The Sunshine Blogger Award

The lovely Ash @ wildheartreads has tagged me to this and I’m so honored! Also look at me, I’m actually doing a tag and not postponing it until it’s 347832 months later and at that point it doesn’t even make sense to post it anymore and- well my point is that I’m doing this now so y’all can be proud of me (and sorry to everyone who has tagged me and never heard back from me lmao – Laura this one goes to you).

I actually did this same tag a looooooong time ago I believe but the questions are different so it’s all good!

How Does it Work?

  1. Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog.

Ash’ questions

  1. If your favourite book was adapted would you prefer it as a film or TV series?

    My favorite book series is Captive Prince and a film (or even three) wouldn’t do it justice, so I’d have to go with TV series! It would make much more sense and if done right it would be the best way to convey the same exact slow burn vibe that the books have.

  2. What would your dream reading nook look like?

    You know those couches shaped like an L? I love the corner part because I can sit however I want and stretch my legs all the way and I feel “safe” I guess.

  3. Paperbacks or Hardcovers?

    Ebooks actually gsdhlgsgh but I guess hardcovers because they look nicer and you don’t have to hold the book open the whole time, you can just put them on a surface and keep reading.

  4. Do you listen to music when you read or do you need silence?

    I very rarely listen to music when I read, mostly I just don’t think about it and start reading in silence. If someone else is listening to music I can read but it can’t be something with a lot of lyrics if that makes sense, and it also can’t be something that I already know because if I know the lyrics and music I just start humming along and get distracted from my book.

  5. Favourite meme that describes you reading?

    IMG_20170816_145541IMG_20170827_021846Screenshot_2017-03-31-22-23-41Screenshot_2017-05-20-02-30-37
    You get the idea

  6. Favourite genre?

    It used to be fantasy but now I see that I can’t read only fantasy anymore, I also need to read some contemporary stuff sometimes, so I have no idea. But I’ll just go with YA in general I guess.

  7. Do you fancast characters or do you prefer to let your imagination do the work?

    Neither, I don’t really see faces in my head when I read so I can’t fancast.

  8. Favourite trope/least favourite?

    Favorite romance trope: enemies to lovers
    Least favorite generic trope: dead queer people for the sake of furthering straight people’s narrative

  9. What fictional world would you love to visit?

    Earlier I would have said the Harry Potter one but since it’s apparently impossible to be a queer person there I’d rather go visit the Always Human world so I could try different mods for different hairstyles and looks and also knowledge mods would be super cool.

  10. What book surprised you the most (good or bad)?

    I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I started The Darkest Part of the Forest and I guess I thought it would all take place in a faerie world but it actually mostly takes place in the real world but then again nothing about it feels like our world because it’s all so magical and the writing is perfect to give you this sort of magical vibe. The romances also surprised me a lot in a very positive way.

  11. What was your last 5 star read?

    That would be At the Edge of the Universe (my review)! I loved it and it made me fall in love with SDH, now I really need to check out all his books.


My questions!

  1. What was your favorite book as a child?
  2. Do you get reading slumps? How do you get out of them?
  3. What’s the one book or series that made you fall in love with reading?
  4. What are your thoughts on ebooks?
  5. Are you more of a fantasy or a contemporary person?
  6. Who’s your all time favorite author?
  7. Do you read audiobooks? Why or why not?
  8. First person or third person?
  9. Plot or characters?
  10. Heroes or antiheroes?
  11. Single point of view or double/multiple POV?

I tag:

Elise @ thebookishactress
Laura @ thebookcorps
Em @ emspermanentink
May @ foreverandeverly
Acqua @ acquadimore
Alienor @ meetthebookworld
Marta @ thecursedbooks
Syd @ reading&rambling
Shan @ littleirishbookcat

No pressure to do this if you’ve already done it or you don’t feel like it!

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Discussion: book piracy, representation and international readers

Discussion

When you start being active in the book community, you start seeing how nuanced some issues are that you previously thought were completely black or white.

