that doesn’t really have to do with the content of the book. This is based on sociological research that was done in the early 90s and it looks at kind of the role of families within the LGBT community. I imagine it will talk some about being forced to leave their original families, but I imagine it will probably explore the phenomena of chosen family. I thought that this was an important historical look and I think that it can tell us a lot about how stuff is today too, even if it’s not the exact same.

And next I have Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America. This goes decade by decade and looks at different subcultures within the lesbian community. So, it kind of puts together a lesbian history which is really nice, particularly because most of the history books that I found focus on gay history. I’m looking forward to learning more about the lesbian community as well.

Next we have more history with Transgender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg. This book looks at figures throughout history who are trans. This even looks at people who were around kind of before we had the language of “transgender”, but they kind of look basically at various figures who were gender variant who might fit into that category.

And then we have another piece by Leslie Feinberg: Trans Liberation, which is a series of essays and speeches that they’ve made that talk about trans liberation.

And then I have one book that fits in with LGBT studies that I got on that same ebook sale and that is Trans: A Memoir. This deals with her experience transitioning and her own kind of personal story but she also talks about politics within this as well and how that impacted her.

And the next few books that I have are kind of general nonfiction with a couple of different topics. I’ve got a couple of books on housing. First, we have The City of Segregation by Andrea Gibbons. This is a historical look at segregation, specifically in LA. But it looks at the
impact this has had on people of color and it looks at the patterns of injustice – so once we identify these patterns, we can then figure out ways to break out of them.

And the second book that I have on housing is called In Defense of Housing by David Madden and Peter Marcuse. And this is basically a look at the housing crisis, looking at sort of its causes and what exactly it is, as well as possible large-scale solutions.

And the final two books the I have are both on the environment. They are A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal and The Case for the Green New Deal. These both, of course, talk about the specific piece of policy that’s been put up (the green new deal) and how that could impact the people of the United States and the environment.

So those are all of the books that I bought in March. I think I bought them all used online with the exception of the ebooks and possibly with the exception of How We Get Free. I bought the majority of these on Better World Books, which you get free shipping on and they also donate some of their proceeds, as well as kind of donation matching (so every book you buy they’ll donate a book to a couple of different book programs). I like to recommend them. You can’t really find newer stuff on there, but they do have a lot of other good options.

So, let me know in the comments if you have read any of these books or if there are any of these that you think that I should read first. Thank you all so much for watching. Bye!

Topical TBR || HIV/AIDS History in the United States (3 April 2020)

This is a transcription for my HIV/AIDS TBR.

Hey, welcome to Moony Reads. My name is Bek and today I’m going to be talking about my ongoing topical TBR for the history of HIV and AIDS activism within the United States. Rather than just having monthly TBRs, I’m going to be implementing kind of ongoing topical
TBRs that don’t really have a specific set end date. I’m not going to do this for every single thing that I read, but think that it’s going to be beneficial for me for the specific topics that I know I’m gonna be looking a lot at. And these definitely are not the only books that I’m going to be reading. I’m going to maybe choose a book from this TBR per month to read (if everything goes well of course). Some of these books are going to take a little bit longer than that.

In this specific list, I’m going to be focusing on HIV and AIDS activism within the United States. I study the LGBT community as a sociologist. Most of what I’m looking at is focused on contemporary language, but I understand the need for deep historical context. And the HIV and AIDS epidemic was really important for the LGBT community, so I am doing kind of a deep dive into that. Now, with this list in particular, it is very white and very cis and I would like to change that, so if anybody has any recommendations, definitely let me know. I am only looking at books that are kind of focused mostly on the 80’s and 90’s and within the United States. So, this isn’t looking globally. Ideally I would like to look globally eventually, but I’m starting with the US.

The first section of books that I have on this TBR are fiction books. This is probably the smallest category and just because it is heavily focused on nonfiction. The first fiction book that I have is a collection of plays by Larry Kramer and that includes The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me. This kind of focuses on the politics, sort of, that he encountered – kind of, looking at the difference between radical militant activism and activism that’s kind of more palpable for the majority. And of course amidst all the different political things, you also have death and grief, kind of, covering all of it. I’ve seen The Normal Heart and I really enjoyed it, but I want to go and read it. And then also read The Destiny of Me, which I’m pretty sure is a sequel or at the very least it plays off of a lot of things that were present in The Normal Heart. This definitely plays on Kramer’s actual history. He was one of the first voices who really called for more radical militant activism in the face of the government’s inaction for the HIV and AIDS epidemic. That actual action didn’t happen until a little while later. He was initially criticized for it (he was also criticized for other things that he should have been criticized on like sexism and slut-shaming). But eventually the movement as a whole did kind of go more in that more radical direction, at least if you looked at ACT UP and things like that. But I thought that The Normal Heart was a really interesting look into different people’s experiences. And also I think in general, a lot of what he says can also be
applied to other movements too – that kind of struggle between needing radical change but also wanting to be kind of accepted societally. That’s something that’s ongoing even, though this definitely does have that specific historical situation in the AIDS epidemic. So those are Larry Kramer’s plays.

The next work of fiction that I want to read is another play – or rather it’s a set of two plays: Angels in America by Tony Kushner. This play focuses on the lives of several characters that are impacted by the AIDS epidemic. Some characters are based on real people some aren’t. But it’s, again, kind of a deeper look into how the AIDS epidemic just impacted people.

The next work of fiction that I would like to look at is The Gifts of the Body by Rebecca Brown. This is a novel that’s focused on the experience of a healthcare provider as she’s taking care of people who are impacted by HIV and AIDS.

Those are the only fiction pieces that I have on this list in the moment. There’s another book that I considered putting on here in the fiction section: Flight from Nevèrÿon by Samual Delany. That’s a sci-fi book, but the series that it’s in is rather large, so I don’t think that I’m gonna put this on my TBR. But it is gonna be sort of on my radar of things to potentially read. I’ll put the information about that book in the description, because I don’t have a right in front of me. But if you’re interested in this topic and also in sci-fi, this particular book uses basically something similar to AIDS within their story and it was one of the first kind of fiction works that really looked at AIDS. It was published in the early 80s.

Next, I’ll be looking at memoirs and other nonfiction (kind of) autobiographical pieces. First we have When We Rise by Cleve Jones. Cleve Jones was a prominent activist at the time. He was one of the primary people who headed The Names project. And this basically just chronicles his time being within a leadership position and activism. I started reading this a while ago and just never got around to finishing it, so I’m excited to see what it’s like. If the
name is familiar to you, When We Rise, that may be because there was an ABC fictionalized docudrama that was based on his memoir. It was very good – I would recommend watching it. But I definitely want to read the actual memoir that it was based on.

The next memoir that I have is Queer and Loathing by David Feinberg. This book talks about his own experiences being an activist and being involved in some of the larger kind of direct action movements within it. He also talks about different actions that he thinks people need to follow through with if they want to eradicate AIDS. The end of the book also focuses on the end of his life so him actually dealing with his own health and complications from AIDS before he dies.

Another memoir that is on this list is The Gentrification of the Mind by Sarah Schulman. This looks at her experience being in a community that was impacted by the AIDS epidemic and what activism sort of looked like there from a personal level.

As I was researching and finding books, I did find a number of other memoirs that were focused on people’s experience. Some of them within the movement, but a lot of them that were focused on their, kind of, end of life experience. But for this, I’m definitely more focused on ones where people talk about their position within activist movement. So, that’s why I’ve chosen the ones that I have chosen. If you have any ideas of memoirs that I should add, definitely let me know. I’m especially looking for from trans activists and activists of color. One book that I did consider putting on here was We Both Laughed in Pleasure, which is a collection of diary entries by Lou Sullivan, who was a trans man who had AIDS. And the reason that I didn’t put it on here was because I didn’t, at least from the description I didn’t see (kind of) what role he played activist-wise. Plus it also focuses kind of on his transition as well, so I am putting that on my gay history TBR. But if you’re interested in this movement, that’s probably a book they you would want to look out for.

There’s one more book that I have on this part of the list that is informed by personal experience. However this is a book that it could fit in this category or it could fit in the next category looking at history. But since it was put out by the actual organization that it talks about, I put it in this section and that is: Breaking the Walls of Silence: AIDS and Women in a New York State Maximum-Security Prison written by the members of the AIDS Counseling and Education Program. This book talks about the development of ACE and kind of what they had to deal with in order to put it together. They came together because of the conditions for women with AIDS in these prisons and the resources that they lacked – different things like that. So, I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

The next section that I have on this TBR is kind of general nonfiction. That involves history, journalism, or medicine.

The first book that I have on this part of the TBR is And The Band Played On by Randy Schultz. This is the classic history of the gay movement. Randy Schultz was a journalist he
basically looks at the coverage the people had of HIV and AIDS before discussion of it became more mainstream. And that mainstreaming of that conversation, especially in any sort of positive light, wasn’t until a number of years after the pandemic had already killed tens of thousands of people. It wasn’t until celebrities started getting sick that they actually paid attention. So, Randy Schultz book looks at – at least for my understanding – how media attention was before then.

The next book that I have on this list is another tome. And that is How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France. And this is kind of a look into different grassroots organization and how they impacted HIV and AIDS and how it was treated medically. This is particularly important just because it did change so radically and it needed to change so radically. A lot of people were forgotten on the forefront (really everyone with AIDS was forgotten on the forefront but) – the little bit of research that was done was only focused on white men. So that left woman out of the picture, people of color out of the picture, and also people who were intravenous drug users (who were one of the groups that were high risk to get HIV). So, this looks like it’s going to be kind of a good history in how activism actually had an impact.

