Last Week In Books, July 27th – August 2nd: Wait, what? August? Already? How?

Whew,fellow readers. The more I blog the more I realize just how much is going on in the world of publishing and good books. The world of reading is busy, and while sometimes I have to dive a little deep to find info about diverse books, it’s out there for the finding.

If you don’t have time to deep dive for yourself, check out what we have from last week starting with…

  • Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy is out and it’s goooood…so far.(I’m only 4 episodes deep.) Admittedly, the Gerard Way/Gabriel Ba penned graphic novel that the show is based on didn’t keep my attention for too long but this is a case where all the right changes were made to make an adaptation really sparkle. [via Netflix]
  • Amrou Al-Kadhi is a gay, non-binary Arab Muslim, and a drag queen. Even if drag had not had such a profound effect on my personal life and aesthetic preferences, I’d find their memoir Life As A Unicorn absolutely fascinating. (Here’s hoping it doesn’t suffer from the Fairest effect…). I say all of that to point out this excellent article in which Al-Kadhi schools us on books about drag from an expert perspective. [via LitHub]
A little throwback for you…I promise there’s a reason.
  • Music critic Maria Sherman has written an extensive history and analysis of the phenomenon that is boy bands, titled Larger Than Life: A History of Boy Bands From NKOTB to BTS. While I didn’t have high hopes given the BTS-spangled cover, Sherman offers up this thoughtful tidbit in her NPR interview that made me curious. When asked about boy bands and their relationship to Black music, her response is;

Boy band music, like all popular music, is founded in Black music — it’s sort of a throughline throughout all popular music history. There’s a reason Backstreet Boys’ “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” sounds exactly like Boyz II Men‘s “End of the Road.” It’s pretty egregious. And yet for many people, myself included, I don’t really see Boyz II Men as a boy band. There are a variety of reasons for that, but the obvious one is that it wasn’t presented as a boy band and so much of what a boy band identity is is how it’s marketed and sold to you. Boyz II Men are seen as a sexier R&B male vocal group and the Backstreet Boys are a little bit more innocent. There’s something to that image of chastity, even if it is alluding to something PG-13. I also think that perhaps because Black and brown youth are typically sexualized at a younger age, they’re not afforded the same privileges of a white boy band. And that’s why you can have the Backstreet Boys, who are around the same age doing something similar, but sold to tweens, whereas Boyz II Men is for a more mature audience.

Maria Sherman, A New Book Traces The History Of Boy Bands, The Pop Phenomenon ‘Larger Than Life’

Hmm. Definitely makes me sit up and pay attention to the rest of what she has to say. [via NPR.]

Let’s swing into more serious territory for these last few…

  • After more than 80 authors and publishers signed an angry letter decrying their human rights abuses, Saudi Arabia will officially not host the World Science Fiction Convention , aka WorldCon 2022. Chicago will instead. [via Tor, The Guardian]
  • Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga,who wrote the Booker Prize-shortlisted novel This Mournable Body was arrested and jailed during a peaceful protest on Saturday, then subsequently released on bail. While I’m glad to hear she was released, I’m also extremely upset that she was even arrested to begin with. The woman is 61, a international treasure, and it was a peaceful protest. [via RFI]
  • I’ve been judicious but not shy about voicing my criticism of Robin DiAngelo’s hit non-fiction anti-racism book White Fragility. Surprise surprise, DiAngelo herself is getting rich and fragile as her academic celebrity grows. Don’t say I never told you. [via Free Beacon]

There’s other news this week, about the Eisner Awards, George R.R. Martin messing up again, and why I should probably not make jibes at Martin, or any other author, really. To get updates on bookish news in real time throughout the week, follow me on Facebook. To get book reviews and pretty pictures, follow me on Instagram. Finally, if you want to support this blog and fill your life with even more books, check out my Bookshop affiliate store, or click and purchase from any link in a blog or review on this site. Thanks as always for your read, and peace!

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