This time the talk is about piracy, and before you start angry-typing in the comments, let me make this clear from the start: piracy is illegal. This is a fact, not an opinion, and I start this post this way because I don’t think serious discussions can be had without having the facts straight.

With that said, this is a recurring thing that comes out every couple of months in the book community, usually when famous authors tweet about it. Last time it was Maggie Stiefvater, this time is author Lindsay Cummings.

Until the words “& hurt their sales” there’s nothing wrong with her tweet. You can’t really expect anyone, much less an author who has probably already been hurt by it, to publicly condone piracy.

My issue (and any international reviewer pretty much agrees on this) is when it comes to: “GO TO A LIBRARY! It’s free!”

This is what everyone always says an argument against book piracy, and even though international readers keep @’ing authors telling them that thanks a lot, but this is not an option for many of us, nobody actually seems to give a shit.

The possible reasons why the “go to a library” argument keeps being thrown around are three:

  • Authors don’t know that a huge part of their readership is international, meaning that a lot of people who live in countries where English isn’t a first language still read their untranslated books (often because these books simply aren’t being translated);
  • Authors know about international readers and they simply don’t give a shit about them;
  • Authors know about international readers and they ignorantly assume that the whole world has access to libraries with lots of books in English, even the recently published ones.

For the sake of this post we’re gonna assume that the third option is the most likely, because authors have repeatedly acted like anyone. A N Y O N E has access to libraries.

Spoiler alert: not everybody has access to libraries!!!

I feel like even if we restrict this argument to only the US-based readership, this wouldn’t be advice that everyone can take. I happen to have spent two weeks in the US just this past year, and in no way does this make me an expert obviously, but one of the things that shocked me the most is how BIG and massive everything is, and how far some small towns are from… well, from everything really. I doubt that they have huge libraries the along the I-40 in the Mojave desert. (I could have named other places I’ve passed through but I really love the word “Mojave”)

As I type this I keep coming up with more things to say so this will become a mess, but I’m gonna try to break the issue down in a few sections.

 

English isn’t the first language everywhere

This might come as a shock (please sit down, I don’t want anyone to faint) but not all countries are English-speaking!
Immagine correlata

When we read in English, we do so with our own money (when that’s possible). Often we need to resolve to buying books online, either physical copies or digital ones (I usually stick to ebooks). Depending on where you live you’ll have more or less access to a number of books in English in physical bookstores. However, even in the major city in Germany where I live I can only find a very limited amount of English books, and those are obviously the most popular ones. Usually, most popular = no or bad representation. 

Are you still following me? Good.

If we’re talking about libraries, I think you might find Harry Potter in English and maybe a few old classics. The Abyss Surrounds Us? Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda? You won’t find those.

If you’ve ever felt the need to see yourself represented in a book you will know where I’m trying to get in the next section, but let me finish this part by saying that even for me, living in central Europe, in a country where English is becoming more popular each second, it’s basically impossible to get recently published books in English unless I’m paying with my own money. So far the only “cheap” and legal way I’ve found is to stick to ebooks (which is my favorite format anyway).

I think it should be up to people from other countries to talk about their own experience, but if Europeans are having trouble finding English books in libraries, I can only imagine it’s much harder in other parts of the world.

 

Reading as entertainment VS reading for representation

Have y’all ever considered that a lot of the teens who are illegally downloading books do so because they know there’s lgbtq+ characters in it? And maybe these kids are too scared to even come out to themselves and they literally can’t go ask their parents for money for fear of being asked “Why do you want to buy these gay books?” and everything that that might imply.

Being monetarily dependent on someone sucks. I was very privileged in this because if there’s one thing my parents have never denied me it was books, and even if I had read a lot of lgbtq+ books back then (which I didn’t), they wouldn’t have questioned or prohibited it. Even if they had questioned the reason behind all those books, I wouldn’t have been in any danger.

Of course that isn’t true for a lot of people, and this is also only one part of the whole issue of of representation (but it’s the one of the things that people, teens, usually tend to try to keep hidden as best as they can).

