Hello from Washington, DC! I’m very excited to be here as I prep for Deficient’s book event on Thursday, October 5th at The Potter’s House. If you are in the DMV area, I’d love to see you there. You can find more information about this event on my Events Page and in last week’s blog.
A few exciting book-related things happened this week. In Sparta, New Jersey, I swung by the beautiful little book oasis, Sparta Books, where Deficient is now being sold! You can find it at the front of the store in the local NJ authors’ section.
To see Deficient on display, holding its own next to so many other fantastic writers, was a real “Is this actually happening right now?” moment for me. I think Susan from Sparta Books could tell I was shocked by the whole thing, since I was wandering in circles not really knowing what to do with myself. She guided me to the NJ authors’ section and offered to take my picture with the book. She recommended a few different angles so we could get the best shots. (Thanks so much, Susan!)
Sparta Books has been wonderful to work with, and they are extremely supportive of local authors. I’ll also be doing a book event there on October 22nd! I’ll share more information on that in the coming days.
Now that I’m in DC, I took the the opportunity to visit another wonderful bookstore, The Potter’s House, to scope out the space for this week’s book event. In addition to having some of the best coffee in the city, The Potter’s House has an excellent selection of books, including a section dedicated solely to banned books.
I cannot express how much I love this display, which includes brilliant books like Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, among others. I find it fascinating that a nonprofit bookstore/café is using its power to bring focus to authors whose stories have been seen by some as too threatening to be read. By giving a dedicated space to these books, The Potter’s House is helping raise our collective curiosity and awareness. This keeps the authors’ thoughts alive for people to engage with and analyze, ensuring they will never be fully removed from our collective consciousness.
The topic of book banning came up in a communication I received this week from my hometown newspaper, The Roxbury Register. The paper would like to do an article on Deficient, which I am thrilled about. In preparing the article, they asked me a few thought-provoking questions, one of which was if I was concerned about my book being banned in some places.
This was something I hadn’t given too much thought to in the scramble to finalize the book and get it published. However, I couldn’t help but think about it as I examined the collection of banned books at The Potter’s House. Even in my hometown, there is a movement to remove certain books from schools. Could Deficient ever become one of those books?
I’m not sure why it would. The themes of Deficient are universal in nature and feel very natural. Audiences have already begun connecting with the story, and I’ve received a great deal of positive feedback from those who have read the book.
I am aware of current trends around the banning or censoring of books that expose us to diverse viewpoints or address topics like race, gender, and sexuality. If anyone has an issue with how I do this in my writing, I think that is more of a reflection on them. The beauty of books is that they challenge our thinking and invite us to experience life through other perspectives, which has the knock-on effect of promoting greater empathy. Rather than banning books, I would encourage people to write and share more and carve out time with people of all ages to discuss the topics and themes within books, particularly those that touch on important social issues.
As I scanned the banned books on sale at The Potter’s House, a staff member told me that one book, Gender Queer, a memoir by Maia Kobabe, was the most banned book of 2023. With my curiosity fully piqued, I snatched the last copy of Gender Queer and bought it. The book is about Maia’s path to identifying as nonbinary and asexual and what gender identity means. I have a lot to learn and nothing to fear by reading it, and I could say the same thing for any of the other books in that section.
I left The Potter’s House feeling happy and grateful. I felt like I had chosen a safe space to introduce Deficient in the nation’s capital – a place that should lead from the front by promoting inclusion over exclusion, diversity over homogeneity, and freedom of thought and expression over senseless and counterproductive repression.