Next, we have My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan-Bush Years by Sarah Schulman. If you’ll remember, Sarah Schulman was one of the authors of a memoir that I would also like to read as well. This is a collection of essays that documents activism during the early 90s AIDS epidemic. So you get a good look at where people were activism wise, but also the political response (or non-response) that they received.

The next book on this list is the first one that I’ll be reading. I’m already about a third of the way through it and that is Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight Against AIDS. This book specifically looks at act up which was a group that formed in the late 80s in order to fight HIV and AIDS. It looks at the role that emotion played and the creation of the group and how a lot of activism moved from a more “respectful” approach that tried not to get in the way of norms to kind of a more radical approach that ACT UP had and it basically looks at the role that emotion played in those activist spaces, but also how those activist spaces impacted people’s emotions. It’s really fantastic so far. If you’re interested to know what all is going on at this point, I do talk about it and my Zodiacathon vlog just because I started this
book for that read-a-thon. But I do plan on at least making a wrap-up video for this book, because it’s really great so far. The next book that I have that I would like to read is After Silence: A History of AIDS Through Its Images by Avram Finkelstein. And, like the title said, it looks at a lot of the art from the time and a lot of the symbols that are used. Art became a really large part of the movement, especially within ACT UP and different things like that, so
that is a very important aspect to look at.

The next book that I have in this TBR is The Secret Epidemic: The Story of AIDS and Black America by Jacob Levinson. So this actually looks at AIDS within the Black community, which is really important because a lot of people talk about how HIV and AIDS impacted the gay community, but they don’t talk about its effects on people of color – even though the people who are most at risk today in the United States are Black gay and bisexual men. So, I thought this was really important to have on here. This is one of the few books that I have on here that actually looks at race and I am definitely trying to find more books to add to this.

The next book that I have on this list is Patient Zero and The Making of the AIDS Epidemic by Richard McKay. In this, Richard McKay asks the question “why are so people focused on this idea of patient zero? Why do we need to know exactly who it came from and where it came from?” This wasn’t really a focus early on. It wasn’t until the 90s that people were more focused on who exactly had it first and where it came from as kind of a primary question. And this book basically looks at why people even started asking that question in the first place. So, I’m really interested to see that. I think that this has the potential to tell us a whole lot about stigma and how that’s related to HIV and AIDS and specifically how the stigma was
at that particular time.

And that leads us really well into Susan Sontag’s work. Specifically, I have “Illness as Metaphor” and “AIDS and It’s Metaphors”, which also looks at stigma and illness. The first section of this doesn’t focus on AIDS at all as far as I know but it is an important precursor. She actually wrote this as a cancer patient. And this is more like, I said like, philosophy – kind of sociology ish – definitely a disability studies book. But I think this is gonna be super important in order to contextualize all the things that we’re going to be reading about – or that I’m going to be reading about.

And the final book that I have on this list is Voices in the Band by Susan Ball. This is part memoir and part medical history. This looks at how the AIDS diagnosis went from being basically a death sentence to actually being something that’s manageable, So whereas most of the stuff that I’m looking at is just 80s and 90s, this goes from there to more modern day. Which, you know I am focused more on the earlier end but I think this is still going to be an important piece. And it still also talks about this end. I also desperately need a book that’s at least a little bit happy, so I think that being able to see how it progressed to something that’s at least a little bit better will be important.

Out of all these books that I have, I have one book that focuses on African-Americans, none that focus on any other people of color, and none that acknowledge trans people. These are holes that I’m desperately trying to fill. I have spent probably way too much time trying to research books and figure out what would be best to read because something that doesn’t get talked about a lot is the fact that people color at risk and trans people are at risk. I don’t think that that last one is even something that’s really acknowledged very well within the United States. Even today, trans people are ignored in a lot of these conversations about HIV and AIDS. They are definitely ignored historically. There are a number of important trans figures who did have HIV and AIDS and they did a lot of different things for the whole LGBT community throughout the course of their lives. Of course, it’s hard to find books about them – it’s certainly hard to find a book that focuses on what they did in terms of helping the fight against AIDS. So, all that is to say there is this glaring hole in my reading list – there also appears to be a glaring hole in accessible literature.

I will continue to look for things to add that would kind of fill this void and if anyone has suggestions definitely let me know in the comments. If you’ve read any of the books on this list, let me know what you thought about them. And if there are any of these books in particular that you think I should read first, let me know.Thank you all for watching! Bye.

New TBR Format || Topical TBRs (2 April 2020)

This is a transcription of my New TBR Format video.

Hey! Welcome to Moony reads. My name is Bek and today I wanted to talk a little bit about my TBRs. I’m going to be changing up how I do my TBRs a little bit. I mentioned this in my April TBR video.

Really, the popular TBR format doesn’t work super well for me. I like the idea of having a list. I like the idea of order, but I just always end up not really following it. So I’ve decided to change up how I’m organizing stuff a little bit. I’ve separated some of my books by topic,
forming ongoing TBRs. My plan is to pick one book every month or sometimes every other month (we’ll see kind of how that works) from each of these different lists to read. Having things organized by topic gives me I think a structure that’s more useful than just “I’m gonna read these each month”.

So, I actually have a little bit more of a goal in mind with these TBRs. I will still use them to inform monthly TBR’s but my monthly TBRs are gonna look a lot smaller because they are mostly going to be from these lists. I may add a couple of other books kind of just depending on what’s going on. But for the most part, I want to give myself more space to kind of read as I go, just because that’s how I tend to work.

So, over the next little while you will see a number of TBR lists. Each of these different lists is going to have an overarching topic. Most of the books within these will be nonfiction – although there is a chance for some fiction within some of these. The TBR lists that I’m putting together at the moment include: the history of HIV and AIDS activism, LGBT history, race and history, leftist books, and theology books (the majority of my theology books are going to be centering liberation theology and queer theology).

Now, there is certainly a chance that other topics are going to pop up. I do have a number of different types of feminist books that I need to get through, so there’s a chance for a Gender Studies TBR at some point. I also have an awful lot of memoirs. I don’t really know if I’m going to do that. We’ll just see how this works. This is an ever-changing kind of process. I’m trying to figure out what’s going to work best for me.

But if you have any book recommendations for things that would fit within those topics that I mentioned, definitely let me know. If any of those topics is particularly interesting to you and you want to hear more about those books, also let me know about that.

Now, even now a lot of this is going to be nonfiction centered, I’m still going to be reading a lot of fiction and a lot of graphic novels. I’m just not going to be pre-planning that as much. So a lot of this is really for myself and figuring out what way I read best.

Hopefully at least somebody finds it a little bit interesting maybe your brain works similarly to mine and can get something out of this. I’m mostly making this video so they you all know
kind of what to expect. You can expect these topical TBR’s. You can still expect monthly TBR’s (but like I said they’ll be a little bit shorter). I’m also going to continue to have monthly wrap-ups, but I’m also going to make videos that are specifically to wrap up and update the topical TBR’s. So, I will likely go more into detail on those books during those wrap ups.

So, let me know if you have questions or book recommendations and like always, thank you all so much for watching. Bye!

April TBR || National Poetry Month (2 April 2020)

This is a transcription of my April TBR video.

Hey! Welcome to Moony Reads. My name is Bek and today I’m going to be talking about my April TBR.

Now, I am working towards kind of changing the way that I’m doing my TBR’s just because in the past I’ve given myself a whole lot of books and I end up not really getting through all of them. So I’m going to change it a little bit. It’s going to be mostly normal this month, but what I’m going to be doing going forward is that I’m going to have lists of ongoing TBR’s that I’m interested in that are going to be topical. I’m going to make videos for those and once I have those established, I’m going to try to pick a book from each of those TBR’s each month. We’ll see how that goes. It’s still sort of up in the air. So if you see other TBR videos after that, that’s what those are. I’ll probably still put monthly TBR videos up but most of what I choose from is going to be from already established TBR’s if that sort of makes sense. There will also be kind of random books thrown in here and there, but I don’t really want to put in too many of those just because I’m the kind of person that likes the idea of having a TBR. I like the idea of order, but what actually ends up happening is that I just kind of gravitate towards whatever I want to read at the time. So, the TBR makes me feel nice and warm and fuzzy for a little bit, but I don’t actually follow it – so I’m gonna change the way that I do them and see if I can find something that actually fits me and is useful.

However, this month we’re mostly following the old format. Still, I have tried to limit the amount that I’ve put on here. If you look at the number of books on this TBR, it seems kind of about the same as the other ones, however most of the books on this are either graphic
novels or poetry books. So, looking word count-wise, it’s actually quite a bit shorter. generally speaking, this month I am going to try to focus more on poetry because it is National Poetry Month.

In general, I’m sort of surprised that I don’t see more about poetry on booktube. I think it’s mostly because I like poetry, so I would assume that other people would too. I really do hope that I see more people post about it. I’ve only seen one or two a kind of poetry TBR-oriented videos. Even if you aren’t the type of person that usually reads poetry, I would highly encourage you to do so. I know Scribd has a lot on there that’s poetry. Some of the stuff that I will be talking about, I’m going to be reading on Scribd. Now I’ll get into the books that I’m actually going to read this month.

