by Ellen Lewis
It was that time of year. I snuggled up on my sofa with my fuzzy blanket, seasonal coffee, and warmed up pumpkin muffin. I opened a brand new horror novel, and suddenly...it was all wrong! Sure, I was eating fall foods and reading a spooky story, but I wasn’t in the right mood. It took me a minute to realize that the pumpkin muffin was making me feel warm and cozy, not ready to read about blood and monsters.
As you sit down to read your favorite type of book, are you indulging in the correct food or drink—the one that will set the mood for your reading and not pull you out of it? Consider giving these suggestions a try to bring your reading experience to the next level. Embrace different genres by using food and drink to transport you to another world.
So where did I go wrong in my own example, with the seasonal muffin? After all, pumpkin is a typical fall food, and horror, though enjoyable year round, does have that spooky quality you often find around Halloween. It all fit. And therein lay the mistake. It fit. Good horror is not just about monsters or creaky staircases. Good horror makes you uncomfortable. It takes the mundane and expected and makes you unable to anticipate its next move because nothing acts as it should.
So, how would one enhance their horror story with an appropriate snack? Go for the jarring and unexpected choice! Does your horror story take place in the fall? Eat an Easter Peep! How about a refreshing glass of lemonade? Awaken your senses to something being off. Maybe your horror story isn’t necessarily seasonal. Eat what seems strange for your environment. If it’s summertime, turn up the air and drink some hot cocoa. Drink a glass of champagne on a random September day. It’s good food, but enabling good horror.
by Amanda Smera
Few things make me angrier than when people read something I’ve written and point out my talent. The intentions, of course, always come from a good place and they mean no harm. And yet the bitter taste in my mouth never fails to feel discrediting. I want to scream from the top of my lungs: “I’VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR A MONTH STRAIGHT, FOR YOU TO DARE AND ASSUME IT WAS JUST ‘MY TALENT’?!”
It feels like an outdated myth that talent is a bigger force, that either you’ve got it, or you don’t. I have hundreds of thousands of school essays, Harry Potter fan fictions, and journal entries that prove that I was no Jane Austen at the age of five or fifteen.
by Garret Castle
The amount I write varies from week to week. Despite my attempts to form a routine, my writing is still left to necessity and whim. But there is one consistent means of writing in my life: social media. The scope of my social media usage is primarily limited to Reddit and occasionally Twitter. While there are times when the discussions I get involved in make me regret writing the original post or comment, I have found that social media has been a positive boon to my writing and has helped me grow as a writer. While social media can be used to reinforce unhealthy habits, I believe it helps promote literacy more than it hinders it.
by Amanda Smera
Not once in my life have I had to wonder what it is like to not know how to read or write. And I am guessing that, if you are reading this right now, neither have you.
But what if I told you that in some countries, reading and writing are not as reachable as they seem to be? That for some people, reading and writing is seen as a privilege and not as a common practice?
by Ariana Tucker
Go onto any major book-selling website and you’ll probably find a section dedicated to Black authors in the list of genres and subcategories. Amazon calls theirs “Amplify Black Voices” and lists it among other popular keywords like “Award Winners” and “Celebrity Picks.” Barnes and Noble calls theirs “Black Voices” and lists it among other browsing options such as “Large Print Books” and “Trend Shop.” Click on either link and you’ll see popular books written by Black authors, most of which are the same books we’ve been talking about for the last five years.
Barnes and Noble is the worst offender of this. On their featured page of “Fiction: Black Voices,” only four were published between 2020 and 2021 (Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle is their featured book from 2021). The rest are classics by Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison and books by authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Sister Souljah, which were published in the 2000s and 2010s. Amazon at least offers a more up-to-date list of recently released books by month and recommendations from editors and Black icons like Billy Porter and Rick Ross. You can find almost any genre and any subject here, the only difference is that the authors are all BIPOC.