SHE LIT: New Year, Old Books 🥳


Out of the 16 books below, I’ve only read seven 📚😬

Books with red covers by female authors on the bookshelf.

Staying relevant as a book blogger by still reading new books, rediscovering old books

Happy 2023! Champagne clinks and literary links ushered in the new year. Innovating for another year means thinking more about the blog’s future and purpose.

Like many readers, my library has expanded beyond its limits, multiplying on several shelves and already outgrowing those spaces. I love buying books from thrift stores, used bookstores, new bookstores, book festivals, library fairs, yard sales, garage sales, estate sales. Anywhere a book can be bought, I bought it.

The urge became more important when I noticed books by Black women on sale, sometimes a rare sight, a revelation I learned from The Free Black Women’s Library Los Angeles. Books by Black women are usually not uplifted online or in the bricks-and-mortar as much as they could be. Neither are books by women of Indigenous, Latine, and Asian descent.

Young adult author Kalynn Bayron shared her disdain for walking into a bookstore that promoted books by BookTokers and noticing only one out of the 10 books was by a non-Black author of color. Diversity is still a problem in the publishing industry in many aspects, especially when it comes to fewer marketing dollars being given to non-celebrity authors of color.

While I’ve been collecting gems by female authors, I also haven’t been reading as many books as I want. As a book blogger promoting new books for search engine optimization and overall audience boost, I ignored most of my books in favor of buying new books, getting new books from publishers, and checking new books out from the library.

Books were piling up like I hadn’t learned anything from Christine Platt’s The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less where she offers the viewpoint of having too much stuff to meet a Eurocentric society’s desire for excess. Or when Nedra Glover Tawwab’s Set Boundaries, Find Peace advised on how to ask yourself what’s working and what’s not working and reflect on how to make things work for you. So, I have too many books that will take me years to read. And I need to refocus my love for books on forgotten treasures while still checking on the over-marketed new books, especially if they’re written by a woman of color. #PublishingPaidMe is still relevant today as it was in 2020.

I have read books in the last year that I want to share more with readers who may not have known about the book or maybe never had the chance to read it. One example is Gloria Naylor’s Linden Hills, which I bought from Myopic Books in Chicago. Another is bell hooks’ Bone Black. Both had been on my bookshelf for a while, so it felt gratifying to finally read these great works by great authors and discuss those stories.

More bookish outlets are also trying to elevate older works like Belletrist’s 2021 book club selection with Tananarive Due’s The Between, which was originally published in 1995. That book is also on my bookshelf. Thanks to the Ladera Heights Goodwill Store in Los Angeles for that find.

Books from previous years and even decades still need our support and attention. The marketing problem is a historic problem, where books by women, particularly women of color, got lost in the mix among Harry Potter-type fantasies, mysteries by men, and celebrity memoirs, just to name a few. I look forward to sharing my library and love for curation this year by discovering works that deserve to be rediscovered.

Check out past newsletters!

What we’re highlighting

2023 forecasted to be a rough year for books

The spike in book bans spreading from school libraries to big-box retailers over the debate of what’s appropriate in children’s literature is considered to be a major factor in the book sales slump, according to end-of-year media reports. Mostly works by non-White authors and LGBTQ+ authors are at the center of these book bans.

How the publishing industry markets books was one of the insider secrets the public received during last year’s blockbuster trial between the U.S. Department of Justice and Penguin Random House over the publisher’s proposed merger with Simon & Schuster. A federal judge blocked the merger in October. PRH’s global CEO stepped down. Authors and readers alike worried about the Big Five becoming the Big Four. Most of the books we tell you about are from Penguin Random House, as you will notice linked below in other news.

Publishing industry employees going on strike echoed all last year. The only major unionized publisher, HarperCollins, went on strike in November. Workers are still on strike, according to updates to the union’s Twitter feed. They claim that “untrained temps” will be hired to replace them to edit stories, design covers, and promote books. This week, the union asked the publisher’s CEO to return to the negotiation table to end the strike. The employees are demanding mostly fair wages to live in the publishing megalopolis of New York City.

Michelle Obama’s The Light We Carry sold less than one quarter of the first week print sales of her 2018 memoir Becoming, the NPD Group found, as the Forever First Lady’s book had a massive book tour with rock concert audiences (and prices) and still became a No. 1 best-seller. The NPD Group also noted Marie Kondo’s Kurashi at Home by the global superstar organizer ranked as low as No. 4,742 on upon its release, as reported by The New York Times. The reason for the lower book sales: The industry is trying to rebound from the pandemic highs. And a recession is looming.

Ketanji Brown Jackson announces upcoming memoir

The first Black female Supreme Court justice will write about her journey to the highest court. Titled Lovely One for the translation of her West African name, Justice Jackson plans to discuss her upbringing in Miami and her advancement in Big Law as a mother, a wife, and a Black woman. Publisher Random House has not shared a release date.

“Mine has been an unlikely journey,” she said in a statement from Random House. “But the path was paved by courageous women and men in whose footsteps I placed my own, road warriors like my own parents, and also luminaries in the law, whose brilliance and fortitude lit my way.”

Celebrity-helmed book clubs select January picks

What we’re reviewing

What we’re watching

Kindred on FX Hulu

Octavia E. Butler’s debut novel Kindred has been adapted to the screen with an eight-episode series streaming now on Hulu via FX. The story follows a Black woman living in modern-day Los Angeles who keeps getting transported to antebellum Maryland. She ends up saving her White ancestor as a child and embarks on a journey of fighting for her freedom physically on the plantation and mentally in order to return to her present life. Our book review can be found here.

Want your book and bookish news to be featured? Write us at

Forward this newsletter to friends!

%d bloggers like this: