As a kid, I loved participating in those summer reading contests. Often the prize was little more than stickers, a certificate, or a ticket to an event. I didn’t really care. I loved the check box nature of it all. I sometimes enrolled in multiple library systems programs reading for all of them. Those were the days, right? To have that much time to just read would be a treasure. I am always reading at least four books, and I am not sure how many I read all the way through. I read, take notes, study, read another, go to a related podcast and circle back again. I just read about a service where I can get books that are not available in e-reader format converted to such. I am seriously considering it. My reading life is centered on quoting and studying things I can put into sermons or columns. Yet, the idea of reading a fun book cover to cover sounds like a smart idea.

Find me in a rocking chair, with a glass of homemade ginger ale subsisting on cheese and crackers and fruit, reading books this summer. That is my vision when I am not weeding the garden.

Styles of fiction I have become more and more aware of are Afrofuturism and Speculative Fiction. In these, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are not oppressed but able to flourish. They encompass science fiction, fantasy, utopia, and their fan cultures and allow us to see what a world not held to a colonial framework.

While the erasure of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color’s (BIPOC) lives on Turtle Island (often creation stories in indigenous and native cultures come from Turtle Island) continues, there is an increasing need for literary work that interrupts this process and offers us a new paradigm. One genre doing this type of work is speculative fiction.

Octavia’s Brood was my first introduction to this genre. That book gives you shorter stories and it was created as a project Adrienne Maree Brown developed from many BIPOC authors as she imagines what would happen if we imagined a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, to develop this speculative science fiction book. While all the stories are not my cup of tea, many were very enjoyable.

Not familiar with the Octavia reference? Check out:

“Parable of the Sower,” by Octavia E. Butler (1993). A teen, who lives with her family in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles neighborhood that’s gated to protect inhabitants from the terrors of the nation’s crumbling society must make a dangerous journey outside of the gates.

There also is a

Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower stage production created by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon – which I still have not seen but dream of doing so.

“Kindred,” by Octavia E. Butler (1979). A young Black woman is suddenly — and repeatedly — pulled from her present time of 1976 California to a Maryland slave plantation in the 1800s, where she meets and must protect her ancestors, one of whom is the plantation owner’s white son.

“Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture,” by Ytasha L. Womack (2013). With music, art, literature and more, this collection serves as a critical guide to science fiction, fantasy, and the greats of Afrofuturism.

For more ideas, click here.

Happy reading,