One year ago today, Ari, AKA Ms. Attitude, decided it was time to start blogging. I don’t think the blogosphere has been the same since! In her blog READING IN COLOR, Ari has taken on issues (most notably whitewashing), interviewed and befriended major authors (Zetta Elliot, Justine Larbalestier, Neesha Meminger and Cindy Pon to name only a few), has guest posted on blogs, given away countless books often that she herself purchases, co-created the POC Reading Challenge and reviewed more books and received more awards than I’ll take the time to count! Ari has one of the most commented upon blogs that I follow, but with 292 followers it’s easy to see why!
I used to catch myself saying “she’s just a student” but somewhere along the line, I’ve forgotten that and just see Ari as someone who is dedicated to blogging about and promoting books for and about teens of color. She truly loves books. I had the opportunity to interview Ari to celebrate her anniversary today and hope you’ll enjoy getting to know her a bit more just as I have.
Hi Ari! To get started, what hobbies do you have other than reading?
I’m pretty social. I love curling up with a good book and just reading or “talking” on Twitter with other bookaholics, but you will find me many a weekend, away from my computer and books. I hang out with my friends a lot. I love to dance so I’m almost always up for a party that involves music and dancing (otherwise how is it a party?!) I also play field hockey in the fall and I plan on getting more involved in clubs this upcoming school year. I’m also obsessed with helping people and politics. I hang with my friends in the evening, in the morning you will find me volunteering at my local food pantry or working for my local political organization.
What’s your favorite sport/team to watch? To play?
It’s a tie between basketball and hockey to watch. My family is super into sports so we watch all the main sports; hockey, basketball, baseball, football and golf. Not soccer although we are jumping on the bandwagon to watch the World Cup. My father has even been known to watch boxing and both my parents will watch tennis. Of course, I support the BLACKHAWKS (WE are the CHAMPIONS!), the Bulls and the Cubs (*sigh*). I’m not a big football fan so I only watch right before the playoffs. I love my Chicago teams but I also support Atlanta teams like the Thrashers and the Braves. And I love Lebron James so I support the Cavs (I was rooting for the Celtics to win this year, by the way). I love to play soccer, field hockey and basketball. I’m terrible at basketball though =/
What were your favorite first books?
I LOVE The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce, and the Royal Diaires series. They are the earliest books I can remember reading and loving. I also read Beverly Cleary and some Babysitter’s Clubs books, but I didn’t love them. Sadly I can’t think of any POC books (other than those in the Royal Diaries or Dear America series) I liked as a child (other than a few picture books).
How far do you read in a book that you don’t like before you decide to stop reading?
I always finish a book. This can be good or bad. Sometimes a book surprises you, sometimes it doesn’t. More often than not, it’s the latter. I’m currently struggling right now, but I will finish!
Do you prefer to browse in libraries or bookstores?
Bookstores! I feel like such a traitor when I say that but whenever I go to the library, guys try to talk to me. Haha.This is not really my library’s fault, but I don’t like being disturbed while I’m browsing so I rarely go to the library, especially during the school year (I go on the weekends when teen guys don’t want to be at the library on the computers). When I’m at a bookstore, I get left alone. If a guy ever tried to talk to me there, I would know he actually likes book 😉
What did you do to make your blog grow?
I visited other blogs, and commented on ones that reviewed books about POC. I sent out a few emails asking for advice to bloggers whose blogs I admired. They were all very kind and helpful. I think my blog really took off when I did two guest posts for Justine Larbalestier. From there I did more guest posts at various other blogs. Thank you to all who invited me to guest post! After that, I think my Open Letter was the latest factor in making my blog grow. I met so so many new people; readers, bloggers, authors from the comments they left me.
What is your most popular blog post?
I’m not sure how to determine that based on number of hits, but the most commented post I have is the Open Letter to Bloomsbury, Other Publishing Companies Take Note. It’s not the most eloquent or grammatically correct post, but it came from the heart. It got 64 comments, which is not a lot compared to how many other blogs get, but it was an amazing show of support and all the comments made me blush and meant so much to me (except for the ignorant ones).
What do you plan to change on your blog in the near future?
Hmm well perhaps a new layout. Depends, I’m liking my current one, although I need to fix the header. I want to do more interviews, but they take me so much time because I like to read all the books by the author and read all their other interviews so I don’t repeat questions. I want to review more books about Native Americans and continue to have discussions about various topics concerning POC (mostly in literature but it could be about anything). I also want to read and review more YA/MG books about POC set in Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia or anywhere else in the world.
what are you looking forward to in school next year?
Not much. haha. It’s my junior year so that means college stress. I don’t really like school, the only thing that makes school tolerable for me is my friends. If I had no friends, I would be utterly miserable. School takes time away from my reading, social life and sports playing 🙂 Yes, I know, I know, an education is vital!
How’s your summer reading coming?
Not so good. I have a ton of books that I need to review which is taking away from my classics/adult fiction/non POC reading lists. That’s OK though because my POC books are awesome and I love my friends and publishers who send me the books 🙂 I have read one book from my adult fiction list (Tryin’ To Sleep in the Bed You Made by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant-So good!) and one from my non POC (Rampant by Diana Peterfruend-Awesome!) list, I picked Middlemarch to start off my classics reading list and it is LLLLOOONNNGGG. Good, but long. So I may temporarily abandon it so that I can read The Wedding by Dorthoy West and Persuasion by Jane Austen.
And finally Ms. A, what do you enjoy most about blogging?
The people!! I’ve met so many great new friends, I wish I could meet them all in person 😀 It’s so cool to have this community of people who love books just as much as I do (if not more!). I talk to people from different states and different countries. It’s crazy and I learn so much from my blog readers, other bloggers and authors. I also love that I’m not alone, I’m not the only who loves to read but gets tired of only seeing books about white people. I love that I can vent about certain things and people GET IT. It’s amazing and I’m so happy to have found my little place in this huge, loving community.
Ari, you’re amazing! Here’s wishing you a countless number of years reading, reviewing and doing what you do so well!
UPDATE: Don’t miss Ari’s give-a-way on her blog to celebrate this milestone!