Small Press September

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I am starting my first ever challenge! In honor of the incredible work that small indie presses are doing, I am going to primarily  focus on reading books published by small indie presses this September. I’m calling it Small Press September. I was inspired by two things:

First,  I came across this article, “American Publishing Needs Indie Presses” by Nathan Scott McNamara. As a a life long lover of books, I find the publishing industry fascinating. I closely follow noteworthy releases, innovative debuts,trends and discussions.  I’m subscribed to tons of bookish podcast, and I  spend an ungodly amount of time researching and finding new reads. Naturally I’ve heard the words “small press” “indie/publishers” thrown around, but I never truly understood what they were exactly. McNamara’s article details the contrast between the big five publishing houses versus the smaller indie presses. How the big five’s dominance over the industry is oddly making room for smaller presses who focus on innovation,  “…American indie presses can thrive by doing the very thing they’re best at: being small and, by extension, focusing on creativity and originality over sales.” I recommend reading his piece. It’s not only interesting, but very informative.

What is a small indie press?  

Small or independent publishers are publishers that do not belong to major corporations. Each one varies in size and funds, as well as in production. Some presses publish anywhere between 1-10 or more books a year.  Many presses are specialized to a genre, but not always. Note: This is not the same as self-publishing.

For many years I have given thought to 1)What I read, 2)What I need to read more of, and 3) What is or isn’t being represented. However, I have never given it much thought to learn about where my books come from. I don’t mean that literally, I obviously know where I acquire my books (stores, library, online distributors) I also know the author, and thanks to movements like Women In Translation Month, I now pay attention to translators. What I don’t know is the publishers. I recognize the big names,the small logos on the spine. I can name the big five, but that is mostly because they’ve been a part of my bookish life for as long as books, and not because I took the time to  learn about the publishers, the editors, and the team behind the final product that I enjoy. This year thanks to  The Podcast by BookRiot. My obsession  interest in the industry has increased. As has my interest in discovering creative and innovative work by boundary pushing authors, which would inevitably lead me down the rabbit hole that is  small indie presses.

My second inspiration is Women In Translation month. Some of the most exciting and innovative reads I’ve come across in this year’s  Women In Translation Month were from small indie presses. Combine that with awesome small indie titles I’ve read this year, I knew it was time I seriously did some digging into small presses. I, for many years read solely big named titles, by big best sellers produced primarily by big named houses. Simply because  I didn’t know other books were out there, or how to find them. I read whatever my local  bookstore and library carried.   The internet  has made the book world so much smaller, and as a result, I’ve become much more of an active reader, seeking out books that are out of my comfort zone.

It was’t until I hit my twenties that I seriously started to take a look at what I read and how I was reflected in it.  The sad truth was, I wasn’t always there. Discussions about diversity  and representation have played a role in my active search to find  authors, stories, and characters that not only looked and represented me, but also those that didn’t.  Small presses have the unique advantage that they can  produce what fits with their mission and focus on voices that have been marginalized and pushed aside. Those are the presses I’ve flocked to, and continue to seek out. In honor of these small indie presses, this Septemebr I will focus on finding, highlihginting,  and reading books produced by small indie publishers as well as the publishers themselves. Keep in mind I am a noob, so I have tons to learn, and true nerd that I am, I am so exited!  I am not here to say small indies good, big houses bad, I merely want to diversify  my reading, and discover what small indie presses have to offer.

If you feel like joining  me,  feel free.I will be using the #smallpressseptemebr hashtags across various social media sites.  If you have any recommendations, please please send them my way.  Thanks!

Edit: New banner created because in my excitement, I totally left squiggly lines in. *facepalm #human

Happy Reading 🙂

 

Women In Translation Reads. #WITMonth

WIT

It’s August which means it’s women in translation month, and can I just say how happy I am that this exist. I am a little late to the party as usual, but in my defense, I’ve had a busy summer.

For those of you who don’t know,  Women in Translation Month was created by Meytal Radzinski over at Biblibio. She has tons of recommendation and statistics over at her site which highlight why it’s so important to promote and push for women’s work to be translated.Books are a beautiful gateway into experiencing other cultures, traditions, and experiences. Likewise, they are also a  great way of demonstrating that oceans and continents may separate us, but we are  so much more alike then we think. As a travel junkie, the only thing that keeps me going between the long months between trips, are books. Whenever I find myself in that beautiful but restless wanderlust feeling, I pick up a book from the place I’m craving, and the lust subsides.

Over the past years, I’ve made it a mission to seek out women authors and women’s works in translation. It hasn’t at all been a chore, I love reading women’s work, and discovering that whether it’s Japan, Brazil, or Italy, we are not as different as the world would have us believe. My foray into these works has exposed me to ideas and experiences that I would have never had if these works had not been translated.  We need more books to bridge the gap, to tell our experiences, and show the world women’s capacity for storytelling.  While we’re on the subject, can someone please hurry and up and translate the rest of Yoko Ogawa’s work in English. Please. I’m begging.