So I think when talking about piracy we should make a distinction and think about reading as pure entertainment VS reading because it’s actually fucking important to you because you don’t know how else to understand and deal with parts of your own identity.

This also ties back to the needing to read in English issue because the English-speaking book industry is miles ahead in publishing diverse books than (I’m gonna stick to what I personally know) the Italian industry, for example. If I only knew how to read in Italian and were still living in Italy and wanted to find books with queer girls, I still wouldn’t find any for free in the library.

 

Piracy is illegal (in case this still wasn’t clear)

Keeping in mind all I said, the fact remains that piracy is illegal. Here’s a post about piracy and how it affects more than just the authors themselves.

That post was written last time that this topic came up, and a lot of people in my circle of mutuals dismissed it and the way they did it made me so uncomfortable that I had to ignore twitter for a couple of days.

I think even if you dislike the author for whatever reason, to dismiss everything she’s saying in that post is arrogant and it hurts the very argument you’re trying to make. Specifically, one thing people loved to talk about was how the author in question is privileged and therefore they implied she didn’t deserve to be paid for her work.

Please understand that I’m not trying to attack my mutuals, some of which I almost always agree with and I consider my friends, but I find this line of thinking very bad and hypocritical.

 

TL;DR so far: 📚 not everyone can get books for free and legally; 📚 sometimes books are about so much more than entertainment; 📚 piracy is still illegal.

 

“So what do you suggest, Silvia?”

Hey now, I wish I had a solution but I don’t.

Risultati immagini per gif booing
Y’all @ me right now

However, what I would ask of authors is that they did some research on what it means to be an international reader and stop saying “go to the library” as if that’s the magic word that solves everything.

Authors: you do research on mythology, ways to kill people, when exactly the sun set on April 7th, 1876 in some unexplored place in Siberia; why can’t you do some research on ways you can help your marginalized readers? Or at least, you know, admit you don’t know how to help but at least ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR INTERNATIONAL READERS.

We keep getting hurt because no one, NO ONE ever acknowledges us and the work we do as international bloggers. Goodreads is waving the middle finger at us, netgalley is literally the “then perish” meme I posted at the beginning, and although many authors do what they can to host international giveaways and whatnot, they also keep ignoring us by go-to-library‘ing us.


For more discussion posts about this topic, please go check out Marta @thecursedbooks’ post where she talks more about how authors dismiss international readers when they talk about piracy, and Maja @bookishaddicted’s post for a great list of sources of free books (yes, international too!)

I would love for everyone to add their own thoughts below, unless you’re gonna be rude and disrespectful, then I’ll gracefully ignore you.

Down the TBR hole #1

down the TBR hole

Down the TBR Hole is a weekly meme hosted by Lia @Lost in a Story. These are the rules:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I decided to join it because it’s probably going to be easier than going on decluttering sprees twice a year, in which I barely even have time to read the synopses properly. I don’t know how often I’m gonna be able to do this, probably not weekly but we’ll see.

ALSO, because I know myself, I will be doing my own version of it and add some books on my “maybe” shelf (which I keep separate from my TBR, so I’ll technically still be removing books from it!). This will help me to not feel too bad because some books/series I still want to read but they’re probably not gonna grab my attention for a long time.

Click on the covers to go to the book’s goodreads page!


Current TBR count: 494 books

3760025

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is one of those classics that even if I added it a long time ago I’m still very interested to read. I also own it as a physical copy at home (in Italian) and I’m gonna try to bring it back to my new house (or read it while I’m there next time).

VERDICT: keep

 

 

5129

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Basically the same as for the book above: I’m really interested in dystopians and especially the classic ones are so fascinating to read. I’ll try to read it when I’m home next time.

VERDICT: keep

 

 

444555

 

Siddharta by Hermann Hesse

I remember adding this book years ago because my mom read it and she says it was interesting. That was before I got my recs from the internet lol, but I honestly know my preferences better now and even if in an ideal world I would read everything from every genre…life is too short, so I think this one goes for now.