The first book the first book that I have is How to Cure a Ghost by Fariha Roisin. This book is about the author’s experiences as a queer femme Muslim. It looks really good. And the cover is really what caught my eye and made me look at it in the first place. So, I’m excited for this. Kind of a common thread that you’ll see in most of these poetry books is that a lot of them are about the queer experience. That, I guess, is just the poetry that I’m interested in reading, so it’s a lot of what you’ll see.

Here, next, we have Take Me With You by Andrea Gibson. If you’ve seen a lot of my other videos you’ll know that I adore Andrea Gibson. I have not read this particular book by them yet, so I’m excited about it.

How Poetry Can Change Your Heart is another book written by Andrea Gibson but also alongside Megan Falley. This looks just really great in general. This is one of the few that isn’t kind of about the queer experience. I guess it’s more like meta about poetry. I’m super excited about it – I’m super excited about all of these. I keep repeating myself. That’s fine.

Next, I have Homie Danez Smith. I read Don’t Call Us Dead in February and that book was so incredible. I don’t really have words for it. so I’m really looking forward to Homie, which is their most recent book.

The next poetry book that I have that I want to complete this month is If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho. I mean, it’s ancient gay classic literature. I haven’t really read a whole lot of Sappho. This book looks really big, but like the title says, a lot of these poems are written in fragments. Part of that has to do with, I guess maybe, the nature of her writing – but really the majority of it is just the way that the documents were. For a lot of these, actual paper that they were on was damaged. This version is really neat. It has the original right besides the translated version, which – not that I know Greek whatsoever – but it’s still really interesting to see. I don’t know, but it looks really neat and I’m looking forward to it.

The next books that I have, I will be reading through Scribd. So, I will just put a picture of the covers up for you all to see. So, first we have Tonguebreaker. Leah is an LGBT activist and a disability rights activists and she’s written on those sorts of issues, as well as the issues of racism and colonialism and her own experiences as an autistic femme. I’ve really wanted to look into Care Work and other things that they have on disability studies, so it’ll be neat to be able to read kind of the poetry first and see where they’re coming from and then getting to actually read those other works at some point as well.

The next poetry book that I’ll be reading is Even This Page is White by Vivek Shraya. Vivek is a trans writer and singer. She’s got a lot of different books out that I saw and a lot of them looked really interesting and that’s one that I’ll be starting with.

Next, we have Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Tristan Mateer, which is a retelling of Greek mythology to talk about various types of love. I thought that would sort of be interesting to look like maybe alongside Sappho. I know they won’t be directly connected because this is looking at mythology whereas Sappho is, like, an actual historical figure. But I still thought that it would be nice to read them side-by-side just to see if I get anything else out of it.

And then the final poetry book that I have is feeld by Jos Charles. This book, from what I can tell, it definitely looks at gender but it also looks at language and kind of the missing role of language historically. I don’t know how far it goes into that. But that is 100% up my alley. That is kind of my research interests. So I have really high hopes for that one.

Next I’m going to be talking about a few graphic novels that I plan to read this month. Similarly to the poetry books, I tend to go through graphic novels pretty quickly. I only have four here that I’ll be talking about. There is a chance that I’ll end up reading more. I do have an awful lot on my kind of nebulous like “I want to read this” list. But there are four in particular that I’m going to be focusing on this month.

The first is The Deep and Dark Blue, which came out this year. It is a dystopian children’s literature graphic novel. The main characters are a set of twins and they are going on some sort of adventure to try to fix whatever is going on. But throughout the course of this they, have to dress up as women and one of the two siblings ends up figuring out through the course of the book that this is actually how they want to be. They end up finding their gender figuring out their gender through this adventure. So, it looks really promising. The art looks super awesome – just to give you an idea. This one was definitely an impulse buy. I
saw it when I was rearranging stuff at the bookstore that I work at and I just I read the back and I had to buy it. So, I’ll be reading that this month.

The next two books, I bought in late December/ early January. They’re the beginnings of a couple of series that I’ve really been wanting to look into the first is Snotgirl. I don’t really know a ton about this. I know that she’s supposed to be a fashion blogger. There might be murder involved. It was recommended to me as a good queer graphic novel/comic series that I should get into. So I’m excited about it.

Next, we have Paper Girls, which is kind of an adventure series with supernatural elements. The artwork also looks really awesome. So I’m looking forward to that.

And the final graphic novel I have was on my list last month to read and it’s one that’s super hyped. It’s Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. If you’ve been on any part of bookish internet, you’ve probably seen Heartstopper. It looks incredibly cute and fluffy, which is exactly my type of graphic novel.

Next, I do have a fiction novel that I want to get to this month. That is Nevada by Imogen Binnie. This was one of the possibilities on my TBR last month. I did not get to it but I really want to, so this is high up on there.

The other fiction book that I want to get to is one that I started last month. If I had to guess I’ll probably finish this within the first week of this month because I’m already almost halfway done with it and I started it for the queer lit read-a-thon, which was over the course of a weekend. So, I read about half of this book in two days, alongside other works as well. That’s The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez. This is a gay vampire story. Some of the stuff that I read online said that it was kind of one of the precursors to Afrofuturism. It definitely does a whole lot, kind of, turning some of the stereotypes about vampires on its head and it like already. In the book so far has talked a lot about kind of colonialism and slavery and the nature of human morality. So, I’m excited to finish it.

And finally we have some nonfiction. The one memoir that I would like to read this month is Laura Jane Grace’s memoir Confession of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout. I thought this kind of fit in with Poetry Month as well because Laura Jane Grace is the singer, she’s a songwriter. I absolutely love what she does she’s in the band Against Me!. So, I’ve been looking forward to this for a good while now and hopefully I can get to it this month.

Finally, then, I have two kind of academic-related nonfiction texts. The first one is Race Matters by Cornel West. This is sort of a classic must-read for critical race theory. I’ve been wanting to read this for a really long time. We talked about Cornel West some and the race class that I took and I’ve read books that he’s had, like, introductions and and stuff like that
and I’ve read excerpts. But I want to actually read all of this book. This one is pretty small, so I think that it’s reasonable to get through this month.

And the final book is one that I plan on working on this month. I’m not sure if I would say that I’m going to finish it, just because it is so large. And that is Moving Politics. I started reading this last month during the Zodiacathon and I got through the first third of the book or so. This is about ACT UP, which was an organization created in the late 80s to fight against HIV and AIDS If you want to know more about my thoughts on it so far, I did talk about it kind of extensively in my Zodiacathon vlog. This is super great so far and I’m really looking forward to delving more deeply into it.

I am definitely going to be focused on poetry I’m going to try to have a few different videos where I talk about some of the poetry that I’m reading. Hopefully I’ll get to some of the other poetry that I want too, that’s maybe not mentioned in here. Really, I had a hard time not just going through all of the poetry that I want to read because I have at least five other poetry books sitting on my bookshelf that I am super super excited about reading, and then a few other ones that I’m slightly less excited about reading but I would still be intrigued to look into this month.

So, in the comments below let me know what your favorite poetry book is or the poetry books that you plan on reading this month. Thank you all so much for watching. Bye!

March Wrap Up || Women’s History Month Readathon, Zodiacathon, and Queer Weekend (2 April 2020)

This is a transcript for my March wrap-up video.

Hi! Welcome to Moony Reads. My name is Bek and today I’m going to be talking about all of the books that I read in the month of March.

As you all might know, March was Women’s History Month. So, I tried to focus some of what I was reading on that. My goal was to read only books written by female authors. I didn’t totally do that – there were two exceptions. But for the majority of the month, I did hit that. And I didn’t read anything written by male authors. I mean that wasn’t clearly totally the goal, but there’s at least that. The majority of the point of kind of centering women authors is because they didn’t get that sort of attention before. So I don’t think that reading a couple of non-binary people in the midst of all that is the worst thing I could have done. But I also want to be clear that I don’t lump women and non-binary people together. I just incidentally ended up reading those books. I will actually talk about those two books first and then I’ll get into everything else in roughly chronological order of when I read it.

I did participate in some various readathons and things like that. I tried to do some of the prompts for the Women’s History Month read-a-thon. I also participated in the Zodiacathon and the Queer Weekend that’s held by the Queer Lit Read-a-thon and I’ll talk about which of those books I used for those when I get to them.

The first one of those books that did not fit into my goal that I read this month was Pansy by Andrea Gibson. I have talked a whole lot about how much I love Andrea Gibson. Honestly I needed kind of a comfort read. I was already looking into them because of one of the other videos that I put up, so of course I started to watch more of their performances, which I’ve done before but – I don’t know I just had a really big urge to read their books. So, I reread Pansy.

The other book that I read by a non-binary author this month was Upright Women Wanted. I absolutely fell in love with this book. The reason that I ended up reading it was because it was the Queer Lit Read-a-thon’s Queer Weekend and I was trying to think about what audiobook I could listen to out of all of the different audiobooks that I have saved on Scribd and I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that I was only reading women authors. I was only think about Queer Weekend and I was looking at “okay so what queer books do I have?” And of course Sarah Gailey is a queer author. So I ended up starting it and it didn’t hit me until I was about a quarter the way through that “oh wait a minute! I’m only supposed to be reading women authors.” But I was already too far in. I was really really loving it, so I just decided to finish it anyways. Honestly Upright Women Wanted was
everything that I didn’t know that I needed. I’ve never really considered reading a Western other than just to see what it was about ’cause I don’t really get it, but this book was perfect… I mean I don’t think that there is a bad way to elevator pitch this book, honestly. It’s a bunch of queer librarians secretly undermining a fascist regime. There is no way that this book was going to be bad, but I just didn’t know if it would be one that I’d be into because of the genre. But it was perfect.

