“Perhaps struggle is all we have because the god of history is an atheist, and nothing about his world is meant to be. // This is not despair. These are the preferences of the universe itself: verbs over nouns, actions over states, struggle over hope.” Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
“Happy July!” was how I wanted to open this post, but in reality my heart is breaking because as I was writing this, news came out confirming that the anti-terrorism bill has been signed into law, despite the growing opposition of thousands of Filipino citizens and various human rights groups both locally and internationally. I will, however, not stop in supporting and hoping for the success of the good people leading the appeal in upholding our constitutional rights. As ordinary citizens, it is our duty to be vigilant and to add our voice to the call– #JunkTerrorBill is now #JunkTerrorLaw ✊
It is now two in the morning, and since I can’t sleep anyway I will go ahead and share my rather extensive monthly wrap-up. There are so many things I should have blogged about during the last couple of weeks but due to my busy lifestyle (a.k.a. mom life), I wasn’t able to. I will attempt to share them all in one post. My June reading month was spent learning, celebrating, grieving and embracing diversity. There is so much work to be done, and every little bit helps when it comes to using our platforms to amplify voices fighting for equality and social justice.
June was #PrideMonth, and I participated in a month-long readathon celebrating #PRIDE called #SpectrumReads hosted by my lovely bookstagrammer friends @obscure.pages and @dexterous_totalus. Listed down below is the queer lit To-Be-Read (TBR) list that I came up with.
THE BINDING by Bridget Collins – this is like the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, only with books
NOT THAT BAD edited by Roxane Gay – collection of essays and true accounts of rape and rape culture. It’s not solely focused on women but also includes lgbt and non-binary
LUCAS by Elna Holst – a sapphic retelling / continuation to Pride and Prejudice. The forbidden romance is told through letters/diary entries
TIPPING THE VELVET by Sarah Waters – because favorite author
DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS by Courtney Stevens – won this book in a giveaway hosted by @dexterous_totalus (thank you so much!!) and it’s supposed to be an exploration of sexual fluidity set in a small town
FELIX EVER AFTER by Kacen Callender – our book club pick for June! Black, queer and making waves in the bookstagram community. I will talk about this more on a future post.
There are so many great queer lit out there, and I can’t resist adding more recommendations. This time featuring books I’ve already read and loved.
EVERYTHING UNDER by Daisy Johnson – I love this book to bits. The unique writing style and visuals explore family relationships, and trans lives.
HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES by Carmen Maria Machado – I feel like I’m always talking about this book, but I love it so much. Some of the pieces in this collection are sapphic, all of them feminist and stories that go beyond genres.
MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides – I honestly remember this more for the epic family saga and portrayal of immigrant life. But it’s definitely a must read for its intersex rep.
RING by Koji Suzuki – also widely known for its adaptation film The Ring, this book (and the trilogy) features an intersex character. Most of the book is a horror fest but I just thought it is memorable how the one character was portrayed.
WE ARE THE ANTS by Shaun David Hutchinson – angsty, M/M, existential crisis and coming of age story. I read this as a travelling book for our book club where we passed on just one copy to every member and we can leave our notes and thoughts for the next readers 💚
THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – one of my absolute favorites from last year! This is an intense sapphic romance between two rival agents from warring factions. An epic tale spanning space and time.
A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO QUEER & TRANS IDENTITIES by Mady G and JR Zuckerberg – a personal favorite, and the only nonfiction recommendation I have currently. “Covering essential topics like sexuality, gender identity, coming out, and navigating relationships, this guide explains the spectrum of human experience through informative comics, interviews, worksheets, and imaginative examples.”
LOST GIRLS by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie – think of a Peter Pan + Wizard of Oz + Alice in Wonderland retelling, but make it erotica, and also LGBT. It explores women and men’s desire and sexuality, and the more serious concepts of consent and child abuse (trigger warning!) Great art and compelling storytelling make this a must-read. I’ll be sharing my favorite pages in a future post.
BLM Stories 🖤
Like most people in the bookish community, I spent the last few weeks looking at reading lists on race and social justice, with focus on Black culture and Black history/stories written by Black authors. I found that a number of them are books that have been sitting on my shelf for years (in photo). There is no better time to read them than now, in solidarity with our POC friends. I know I still have so much to learn, and the most important thing is to always seek out knowledge and understanding.
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – a father attempts to make his son understand the ways of a cruel world. “Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward. ”
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – a story of two former lovers and the reignition of their lost passion — for each other and for their homeland.
Beloved by Toni Morrison – “a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past. Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free.”
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison – “Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly.”
What I Read IRL
In a perfect world, I’d be able to read all the books that I want but of course that’s far from the truth, so here’s a quick rundown of the titles I actually finished for June (🌈 for #pridemonth and 🖤 for BLM stories).
His Banana by Penelope Bloom~ 3⭐
🌈The Binding by Bridget Collins~ 3⭐
🖤The Mothers by Brit Bennett~ 4⭐
Adele by Leila Slimani~ 5⭐
Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee~ 4⭐
🖤Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates~ 5⭐
🌈🖤Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender~ 4⭐
🌈Lucas by Elna Holst~ 4⭐
🌈Lost Girls by Alan Moore, Melinda Gebbie~ 5⭐
I don’t feel bad for “failing” to read all the books I’ve listed down at the beginning of the month. Reading LGBTQIA+ and BLM lit, appreciating their stories and learning how to be an ally is something we should do not just for June but ALL the time. I am looking forward to eventually reading more of them. I’m also grateful for all the insight and empowerment these reads have imparted to me. I desperately need them in the present circumstances.
Lastly, here’s my journal spread for June 🌿 It is a source of joy to be able to keep up with my monthly pledge of doing spreads. For this month I used: scraps from watercolor sessions with my son, a single petal from a bouquet of roses the husband gave me (I wanted to use more but it looks too messy already), stickers of course, and some favorite quotes from my June reads 🌹
It’s a new month and I’m hoping you have found, or are in your way to finding your peace and safe space in all the gloom. Embrace your struggles and never despair. The world can be ugly but never ever lacking in beauty. 💗