VERDICT: remove

 

17984141

 

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

I’m really not sure about this one. It seems a little cliché from the synopsis, but people who rated the first book low say the sequels are much better. I’m just simply not in a position to want to read series in general, and especially not if I’m fairly sure that it won’t be good from the start.

VERDICT: “maybe” shelf

 

6334

 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

(why are all the books so far dystopians???) I remember a friend of mine recommending it to me years ago, and I bought a digital copy of it just based on that. Sadly I’m not interested in it right now and I might never be, but I own it so I don’t exclude giving it a chance in the future.

VERDICT: “maybe” shelf

 

28187

 

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

I would have probably never deleted it from my TBR anyway, but even more so now since I’ve just finished the Magnus Chase trilogy and I definitely want to read more from Riordan.

VERDICT: keep

 

22624

 

Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

This is one of those classics that I’ve been wanting to read since the last year of high school (when we were learning about last century’s philosophy) and I still want to read. It was also recommended by my Italian teacher who I hold dear to my heart and who died a few years ago, so I want to honor his memory by reading all the books he used to talk about.

VERDICT: keep

 

68496

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

I remember adding this because a youtuber I used to watch loved it. I wasn’t able to find a cheap edition back then and now I must say that reading the blurb it doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy (maybe I would, but I know I’d never actually feel like starting it). Also none of my GR friends have rated/reviewed it so \_(ツ)_/¯

VERDICT: remove

 

 

16151179

 

Storia di un gatto e del topo che diventò suo amico by Luis Sepúlveda

I don’t think this has been translated into English? Anyway this is by one of my favorite authors when I was a kid and I think he’s very famous in Italy (we even had a cartoon based on his most famous book and I cried the whole time). It’s a kids’ book but I wanna read it at some point!

VERDICT: keep

 

18143977

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All my GR friends loved it and it sounds like one of those books you should read in your lifetime. I don’t think I’m going to be able to read it for a while but this stays.

VERDICT: keep

 

Final TBR count: 490 books

 

 

2018 reading and blogging goals

Happy new year everyone!

Ideally I should have written this post in December, but I figure it’s also a good post to start the year with.

My resolutions aren’t anything big or extra challenging, but I do have some things that I wish to change and improve.

