For the month of February, I will be participating in the Blackathon reading challenge, which is being hosted by Francina Simone, Bowties & Books, and The Novel Lush. They are all awesome Booktubers, and if you have any interest in books or bookish discussions at all, I suggest taking a look at their channels! Jesse from Bowties & Books also created a comprehensive Google Doc list, for anyone needing help locating books that would meet the requirement(s) for each challenge.
It has been stated that one book can check off multiple challenges, or all of them if it meets the requirements for more than just one. So when choosing books, that is something to bear in mind. I, however, have chosen to read at least one book per challenge. Depending on how my reading goes this next month, I may add more. That remains to be seen though.
Challenge #1 is FEEL THE LOVE: Read a book (any genre) featuring romance between two black people (or one black person + a person of color).
To fulfill this challenge, I have chosen to read Becoming by Michelle Obama.
“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”
Challenge #2 is WAKANDA FOREVER: Read a graphic novel or comic series with a black or African MC.
For this challenge, I have purchased the first installment of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.
“Lunella Lafayette is a preteen super genius who wants to change the world- but learned the hard way that it takes more than just big brains. Fearful of the monstrous Inhuman genes inside her, life is turned upside down when a savage, red-scaled tyrant is teleported from prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call today. The pair is many things, and together the most amazing Marvel Team-Up. Marvel presents…Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur!
Challenge #3 is HEAR US: ANY work by a Black or African author.
For this one, I have selected The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.
“At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this “intricate and extraordinary” Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution (The New York Times).
This is the way the world ends…for the last time. A season of endings has begun.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.”
Challenge #4 is FEEL THE BEAT: Spoken word – listen to these 4 poems and share your favorite on social media or with a friend. Discuss what this poem means to you and why it matters.
- Balaenoptera by Joshua Brandon Bennett
- What I’ve Learned by Aja Monet
- “Waiting” by Jasmine Mans, Alysia Harris, and Jennah Bell
- Cuz He’s Black by Javon Johnson
Challenge #5 is MORE THAN A COLOR: We house complexity within us. Read a book starring an intersectional black character (black & LGBT, black & neurodivergent, black & disabled, etc)
For this challenge, I will be reading An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon.
“Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.
Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot–if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.”
Challenge #6 is IN THIS TOGETHER: Read the group book with us! Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
“Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.
With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.”
Well, there you have it! If you frequent BookTube or Book Twitter, have you heard of this challenge? If so, are you planning on participating? If you are, what do your Blackathon TBR lists look like? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
For more info, be sure to check out the Blackathon Twitter page!