diverse book blogger spotlight: the shenners

I am so glad to be chatting to the one and only Shenwei here on my blog today! If you’d like to read some of my other Diverse Book Blogger Spotlights, you can read my past interviews with Ameema and Ceillie!

1. Introduce yourself! Who are you and where do you blog?

My name is Shenwei (they/them pronouns), I’m a genderqueer Taiwanese American blogger and writer. I blog about diverse books, mostly YA and MG, at READING (AS)(I)AN AMERICA, and my specialization is Asian/Asian American lit. My favorite genre is fantasy.

2. What blog related project are you most proud of, and why?

I’m most proud of #AsianLitBingo, a reading challenge and blog post series that I launched and co-hosted with a bunch of Asian book bloggers in May 2017 for Asian American Heritage Month. It eventually grew into Lit CelebrAsian, which is a platform dedicated to supporting Asian voices in publishing year round. We host a bimonthly book club and regular Twitter chats, and this year we have begun to expand in our blog, which currently posts curated lists of new releases and backlist titles by Asian authors and will soon begin hosting guest posts and interviews with Asian authors. I’m really excited about these developments. 🙂

3. What do you think the purpose of the Diverse Book Blogger community is, and are we fulfilling that purpose?

The hashtag #DiverseBookBloggers was started by Naz at Read Diverse Books and was intended up facilitate networking between bloggers who focus on discussing and promoting diverse books. I like to think of us as the dedicated street team for getting the word out about books by marginalized authors, especially those that get fewer institutional promotional resources.

I think we’ve done a pretty good job overall, though disagreements over how to approach this mission and address problematic books have created a lot of tension in the community. We’re a work in progress and have room for improvement in making the community open and safe for these kinds of emotionally charged conversations.

4. What do you look for in a 5 star read?

I consider myself a very generous reviewer as far as ratings go, so I give a lot more 5-star ratings than the average reader. It can be hard to pinpoint what exactly makes a book a 5-star read for me, but it has to leave a deep impression on some way, whether it’s the characters, the plot, the worldbuilding, the writing, or the themes. In fantasy, worldbuilding is important, and in contemporary the characters are probably the most important element. In general I really like character-driven stories.

5. What do you think we as bloggers can do to help diversity in the publishing industry?

I think bloggers are some of the best advocates for diversity in publishing because we are key influencers of consumers in the industry and provide substantial qualitative feedback that is valuable to readers and publishers. We also drive a lot of the conversations about representation of marginalized communities and are a force to be reckoned with when we organize to raise our voices in protest or support of books.

6. Do you have any big reading plans for 2018?

Aside from hosting and participating in Asian Lit Bingo again, not really. I have not been rereading books much in the past year, so I want to set aside time to reread old favorites. I also want to increase the number of books I read that are by Indigenous authors or from outside of the U.S., especially Pasifika authors since they are erased by the umbrella term AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) and supporting them is part of my solidarity work as an advocate for marginalized voices

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