Today I’m very happy to have That Bookshelf Bitch on my blog today!
1. What’s your name and where do you blog?
Hey, thanks for having me today, Wendy! I am extremely honored. ❤️ I am Shealea and I blog at That Bookshelf Bitch — and contrary to what my blog’s name implies, I’d like to think that I’m friendly and approachable.
2. When reading a book, what do you look for in terms of representation? What makes it good or bad, in your eyes?
I look for nuances and how these nuances interact and influence each other, which are subsequently reflected in the representation. I mean, identity is incredibly complex! It’s continuously shaped by tons of personal, social, and environmental factors such as sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, socioeconomic class and even educational background.
My degree program (Communication Research) falls under the larger umbrella of social sciences (yep, it’s odd, I know), so I spend a lot of my time reading theories and studies on human behavior and identity. Although a lot of what I read is geared towards how a person’s concept of self affects their communication behavior or communicative practices.
Still, despite that, I’ve learned that these components of identities don’t exist in a vacuum — and that’s exactly why intersections are really significant! When it comes to representation, you’re not actually limited to one component of identity. Like if two characters are both Asian, with one of them being in a higher social class, then the approaches to representing them should be different. Similarly, you can’t base everything about your character on just one component — like it’s not “Oh, my character is like this and does this and behaves this way because and /only/ because they’re Asian.” It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. I mean, how I identify as a Filipino is different from the way some other Filipino identifies as one, and these differences stem from the other aspects of who we are as individuals.
Okay, I’m babbling. My point is: nuances are what make good representation. As for bad representation, aside from the obvious stuff (e.g. harmful stereotypes, misappropriation, insensitivity), I think the whole ‘telling instead of showing’ thing applies, too. If I’m reading a book and I encounter a line like “Here in the Philippines, families are very important. That might be why I’m such a family person.” in the MC’s narrative, I’d feel pretty frustrated. Like, don’t tell me what you are and what you aren’t, show me!!! How do you interact with your parents? With your siblings? How involved are your family members in, say, your love life?
3. What is your least favourite book, and why did you dislike it so much?
Hmm, I’d have to go with Lang Leav’s poetry collections. Yep, all of them. I mean, I have only read one collection and a handful of poems from her other stuff. But the thing is: everything she writes, more or less, follows the same pattern/style/content, so I’m pretty confident that I’d hate everything she has written (and probably, everything she will write in the future). It frustrates me that Lang Leav is profiting from promoting problematic/toxic notions of love and relationships, using unoriginal wording and poorly structured poetic forms. Eww.
But if you’re looking for a novel I disliked, Twilight is the first to come to mind. Tons of problematic stuff in the entire saga, including cultural appropriation of Native Americans and undermining female agency.
4. What’s your favourite book that you’ve read because of other Diverse Book Bloggers?
This is the most difficult question you’ve given me. Haha! There are a lot of diverse books in my TBR that I haven’t been able to read yet, including Children of Blood and Bone, The Astonishing Color of After, and When Dimple Met Rishi — I have a feeling they’d be my answers if I’ve already read them.
But since I haven’t, I guess my favorite diverse book would be The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. I read it because I joined JM’s (from Book Freak Revelations) blog tour, and I was surprised by how much I loved it! The characters were fleshed out so well. I was totally blown away by how neatly and wonderfully things tied together, especially towards the end — it was an incredibly fascinating concept.
5. If you had to choose one book to define you, what would it be and why?
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco! Aside from the fact that the author is Filipino (well, Filipino-Chinese and lives in the Philippines), the concept of “bone witches” is actually inspired by Filipino folklore (search: mangkukulam). This book has made me realize that Filipino culture and mythology are teeming with untold and not-yet-written stories! And that’s one of my more recent life goals: writing a fantasy (or science fiction) story that’s set in my country.
6. What are your current reading plans?
My main reading goal is to read at least 48 books. I’m currently 9 books ahead of schedule, so that’s pretty great. Aside from that, I am planning on finally reading Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young, Delight by Moras Dela Paz, and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi once my academic requirements have been dealt with.