Byte-Size Blair | January 19

We’re back with Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, give us a look.

We’ve all sufficiently recovered from the holidays, and now’s the time to celebrate some of our favorite social media posts from our time away.

1. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

2. 2015 might just be the perfect year to #readharder.

3. 2015 is also the year for #diversebooks.

4. We love this photo of the Tuskegee Airmen, subjects of one of our favorites from NewSouth Books.

5. We are so excited about our Spring titles, which include books from a MacArthur genius, a new cookbook from Sweet Potatoes Restaurant, and a big, beautiful guide to the Hunt collection of English earthenware.

It’s a beautiful day in Winston-Salem. Blair pet Carmen says “take me on a walk!”

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Read Harder Challenge

We aren’t the only ones making literary resolutions for 2015Book Riot has introduced #ReadHarder, a list of personal reading challenges. We’ve included them below with some suggestions from Blair and our distributed lines. Click on the cover images for more information. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions for the categories where we haven’t provided a title.

Original post here.

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25

Badass_CivilWar_Beards

A hilarious hirsute history.


A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65

BinocularVision

Record-breaking award-winner from Lookout Books.


collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)

Ghost_Will_See_You_Now

Russell’s latest collection of spooky tales.

27ViewsCharlotte

Just one of Eno’s “27 Views” of North Carolina cities.

Print

26 authors from the pages of Lookout Books’ sister publication, Ecotone Magazine.


A book published by an indie press

Anything we publish or distribute comes from a Southern indie press!

Anything we publish or distribute comes from a Southern indie press!


A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ

Pre-order this spring 2015 title by MacArthur "genius" Tiya Miles.

Pre-order this spring 2015 title by MacArthur “genius” Tiya Miles.

From the chef and co-owner of Winston-Salem's famed Sweet Potatoes Restaurant.

From the chef and co-owner of Winston-Salem’s famed Sweet Potatoes Restaurant.


A book by a person whose gender is different from your own

If you identify as female, consider Jeremy B. Jones' place-based memoir.

If you identify as female, consider Jeremy B. Jones’ place-based memoir.

If you identify as male, Judy Goldman's heartbreaking memoir about the bond between sisters is for you.

If you identify as male, Judy Goldman’s heartbreaking memoir about the bond between sisters is for you.


A book that takes place in Asia

Though the titular ship travels all over, many of the stories in this collection focus on its time in Japan and the Pacific Theater.

Though the titular ship travels all over, many of the stories in this collection focus on its time in Japan and the Asian Pacific.


A book by an author from Africa


A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans,Aboriginals, etc.)

A stunning collection of eyewitness accounts from our Real Voices, Real History (TM) series.

A stunning collection of eyewitness accounts from our Real Voices, Real History (TM) series.

Another collection of personal accounts, these from the women of the Cherokee Nation.

Another collection of personal accounts, these from the women of the Cherokee Nation.

A unique community in South Carolina with deep roots in West Africa and an often overlooked influence  on American life.

A unique community in South Carolina with deep roots in West Africa and an often overlooked influence on American life.


microhistory

A culinary tour of North Carolina by one of its favorite foodie sons, Bob Garner.

A culinary tour of North Carolina by one of its favorite foodie sons, Bob Garner.


YA novel

A girl in the mountains of Georgia moves into the repressive home of her fire-and-brimstone grandparents after her father dies in an accident.

A girl in the mountains of Georgia moves into the repressive home of her fire-and-brimstone grandparents after her father dies in an accident.


sci-fi novel

As close as we've come to true sci-fi, this techno-mystery involves the government, biophysicists, terrorists, and a girl with a preternatural ability.

As close as we’ve come to true sci-fi, this techno-mystery involves the government, biophysicists, terrorists, and a girl with a preternatural ability.


romance novel

Not your typical romance, the late Shivers' novella is sure to get your heart racing.

Not your typical romance, the late Shivers’ novella is sure to get your heart racing.


National Book AwardMan Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade

Although it didn’t win, Binocular Vision was a National Book Award finalist and did take home the National Book Critics’ Circle Award.


A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)

We'll call this a "reimagining," as the mythical Minotaur makes his way through the South.

