Don’t Fear the Reader

Welcome to the Dear Book Nerd podcast, a bi-weekly show that answers your questions about life, love, and literature! My special guest co-host this week is the wonderful Kashana Cauley. We discuss issues such as how to not let fear get in the way of your reading life, whether or not it’s okay to write characters outside your race, and suggestions for “starter” sci-fi books. Don’t miss it!

Kashana is a writer of fiction, humor, and essays whose work has appeared in places such as The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Esquire, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Tin House. She writes a column called Intersections about social class and culture for Catapult. You can find Kashana on Twitter @kashanacauley. Thank you, Kashana!


This episode was sponsored by Penguin Random House Audio.



Dear Book Nerd,

I’ve been in a reading slump for months now. Whenever I try, I have this crippling fear that I somehow won’t be able to fully appreciate it and forget it as soon as I finish reading. For a while I tried writing about the books I read, but I couldn’t quite sustain that habit because I loathe my writing skills. How do I get my love back!?


Dear Book Nerd,

I’ve just discovered this show and have listened to 10 episodes in 3 days. I am a white, cisgendered, gay man/teen, and I’m having a writing crisis. I love to write, but I know that as a white, cis man, I have certain privileges that other minorities (women, POC, transpeople, etc.) lack. When I write, I default to writing about white, cis men, which is the most common in the canon. And my attempts to write more diversely always feel phony and stereotypical. My question is, how do I write more diverse characters? Should I make characters a minority for diversity’s sake, or should I stay in my lane of white/cis guy and read and promote more minority authors? Also, since my perspective has been explored ad nauseam, should I bother writing at all?


Struggling Diversifier

Dear Book Nerd,

Love your podcast! My question is simple. I want to start reading science fiction. What would you recommend for a newbie to the genre? Trying to broaden my reading horizons by reading other genres. Help!




Dear White Writers” (Ellen Oh)

How Do We Feel About White Authors Writing Black Stories?” (Book Riot)

White Writer, Black Characters: Bad Idea?” (The Root)

Who Can Tell My Story” (Jacqueline Woodson)

America Pacifica by Anna North

Black Hole by Bucky Sinister

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

The Martian by Andy Weir

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Proxy by Alexander London

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Zazen by Vanessa Veselka

Authors to check out: Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, N.K. Jesimin, Richard Matheson

My tweet with sci-fi book suggestions.


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