Weekly Reading Update 01/07/2020


Gonna be honest folks, I haven’t done a great deal of reading this past week. So instead I’m gonna talk about a few non-fiction books I plan to read soon. I don’t talk about non-fiction very often cos this is primarily a science fiction and fantasy blog, but I love non-fiction and don’t talk about it enough. So, three non-fiction books I’ve got on my radar right now.

One of America’s most historic political trials is undoubtedly that of Angela Davis. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Davis, and including contributions from numerous radicals such as Black Panthers George Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins, this book is not only an account of Davis’s incarceration and the struggles surrounding it, but also highlighted as one the most comprehensive and thorough analyses of the prison system in the United States. Since this book was written, the carceral system in the US has seen unprecedented growth, with more of America’s Black population behind bars than ever before. And as recent events have reinforced, the analysis of the role of prisons and the policing of Black populations offered by Davis and her comrades in this volume remains as pertinent today as the day it was first published.

INSURGENT EMPIRE is a book about about how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom. Priyamvada Gopal examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. This book aims to set the record straight in demonstrating that these people were much more than victims of imperialism or, subsequently, the passive beneficiaries of an enlightened British conscience—they were insurgents whose legacies shaped and benefited the nation that once oppressed them.

BACK TO BLACK traces the long and eminent history of Black radical politics. Born out of resistance to slavery and colonialism, its rich past encompasses figures such as Marcus Garvey, Angela Davis, the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter activists of today. At its core it argues that racism is inexorably embedded in the fabric of society, and that it can never be overcome unless by enacting change outside of this suffocating system. Yet this Black radical tradition has been diluted and moderated over time; wilfully misrepresented and caricatured by others; divested of its legacy, potency, inclusivity and force for global change. Kehinde Andrews explores the true roots of this tradition, and connects the dots to today’s struggles by showing what a renewed politics of Black radicalism might look like in the 21st century.

I’m thinking of making this a monthly post, to boost some non-fiction and just get a chance to talk about the stuff I’m reading that isn’t magic and spaceships, as much as I love all that. It won’t be for all of my readers and that’s fine, but I hope that if you are a non-fiction reader (or even if you’re not) you might find something to interest you 🙂

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Weekly Reading Update 03/06/2020


Welcome to Wednesday bookwyrms. I haven’t actually got any fiction to talk about this week. I’m sure everyone reading this is aware of the massive rebellion that’s broken out in the USA in response to the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week and the subsequent declaration of war by the police on US citizens. In addition to donating to bail funds and Black Lives Matter groups I’ve took the long overdue step of reading some of the books that are required reading for any white person who wants to overcome their own bias and racism and truly be an ally in the fight against police violence and Black oppression. If you’re a white person reading this and want to take a step in the right direction, read some (or all) of the books I talk about here and donate to a bail fund.

Recently Finished: HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST by Ibram X. Kendi
The title of this one seemed like a logical place to start. In it Kendi talks about how being ‘not racist’ simply isn’t enough to challenge the deeply entrenched system of racism that pervades society and how being antiracist isn’t a constant state of being, but something we must always be striving for. He weaves together a powerful narrative of history, ethics and science with his own personal account of his journey into anticracism. A must read for anyone who wants to go beyond awareness of racism’s existence and start to building a truly antiracist and equal society.

Currently Reading: WHITE FRAGILITY by Robin Diangelo
I’m not very far into this one yet but already I feel like it’s going to be laying down some harsh truths about how white people approach discussions around race and racism and I’ve been compelled into several moments of self-reflection. One of the main points I’ve taken on board so far is how racism is framed as this individualised act or belief that only ‘bad’ people do and have, as opposed to an institutionalised set of oppressive systems that are baked in to the way society functions. And so to be told something we’ve said or done is racist can feel like a personal attack on our moral character, rather than something for us to reflect on and try to improve. I think this book is going to teach me a lot.

The two previous books are written by American writers and focus on American society and, although they are very applicable to Western societies in general, this book is very much focused on British racism. It’s very easy for people in the UK to look across the Atlantic and be shocked by the levels of racism and police violence in the USA and yet still overlook our own problems. And while our police aren’t armed to the teeth and militarised in the same way as the American police force, we still have a big problem with institutional racism here. Britain has yet to have an open and honest conversation about our own history of empire and its legacy and this book is part of kickstarting that very necessary process.

I just want to finish up by encouraging you all to donate to one of the many organisations supporting the protesters. Click here to see a list of places you can donate. I also want to encourage all my white followers to educate yourselves. Read the books I talked about here and join the protests that are now going global. Stay safe if you’re out there on the streets everyone. To all my Black brothers, sisters and comrades, you have my full and unconditional support. Solidarity and much love to you all.

If you want to take part in WWW Wednesday, hosted by Taking on a World of Words, just answer the following questions:

What have you just read?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Let me know what you’re reading and if you enjoyed this update follow the blog to never miss a post!