It’s that time of the month again! Here’s yet another fantastic Diverse Book Blogger feature, this time featuring Anaïs from Zezee with Books!
- Tell us a little bit about your blog, Zezee with Books! Does it have a specific focus?
Zezee with Books is simply a blog of my interests. It mostly focuses on books, but sometimes I feature artwork either by me or artists I like and sometimes I discuss TV shows I watch (if the show has upset me in some way). I publish a variety of posts including discussions and book reviews, which I often refer to as reflections because I use my blog as a journal for what I read.
- There’s a “60 Classics in 5 Years“ challenge on your blog– which diverse classics are you reading, and how has reading diversely changed your idea of what a “classic” book really is?
This is part of the Classics Club’s reading challenge to read 50 classics in 5 years. The list features a variety of books ranging from books traditionally considered classics, like Don Quixote, to more modern classics, like The Bell Jar and Native Son. While composing the list, I made an effort to include African American authors. Not many are listed there because when I made the list, I thought of classics as being only the popular books that are accepted literary canon, which are usually written by White men. I’ve since broadened my view and have included Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (a favorite) and Charles W. Chestnut’s The Wife of His Youth.
For me, a classic is a great piece of literature that resonates with people no matter the era they’re in when reading the book. A classic is also a forerunner of its structure or genre; it upsets accepted norms, it highlights things overlooked, and it’s simply a beautiful piece of art. Not all classics embody all these things at once. Sometimes it just does one really well.
- Let’s set the stage: You’re on a deserted island with nothing but the bare necessities. Which diverse book is an absolute necessity?
Ahh!! Only one? Well, I’d go with Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. It’s an entertaining YA fantasy novel about a Nigerian- American girl living in Nigeria who discovers she belongs to a magical society. I read to be entertained and I read fantasy to escape so Akata Witch will distract me from my plight (stuck on the island). It will also make me nostalgic for home, as it did while I read, thus pushing me to find a way off the island.
- You’re originally from the Caribbean, which boasts a great group of contemporary authors. Is there one that really stands out to you as the vanguard of Carib literature?
I don’t read many books by Caribbean authors, unfortunately, so I shy away from saying this person is the vanguard of Caribbean lit. However, he is one to pay attention to and that’s Marlon James. I loved his bookNight Women, a historical novel set in Jamaica on a slave plantation, that I read a couple years ago. His writing transports you to the story’s settings — it’s so immersive! — and his characters are so real that they’ll stick around in your mind for a while.
I’ve only read the one book by him so far. James has written three books and his third, A Brief History of Seven Killings, won the Man Booker Award last year.
- You also read a good amount of comics and graphic novels–are the diversity issues in graphic novels the same as the ones that we find in novels?
I actually just started reading comics last year and from what I’ve observed thus far, I’d say the diversity issues in comics are the same as in novels. Representation of minority groups is not strong and there is a push to include more diversity there as well. Earlier this year, there was an uproar over a prestigious comics award in France which had 30 nominees on its longlist but none were women.
I’ve also found it difficult to locate comics produced by people of color. However, on the positive side, there has been a push to include more diverse characters, as seen in recent comics like Nimona, Ms. Marvel, Monstress, Black Panther, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, The Wicked + the Divine, etc.
- On your blog, you have a GREAT set of quotes by famous authors– is there any one quote that really guides your outlook on life?
Well, I have two:
- “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars,” by Kahlil Gibran, which reminds me of something Uncle Iroh said in Avatar Airbender that has stuck with me: “In the darkest times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength.” Both speak to one’s resilience and I try to remember them whenever I’m going through a rough patch.
- Also “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee,” by Friedrich Nietzsche, which is my favorite quote ever because many people do not realize how much a person can be changed by battles. Sometimes we become what we fight against.
- Another great quote by Uncle Iroh: “Sick of tea? That’s like being sick of breathing!” 😀
- What’s your best post on Zezee With Books (link us!)? Which post is the most popular?
I tend to be proudest of my discussion posts, like this one where I discuss what the term “diverse” means to me and what it means to read diversely.
But my favorite post is this one where I compare Harry Potter book covers. I had a lot of fun typing it up. As for the most popular, surprisingly it is my review of Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor.
- Is there anything else that you wanted to discuss? What’s in the pipeline for Zezee with Books?
Well, coming soon are reviews on two great children’s books I recently read, one of which is about a boy trying to describe the sound of things to his deaf father.
- Where can BB> readers find you online? Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Thanks everyone for reading another great feature over here on Brown Books & Green Tea, and thank you Anaïs for responding to my questions! Please please please don’t forget to make a pit stop at Zezee with Books when you get a chance!