Summer book bingo! June 9, 2021 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Let's fill out our Seattle Public Library's Summer Book Bingo cards together. You don't have to live in Seattle to do it; anywhere will work, with books in any language. We can give each other reading suggestions and encouragement here.

Categories this year are:

On Your Shelf
Small Press
Beach Read
Black Joy
Activism or Social Justice
Made You Laugh
Coming of Age
Recommended by Library / Peak Picks
Graphic Novel or Comic
Recommended by a Friend
Mystery or Crime
Cli-Fi or Environmental Non-Fiction
Poetry or Essays
Asian American or Pacific Islander Author
SAL Speaker
Speculative Fiction
BIPOC Food Writing
Olympics Host City
Two Books from a Series
Recommended by a Local Bookseller

We can give suggestions here, and discuss the meta aspects of the bingo card, but for longer discussions of particular books we can link to FanFares.

You can go for bingo (a straight line) or blackout (all of ‘em). Deadline is September 7th.

Who’s in?
posted by The corpse in the library to MetaFilter-Related at 9:29 AM (51 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

I'm in! Think I'll go for a blackout. When do we start?
posted by angiep at 9:53 AM on June 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Start… now! Go go go!
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:18 AM on June 9, 2021

SPORTS: I read Alison Bechdel's The Secret to Superhuman Strength.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:46 AM on June 9, 2021 [4 favorites]

QT BIPOC: I recommend Postcolonial Love Poem, by Natalie Diaz.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:48 AM on June 9, 2021

CLI FI: I read it last year so I can't count it again, but I liked The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:51 AM on June 9, 2021

Filing debateable (there's no Black Righteous Fury space) but I really loved Tochi Onyebuchi's Riot Baby. Confrontational in that it was utterly uninterested in softening tone or making civility noises for white-reader-gaze, relentless, and haunting.
posted by Drastic at 11:53 AM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

If you're the kind of person that cheats at bingo, China: A Cookbook is a long book, but it also hits the Small Press, Recommended by Library Staff (me), Recommended by a Friend (also me), QTBIPOC, BIPOC Food Writing, and Olympics Host City boxes.

That's six--I bet someone can find a book that ticks off more boxes in one shot than that.
posted by box at 12:11 PM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm doing plenty of challenges this year, so I will probably try this one, too. I don't read many books that would qualify for the Sports category, but I would recommend Spinning by Tillie Walden since it is about figure skating - and I see it is often compared to Fun Home. I read The Chocolate War last year (to fulfill the banned book task in the PopSugar challenge) and though it would qualify because the football team is big part of the plot, but I didn't care for it.
posted by soelo at 1:31 PM on June 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

I always have great intentions so I’d love to go for a blackout, but I know myself well enough that I’ll just go for a bingo.
posted by holborne at 1:35 PM on June 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Graphic Novel or Comic, and Activism or Social Justice: I liked and appreciated Nate Powell's Save It for Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest. Recommended!
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:00 PM on June 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm working on a blackout but I'm dreading the Romance box -- really hoping for some suggestions here! I even started a couple of the "Romance books for people who've never read one" and gave up, so perhaps I need recommendations from people who aren't trying to sell me on the whole genre? Or perhaps suggestions that aren't too faithful to the category? Halp.
posted by adiabat at 4:14 PM on June 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

I would recommend Spinning by Tillie Walden

Oh neat, I just got this out of my library to read. I am happy to make recommendations if people want them and then you can fill in a square. I'm filling in at a local teeny library this month and I will print these out and suggest them for patrons who want to possibly mix up their regular reading. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:22 PM on June 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

Romance - The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry is classified as a romance in my library app’s tags and I liked it.
posted by hilaryjade at 4:28 PM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Romance recs:
Beach Read by Emily Henry has a lot going on - genre vs. literary fiction, dealing with grief and writer's block, oh yes and a romance.

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater is a Regency romance with supernatural elements - the heroine was cursed by a faerie, leaving her with no sense of fear, embarrassment, or happiness. Interspersed with the conventions of the London marriage market is a storyline involving the workhouses of London and conditions therein.
posted by mogget at 5:35 PM on June 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ooh, excellent! Thanks for this!

How loosely can we interpret the categories? Like, does "On Your Shelf" have to mean actually ON a SHELF, or can it mean Somewhere Within the Tottering Stacks All Over Your Floor?
posted by kristi at 6:08 PM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Wasn't sure what I would read in the Sports category but have put Sidelined by Julie DiCaro on hold at the library. From the library blurb:
Covering everything from the abusive online environment at Barstool Sports to the sexist treatment of Serena Williams and professional women's teams fighting for equal pay and treatment, and looking back at pioneering women who first took on the patriarchy in sports media, Sidelined will illuminate the ways sports present a microcosm of life as a woman in America—and the power in fighting back.
posted by angiep at 6:33 PM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Tottering stacks are fine, kristi. And I admit that I count any book I finish during the summer, even if I started it a while ago. Not if there's only one page left, but if there's a significant amount.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:34 PM on June 9, 2021

I'll aim for a black out, but will be happy if I get a bingo.