This year has been a great year for reading Women in Translation,  and I hope it continues to be so.

Here are two Latin American Women whose work you should  really pick up!

Daisy

Riverbed Memory by Daisy Zamora Translated by Barbara Paschke

Not only is this a Nicaraguan women’s work in translation, but poetry which is a another marginalized group in literature. Needless to say, I felt like I found the holy grail. My origins are Nicaraguan, and I’m constantly disappointed by the lack of representation I’ve found for Central American authors in general. I dived into Daisy Zamora’s work, and savored her accounts of the war my parents lived through. While many of the poems in this collection depict the Nicaraguan civil war and the brutal after math, a large portion of the collection is dedicated to women, to out bodies, our love, and our courage. Her poetry weaves  a story of girlhood, adulthood, and the lives of normal people facing the unimaginable.

Celebration of the Body

I love this body of mine that has lived a life,
its amphora contour soft as water,
my hair gushing out of my skull,
my face a glass goblet on its delicate stem
rising with grace from shoulders and collarbone.

I love my back studded with ancient stars,
the bright mounds of my breasts,
fountains of milk, our species’ first food,
my protruding ribcage, my yielding waist,
my belly’s fullness and warmth.

I love the lunar curve of my hips
shaped by various pregnancies,
the great curling wave of my buttocks,
my legs and feet, on which the temple stands.

I love my bunch of dark petals and secret fur
keeper of heaven’s mysterious gate,
to the damp hollow from which blood flows
and the water of life.

This body of mine that can hurt and get ill,
that oozes, coughs, sweats,
secretes humours, faeces, saliva,
grows tired, old and worn out.

Living body, one solid link to secure
the unending chain of bodies.
I love this body made of pure earth,
seed, root, sap, flower and fruit.

Body

The Body Where I was Born By Guadalupe Nettel Translated by J.T. Lichtenstein

I’ve already raved about this book in a previous post, but a little more raving never hurt. This short but insightful  novel follows the life of a women who is now an an author and a mother. She recounts her odd childhood  growing up in Mexico City with her extremely liberal parents, and then moving to France and experiencing another culture and customs. The novel follows her youth and her complicated relationship with her mother, her introduction to drugs and sex, and her triumph over her own demons. I loved this little book, and cannot recommend it highly enough.

 

My TBR for the month:

Couple Mechanics by Nelly Alard

The Invisible Garden by Dolores Redondo

Revenge: A Fable by Tasalima Nasrin

Everything by Elena Ferrante

The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart

And Anything else I can get my hands on!

What are you reading for WITmonth? Please give me some recommendations!

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

 

I’m back and Best of July!

I’m back! Hope you have all been well. The heat was not my friend, but I didn’t let that stop me. I had a blast. If you’re new here, or just don’t remember me, or where I went. I went to Italy a few weeks back. I came home to a lot of changes, finishing up my summer classes,( I aced both 🙂 ) and a stubborn cold.

A teaser of my Italy recap post:

 

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Stay tuned for that post. Suffice to say, Italy is great country so much history, friendly people, and delicious food. Also, very bookish.

 

As you can imagine, I packed my suitcase with books, and managed to only finish one, but man was it a good on!

 

Elena
The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

Elena Ferrante can write. Angry, happy, confused, or sad, she captures human emotion to the letter. Her characters are authentic, and chances are you can always find yourself in them. The Days of Abandonment follows Olga in the days after her husband decides to leave her. Olga is distraught, angry, and sad. The beginning of her story depicts her trying to be strong as she attempts to hold  it together for herself, and her two children. She wants to find the reason why her husband left, and if there is anything she can do to bring him back to her. When she discovers he’s taken up with a younger girl, she loses it, and throws decorum out of the window.

 

“I don’t give a shit about prissiness. You wounded me, you are destroying me, and I’m supposed to speak like a good, well-brought-up wife? Fuck you! What words am I supposed to use for what you’ve done to me, for what you’re doing to me? What words should I use for what you’re doing with that woman! Let’s talk about it! Do you lick her cunt? Do you stick it in her ass? Do you do all the things you never did with me? Tell me! Because I see you! With these eyes I see everything you do together, I see it a hundred thousand times, I see it night and day, eyes open and eyes closed!”

Yes, girl! Even though I have never been in Olga’s shoes, I felt such fulfillment in her anger, and so glad that Ferrante didn’t hold back on it. Olga spends the rest of the novel piecing herself back together, and relearning how to be her own woman again.  The book has its quirky moments that added a little lightness to this otherwise  bleak story. This is a small book, but it packs a big punch. If you want an intimate look at a woman’s journey back to herself, I highly suggest picking this one up.

I’m getting old because it took much longer than I care to admit to recover from this trip. Between catching up on sleep and work, I haven’t been all that productive in little else besides watching TV shows.  I have a few weeks of relaxation before I start my fall semester, so I am enjoying my lazy time as much as possible.

Read anything good lately? Also, I’ve started a listy accent. Come find me  @Bibliosa.

Thanks for reading 🙂