One of the many great things about this book, too, is that there is actual polyamorous representation and that is something that I have been really searching for. I think that I mentioned that in Little and Lion, which I read last month, there was mention of polyamory. There is a secondary character who described herself as polyamorous and it was kind of working through that and it was seen as a legitimate option and that was nice. In this book, it’s also a secondary character who’s polyamorous, but it’s not in the figuring out phases. There just happens to be a lesbian throuple within the book. So I was super excited about that. They also mentioned casually one of the other characters experiencing compersion, so that was awesome. If anybody knows of any other books with good polyamorous rep, please put them into the comments because I need them. but Upright Women Wanted was an absolute treat. I gave it four and a half stars only because it was so short. Short books aren’t bad, but I read that book and I wanted it to be a whole series, like I wanted it to be just the beginning. But, yes, it was really wonderful.

Going back and talking about kind of the other books that I read all or part of, the first book that I finished this month was: On the Come Up, which I had started to listen to last month. I read a little bit I’ve got this ARC, but I did mostly listen to it on audiobook. It was really good. I gave it four and a half stars. There is a lot of good social commentary and a diversity on some of the opinions that they’re kind of talking about and commenting on. I don’t know. I really enjoyed it I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Hate U Give, but that’s a pretty high bar. I’d definitely recommend it, though.

The next book that I read some of this month was The Face in the Mirror by JT Collins. I read part of this book and I put it down. I don’t think it’s one that I’m going to permanently DNF, but it’s certainly one that I’m gonna sit down for a minute. I bought this book during a pride event. There was a small publisher. I think a lot of their books focus on LGBT people. There were a lot of lesbian novels there and I ended up buying (I think) three of them. And this was one it’s about a girl who is figuring herself and trying to come out in a family that does a lot of missionary work in Africa. So, she’s kind of in this very conservative home that’s kind of isolated. And I do want to finish this book. There are just several things that made me sort of uncomfortable that surrounded, kind of, the missionary work. A couple of comments that, like, offhandedly kind of dehumanized people. And there is a chance that throughout the course of the book maybe she talks about this. I don’t know but I don’t really want to finish it right now. Like, I do want to give it a chance but I don’t know. I will read this at some point. I did start it this month, so I wanted to talk a little bit about it though.

Now, onto the first book that I actually actually started and finished this month: Kase-San and an Apron. I also read and finished Kase-San and Cherry Blossoms. I actually did a review for the first section of the series. It was adorable and gay. Definitely a very sweet read. Gay fluff is definitely one of the things that is a comfort read for me and I really needed that. I definitely recommend this if you’re in the market for kind of more relationship/romantic yuri. These Kase-San books (both of them, although I really only needed one of them) fit a prompt for the Women’s History Month read-a-thon, and that is to choose a book that set outside of the United States. These are set in Japan.

The next book that I have is a graphic novel and that is Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valerie-O’Connell. This book, I used as a part of the Women’s History Month read-a-thon; and I used it to fulfill the prompt “to read a book written by at least two female authors.” I gave this book five stars. It gave me a lot of different feelings. This is another gay graphic novel, but while the Kase-San series is definitely high fluff, this one was not. It definitely talks about relationships – and it talks about toxic relationships and how they can exist even for queer people, which is a theme that we’ll get into and another one of these books later. To start off, with the artwork is absolutely beautiful. The way that they use color, they only use pink throughout the whole thing – the rest of it is black and white, which I thought was really interesting and it made for some really beautiful stuff. But also, the way that they handle the issues in this is really wonderful. It hit home for me in a lot of ways. I had had this book at high school or even in early college, I think that I would have possibly been able to do some things differently in my own life. And that’s not even with it being, like, a gay couple because that was not my circumstance with me and the person that I was with. But, just this idea of not having to put up a certain behavior… I think that it’s additionally important because it’s, kind of, in a queer context. Also, I absolutely adored her best friend in this. Doodle has my entire heart.

The next book that I’m going to be talking about flows from Laura Dean very well. And that is In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. This is the best book that I have read all year. I absolutely love this book. It is a memoir. So, this book focuses on the author’s experience in an abusive relationship – and in an abusive queer relationship. A lot of it is told in second person. Each of the chapters are very small. You kind of get fragments of their relationship and kind of intermittently there are some first-person pieces that kind of situate this societally. Throughout, she talks about how other queer women have been in these situations and have been overlooked by the law and all of that and kind of contextualizes herself. The experience reading this book was just absolutely incredible. It’s an important book to read in general, but it also – I don’t know. I just I felt it on a really deep level. I highly highly recommend this book. This was one of those five star reads that I wish could be like a six star. It’s that good. It also filled the prompt for the Women’s History Month read-a-thon for a memoir or biography.

The next book I read, I actually listened to on audiobook. And that is Kings Queens and In-betweens by Tanya Boteju. I used this to complete a prompt in the Women’s History Month read-a-thon and that was to read something written by an indigenous author. I really did not enjoy this book. Really, the beginning of the book was very two star for me. Towards the end, there was a lot of three-star stuff – maybe even glimpses of four-star. But there were just some things in this book that just really sat with me the wrong way. So, throughout the book, the main character ends up getting this best friend who’s a transgender woman. There
are a couple things that are wrong with this character.

First of all you, don’t really know that she’s a trans woman until – or at least I didn’t even figure out that she was a trans woman until a decent way past when we met her. She was framed as a drag queen, which of course you can be a drag queen and a trans woman, but at no point in the book that they really differentiate the difference between the two of them. I think they kind of played with talking about the difference, but, like, if I had been totally unaware, I would think that they were the same thing. The other thing that was wrong with that character is that it heavily plays upon the “trans fairy godmother” sort of trope. Like, she’s there but she’s there to fix things and she’s not really there to be her own character. She does have some details. Like, you do get to know some things about her, but she is mostly there for plot convenience. I think if she wasn’t there, a lot of the story wouldn’t have happened which isn’t inherently a bad thing. But it absolutely plays into tropes that have been identified and it was just really unfortunate.

Now, the bigger problem that I had was that the main character (who is 17) sneaks into various adult spaces in order to engage with what she’s engaging with. So, the drag shows that she goes to initially are 18 and up. There’s alcohol there and some of the stuff is a little bit more sexual. And really, while she’s in these adult spaces she’s also talking to adults and flirting with adults and getting relationships with some adults – some of them friend relationships and some of them not. And it just made me really, really deeply uncomfortable. There is easily a way that this book could have been done that did not include the minor sneaking into adult spaces and drinking and engaging in all this other stuff. Just making her a college student, it would not have changed very much. She could still live at home. She could still be going to, like, a local two-year college. And it wouldn’t make me feel so gross. I just couldn’t really deal with that, to be honest. So, I ended up giving this book two-and-a-half stars.

The next book that I read was A Blade So Black by LL McKinney. This book fit the Women’s History Month read-a-thon prompt of “a retelling” because A Blade So Black is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland that’s more modern. It was also the first book that I read for the Zodiacathon. It fit the prompt for my sign, which was my Lilith sign which was to read a book “that takes place not in our world”. It’s also one that I was buddy reading, which was the second prompt for the Zodiacathon. I talk more in depth about this book in my Zodiacathon reading vlog. Overall, it was a pretty okay book. It didn’t really send me. I kind of didn’t love the pacing and there was also some relationship stuff that made me feel a little bit weird. I’m not really a huge fan of love triangles and the mentor/mentee thing that it was hinting at also makes me deeply uncomfortable. So, I ended up giving this three stars – a very, like, ambivalent three stars.

The next book that I started reading again for the Zodiacathon was Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UPs Fight Against AIDS by Deborah Gould. This fit the Zodiacathon prompt to “pick something with dark themes” and “something that scares you.” It also hit the prompt for “a mostly black cover.” Again, if you watch my reading vlog, you can find out more about it. I only got about a third of the way through, but it is a really fantastic book. It’s one that I’m looking forward to reading the rest of. If I start rambling about it, it’ll make this video exponentially longer. So check out the reading vlog if you’re interested in this. It is a nonfiction, very kind of academic sociology/political science book. But it is really wonderful so far.

The next book that I read was The Midwinter Witch by Molly Ostertag. This is the third and The Witch Boy trilogy. I read this, like I said, for Zodiacathon. It fit the “mostly black cover” prompt and also technically the “dark themes” prompt. This also covered – for the Women’s History Month read-a-thon, it covered to “choose a book with a female villain.” I loved this book so much. Like I said, I have a full review for it. But I’m obsessed. This is a middle grade graphic novel. It’s super cute and it hits on so many important things. I implore you to check out The Witch Boy trilogy because it is just absolutely everything.

Next, I’m going to be getting into some books that I read for the Queer Weekend. The first one is one that I started, I didn’t quite get to finish. I plan on finishing next month. And that is The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez. This is a queer vampire book. It has a lot of commentary on colonialism and different things like that. It’s really interesting so far.

The next two books that I read for the Queer Lit read-a-thon were the Lumberjanes volumes 1 & 2. I would also say that that covers the Women’s History Month read-a-thon prompt to “choose a book that somebody’s debut” If Goodreads is correct, it was Shannon Waters and Grace Ellis’s first book. Certainly it’s the first book where all of the author’s collaborated together. So, hopefully that counts. I really loved the first two Lumberjanes books. It was really cute and wholesome. I liked the format that they did. They kind of break up the little episodes by putting a page of the Lumberjanes (which is basically like a Girl Scouts) handbook. So most of the things that they do involve or are in the same vein as one of the patches that they can get. So they give you a little description of how to get the patch and then it shows you their little adventure. There’s also an overarching plot line that was really interesting as well. I ended up giving those two 4 stars.