Could we also use this space to note what book we read to fill a space?
posted by later, paladudes at 7:21 PM on June 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Sports: I will second Tillie Walden any day of the year. You could also try Spirit Run by Noe Alvarez.

Romance: you want Helen Hoang (anything she's written, her grocery list, she's wonderful) or Courtney Milan (Trade Me or Hold Me for contemporary (or both for Two Books from a Series), The Heiress Effect for historical (add The Duchess War for Two Books).

Graphic novel: oh my god, I have so many. Meal (insect-based cuisine!). Gender Queer: A Memoir. Mooncakes!! Nimona. Ramayana: Divine Loophole (a good storybook to share with a little kid!).

OH DANG. while researching links for these recs, found out Helen Hoang's got a new book coming out this fall! Excuse me while I screeeeeeeeeeeeam (and get in line for a library hold, lol)
posted by snerson at 8:00 PM on June 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

later, paladudes: yeah, I think it would be great to share what we wrote in the boxes.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:33 PM on June 9, 2021

COMING OF AGE: I read Jennifer Gunter's The Menopause Manifesto. Yes, I know that's not what "coming of age" means in this context. Come and get me, book police.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:03 AM on June 10, 2021 [7 favorites]

BLACK JOY: suggestions? Preferably on the shorter side, because I'm going for the blackout.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:04 AM on June 10, 2021

Another great sports book is the hefty graphic novel Dragon Hoops by Gene Yang. He's a person very not into sports but gets caught up in the basketball goings on at his school, both the sport itself but also what is up with a lot of the players. It's really good and he's a treasure.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:08 AM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

A big part of how I'll use this playful bingo-framing is the push to read outside my usual horizons, so definitely keep those suggestions coming! Part of that outside-my-usual means the poetry/essay space is on the Poetry side because essays, my horizons are awash in those!

The serendipitous discovery of Rebecca Hazelton's The Man: a Compilation and loving it (I immediately went to post about it, and I never do that!) immediately settled who's going to go into that space on the card. Only question is, which of her collections.
posted by Drastic at 8:12 AM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

> I'm working on a blackout but I'm dreading the Romance box

What are some qualities you've liked in other novels? Do you want your romance to involve men or women or nonbinary people or...? Would you like a modern setting or historical? Do you want explicit sex scenes or discrete handholding?

I don't know the genre well, but a few I've liked recently are:
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:13 AM on June 10, 2021

Oh this may force me to get through the "Tottering Stacks" of books on my floor (these used to be tottering stacks on shelves, but I moved this month and the stacks are now on the floor because I need to buy new shelves)

I'm in!
posted by Julnyes at 8:26 AM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

BLACK JOY: suggestions? Preferably on the shorter side

Jesmyn Ward's 'Navigate Your Stars' is a commencement speech adapted into a book--at 64 pages, it's short enough that you might feel guilty for picking it.

If so, Issa Rae's 'The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl' is 200-ish pages, but it's a fast read.

Hanif Abdurraqib's 'They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us' is about the same length, but his 'Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest' is a little shorter.
posted by box at 10:42 AM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm working on a blackout but I'm dreading the Romance box -- really hoping for some suggestions here! I even started a couple of the "Romance books for people who've never read one" and gave up, so perhaps I need recommendations from people who aren't trying to sell me on the whole genre? Or perhaps suggestions that aren't too faithful to the category? Halp.

If you like mysteries, you might like something by Josh Lanyon, who writes m/m romance-mysteries or mystery-romances.

Another series to dip into would be the Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. As romances go, very slow burn—it takes many volumes for them to get together, but the burn starts right up in book one—but definitely romance, in my view, set within small-town murder mysteries.

I'm sure there are others, but mysteries aren't really my thing.
posted by Orlop at 10:44 AM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Or if you want something else that ticks the "romance" box without being a romance per se, Less by Andrew Sean Greer is a lovely little book that is about love but isn't built from romance novel tropes. It's a good, short read.
posted by Orlop at 11:42 AM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

For poetry: I really liked Sandra Cisneros' My Wicked Wicked Ways. A good variety of emotions, some fun, some drama, a clear emotional arc for a reader to follow. It was great spending an hour with that book.

