Welcome to the Dear Book Nerd podcast, a bi-weekly show that answers your questions about life, love, and literature! Episode #48 is very special because we did it LIVE from Metropolitan West in NYC during the Book Riot Live convention. I’m not gonna lie, guys, it was sooooo much fun. My special guest co-host was the amazing and wonderful Danielle Henderson, and we answered questions about how to not to neglect your family for books, dealing with white male privilege while writing, and whether or not audiobooks should count towards a reading contest. You do NOT want to miss this episode!
Danielle Henderson is a TV writer and freelancer. She writes about pop culture through the lens of race, gender, and class. Her writing has been published in The Guardian, Vulture, Cosmopolitan, Elle, AFAR, and The New Republic among others. She’s a former editor and staff writer at Rookie, and a book based on her popular website Feminist Ryan Gosling was published in 2012 by Running Press. You can find her on Twitter @knottyyarn. Thank you, Danielle!
And since it was a live recording, we were able to get a photo of me and Danielle after the show. (Thank you to Liberty Hardy for taking it!) So fun!
This episode was sponsored by House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure
Dear Book Nerd,
Thank you for this podcast! It helps me get through my commute to work. I’m only on episode number four, but I love listening to like-minded people grapple with issues I feel like I deal with alone in my daily life. I have a question for you and if you have covered this in more recent episodes, then please disregard my ignorance while I catch up. How does someone, like me, who is the only person in the family who reads, able to get the amount of reading done I would like to without feeling like I am neglecting my family? I want to spend time with them, but I also want to read. And they do not engage in any quiet activities, so I cannot even read while sitting in the same room with them. In fact, the TV is usually so loud that I have to sit in my bedroom with ear plugs in to read and that, obviously, feels very segregated. Any advice or suggestions? I mean, I love them…BUT BOOKS!
Thank you and keep you the great work!
Dear Book Nerd,
I love the podcast and wondered if you could help me with a problem I have been wrestling with for some time. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a writer and what interests me is how writers use fantastic ideas and the language of genre fiction to explore difference and prejudice in our society. These are the books I most love to read and the area of study in my degree. However, as a straight cisgendered white male can I enter this space and indeed should I? I do not want to be simply be another imperialist white man proclaiming he can speak for people of color.
I have spoken to a number of my non-white friends about this, some think it’s a great idea and I should just go for it, others have suggested I should instead try to write about whiteness and privilege itself. However, due to the invisibility of this I worry it would only produce an extremely problematic work along the lines of The Help (which is the opposite of what I want to write). I loathe the idea of being another navel-gazing white man bemoaning middle class problems.
Can you suggest where I should attempt to go? Can you signpost me to any books which might be good example of what I should aim for or what I should write instead?
Also, with the Michael Derrick Hudson scandal recently I worry about my name. My wife is Indian and I took her last name myself, whilst my first is similar to an Indian first name. Would people perceive me as trying to blackface? If I submit at some point in the future should I choose a more explicitly white pen name?
Apologies for the long question and any advice would be greatly received.
Wrestling with Privilege
Dear Book Nerd,
I love reading books in print, but I’m also a huge fan of listening to audiobooks in my car and on my mp3 player. However, my friend and I have had multiple arguments as to whether listening to an audiobook equates with having “read” the book with my friend arguing that it does not. I realize that reading a book and listening to an audiobook are different processes for taking in information, but I would argue that you still comprehend the same information using either process. If I listen to a Neil Gaiman book, I still have understood the story, enjoyed the writing, and can discuss it. Plus, I have the pleasure of listening to the author’s voice, which can often enhance the narrative.
My friend and I are both undertaking Pop Sugar’s Reading Challenge, so I know there will be further debates as to whether I can count listening to audiobooks towards the challenge. So, do you think that listening to a audiobook counts as “reading” the book?
Thanks for the help. I really enjoy the podcast!
Frustrated AudioBook Listener
Do you have a bookish question about life, love, or literature for Dear Book Nerd? Fill out the form below or email DearBookNerd@bookriot.com. Don’t be shy, ask away!