  • The biggest change that I wish to make is to start reading audiobooks. I’ve never felt the need to do so but now that I live alone I find myself hating doing chores. Wait, that’s normal? Okay, but I mean… I hate chores also because I feel like I could be doing something in the meantime. And yeah sometimes I listen to music but at some point I started thinking “what if I managed to read (listen to) something on my TBR while I’m cooking/ironing/idk.” I finally got an audible account and I’ve already started listening to my first audiobook (I got Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman). I’m also looking for more audiobook recs so if you have any definitely let me know!
  • The second goal is something I’ve already started doing in 2017 and it’s also about managing my reading time in a better way. I found that by installing the kindle app on my phone I got a lot of more reading time while I was outside (on the bus, train, wherever), and I want to continue doing this and get better at it. So: keep reading while I’m stuck somewhere with only my phone. The only problem is that I don’t want to do this with every book, because reading only a few pages at the time doesn’t work for, say, fantasy (at least for me), so this brings me to my next point:
  • Having more than one current read of different genres (but not too many). Until a few months ago I was an exclusive one-book-at-the-time reader. I still find that that’s the best way for me to enjoy the books that end up being among my favorites, especially if they’re fantasy. But when I started reading more contemporaries and when I started getting more ARCs I realized that sometimes in order to keep reading and not give in to the reading slump I had to start reading something else too, so this past year I’ve managed to read a few books at the time, and that’s what I want to keep doing. But I also don’t want to get overwhelmed with current reads, so my rule is that at any given time I can’t have more than one contemporary, one fantasy, one non-fiction and one graphic novel on my currently reading shelf, plus one audiobook because that’s a different format anyway.
  • This is not only book related, but I really need to manage my time better. I keep trying to do ten things at once and end up finishing none. I switch on my laptop to “write one blog post” and end up scrolling goodreads, tumblr, twitter, starting to write a review, google how to make edits, start reading a webcomic, chat with friends… Eventually it’s 1am and I haven’t accomplished one (1) single thing and I really want to stop doing that. If I want to be constantly active on my blog I also need to block out all distractions while I’m drafting a post.
  • Learn how to read faster. This is not exactly a priority but I get so annoyed at myself when I see that I seem to be reading 3x slower than a lot of people. I tried to blame it on English not being my first language, but honestly a lot of my friends whose first language also isn’t English read so much faster than me. I can’t really explain why but I seem to be reading at talking speed, so that means that it never takes me less than 6 hours to read a 300 something pages book. I know I can go faster, but that for me means skim reading, and it’s not something I want to do (if I’m doing it it means I’m hating the book). If anyone has advice on how to learn to read a bit faster while also savoring the book please let me know! I’m kind of desperate at this point.
  • Be better at blogging. I mean it in every way possible, from posting regularly to creating better content. Specifically though, the main thing I want to do is write one discussion post every month. Even if it’s not an actual discussion, I still want to write something that is completely mine and not just a copy of what everyone else does. My most popular posts are discussions after all, so that makes me hopeful that people actually like the things I have to say. The downside is that to be able to write those I need to have time, not only to write them but also to engage in the book community on wordpress, twitter and goodreads, and I don’t always have the time/energy to do so.
  • Post mini reviews. Seriously, if you know me from goodreads, you know I read a lot more than what I post here on the blog. If 2018 is going to be like 2017, I will read a lot of webcomics, short stories, whatever. Sometimes I will even read full length books that I simply can’t write a full review on because they’re too perfect and I can’t find more than a few words for them. I post all of those on my goodreads, but why not post them here too? I started blogging with the impression that all my reviews here had to be perfectly structured and long-ish and I’d keep my more rambly and generally less pretty reviews on goodreads only, but why limit myself that way? 2018 is going to be very busy for me so I need t make sure that I am able to use the content I am able to create, even if it’s a mini review. With that said, I also want to write better long reviews when I do write them, especially with my ARCs.
  • Speaking of which… I really need to read the eARCs I received in 2017. I have a few books that are the second part of a trilogy and the final book is coming out this year and I’m still here like….but I still have the ARC of book two. Oops.
  • Even with the changes to Netgalley, I was able to request a few more ARCs (and not just “wish” for them). I’m not sure how, but I was also approved for a couple of them, so the goal is to keep trying to request, but only things I’m 100% interested in.
  • I need to read books in German. Please kick my ass if I don’t. Ideally I want to read one a month, but…..we’ll see.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something but that’s all I can think of  right now! Let me know what your goals for 2018 are and tell me if you have audiobook recommendations (I’ll be eternally grateful) or tips on how to read faster!

A look at 2017

I find this kind of post really hard to start writing, so let’s start by looking at numbers because numbers are easy.

I set my reading challenge to 100 books for this year, and I managed to read 120, which is my personal best. However, not all books were full length novels, and some were manga, graphic novels or webcomics. Those still count in my opinion (and in goodreads’ opinion) so I personally don’t really care that some people will be like “oh that’s not really impressive then”.

Untitled

I also DNF’d 11 books. I know everyone feels differently about DNF’ing books, but personally I count that as a win. Granted I can say this easily because most of those were ARCs so I didn’t actually waste money on them, but DNF’ing books I’m hating (or even just not enjoying) was one of my reading goals of this year, so I’m really proud of myself for doing that. Of course it still sucks when the book you have to DNF is something you paid for with your own money, but fortunately that has only happened a couple of times this year.

But let’s go back to the books I did read until the end and see what goodreads says.

Untitled2

Ah, it really is my curse to be reminded of *that*. I talked a lot about all the issues I had with ACOWAR, mostly regarding representation and how I don’t seem to enjoy SJM’s writing so much anymore. I don’t feel like talking about it again but you can read my review here.