...Honestly though, I feel like committing to an entire volume of poetry is asking a lot of people who may not already be into it? And published collections can be pretty hefty. So my recommendation, as a person who DOES love poetry and wants you to love it too, is to check in with Poetry Foundation for their pick of the day, or any website that publishes one daily. Commit to doing it x times over the summer and call that a book. You'll get a broader range of topics and voices, and hopefully find a poet who really speaks to you. a recent voice that has really resounded with me has been JUNE JORDAN cough cough wheeze read her please

Another graphic novel rec: Kimiko Does Cancer. Also, omg, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me. It's about high schoolers and somehow, really lovely despite that? I don't love stories about teenagers any more, but this book warmed the cockles of my cold dead heart.

Black Joy: I'm not sure if Nnedi Okorafor's Broken Places and Outer Spaces would do Black Joy entirely, but I recommend it 100% nonetheless.

edit: to->too!
posted by snerson at 11:47 AM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

I enjoy romance when it's not the whole plot, so I liked The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry by C. M. Waggoner. It's historical fiction in a world with magic. The main character is a poor but talented woman who takes a job on a team of bodyguards protecting "a rich young lady from mysterious assassins". There are mysteries and fight scenes. There's another book in the same universe, Unnatural Magic.
posted by soelo at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

This sounds fun! Here's mine so far that fit:

Cli-Fi or Environmental Non-Fiction: The Animals in that Country, by Australian writer Laura Jean McKay. Not quite Cli-Fi, it's the story of a strange plague that enables the infected to talk to animals. But NOT in some kind of cute Dr Doolittle way. Quite astonishing. The Aussie guy in my book club considers it the best Australian book ever written, and he's pretty smart.
Sports: Sprigs, by Brannavan Gnanalingam, a Sri Lankan New Zealand writer. Dissects the rugby culture of a private boys' school ["sprigs" = "cleats" in US English]. I loved it, but its harrowing as hell (major, major content warning for sexual assault and general bigotry].
On Your Shelf / Speculative Fiction:: Elizabeth Knox, The Absolute Book. Genius New Zealand writer, doing a kind of urban fantasy here I guess. I'm not sure it's her best but everyone else seems to love it.
Two Books from a Series: Jo Walton's Loose Change trilogy (police detective novels in an alt-history fascist 1940s UK). Very good.
Mystery or Crime: Ian Rankin, A Song for the Dark Times. Latest in the Inspector Rebus series, reliable as ever.
posted by Pink Frost at 1:18 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

I imagine Speculative Fiction isn't a struggle for a lot of MeFi folks, but that was another one I dreaded initially. I read Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death? and loved it so much I'm planning on reading the prequel and using those books for my Books in a Series boxes instead. I see another Okorafor recommendation above and plan on inhaling that as well once I'm done with my bingo card...

Thank you for all of the Romance recommendations! I see at least a couple of books that I am actively looking forward to reading. (I spent an inappropriately young part of my childhood sneaking away to read my grandmother's Danielle Steel novels and now I'm allergic to anything that feels like it's headed that direction, I guess. I'm sure my therapist would have something to say about this.)
posted by adiabat at 5:27 PM on June 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

Thanks for posting this! I'm signed up for my local library's summer reading challenge, but it's more freeform tracking of whatever you read. Sometimes it's fun to have a reason to seek out new books!

Another romance (that could also cover sports if anyone is stuck on those two specifically) is Linda Holmes's Evvie Drake Starts Over (link to goodreads) which is about baseball and coastal Maine and just feels very summery to me. Also 2 years old at this point, so the wait time to borrow it from your library probably isn't bad!
posted by the primroses were over at 8:08 AM on June 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Vox suggests that The Other Black Girl might fulfill the "Black joy" box.
posted by Orlop at 8:12 AM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Another recommendation for people who like to tick multiple boxes at once: the delightful Closet Cases: Queers on What We Wear (Popmatters review), a book about queer fashion that's: Small Press, Activism or Social Justice, QT BIPOC, Poetry or Essays, and, again, Recommended by Library Staff and Recommended by a Friend.
posted by box at 11:43 AM on June 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

box, I'm afraid the rules allow using each book only once per bingo card, though it's helpful to see books that can fill in gaps for various people! (A couple people have recommended Spirit Run for Sports but I used it for Coming of Age, for instance.)
posted by adiabat at 5:37 PM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Fanfare, for further discussion: Navigate Your Stars
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:56 AM on June 12, 2021

This is a post which will live in eponystery.
posted by y2karl at 2:23 PM on June 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

It happens that I was just reading Three Hours in Paris (Olympic host city 1900, 1924, and will be again in 2024) by Cara Black.