I’ve already mentioned Upright Women Wanted; I read that for the Queer Lit read-a-thon.

The final book that I read for the Queer Lit read-a-thon was Wandering Son vol 2. Now, I talked about reading vol 1 and I absolutely adored it. It’s a slice-of-life manga about a trans boy and a trans girl who are best friends. And it starts with them in fifth grade and they’re figuring themselves out they have another best friend who’s helping them too. And it’s just super cute. And a lot of those things carried through to the second one. They also hit on some important things like bullying in a really realistic way. I think my most favorite moment from the whole thing was when this bully calls the main character an obscene name and the best friend basically she goes and just dumps a whole tray of food on his head. Honestly that was just great. However, I couldn’t really give this a star rating because there were some elements in this that I just am deeply uncomfortable with and if it’s not resolved in subsequent volumes, I don’t really know what I’m gonna do with myself. This is technically a little bit spoilery, so I’ll put a time stamp so that you can skip past it. Really I’m not gonna try to put in a whole bunch of details. The two of them end up meeting this older trans woman. They meet her at, like, some sort of restaurant and they become friends with her, which could be cool – maybe a little bit weird. It’s like an adult just making friends with random, like, fifth graders – or sixth graders at this point. But, it does make kind of a creepy turn. [–End spoiler]

And I just if they don’t resolve this and figure this out, I don’t think I can continue this series. Which really sucks because the rest of it is so good. Not only that, but I have a number of volumes sitting on my shelf. So, I kind of feel like I have to read it. But if it gets too weird, I’m gonna have to drop it which really really sucks. I didn’t expect that at all because I’d seen the anime. Granted, the anime only covers – I don’t think it covers the first couple of volumes, just because of where it starts out there’s less of a focus on kind of the best friend. So I guess it probably starts at volume three or four. I’m not totally sure, but I was just really upset about that. So I hope that this resolves itself, as it would be a really cute series if they had cut out the creepy people. Which, I guess the same thing can be said about a lot of other things.

The final book that I read this month is The Words Don’t Fit in My Mouth by Jessica Care Moore. This book fits in with the Women’s History Month read-a-thon prompt of “a book that has less than a thousand ratings on Goodreads”. And this, overall, was a really good book. It’s a poetry book that was written in the late 1990s. And a lot of it just in general is focused on the experience of being a Black woman. There are some things where she, like, focuses more on gender or more on race or focuses more on politics – and of course we’re all of those overlap. Alongside those things she also talks about grief in several of her poems – specifically looking at her dad. I really enjoyed it. I think that there were some that I was like less stoked about than others, but I mean there’s a lot of pretty brilliant wordplay and stuff like this. I think most of the maybe more ambivalent feelings that I felt about some of it might be the age of it a little bit. There were still, you know, a couple of poems that really hit me. I think that in most poetry collections, there are some of those that kind of stand out. I also started to look into seeing her performing these. There are some videos of her doing some of these online and that was really interesting too. Kind of, one of the few negative things about this is that there is a little bit of, like, slut shaming. Which, again, I think that’s probably what I was getting at when I was talking about the age of it. That might not be something that she would incorporate were she writing today. So, that was kind of a problem. I enjoyed this. Like I said, I gave it four stars.

So, those are all the books that I read for the month of March. If you’ve read any of them, let me know what you thought about them down below. Like always, thank you all so much for watching. Bye!

Zodiacathon: Dark Edition Vlog || Lilith in Pisces (27 March 2020)

This is a transcription of my Zodiacathon vlog from March.

Image description: a sign sits between two stacks of books. It says “Moony Reads Zodiacathon Vlog”.

Hello and welcome to Moony Reads. My name is Bek and today I’ll be talking about what all I will be reading for the Zodiacathon. As far as I know, it’s a reading challenge that happens every year and they base it around one of your zodiac signs. This year they’re doing it based off of your Lilith sign.

I wasn’t familiar with what a Lilith sign was before. So kind of looking into this challenge, I know very basic – like sun moon rising – kind of astrology, but not very much past that. So I thought that I would look to see kind of what my Liltih sign was and what that even means to begin with. And what I found was that my Lilith sign is Pisces, which is the same as my Sun Sign which I thought was a little bit weird. But I don’t really know necessarily how the stars work. I’m guessing that since I’m a zero degrees Pisces, maybe like the rest of it is wherever Lilith is supposed to be. I really don’t know, but I’m going to defer to the astrologers of the internet. One website that I found said that people with a Lilith in Pisces “have a fascination with self-sacrifice and blending into others.” And as a type 9 on the enneagram, I feel attacked. But it also says that Lilith “gives these people the ability to feel connected with everything, even their deepest thoughts and cosmic soul. These people are often midwives, prophets, and wise men or women. However they may also perceive life as suffering and succumb to various dubious mystical ways that they believe bring mysterious abilities or heal people.” I don’t really know what to make of that. I am in my head a whole lot and I cry a lot but I thought that was just because I was a Pisces sun and an Aquarius moon and being stuck in your own head while also being emotional kind of makes sense.

According to good old Astro Cafe with its birth chart, it says that people with Lilith and Pisces “may have felt ashamed or off for being needy compassionate or wishy-washy for their spiritual side and this person can feel uncomfortable or annoyed with people who resist labels who are not very assertive or ready to take the lead. Denying these very human traits in themselves can lead to extreme behaviors. Self-acceptance, integration of these traits, and moderation can be empowering.” I’ve got to say none of this is technically wrong because I definitely do feel bad for feeling wishy-washy or feeling too much a lot of the time. And I would say, you know, most of the time I don’t feel like mad at people for not being assertive. But then again the reaction that I had to the main character in Kings Queens and In-betweens for being like that might indicate otherwise. So who knows.

But now that we know kind of what my little sign is, I can’t say I understand anymore. If any bigger astrology gays than I have more input, please put it down below.

So now I’m gonna actually get into the books that I will be reading. Now the thing you have
to know about this book list is that I may not get through all of them. For this, what I’m going to do is I’m going to tell you about each of these books in order of priority or probably in the order that I’m going to be reading them. Some of these books cover more than one challenge, so hopefully I can still get through this having done something that completes each challenge. Ideally I’d like to read a book for each challenge. So I’ve got a TBR but whether or not I’m gonna totally finish it is a little bit up in the air, but we’re gonna cross our fingers and hope.

So, the first book that I’m focusing on is A Blade So Black by LL McKinney. I’m gonna be buddy reading this with a lovely person that I found on the Zodiacathon’s Twitter page. Not totally sure if they’re okay with being mentioned in a YouTub video, but if they are okay with it I will be putting their information in the description below. A Blade So Black is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland that’s a little bit more modern. That’s basically all the information that I have on the book. It sounded interesting. It’s also technically fits the reading challenge that they put up for people whose Lilith is in Pisces and that is to “read a book that takes place not in our world.” I definitely think that Wonderland is not of our world.

The next book that I will be reading and prioritizing for this read-a-thon is Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight Against AIDS. This one is hefty. I’m putting this as number two right now, but depending on how much I feel like reading nonfiction, I may put this slightly towards the end just because I might want to get through more books. But maybe that’s silly. This book looks at the development of ACT UP and kind of the role that emotion plays and how it also led to some of the pitfalls in the group. I think it looks super interesting and I’m excited about it. This book fits into Reading Challenge number three which is to “read a book with a mostly black cover”. I think that it also fits reading challenge number four which is to “read a book with dark themes.”

So the next book in this stack that I have is The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez. This is a gay vampire story with people of color. That’s basically all that I know about this. The little bit that I read online said that it kind of questions you’re the typical assumption about vampires and that they like lose morality. So maybe one of the characters in here is kind of not living up to that trope and because of that spin kind of on morality, I thought that it might cover prompt number six ,which is to “read a book with a morally grey character” because this character doesn’t fit the typical bill. Maybe there will be a morally grey character to go beside her. I don’t know because I haven’t read the book, which makes prompt number six really difficult. Sometimes you don’t know if there’s morally gray character if you haven’t read the book if it’s not super popular and on all the Goodreads
lists, it’s hard to really get it if it doesn’t fit with number six. It can definitely go with number five because vampires are scary. So there we go.

Next, I have The Midwinter Witch by Molly Ostertag. This is the third installment of The Witch Boy series. This is a super adorable series. It’s got like a trans allegory that goes on through the whole thing. I really adore it, but it’s gone in a slightly dark direction. Really the whole time there is this discussion of like bad magic or dark magic and I think this one kind of explores that a little bit more. Sort of hard to say because I haven’t read the book yet, so I am saying that this book will probably line up with number four, which is to “read something with dark themes.” If not I would say this cover is mostly dark, so it can go along with that one as well. Additionally with the dark magic and stuff like that, that kind of brings morally grey characters so that would probably fit with it as well.

The next book that I have is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. This one is definitely one that will fit for the Pisces prompt, which (again) was to read something that’s out of this world. I don’t know if it’ll fit any of the other prompts but I really wanted to read this. I don’t really know a whole ton about it. I know that a lot of Ursula Le Guin’s books hit on a lot of different queer themes, so I’ve really wanted to read her. This is basically like a space novel where the main character is going somewhere else in space to investigate. I think that the main character has like a more fluid gender and a lot of the same kind of prejudices against that kind of stuff aren’t apparent on the planet that he’s taking over. So I’m not really sure it happens, but it sounds cool and I’ve wanted to read it. So there you have it.

