Here’s the short version of this post: I started a book club on Facebook. You’re welcome to join it and read along with us in 2017.
Here’s the long version:
The goal of the Woke As Fuck Book Club is to spend 2017 reading the stories, novels, essays and autobiographies of suppressed voices. The authors we’re going to read are:
- People of Colour (anyone non-white, including people with ancestry from Asia, India, Australia and the South Pacific, Africa, as well as indigenous people from Eurasia, North and South America)
- Muslims and other non-Christians,
- LGBTQ or otherwise alternative in their sexuality
- Disabled or Non-Neurotypical
I’m a genre writer and a life-long genre reader, so my major focus is going to be pulp fiction and graphic novels. I read primarily science fiction, fantasy and horror, but for the WAF Book Club, autobiographies and collections of essays are on the table. I may even sidestep into some crime fiction, romance or academic work along the way.
You could create a Woke As Fuck Book Club to cover any literary genre, obviously. I wanted to make this process fun for me, so I chose the kind of material I generally like to read.
If you were to start a similar program yourself, obviously you would choose the kind of thing that works for you personally. Maybe it’s poetry, or mysteries, or plays. Maybe you’d be reading investigative journalism or some other brand of meaty non-fiction. There are suppressed voices in every literary field, and the goal of a WAF Book Club is to deliberately seek them out and engage with them, in every meaningful way.
Here’s my current Book Club Manifesto. I may update it as the process goes forward.
The WAF Book Club is a study group. Our shared goal is to Get Woke.
We’re going to spend a full year in 2017 reading and supporting literature written by POC and other marginalized voices, including Islamic, queer and disabled authors, and possibly some female authors–although I am going to keep the works of straight white women to a minimum.
1. DON’T JUMP THE GUN. This is a big undertaking and things will get chaotic really quickly if we’re out of sync all the time, posting threads and links at random. Nothing wrong with reading ahead if you’re on fire, but please save your threads and comments until the rest of us are ready. We’ll get to every possible author as soon as we can.
2. KEEP IT FUN. Genre of titles for this Book Club should generally be some form of pulp fiction, personal essays, or autobiography. Science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novels are strongly preferred. (Because getting woke can be fun, right?) A few biographies and scholarly works or anthologies occasionally okay as well, but we are not academics.
3. BUY THE DAMN BOOK. Commit to buying the work new whenever possible, to support the living author and/or heirs of the author. When that is not possible, for whatever reason, try to find some other way to contribute to the author’s livelihood. Check out a legal copy from a library. Support a Patreon, or file a request that the book be purchased by your local library. Reading marginalized creators is good–but they also need to get paid.
4. WAKE OTHER PEOPLE UP. When you’ve read something, commit to publishing reviews of the work in whatever medium you can, including professional magazines and websites, fanzines, newspapers, your own blog, Amazon, Goodreads, etc.. Send fan mail to the author. Send letters and emails to the publisher asking when the next book is coming. Nominate the work for awards. Etc..
Feel free to add your friends and other interested parties to the group at any time to post, suggest books, etc.. If you find an interesting article or book about an author or a subject that is related to this book, please feel free to post it, or add it to the Woke List.
5. BE PATIENT AND KIND. With everyone. Including yourself.
The whole point of this exercise is to elevate your state of consciousness. That means you’re moving uphill, starting at a lower place by definition. I’m going to write a review for everything I read. Someday I’ll re-read those reviews, looking back from higher ground, and I may cringe a little at the way I used to think, the things I used to believe, the things I didn’t know and the things I didn’t see.
That’s okay. It’s worth it.
6. SHARE YOUR FAVORITES. Please post recommendations of authors (and specific books!) to the reading list at any time. The group will retain an ongoing list of books, comics and stories for future reading and reference, and we’ll have open threads for any book or author that we’ve already covered. If someone joins late, they’ll have the opportunity to jump with a new comment or link at any time.