Most Shared

10 sci-fi books written by women of color to add to your reading list.

Female science fiction writers just swept the Hugo Awards.

10 sci-fi books written by women of color to add to your reading list.

Obviously, science fiction books by and about women of color exist.

But all too often, we don't get to see them. Awards for literature overwhelmingly go to male authors who write about men or boys. Female writers of color face additional barriers in the literary world, especially in sci-fi, which tends to be dominated by male authors.

But at a ceremony earlier this week, something cool happened: The winners of the Hugo Awards, some of the most prestigious awards in science fiction, were announced, and the top four fiction awards were awarded to four women. Three of those winners were female writers of color.


In honor of these women, here are 10 recommendations for books about science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction by women of color:

1. "The Fifth Season" by N.K. Jemisin

We'll start with the recent Hugo Award winners. If you like stories about collapsing civilizations and the apocalypse, you'll enjoy "The Fifth Season," which won the Hugo for best novel. (Fun fact: N.K. Jemisin is the cousin of comedian W. Kamau Bell!)

2. "Binti" by Nnedi Okorafor

The Hugo for best novella went to this story about a 16-year-old on a harrowing journey to get an education. It's only 96 pages, so you can knock this one out on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

3. "Folding Beijing" by Hao Jingfang

The Hugo for best novelette goes to a story between 7,500 and 17,500 words. This year's award went to Hao Jingfang, a Chinese writer, and her translator Ken Liu, for a story set in the Beijing of the future, where the city folds in on itself every day. "Folding Beijing" is also a commentary on the divisions between social classes. You can read the full novelette online.

Hao Jingfang and Ken Liu. Image via Charles Tan/YouTube.

4. "The Winged Histories" by Sofia Samatar

This novel by a Somali American author is about four women caught up in a rebellion. It's riveting fantasy, especially if you like solid character development.

5. "Parable of the Sower" by Octavia Butler

OK, it's not really fair to only put one Octavia Butler book on here because really you should read everything she's ever written. But this book, the first volume of the "Earthseed" series, is a really good place to start.

6. "Ink" by Sabrina Vourvoulias

If you think our immigration system sometimes feels like a dystopia, you'll want to read "Ink." This speculative novel takes place in the U.S., and four central characters tell the story.

7. "The Island of Eternal Love" by Daína Chaviano

Chaviano takes the reader on a journey through time with this novel. Several complex plots thread through the book, which is the most translated Cuban novel in history.

8. "The Grass Dancer" by Susan Power

This novel, which centers on a Sioux reservation, weaves together mythicism and magical realism so skillfully that it's hard to believe it was Susan Power's first novel. But believe it — she won the PEN Award for Best First Fiction after its publication in 1994.

9. "Love Is the Drug" by Alaya Dawn Johnson

This one's for all the young-adult fiction lovers out there. The book won the Nebula Award for Best Young Adult Novel in 2015.

10. "Legend" by Marjorie Lu

If you like young-adult dystopian series like "The Hunger Games," pick up "Legend" at the library. Once you're hooked, you'll be happy to know that CBS Films has acquired the film rights for the novel.

Listen, I could keep going — there's a whole universe (multiverse?) of science fiction written by women of color.

But if you're still reading my words and not checking out these books, get out of here. Go read!

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Cipolla's graph with the benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself and causes to others.

Have you ever known someone who was educated, well-spoken, and curious, but had a real knack for making terrible decisions and bringing others down with them? These people are perplexing because we're trained to see them as intelligent, but their lives are a total mess.

On the other hand, have you ever met someone who may not have a formal education or be the best with words, but they live wisely and their actions uplift themselves and others?

In 1976, Italian economist Carlo Cipolla wrote a tongue-and-cheek essay called "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" that provides a great framework for judging someone's real intelligence. Now, the term stupid isn't the most artful way of describing someone who lives unwisely, but in his essay Cipolla uses it in a lighthearted way.

Cipolla explains his theory of intelligence through five basic laws and a matrix that he belives applies to everyone.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."