This next book, I really honestly don’t know if I’m gonna be getting to, but in the ideal world I would. If I don’t finish it within this week I will definitely be bringing it to the queer lit read-a-thon weekend which happens right after this. And that is Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I honestly don’t know how I haven’t read this yet because it was described to me as gay Harry Potter and that’s really the only thing that I think I need in my life. This technically fits because it’s got a morally grey character in there, according to the Internet. And since it’s a fantasy novel, it also technically fits in with Pisces. So depending on I guess my feelings, I may end up reading this before the Ursula Le Guin. We’ll just see how it goes.

I think I’m going to vlog my way through this reading challenge and this is the first time
that I have really vlogged as I’ve read before. So we’ll see how this goes. But thus far I’ve got to say I haven’t been doing very good. I ended up just doing a whole bunch of school stuff yesterday and yesterday was the first day of the challenge. I’ve gotten up through chapter 4 on the first book, so that’s progress at least. But these next few days, I won’t be doing too really much because of the whole social isolation thing. So I’ll probably have a lot of time to read. We’ll see how it goes.

[Scene Change: Bek is sitting far away from the book case]

So it is the 21st which, is day three of the read-a-thon, day two of me doing it. It is the morning though so there’s still a lot of today left. But I am on Chapter six – or I just finished chapter six last night – of A Blade So Black. I’m waiting on my buddy reader before I go further, but I’m still not a hundred percent on how I feel about it.

I do really like the integration of the kind of intense fantasy along with the real life situations. I do like that they’re hitting on some of the issues that they’re hitting on. But I’m not really sure how much I like the romance that they’ve added. I feel like they’ve shoehorned in two different romances and I personally am NOT a fan of most love triangles so we’ll see how this goes.

I’m about to start a little bit of Moving Politics this morning. So yeah – oh and I wanted to point this out during my intro vlog, but since the theme is dark, I intentionally wore my weeping angel shirt. So I thought that that was appropriate. But yeah I’m gonna get some kind of something caffeinated, read some, and let you know how it goes.

[Scene Change: Bek is at a different angle with a different shirt on.]

What day of the week is it even? does anybody know? I sure don’t.

It is technically Sunday morning, but I would be more inclined to call it Saturday night. I thought I would update. I’ve been mostly focusing on getting into Moving Politics. I’ve also been reorganizing my bookcase, as you can maybe see in the background. Hopefully there’s a video of that up before this comes out.

I am really enjoying Moving Politics. I’ve only gotten through the intro so far. So that is very small piece of the way through. It is page.. let’s see… page 47 out of, you know, 444 pages. So it’s gonna take me a while to get through this. There is a fair amount that’s more dense. This is definitely an academic text. I’m pretty sure this is someone’s dissertation that was turned into a book, or at the very least some other kind of academic project because they mentioned, I think board members or academic things towards the beginning of the text and it’s very clearly written as an academic text.

So a lot of this is really theory heavy, however when they focus on the history, there – the way that they talk about it, their kind of coverage and storytelling of it is really engaging.
There are pieces of it so far – just through the intro – where they’ve put in their own experiences and that is really well-written. And the way that they integrated is done very well. But a lot of what the introduction focused on was the framework that they’re going to use for looking at the specific social movement. They are looking at it in terms of emotion and effect (so basically emotions that they are aware of and can talk about and then affect which is emotions that you’re feeling but you might not necessarily articulate or be able to articulate). And it’s talking about how those emotions and affect impact social movements and social movements can also impact your affect or your emotions.

And that is super fascinating, but most sciences – and even within social sciences – a lot of people tend to downplay the role that emotion can play and there’s sort of this dichotomy of emotion and rationality, which is something that they hit on within this text. And that’s kind of a false dichotomy, so I really love this idea of doing this deep dive into specifically the roles that emotions are going to play within this. I would love to see more people kind of look into more modern movements in that regard too. Especially because some of the movements that you see that are more resistant to change have this mentality – there’s the phrase “facts don’t care about your feelings” or different things like that – so they’re very invested in this dichotomy. So it would be interesting to see what role emotion plays within that particular group of people. Especially considering the fact that they aren’t really in tune – so it would definitely be more focused on at least what Gould would call effect rather than emotions that they’re actually acknowledging.

Anyways that’s a tangent that is not what the book is about. It’s about the emotional aspect, but they’re looking at it in terms with ACT UP. And the bulk of the intro was focused on framework, but she does start off the book talking about ACT UP and then it kind of puts in little bits and pieces towards the end of the intro. She gets into it more. Really one of the things that really drew me in was when she talked about it at the beginning. The second subsection that she has in here on page six is “when your data make you cry”. She goes in and she actually talks about the emotional impact of this has on her. She was actually active in ACTUP, so it is very personal and she did know people who died from HIV and was fighting for them. So that brings a huge emotional layer to it and she talks about it openly, which is really the best thing that you can do when you’re studying something. First of all like as a scientist, I think that it’s better to be open and honest because when you pretend like you don’t have emotions, you don’t talk about them, that’s kind of when you create things that are biased without realizing it. But also I think that in general, emotions
aren’t talked about nearly as much as they need to be in terms of researchers’ emotions.

And this is something that I’ve talked about a whole lot because I do research with a group that I’m a part of. My research focuses on the LGBT community and, while her research is definitely obviously going to be an emotional topic because it’s about an illness, my research isn’t necessarily inherently emotional. I’m focused on language and how people use language, but within the interviews, people still end up revealing a lot of different things about themselves. People talked about having horrendously homophobic and transphobic family members, talking about even problems within the community where they feel isolated, and other sort of negative emotional things that they’ve dealt with – mental health problems – and as somebody who’s a part of that group, I can personally relate to some of it. And outside of that work, even before I was in grad school, I did a whole lot for the Transgender Day of Remembrance event that we were doing as a student group – as a part of the LGBT group. I was and I was the person who was researching names and throughout the summer I found over a thousand people. So needless to say that was a huge kind of emotional burden and it happened the same summer that the Pulse Shooting happened. So the fact that she pointed that out at all really resonated with me.

In that section she also goes into detail on kind of the different emotions that she experienced firsthand and how upfront the emotions – when she was actually in the event we’re different than afterwards. That’s not something that I personally experienced because I’ve never been in the position that she is, but again that’s just the intro so I’m I know that there’s going to be way more nuance and detail in it. Really I’m probably not doing the best job at summarizing this.

And she goes through and talks about a lot of the heavy theoretical stuff. At the end of the intro she talks about kind of the importance of acknowledging this history and talking about the significance and who is telling the story and that is key in the Gender Studies class that I teach. I really try to hammer home “who’s the person writing the history? whose perspectives are we hearing from?” and I really loved a lot of the ways that she talked about that also the significance of having the history itself. And with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, this is one of the things that I am going out of my way to try to learn more about because I just never learned anything about it. The closest thing to any kind of education on the HIV/AIDS epidemic that I had was when we would bring people in to do sex education at the LGBTQ Club. And then even then they would, you know, be talking about HIV and how not to get it and stuff like that but there wouldn’t be necessarily as much acknowledgement of the movement itself.

But as I’m looking into it more (I started with documentaries and then kind of went from there) but it’s almost like the more I learned, the more angry I get that I didn’t learn it in the first place. And I think that’s something that I’m finding that’s true with LGBT history in general and also details within the civil rights movement and various racial justice movements in general. People aren’t talking about them, despite the fact that it is so essential for history not to repeat itself and so that a lot of the people who did all of that didn’t do it in vain in a lot of ways. I think that there’s a lot of important stuff that can come from recognition.

I’m gonna read a quote from this particular part of the chapter. It’s on page 45.

“What we lose if the history of AIDS activism in this country is forgotten is the memory of a government of a wealthy ostensibly democratic country unmoved by the deaths of hundreds, thousands, and finally hundreds of thousands of its own inhabitants largely because the overwhelming majority of them were gay and bisexual men and the others were similarly expendable drug users as well as poor men and women at disproportionate numbers of whom were Black and Latino.”

That quote just for me carried a lot of meaning, especially I think, the fact that I’ve been looking at HIV/AIDS activism – certain things like that have a larger weight than they did
before.

So this book is going to be interesting. I definitely think that it’s going to be engaging so far as reading comprehension goes because parts of it are a little bit dense but it’s broken up enough that I know that the whole way through isn’t going to be as dense as the large theoretical kind of stuff that was part of the intro. But it’s also going to be very emotional. It’s gonna be hard but it’s sort of refreshing to be able to have those side-by-side. We’ll see how that goes.

[Scene Change: Bek is leaning against a window. Their head is now shaved and they have a different sweater on.]

Alright, so it is about 10 o’clock on the 22nd. The time that I have spent reading today, I’ve been working on A Blade So Black. not really sure there’s a whole lot I can say without being sort of spoiler-ey.

But overall it just seems very rushed. I think that — I’m not sure, I’ve probably said this already – but it almost feels like it needed like an extra few chapters beforehand or something. I know that there is the prologue and there was the bit of the year before that they talked about. But the relationships that they have building aren’t necessarily compelling to me. And I’m having kind of a little bit of a problem with the pacing. I feel like it’s sort of dragging. So kind of where I am at something big happened and the main character is having to figure out how to fix it, go to the person who has the thing that’s
supposed to fix the problem. And it just felt like it took forever for them to get there and I didn’t really get much out of the journey.