I’m not surprised that the average length is so short. As I said, I read a few short stories (mostly ARCs I got) and some comics, so that’s okay. I know I also read a few really long books so *shrug*

Untitled3

My average rating is something that makes me question the way I rate books. I think I’m happy with my rating system, but I also realize that I give a lot of five stars to books that don’t make it to my “favorite” shelf. I don’t know if this is something I want to change in the future though, because as I said, I think this system works for me. The only thing I would need is an extra star to give to my actual favorites, but we can’t always have what we want.

And while we’re talking about favorites, I think it’s time to finally talk about my reading year in words instead of numbers.

This was a year of reading great books, but it wasn’t a year of life-changing books. Better said: I can point to a lot of books that, because I read them together with many others, contributed to a lot of changes in my life, but I can’t really point at a single one of them and say, “This was it, this changed me.”

And that’s okay, but coming from 2016, which was the year I read truly life-changing books and series, the realization that this year I can’t claim the same made me a little sad.

But even if I can’t point at one book specifically that “changed my life”, I know exactly how each book I read changed me as a reader and as a person, even if just in small ways, and I owe who I am now to the combination of many of the books I read this year rather than to a single one.

In truth, analyzing a single reading year is only a convenient way to split the continuum that is, in this context, our whole reading life, but it’s fun nonetheless.

And, because you can’t end the year without saying which ones are your favorites, here it is:

Favorites read this year (not counting rereads)

 

There are many honorable mentions that I could name but won’t, and there are many (so many) books I wish I had read but I didn’t manage to, in part because I’m a really slow reader and in part because with some kinds of books I really need to be in the right mood in order to fully enjoy them.

This post is a mess and there is so much more that I wanted to say but I’m so scared of getting too cheesy so I’ll just end it by wishing you all a happy 2018, and if you are someone who in the past year has talked to me even with just a little comment, a big shout-out to you 💕🌈

My #SapphicAThon TBR

So I finally settled on a TBR for the upcoming SapphicAThon! (Reminder: it starts this Thursday, December 14th!) I tried to prioritize a few books and ARCs I already own, and even counting only those I’m really not sure that I will manage to read them all during the event, but I also made a wishlist in case I finish my owned TBR and want/can read some more. In that case I’ll just buy the ebooks because they’re not too expensive and it’s also around Christmas so #treatyoself.

s9GQ_pSa.jpg

Owned:

The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis (Bingo spots: under 500 ratings, non coming out story, interracial relationship)

The Edge of the Abyss by Emilie Skrutskie (Bingo spots: SFF, QWOC mc, non coming out story, hate to love, interracial relationship)

Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Bingo spots: SFF, QWOC mc, they’re both WOC)

Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden (Bingo spots: friends to lovers, MC realizing they’re queer)

Falling for Forever by Caitlin Ricci (Bingo spots: under 500 ratings, something else probably)

Ripped Pages by M. Hollis (Bingo spots: retelling, under 500 ratings)

Set the Stage by Karis Walsh (Bingo spots: under 500 ratings, not sure what else)

Kim Reaper: Grim Beginnings by Sarah Graley (Bingo spots: not sure??)

This is already a lot for a slow reader like me but counting that there are a few novellas and graphic novels among these I hope to get to most of them.

 

Wishlist:

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon (Bingo spots: disabled mc, QWOC mc)

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman  (Bingo spots: not sure!)

The Second Mango by Shira Glassman (Bingo spots: not sure!

Cinder Ella by S.T. Lynn (Bingo spots: trans MC, retelling)

Waiting on a Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang (Bingo spots: SFF)

I don’t really plan to do the bingo thing but I still want to know what categories I’m reading from. I don’t know realistically how much time I’ll have since I don’t want to ignore my friends/family/cat in order to read more so I’m hoping I’ll manage to stay chill throughout the event and just enjoy these reads. I’ll also probably change my mind ten thousand times (mood reader and all) and find new things that I want to read, so I guess this post has very little reason to exist but hey, all’s good as long as I get to talk about this readathon again. I just really want people to join it and know about it ok.

