Hi KWLers,

To say the past few weeks have been difficult would be an extreme understatement. It has been an extraordinarily emotional time, especially for the Black members of our communities. Here at Kobo, we are committed to a continued effort to support our Black community, to make contributions financially, and to look within our own company to see where and how we can improve. You can read our full statement here:

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“Words are fine, but not enough.” – a message from Rakuten Kobo pic.twitter.com/i7K4FBNpIE

On a personal level, I know a lot of us are committing to making donations, signing petitions, sharing resources on social media, having difficult conversations with friends and family, and as a group of avid book-lovers, many of us have been consciously picking up books by Black authors this month. In that vein, I want to start the roundup this week by sharing an essay by Saeed Jones about the protests that are happening in America (and across the world), and invite you to relisten to the conversation we had with him earlier this year about his novel How We Fight for our Lives.

Whose Grief? Our Grief

A lifetime and a few fires ago, before the dark whir of helicopters started troubling my sleep, before I could tell you what tear gas tastes like, I was still learning the contours of Breonna Taylor’s life and death, still thinking about Ahmaud Arbery going for a jog, then running for his life, still mourning more than 100,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus, still endangered by a president who decided he could end a pandemic simply by putting up “Open for business” signs.

#187 – In Conversation with Saeed Jones

Award winning poet Saeed Jones was in the Kobo office recently to discuss his new memoir, How We Fight For Our Lives. In conversation with maxine bailey, Saeed talked about growing up black and gay in the southern United States, the process of putting his life onto paper, his desire to save Meghan Markle, and how everyone is fighting for their lives.

It should come as no surprise that books on the topics of social justice and race topped bestseller lists this week.

Race, Social Justice Titles Sparked Rise in Sales Last Week

‘So You Want to Talk About Race’ saw its sales jump by 848% last week over the previous week as a number of other social justice-related titles also saw big sales bumps, helping to drive up total unit sales of print books by 6.8% over the week ended May 30.

Last weekend, the hashtag #PublishingPaidMe took Twitter by storm as authors compared advances paid to white authors and their BIPOC counterparts.

#PublishingPaidMe and a Day of Action Reveal an Industry Reckoning

A viral hashtag encouraged black and nonblack book authors to compare their pay. Publishers pledged to improve their diversity efforts. Authors and book publishing employees are speaking out against the homogeneity of their industry and how much writers of color are paid, issues that are gaining urgency as protests against systemic racism continue around the U.S.

Between Covid-19 and the recent protests, Black bookstores are facing unprecedented hardships in 2020.

From Pandemic to Protest, on the Hardships Facing Black-Owned Bookstores

When I started Book Post, a book-reviewing newsletter, about two years ago, after working for many years at The New York Review of Books, I decided we’d link directly to independent booksellers. Partly I wanted to give them the business.

Writer and activist Rachel Cargle is opening a bookstore writing centre in her hometown of Akrin Ohio.

Rachel Cargle Is Opening a Bookstore and Writing Center to Support Marginalized Voices

Academic and activist Rachel Cargle announced that she’s opening Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre in her hometown Akron, Ohio. The shop has launched online and will open a physical store once it’s deemed safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. Cargle also shared her #Revolution Reading List filled with resources applicable to the current police brutality protests and the ongoing fight for racial justice.

The Miriam Webster dictionary’s definition of racism is getting an update, thanks to a vocal activist.

A Missouri woman asked Merriam-Webster to update its definition of racism and now officials will change it

Kennedy Mitchum wasn’t expecting much when she emailed Merriam-Webster last month, but she wanted to let the dictionary publisher know that she thought its definition of the word racism was inadequate.

JK Rowling released an essay this week, addressing long-standing accusations of transphobia. Rather than reposting that here, I’d like to share responses by two members of the Trans Community, as well as this great Twitter thread which breaks it all down.

How JK Rowling Betrayed the World She Created

Time and time again, I’ve become accustomed to having to defend my womanhood when public figures declare that transgender women are not “real” women.

The National Endowment of the Arts has awarded $1.4 million to literary organizations around the United States.

NEA Awards $1.4 Million to Literary Organizations

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced $84 million in grants for 1,144 projects, including 62 for literary arts organizations, worth a total of $1.4 million. The NEA noted that while applications for these grants were submitted during the summer of 2019, the NEA worked with organizations to “adjust their projects to meet the new reality created by the pandemic.”

Last week, The New Yorker released a never-before-published Hemmingway story.

“Pursuit as Happiness”

That year we had planned to fish for marlin off the Cuban coast for a month. The month started the tenth of April and by the tenth of May we had twenty-five marlin and the charter was over.

The first ever museum dedicated to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been approved.

Mary Shelley: Bath Frankenstein museum plans approved

Jonathan Willis, one of a trio leading the project, said: “Frankenstein was effectively the first sci-fi novel. It’s in the top 100 most influential books of all time – but no-one in Bath mentions it.”

It was announced that Jeff Daniel’s will serve as the narrator on the audiobook of Jim Carrey’s new novel, Memoirs and Misinformation.

Jeff Daniels to narrate audiobook of ‘Dumb and Dumber’ costar Jim Carrey’s new novel

Jim Carrey’s Memoirs and Misinformation is getting the audiobook treatment from an old friend. Jeff Daniels will narrate the audiobook of his Dumb and Dumber costar’s upcoming novel, which will be available July 7. Carrey announced the news on Twitter with a short, unnerving excerpt from the audiobook, with Daniels’ dulcet tones describing an obvious stand-in for a certain U.S.

If you’re looking to continue to educate yourself on racism or the Black experience in North America, check out one of these reading lists. And when you’ve found the book you’re looking for, consider buying it from a Black owned bookstore.

Stay safe, stay healthy, have a great weekend.   

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