I don’t hate it. There’s nothing super wrong with it, but I’m not really in love with it either. But I’m only halfway through, so maybe the other half of the book will make up for it. We’ll kind of see where it goes. Hopefully I can get to a little bit of Moving Politics tonight.

And honestly I’ve been having an itch to actually read The Midwinter Winter, which I’ve been wanting to read it for a long time. But I did go through a number of graphic novels earlier in the month and I think maybe I want to go back to that a little bit. I think it’s just
because I enjoyed them so much. And I’m not been feeling the YA honestly.

A part of me wonders if I should just stop doing audiobooks, or at least YA audiobooks because a lot of them are really disappointing. Earlier this month I listened to Kings Queens and In-betweens and it just wasn’t great. There were actually some big problems with that. Last month, two of the three YA audiobooks that I listen to just weren’t very good or I was kind of disappointed with in one way or another. And I don’t think that it’s the format of audiobook altogether, because I loved Sing Unburied Sing; I loved Ghost Boys. But I think I’ve just been picking poor books, I guess, to listen to.

To clarify I’ve been listening to A Blade So Black on audiobook and I also have the Kindle version. So I’ve been listening some and then reading along with it. We’ll see how this goes. Hopefully it’ll pick back up.

[Slight scene change]

Image description: in a screenshot from the video, a grey tabby cat is now in the middle of the shot, rubbing against the camera.

[to cat] Did want to say hi too? No you just wanted love.

[Scene Change: Bek is in a different shirt in the same spot. The blinds in the background are now raised.]

So it is about 10:30 on the 23rd – 10:30 at night (clearly) [they point to the window, where it is dark outside]. Last night, I did not end up reading more of Moving Politics and I didn’t get a chance to read that much this morning because I think that I have completely messed up my sleeping schedule. I did wake up at 11, worked on a video, took a nap at 2:00, and didn’t wake up until 6:00pm. So that’s my life right now.

But I just started reading The Midwinter Witch. I’m already obsessed. Like, so, I’ve already read the first two books and the first two books were really adorable. But you know – I don’t know if I paid attention to the dedication of the other ones, so I’ll have to go back and see them. But the dedication alone – I don’t know if we can get that to focus – the dedication made me like tear up. [The dedication reads: “For witch boys, shifter girls, and those who are in between.”] So I don’t know what my problem is. I think the problem might be that I’m a water sign like in multiple ways.

So anyways – kind of going into the book, I’m really excited about it. I’m only about thirty pages, in but it’s really apparent that two characters like each other I think and I really hope that it happens. It’s literally the cutest. I’m super stoked for this and I have a feeling that I’m probably just going to want to reread the whole series and probably do a whole review video on it. I don’t really need to reread the series because I have read it pretty recently, but I think I’ll want to. So that’s where I am. Chances are I’ll probably end up reading the rest of this just kind of in one sitting so I will check back in when I’m done with that.

[Scene change: Bek is outside, sitting in the grass in front of bushes. They are wearing a different shirt, a floral hat, and the sun is shining.]

It is finally not raining outside so I am sitting out here reading. I just finished A Blade So Black and I’ve got to say the end definitely did pick up. I actually felt like emotional connection to the characters, which I hadn’t really been feeling as much the rest of the book (which is weird because usually I get a little bit too invested). Yeah the end definitely picked up. I’m not 100% sure if I’m gonna be reading the sequel or not.

As I was reading it, I tended to get a little bit lost as to who was in the room – which might just be me because I am having some concentration problems. I’m gonna get into some slightly spoilery territory here for a minute, so I’ll put the timestamp where that ends so that you don’t have to listen to that. I really doubt that I will end up reading the sequel largely because of the romance it ends up happening. I just can’t deal with mentor-mentee relationships for the most part and I really can’t do the, you know, centuries-old almost-immortal or actually immortal person with a teenager trope. I used to be able to read some of that when I was in high school. I was a fan of Twilight, there was another vampire series that I really liked that had some things in it that were maybe like that. But honestly, as an adult – like as a 27 year old, I don’t think that I could even fathom dating someone who is 18 or 19. So the idea of being 300 years old or whatever and trying to date a 17 year old is just kind of disgusting. I mean if you’re okay with reading that like that’s that’s you, but I just personally can’t do that. Yeah, I think that’s the only spoilery thing I’m gonna mention. I have other thoughts but I’ll just kind of leave it at that.

Overall, I would say this wasn’t a bad book. I definitely had critiques. There was nothing that stood out as like super problematic or anything like that. So I’d say it’s maybe maybe a three star read. Like, an ambivalent three star read. I wasn’t super stoked about a whole lot in it, but it also wasn’t terrible so yeah.

I’m probably gonna spend a decent chunk of the day reading more of Moving Politics out here. I also kind of want to do a few other things though too. I brought a few other things out here to to work on. I’ve got my reading journal that I’ll probably write in. So yeah I will
check back in at the end of the day.

[Scene change: Bek is back inside without the hat and wearing a sweater.]

Alright it is about 9 o’clock on the last day that I’ll be doing the read-a-thon. I’m almost to the end of page 150 and Moving Politics, which is about 25 pages away from the end of Part two. I might get a little bit more further in but I’m not too sure. I had some other things that I would like to do tonight.

The main focus in the chunk of the book that I’ve been reading since last time has been about really the big thing that made everything shift from respectability politics being at the center of most activism to direct action being at the center. A lot of it had to do with various political things that were happening within the government. She specifically cites Bowers vs Hardwick, which was a Supreme Court ruling that said that it was constitutional to ban gay sex – like specific, they specified within it “homosexual sodomy”, so it was specifically attacking them and they actually used religious and moral reasoning within the ruling, which shouldn’t be surprising but it still kind of is kind of shocking. That, alongside a bunch of other things that were going on and one of the big cities (in California I think), they were trying to or there was a group of people who were trying to get on the ballot a quarantine initiative for people with AIDS or people suspected to have AIDS. So people felt attacked by that as well as employment discrimination that was happening and laws that allowed employment discrimination for – or against people with HIV. So all of that together push people and she’s been talking about some of the specifics of how exactly that happened – the wording that people used, the role of the media played (specifically gay media).

So it’s really fascinating. As I’m reading this whole thing – all the time, when I’m learning new facts about different social movements that I feel really important, I get a little bit mad, too, that I didn’t already know this. Like, nobody told me what Bowers vs Hardwick was – I had no idea about it until I read this. And I was highly involved in LGBT organizations, we talked about the 2003 (I could totally be wrong on that I’ll have to look that up) but the ruling that deemed anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional. that happened in the 2000s, we mentioned that, we talked about that. Granted it was in the context of making a trivia game and doing a trivia game. But nobody ever talked about this one and I was always under the assumption that “Oh well that ruling was because all of these laws were put in in like the 1800s and sure people use them to discriminate against people in the 70s, but I mean certainly that didn’t happen anymore”. But seeing those laws, like, validated in like 1986 – like that’s wild. I don’t know. Go learn about some history that you didn’t know before. Teach your kids comprehensive history. That’s basically what’s on my mind while reading this.

Hopefully I’ll get to finish part two, but like I said I have other stuff that I want to do. I’ll mention it in the wrap-up if I do get to it. But that’s what I’ve gotten.

[Scene Change: Bek is back in front of their bookshelf. They have a different sweater and a beanie.]

Wrap-Up

So that was the Zodiacathon. To wrap up a little bit, I will cover the books that I read, what prompt they went with, and the rating that I ended up giving them.

First I had A Blade So Black, which covered my zodiac prompt – I’m a Pisces in Lilith, so I had to read a book that was not in our world. It also was my buddy read with someone of the same sign. I buddy read this with Elle – who, like I said, I met on the zodiacathon twitter page. I will put her Twitter and Instagram page in the description. I gave this kind of ambivalent three stars. I had a couple of hang-ups with it – nothing super problematic, it just wasn’t really my thing with some of the details.

The next book that I totally finished was The Midwinter Witch. That covered – I want to say, technically – the mostly black cover prompt and also definitely dark themes, because it does deal with things like homophobia and also I think stuff like depression and self-doubt as well. I gave this book 5 stars. I gave this whole series 5 stars. If you want to look at a more comprehensive review on that – especially since they kind of forgot to to wrap up when I finish this – I’ll post that link for you.

And the final book, I did not finish but I started for this and that is Moving Politics by Deborah Gould. This obviously fits the prompt for black cover, but I would say this also covers dark themes (like homophobia and indifference to justice), which also fits in with prompt number 5 which is something that scares you. This really does terrify me. Terrifies maybe the wrong word. It’s more of a mix of anger and sadness. Still dark emotions, even if it’s not scared. Anyways we don’t need to get super deep into that. We’re not gonna cry today – at least now right now. I think that once I get through with Moving Politics, I’m probably gonna do a whole video on it – at the very least a review video. I’ve also considered maybe doing a video where I break it down a little bit, especially since this is an academic text (it’s not super accessible). If you’d be interested in either of those, let me know down below. If nothing else, I’m definitely going to be putting a video together of books that are on this topic or similar topics at some point in the future – probably after I read a few more things. So, it’s kind of long term to look out for I suppose.

But the prompts that I didn’t get to – the only one that I didn’t hit – was a morally gray character, which I think that it depends on your definition of morally gray as to whether there were any in these books. Because there were some like bad guys who might seem like they might be good or have some sort of charm to them, but I don’t think that’s really morally gray to be honest.