I left a few more “popular” (but lbr they’re never truly popular when it comes to F/F sigh) books out of my wishlist simply because I know that I will get to them eventually, and I wanted to focus on things I might be less likely to read once I don’t have this added pressure from the readathon.

Are you joining sapphicathon? Did you post your TBR already? If you did please let me know in the comments because I don’t want to miss anyone’s posts when it comes to this!

Discussion: Goodreads and Netgalley are hurting diversity in the book community

The life of any international (see: non-US based) blogger isn’t always easy. We struggle to get physical ARCs (most of us don’t even try), we never get to meet our favorite authors, we rely on our more fortunate friends to get one signed copy that will become our most treasured possession. Some of us struggle to make our posts understandable in a language that isn’t our own just so we can reach more people and get in touch with other readers and bloggers from other countries.

We don’t complain too much because it’s pointless, and it’s not like the doctor forced us to start our blogs.

Now it seems that things are starting to change in this sense, and these past few days there has been a lot of talk about international bloggers, as I’m sure everyone has heard.

Basically what it all comes down to is:

Goodreads is changing its giveaway program, which only US readers will be able to enter, at least for a time. How long this time will be is not as of yet known. Most importantly, the price for authors to host a giveaway will be very high, $119 for a base package and $599 for the premium one.

Netgalley is making it virtually impossible for international readers to request eARCs. We might still be able to “Wish” for them, but anyone who has ever used Netgalley before knows how difficult it is for a wish to be granted (it has personally only happened to me once). As far as I understand, this is Netgalley’s choice, not the publisher’s like it’s always been, thus making it even more difficult for international bloggers to be sent (digital) early editions of books (as if that wasn’t difficult enough before).

Now, I want to talk about both things my own way, but first you should read Laura’s open letter to Netgalley and Goodreads because she’s basically said it all perfectly.

If you’re still reading my post, here’s my two cents (and I won’t be able to cover every nuance of this topic but hey I’m gonna try).

I think what Netgalley and Goodreads are doing is two sides of the same coin, and it all comes down to ultimately hurt minorities and marginalized people and give more privilege to the privileged. Whether they’re doing it on purpose or not is not for me to say, but that’s what we should be all concerned about.

Regarding Goodreads: I think people are focusing a lot on the readers side and not enough on the authors side, but the truth is that readers aren’t going to be too affected by it. After all, Goodreads giveaways are something you have to win against a huge number of people, and that’s not very likely no matter where you live. Chances are you’re never going to win one anyway, and it still sucks that now int’l readers won’t be able to even enter, but that’s ultimately not very influential in the book community itself (let’s be real, those giveaways are random, and chances are someone is going to win a book they’re never going to read anyway, or if they do they’ll never review it: it’s not like everyone who wins a giveaway has their own blog or even reviews on GR itself after all).

No, the real problem here is that indie and marginalized authors won’t be able to afford the giveaway program, and the only authors who will be able to will be the ones with a big name. In fact, this is what I wrote Goodreads in their survey (which I encourage you to also fill out):

Nothing of this new program works unless you live in the United States (as a reader) or you’re already wealthy as an author and can afford to pay a ridiculous amount of money to have your book MAYBE added to a couple of people’s shelves with no guarantee they’ll actually buy it. This will damage marginalized authors who are already struggling as it is in a publishing world where still the majority of big author names are white, male, heterosexual Americans. This program is made to fail from the beginning and it will ultimately be your own loss, but it’s a slap in the face to anyone who tries to make it in this industry, it screams “you’re not welcome here” to everyone who is already made to feel that way every day of their life. This is a huge step in the wrong direction and I’m sorry to see one of my favorite platforms fail so miserably at embracing a community that has time and again proven how good and important diversity is in any given context.

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t think this is that deep. Everything is that deep and where Goodreads might have done some good by finding ways to help promote marginalized authors, they’ve done the complete opposite instead. It only speaks of their privilege that they don’t even realize it.

I understand there have been some problems with people hosting giveaways and not delivering and basically stealing readers’ contact information, but while what GR is doing is certainly a way to fight this phenomenon, it certainly can’t be the only one.

Coming to the second half of this post, what Netgalley is doing is what touches bloggers and readers the most, and the issues are similar to my first point. Granted that it was already difficult to gain access to eARCs depending on where you live and on the publisher, it was still possible as an international reader to request books that weren’t listed as “US-only” (some even used to have Europe-only, UK-only or Australia-only versions).

Basically what Netgalley is telling you to do is to log into your own version (for me it would be the Italian version of it) and read the books listed there. I haven’t ventured in it and I do think that there might be some benefit in reading things that are published in my own language and written in my own country (I am so not updated on Italian literature it’s honestly a shame), but the fact is that this blog is in English and my following isn’t going to be pleased if I start reviewing books in Italian, or if I review books that aren’t translated into English.

(After writing this paragraph I noticed that there isn’t even an Italian version of Netgalley, and the closest thing would be the German one since I live in Germany and happen to be able to read books in that language, but my point stands.)

Face it, you keep up your blog by reviewing ARCs, and by not having access to the most anticipated titles as an international blogger you’re already at a disadvantage, so you rely on small publishing houses to grant your reviewing requests. You might try to create your own niche and review books with a similar theme (for me that would be LGBTQIAP books), but if Netgalley doesn’t even let you request such titles anymore then there’s really no win for you. Physical ARCs are a pipe dream, BooksForTrade is pretty much US-only, and you’re gonna have to buy all the books yourself after their early copies have already been reviewed by US reviewers.

Basically, US reviewers will get all the traffic that int’l bloggers’ ARCs reviews used to get, and reviewing as an international reader will be even more difficult and you’ll always be behind and it’s going to be hard to gain new followers (if you think these are petty reasons you’ve probably never tried to start your own blog).

I am rambling but I want to make two more points clear:

○ As always, marginalized reviewers (and ultimately all marginalized readers) will be hurt by Netgalley’s decision. Whether you think that literature is universal or not, the blogging community as a whole will lose massively by missing out on international readers’ point of views. 

○ Much can be said about what the American book industry can do better, but the truth is that there are some themes that many international readers won’t get to read in books published in their own countries, especially readers living in non-English speaking countries. Taking my own country as example, there is absolutely no talk about mental illness, much less books with a proper and sensitive portrayal and representation of mentally ill characters (unless you’re looking for harmful tropes and stereotypes). The same can be said for LGBTQ+ representation. If I want to see LGBTQ+ characters, I mostly have to read books published in America. I literally have friends in this community who are only able to see themselves represented because they’re able to read in English but who would be in trouble for writing or reading a book with LGBTQ+ characters in their own country. And not to say that a LGBTQ+ American reviewer isn’t also marginalized because they OBVIOUSLY are, but to get “diversity within diversity“, so to speak, you probably want to read the opinion of BOTH a white cis gay male living in San Francisco AND the opinion of a marginalized POC teen from a country where gay people are literally and legally killed by the government (and you tell me which of these two voices should be prioritized, AKA who deserves that Netgalley ARC more because it’s much less likely that they’ll be able to afford the published version of the book). These are two extreme examples and please don’t hate me if you’re a white cis gay guy living in San Francisco reading this, I hope you’ll understand my point without me having to write a bigass disclaimer.

So you see, if you think this is only about international readers being butthurt and jealous of US readers, you’re quite wrong and you don’t really understand how deep these issues go. I will also not tolerate any talk of legal issues* regarding giving eARCs to int’l bloggers, because publishers have been doing it without problems and it’s only Netgalley (which is only the platform where this puslisher/reviewer exchange happens) that is changing its policy, not the publishers, and don’t come tell me publishers have been doing something illegal all these years.                           *except if you’re like a lawyer or something

To conclude, I ask you that you raise our voices, ESPECIALLY if you’re an US blogger and especially if you have a big following. Share our posts, talk about what’s going on, use your privilege not to speak above us but to make sure Netgalley and Goodreads (or at least other reviewers) hear us.