Challenge Accepted: Read Harder 2017
A new year means new year resolutions and challenges. One reading challenge that I love to do is Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder challenge. Instead of having people focus on a specific number of books, Read Harder challenges people to read different genres or authors that they may overlook. This year, there are 24 prompts for readers, and a complete list may be found here on the Book Riot Goodreads page. This read feed will address the twenty-first challenge, to read a book published by a micropress. Additionally, if you are interested in indie comics and zines I highly suggest visiting the Small Press Expo site and clicking through their exhibitors page, and also checking out DC Zinefest.
Chester 5000 XYV by Jess Fink
Now this one is a bit of a cheat since it has recently been acquired by Top Shelf Productions, an imprint of IDW Publishing, but when Jess Fink originally created this comic, it was self-published. An erotic steampunk comic, Chester 5000 is an automaton created by a scientist, who doesn’t realize the bond it has with his wife. That is all I can say while keeping it safe for work, but the highlight of the comic is how funny it is - the cast of characters rapidly expands and Jess Fink delights in taking full advantage of Steampunk tropes. Chester 5000 XYV was also nominated for an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Series, so if you are looking for fancy erotica, look no further.
Hollywood on the Potomac Mike Canning
Local history books are a great example of how micropresses can fill a niche that larger publishing houses ignore. This book examines the cinematic history of Washington: from the silent films to the use of D.C. in television and movies today. Examining individual movies, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to recent releases, Canning takes a look at how Hollywood gets D.C. right, and points out what they miss. Divided into three parts: the politics of D.C., the locations used (either actually in D.C. or elsewhere), and the popularity of D.C. in movies today, this book is full of fun facts for movie lovers to those interested in local history.
Anya has been living in two worlds: honoring her Polish cultural traditions and trying to fit into the Russian neighborhood she currently lives in Los Angeles. Anya does not want to disappoint her parents, but she is also drawn to Lev, who’s always at the Twin Palms, an exclusive club in her neighborhood. Anya wants desperately to be part of this scene and all that it represents but struggles with getting acceptance from everyone in her life, including herself. Told in equal parts humor and tragedy, Anya and her life is so well drawn that you’ll feel like her neighbor.Vessel: Poems by Parneshia Jones
At only 96 pages, this slim book of poems speaks to the ideas of family history, personal history, and how our stories fit into the larger American experience. A poem about going with her mother to buy her first bra highlights the experience of dealing with a body you don’t quite understand. Sharing her own family history helps connect the reader to their own sense of place. Connecting her stories with historical figures and artists like Marvin Gaye and Josephine Baker makes these people more flesh and blood. Jones’s prose will leave you waiting eagerly for her next book.
Women Without Men: A Novel About Modern Iran by Shahrnush Parsipur
Discussing sexuality, femininity, and the patriarchy sets Parsipur’s book apart from others in her time. Centered around five women who are experiencing a sense of confinement: some from their families, some from the state, and their struggle within this system. As these women drift apart and come together, Parsipur captures the ways in which women can struggle with the limits placed on them by themselves and others. After this book was published, Parsipur was jailed and the book was banned in Iran.
Did you read something else for this challenge? Share it with us on twitter by using #readharderdcpl!