This looks like a fun way to widen my reading for the summer! Thanks, Tcitl!
posted by jaruwaan at 10:01 AM on June 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

This is an excellent thing from Seattle PL. No idea if I'll try for a score, but I will enjoy all y'all's progress.
posted by theora55 at 11:39 AM on June 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I read it last year but came to recommend After the Flood by Kassandra Montag for Cli-Fi. Though I fully admit I've never heard of Cli-fi but then saw it was also grouped into with non fiction so maybe not? Maybe some other category, recommending anyway!
posted by danapiper at 7:17 PM on June 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

If folks don't mind a self-link, my new book Strange Creatures came out on June 1st from HarperCollins, and it's a Künstlerroman, so fits the bill for coming of age. Also there's a metafilter joke in it. Spot it and you win $20, same as in town.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:14 PM on June 14, 2021 [8 favorites]

PhoBWanKenobi, it had just crossed my mind a couple of days ago to wonder if you had anything new in the works. I'm so happy to hear that you do! Congratulations with all my heart.

I've started reading The Essex Serpent, which someone recommended up-thread, and am enjoying it.

I printed out my bingo card, and my 13-year-old fetched it from the printer for me. "What is this?" he said. "Bingo? Are you warming up for when you're in the old folks' home, playing bingo in the social hall, and they have to give you a whole bunch of time to find your square? Is that was this is? Warm-up old people bingo? Don't worry, we'll put you in a good one."

Smart ass.
posted by Orlop at 7:08 AM on June 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

My holds are starting to come in from the library and I'm forgetting what are ones I requested for bingo and what are ones I requested a while ago and shouldn't dedicate time to yet. "I should take notes, but where?" I thought. Of course: here!

Dear Future Me,
Here are the books you've placed on hold for bingo so far:

Magic and the Shinigami Detective by Raconteur, Honor (mystery)
Popisho by Ross, Leone (Black Joy)
Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing by Lauren Hough (essays)
It's Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan (Black Joy)
Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Lawson, Jenny (laugh)
One Last Stop by McQuiston, Casey (laugh, romance)
A Master of Djinn by Clark, P. Djèlí (mystery)
You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism by Ruffin, Amber (laugh)
We Hereby Refuse, Japanese American Acts of Resistance During World War II by Abe, Frank (Activism or Social Justice)
Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater (romance)
White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women Of Color by Hamad, Ruby (Activism or Social Justice)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:49 PM on June 19, 2021

If anyone is still looking for a SPORTS book, I just gobbled up The World Beneath Their Feet, by Scott Ellsworth. It's the story of the race to climb Everest and other Himalayan peaks in the 1930s against the backdrop of Nazi Germany and the run-up to World War II, and it was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year last year. I love a good adventure story but felt a little guilty that I was reading a book by a white man about other, mostly very privileged, white men. (I've been trying to keep to the spirit of a very diverse bingo card so far.) But it was so good! I loved it so much! And so I looked up other books by Scott Ellsworth...

It turns out he is a professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, and he's written some other books. One is The Secret Game, about the first integrated basketball game (PEN/ESPN Award winner in 2016 for literary sports writing) -- so it would also qualify as a SPORTS book! And his latest book is The Ground Breaking, an account of the 1921 Tulsa massacre that is getting rave reviews. (n.b. Scott Ellsworth is a white man who grew up in Tulsa but the reviews note that he centers Black people in his writing.)

One of the frustrating things about SPL Book Bingo is that I spend a couple months reading twenty-four books, at least a few of which I don't really enjoy but have to finish to get the X in a square, and then I watch all the holds on books I actually want to read pile up because I can't shoehorn them into any of the remaining boxes. But I plan to read both of Scott Ellsworth's other books as soon as I have a full bingo card, and I hope this helps someone else find a SPORTS book that they truly enjoy instead of muddling through something just to get the X in a square.

Also somehow I've read fourteen books and have yet to make a single five-in-a-row bingo!
posted by adiabat at 11:08 PM on June 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Any suggestions for BIPOC food writing? On the shorter side, ideally; I’m not making good time.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:51 PM on July 1, 2021

Yeah... none of those really leapt out at me, and the few that looked sort of interesting have long hold lists. It's heavy on the TV-show chefs and I haven't watched any of their shows, and on cookbooks, which I don't want to sit and read cover-to-cover.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:25 PM on July 1, 2021

Hugh Amano's Let's Make Ramen! (2019) is a cookbook, but it's also graphic nonfiction, so it's a relatively quick read. His Let's Make Dumplings! came out last month, so there might be a hold list on the older title, but it probably won't be that long.
posted by box at 5:07 AM on July 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ah, that ramen book looks like just the thing. Thanks!
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:58 PM on July 2, 2021

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