So that is all for the Zodiacathon. I really enjoyed vlogging. I think probably because I don’t get to talk to people a whole lot about the stuff that I’m reading. I also really enjoyed the buddy read because of that as well.

If you have read any of these books, let me know what you thought about them in the
comments. If you participated in the Zodiacathin, let me know what you read. And if you plan on participating in any other readathons, let me know what they are.

As always, thank you so much for watching, Bye!

LGBTQIA+ Booktuber Tag (26 March 2020)

This is a transcription of my LGBTQ+ Booktuber Tag video.

Image Description: A sign sits on a stack of books. A small rainbow flag sits at the food of the sign. The background is the genderqueer flag. The sign says “Moony Reads LGBTQIA Booktuber Tag”.

Hi. Welcome to Moony Reads. My name is Bek and today I’m going to be doing the LGBTQIA+ Booktuber Tag.

The first question is “How do you identify?”

If you want to put it simply, I’m queer. Queer in a lot of different ways. If you wanted to look more specifically, I consider myself non-binary, genderqueer and then my sexuality is a little bit more up in the air. I previously identified as demisexual and pansexual but I’ve been having to work out some feelings because I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that I probably just don’t like men. So I don’t really know where that leaves me. So I like the word queer.

Question number two is “What are some of your favorite LGBT+ books and authors?”

That is a tall order because I think most of what I read at this point is LGBT. So I’ve got several things that I’m gonna recommend. I’m not gonna talk a whole lot about any one of them just because I have several of them. I think most of these (not all of them but a decent chunk of them) I’ve mentioned at some point in some of my videos. If you’re interested in knowing about any specific one, let me know and I can maybe do a review video or something.

But I’ll start out with YA. This first one is a recent favorite and that is I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver, which is about a non-binary person. There’s a lot of stuff about family, a
little bit about love. I absolutely love this book. And then a favorite that I’ve had for a while is David Levithan. Two Boys Kissing I think is probably my favorite book that he’s written. But I’ve liked most of the other stuff that I’ve read. I think I’ve mostly read kind of what would be his older stuff at this point. The only one that I did not like was Boy Meets Boy, which was his first novel. But yeah pretty much everything else that he’s written has been really good that I’ve read. Next I’ve got a couple of graphic novels and manga first we have Kase-San and Morning Glories which is just kind of pure lesbian fluff. I loved it. And then we have On a Sunbeam which is just super fantastic. It’s a fantasy graphic novel and there’s a that’s going on. There are sort of two timelines that happen throughout it there are so many great characters. Everybody in this is queer. So many F/F relationships – and a non-binary character. I adore this book so much.

Next: poetry. Danez Smith is absolutely fantastic. This book totally blew me away, Don’t Call Us Dead. The next two poets that I have on my list, I’ve been reading or following for a while. The first is Andrea Gibson who I’ve talked about a number of times on this channel. I absolutely adore them. And then we have Alok Vaid-Menon and I think this is their only book: Femme in Public. But you can also find other pieces that they’ve written online or performed. They used to be a part of a group called Darkmatter and that’s actually where I first saw them was performing in that group. So, I highly recommend that. And finally we have a few non-fiction books the first one is a recent favorite it’s the best book that I’ve read all year at this point and that is In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. Chances are if you’ve been around book internet at all you’ve seen some stuff about it. Please read it. It is interesting just kind of literary wise and it’s a fantastic story, and important topic etc etc. Next we have another memoir: A Year Without a Name by Cyrus Grace Dunham. They’re a non-binary person and they talked about kind of some of their experience figuring themselves out. There’s some neat stuff with time in here. I really love this book. I’ve talked about it in a couple of other videos. Highly recommend. And then Sorted by Jackson Bird. Again, this is another memoir. It is a really good and engaging memoir. And really good if you aren’t super familiar with trans related things because he puts in a whole lot of different informational bits throughout his story. And the final nonfiction piece that I have is Making History by Eric Marcus. In general the projects that Eric Marcus has done and is doing is really wonderful. He’s an oral historian and he goes through and has talked to many different people who’ve been a part of the gay movement. You can actually listen to those oral histories online. And that’s just an absolutely important project.

Question number three is “how often do you talk about LGBTQ+ books on your
channel and what videos do you recommend people starting with if they’re looking for LGBT content?”

I would say at this point, all of my videos probably have LGBT books in them. At the very least most of them do. I don’t think that every single video that I’ll ever make is only LGBTQ, but I do think that the vast majority of the videos that I put out will mention LGBT content in some capacity. So far is what videos you could start with if you’re interested in fiction, I would say that you could start with the If You Have Read the Symptoms of Being Human video. Even if you haven’t read Symptoms of Being Human, I still have a lot of recommendations on there that you would like if you’re interested in LGBT books. Symptoms of Being Human is not an own voices novel, but the rest of the books that I mentioned in that are. Another good option if you’re interested in fiction would be my Reading Gay Manga for the First Time video. If you’re more interested in nonfiction, I would say that you could start with the Topical Book Recs video that I have on trans and non-binary books.

Question number four: “Who are your favorite LGBT youtubers?”

this is a little bit difficult because I think that most of the youtubers that I watch regularly are LGBTQ. Not every single booktuber that I watch, but the vast majority of them just because that’s sort of how I found booktube to begin with. But a few in particular that I can think of: Bowties and Books is really great and so is Problems of a Book Nerd. Sage Reads has a lot of trans and non-binary recommendations that are really good. Brianna’s Library has a lot of great stuff on nonfiction. And ode to books is a channel that I’ve really enjoyed watching recently.

Question number five is “When was the first time you encountered an LGBTQ character in
fiction?”

And this was actually a really hard question and I had to sit and think for a while. And honestly I think that the first time that I ever saw a gay character in fiction was through fan fiction. And that might sort of sound weird at first but honestly it’s not super uncommon. With the research that I did on LGBT people, most of the people that I interviewed were in fandoms in some capacity. And for a lot of them, fanfiction was one of the first times that they saw LGBTQ people – or certainly the first time that they saw LGBTQ people represented in a positive way. So that’s probably where I saw it first – kind of not including movies that might have something in passing that either went over my head or it just didn’t kind of stick with me. So far as regular books go, one could say The Great Gatsby was it. There’s no way Nick is heterosexual. But since that’s not technically canon, I’m gonna have to go with the House of Night series. The first book is Marked. She has a gay best friend, Damien. It’s pretty stereotypically “gay pretty gay BFF.” I don’t think that this is a book that I would recommend, like at all, unless you’re already super into YA vampire series. I read this in high school but I don’t think that I could try to really reread all of these at this point just because the writing style is very stereotypically teenager-ey. But who knows. Maybe nostalgia would be enough to pull me through. I don’t know but I’m probably not gonna test that anytime soon.

A final question, question number five: “Anything else you want to add and who do you tag?”

I wanted to add a few books that are on my TBR that I think that other people should look into as well. I think it’s really important that we read LGBT content from diverse LGBTQ people. I don’t really have a whole lot of LGBT general fiction. I have a couple of classics like A Picture for Dorian Gray and The Well of Loneliness. So I’m trying to find more kind of like adult fiction and other genres that have LGBT representation, LGBTQ authors. So one of the books on my TBR is Nevada by Imogen Binnie and this is the story of a punk trans woman. I’m pretty excited to read that. Another book that’s on my TBR is a poetry book: How to Cure a Ghost by Fariha Roisin. This book is by a queer Muslim person, so this isn’t a prospective did I see a whole lot of. So I would recommend that.

Now, the next few books that I have are nonfiction but I think are super important. The first one is Transgender History by Susan Stryker. I actually have read chapters of this, but I’m looking forward to reading it from cover to cover. This is trans history, which is super important. But it’s trans history by a trans person and that piece is so incredibly important. That’s one of the reasons why I love Eric Marcus’s oral history project hearing. History from people who have lived it is really important all by itself. But also, having diverse people actually piecing together the history – even if they didn’t live it is super important. Because when you have privileged people constructing the story of what history is, you’re going to get a very different picture, so it’s important that we have kind of people building the histories of the groups that they’re a part of.

I’ve got two kind of classic essay books that I think are good to look into. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. Again, I’ve read pieces from this but I haven’t read the whole thing. Audrey Lorde is essential reading so please read this. Next we have Time on Two Crosses: the Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin. Bayard Rustin was a gay man who did a whole lot of organizing for Martin Luther King Jr. He’s not typically recognized, but he did a whole lot both in civil rights – he was also big into the anti-war movement. He did a whole lot of neat stuff. So I’m really looking forward to his writings and he’s definitely a figure that you should look into. And the next two that I have are both memoirs by queer people of color. The first is When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Culllors in Asha Bendele. This is a memoir about one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, so this is really important recent history that you should definitely look at. The final one is How we Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones, who is a queer person of color who lived in the south. And this is sort of about that. So, join me in picking up some of these books or other books by other LGBTQ people – especially LGBTQ people who are also a part of other marginalized groups.

I’m not necessarily going to tag anyone because tagging people is scary, but if you want to do this, consider this me tagging you. So that’s all for this video today. Thank you all so much for watching. Bye!

Image Description: A grey tabby cat is laying down on someone’s lap right by an open book. This was a far more coherent picture than any screencap from the video could have been.

… Kitty

this is Tonks. She came to visit, but she hates being held like a baby. But she’s a good baby.