It’s been a hard summer. With spring 2020 mostly spent indoors from COVID-19, it felt like June and July were going to be much the same. All that changed with the murder of George Floyd, which turned an already anxious atmosphere even more anxious.
I will not go in-depth about my thoughts on the current American administration, nor will I go in-depth about ways you can help the Black Lives Matter movement (by the way, donate if you can). I want to tell the story of my summer reading program: Forward Fight Book Bingo.
Forward Fight Book Bingo is the brainchild of a group of women, one of whom is my friend G.M. Cottrill whom you should check out. As readers, Cottrill and her friends wanted to do their part in furthering the stories of BIPOC and other marginalized voices.
Participants donated $5 for a bingo card, which they fill out by reading books relevant to the contents of each square. The reader with the most bingos chooses the charity to receive the pot as a donation; the first person to blackout their card is the automatic “winner.” Forward Fight Book Bingo ran from June 15 to August 31. As of the time of this writing, the program has officially closed and the winner has yet to be announced.
As a reader of short fiction, I had a very important question for the organizers: How many short stories counts as a full square? While the average anthology will have over 10 stories, they were merciful and said five short stories counted toward a full square. Phew.
On the Forward Fight Book Bingo Facebook Group, other participants identified themselves as “mood readers,” meaning they read what they feel like reading. I am also a mood reader, which accounts for my final bingo card, presented below. As you can see, if I were smarter about things, I could have had at least one bingo and been working my way towards a second.
As you can probably surmise, I didn’t read to win. The point of this program was to read stories from more diverse writers.
For the past several years, I have avoided novels written by straight, white cis men (with very few exceptions). While this diversified my reading habits by default, there is always room for improvement. For instance, I learned to seek out more BIPOC authors. I already love reading anything by Nnedi Okorafor and N.K. Jemisin, but now I have Rivers Solomon, Tochi Onyebuchi, Tade Thompson, Kathryn Kayembe, and others on my TBR list.
Here is my full reading list for the program. If anything tickles your fancy, shop these titles at my Bookshop.org Affiliate KT’s Bookshelf.
Forward Fight Book Bingo: Completed Squares
Transgender/Nonbinary Main Character:
- “We’re Here, We’re Here” by K.M. Szpara (Tor.com)
- “The Sorcerer’s Unattainable Gardens” by Fenn Merc Wolfmoor (from their anthology So You Want to Be a Robot, link to Daily Science Fiction)
- “Five Reasons for the Sign Above Her Door, One of Them Unspoken” by Izzy Wasserstein (Abyss + Apex Issue 75)
- “A Stick of Clay, In the Hands of God, is Infinite Potential” by JY Neon Yang (Clarkesworld Issue 164)
- “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue” by Charlie Jane Anders (from The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, link to the Boston Review)
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
South Central Asian Author:
- “Seven Dreams of a Valley” by Prashanth Srivatsa (from Beneath Ceasless Skies)
- “The Translator, at Low Tide” by Vajra Chandrasekera (from Clarkesworld Issue 164)
- “AirBody” by Sameem Siddiqui (from Clarkesworld Issue 163)
- “muo-ka’s Child” by Indrapramit Das (from Clarkesworld: Year Six)
- “The Neighbors” by Shruti Swamy (from Electric Lit)
Woman of Color Humor: The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
LGBTQ+ Author: The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Neon Yang
In Progress Squares
- “You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych” by Kathleen Kayembe (from The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, link to Nightmare Magazine)
- “Loneliness is in Your Blood” by Cadwell Turnbull (from The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, link to Nightmare Magazine)
Woman of Color Main Character:
- “Sister Rosetta Thorp and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good” by LaShawn M Wanak (from FIYAH Magazine Issue 7)
- “Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (from Escape Pod podcast)
Pacific Islander Author:
- “We Feed the Bears of Fire and Ice” by Octavia Cade (from Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy, vol 1)
- “The Garden” by Isabelle McNeur (from Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy, vol 1)
Native or Indigenous Author:
Cherokee America by Margaret Verble
Post-Program TBR Pile
- Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (Classic Person of Color Author)
- Chaos Vector by Megan E. O’Keefe (Main Character w/ a Disability)
- A Pale Light in the Black by K.B. Wagers (Asexual Main Character)
- Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (Person of Color Memoir)
- Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (Immigrant Author)
Fiction Magazines of Note
If you like short fiction and want to diversify your reading material, I recommending the following short fiction magazines:
- FIYAH Magazine -> Black speculative fiction
- Clarkesworld Magazine -> a lot (but not exclusively) translated speculative fiction
- GigaNOTOsaurus.org -> I interviewed the Editor-in-Chief for my radio feature!
Again, you can shop these titles at my Bookshop.org Affiliate KT’s Bookshelf. If you’d like to hear my thoughts about a specific title, leave a comment and I’ll give you a short review!