June 24, 2020: This Week We're Wild About... Roseanne A. Brown

We're told as children not to judge a book by its cover. Sidestepping the metaphorical meaning, it is good advice about literal book covers as well. I've handed more than one novel to a skeptical reader saying, "ignore the hideous cover, the book is fantastic." But, like many, I am susceptible to beauty.

Weeks and weeks ago when flipping through book reviews, I was struck by the cover of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. It's stunning-a beautiful, dark-skinned black girl who looks powerful and soft, against a background of swirling emerald green, gold, and silver. Not even a little bit guilty, I skipped the other book descriptions to read that one first. A YA fantasy inspired by West and North African mythology? Oh la la. Two teens from opposing families who are supposed to kill each other, but then maybe fall in love? Oh la la la. Magic, adventure, romance, and the fight against oppression? Oh la la la la. Into the cart it went.

I'm not the only book obsessive who wanted to read this book. It came out June 2nd and is already a bestseller headed for a second printing. Enjoy her interview below where she talks about balancing reading for pleasure and reading to learn.

- Natalie McCall (Head of Youth Services)

Roseanne A. BrownWhat's the title of your upcoming book?

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin.

What book should readers go to for an escape from reality?

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. This book is rich and decadent, in a world unlike any I have ever read before.

What book should readers go to when they want to face reality?

SLAY by Brittney Morris. This book gives an unflinching portrayal on what it means to be Black, and how there is not one set experience within our community.

What was your reading life like before the pandemic?

I used to average a book or so a week! I mostly read YA because it is my favorite age category, but I have recently been branching out into both MG and adult. My favorite genre in all categories is fantasy.

What has your reading life been like since the pandemic?

Nowadays, I'm lucky if I average a book a month. It saddens me, because I feel my writing gets stronger the more I read, but it's just so hard to carve out time when so much is demanding your attention.

Why should people read for pleasure? Is that any different now?

Reading for pleasure is more important than ever, because books allow us to connect with one another, which is vital when we've lost so many vital forms of human connection. But even more important than reading for pleasure is reading to learn. We are in a decisive moment in our nation's history in regards to racism, police brutality, and injustice, and now is the time for people from every background to learn about the more uncomfortable parts of our past so we can all fight for a better future. A great book to start with is How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi.

What do you hope your book gives to readers?

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin Book CoverI hope my book helps readers realize that all the things they hate about themselves are often their greatest strengths. Also that a lot of the institutions we've been told are impossible to change rarely are, and that positive change is worth the fight.

Should book lovers worry about the future of publishing during the pandemic? If so, how can they help?

The best thing book lovers can do right now is to keep buying books, ideally from their independent bookstores. Not only will this help local small businesses, they will show the publishers there is still an audience for books even with the world changing so rapidly around us. And if they can't afford new books, they can always request their library buy them! This gets these books in the hands of even more readers.

If you could imagine your dream virtual library, what would it be like?

My dream virtual library would be any library app where I can save my place while browsing! I adore Libby, but it has infinite scrolling, and if I'm an hour deep into book searching and then accidentally close the app, I have to start all over. It's a small problem, but a very annoying one.

Where can readers find you online?

Readers can find me online on both Twitter and Instagram at @rosiesrambles. I'm usually talking about social justice, cartoons, or Star Wars. Come say hi!