We’ll call this a “reimagining,” as the mythical Minotaur makes his way through the South.


An audiobook

LongGoneDaddies

Fathers, grandfathers, music, and Memphis.


A collection of poetry

From distributed line Hub City, a tribute in verse to the working class.

From distributed line Hub City, a tribute in verse to the working class.


A book that someone else has recommended to you

All of ’em.


A book that was originally published in another language


A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?)


A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)

A staff favorite for its great cover and its genuine spookiness.

A staff favorite for its great cover and its genuine spookiness.


A book published before 1850

The infamous "biography" of the Swamp Fox.

The infamous “biography” of the Swamp Fox.


A book published this year

A baker’s dozen from Blair and our distributed lines are coming out this spring.


self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)

Because you ma'am are perfect just the way you are.

Because you ma’am are perfect just the way you are.

Our 2015 Diversity Resolution

In 2014, we celebrated our 60th anniversary as a publisher. That’s a big accomplishment, and it no doubt means we’ve seen just about everything. One of the greatest things about being around for so long is our large and expanding catalog; these great books published by Blair and our distributed lines are a constant in an industry that seems to be changing all the time.

This New Year’s, readers on social media called for more diverse books. What started as a hashtag (#WeNeedDiverseBooks) is now an official campaign to strive toward books for children that include diverse characters, are written by all kinds of authors, and are illustrated by unique artists. That’s a great call to action by readers, and we’re hoping this takes root in 2015 just like #ReadWomen2014 did last year.

Here at Blair, we’ve been publishing books by a diverse group of authors and about various topics since the beginning, and we’re very proud to continue that tradition in 2015. But, we are going to resolve to make even more of an effort to be thinking, always, about who we are publishing and representing and supporting. A lot of industries have a bottom line of sales, and it would be pretty disingenuous to say the same wasn’t true of book publishing. However, what is most inspiring and motivating is the idea that each book sold is a book in the hands of a reader. More so: there’s a chance that reader finally found someone to speak for them or who speaks to them. That’s a pretty phenomenal bottom line, we think.

There are vital, moving, hilarious, and heartbreaking stories out there that aren’t being read simply because the industry often overlooks the authors that don’t look like Hemingway or Faulkner did. That’s a huge problem, but independent publishers (like us, and the fine folks for whom we distribute) can buck that system and so can readers who demand equality in publishing. There are also great resources like the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign that highlight these problems and outline solutions. The Vida Count is something that’s been exposing gender disparity in literary (and other) publications since 2010. In 2014,  4 of our 7 books were written or co-written by women; including N.P. Simpson’s novel,  B.O.Q. which touches on the military culture’s effects on women, and Badass Civil War Beards, Anna and Julia Hider’s fun approach to the facial hair of the Civil War. Chained to the Land, edited by Lynette Ater Tanner, was part of our Real Voices, Real History™ series, and presents interviews with former Louisiana slaves in their own words. Many people have called on the VIDA count to look at other demographics (race, country of origin, etc.) and that’s a job we should be doing, too. In 2015 and beyond, we’ll have a broader range of authors bringing exciting titles to shelves.

Here’s a look back and a look forward at Blair’s #DiverseBooks. We’re proud to publish memoirs, biographies, historical fiction, slave narratives, ghost stories, good home cooking, and more. We love publishing someone’s first book as much as we like representing an author again and again. We know our readers aren’t all from the same place or have the same background or look the same; why should our authors?

  • John F. Blair’s Real Voices, Real History™ started with the WPA slave narratives and has since expanded to be a series that readers can count on to bring buried or overlooked voices to the page, now including Native American histories and still spotlighting narratives from former slaves. The series is meant to educate the reader about a certain history, through the stories of those who lived through it.
  • Our distributed lines are always a great source of diverse books, too.
    • Lookout Books’s mission is “seek out emerging and historically underrepresented voices, as well as overlooked gems by established writers”
    • NewSouth, Inc is also a mission-based publisher defined by its “strong cultural component.”
  • Our lead title for Spring 2015, The Cherokee Rose, is the debut novel by MacArthur “genius” Tiya Miles, an African American professor and greatly awarded researcher of the interrelated experiences of black and Native American people in the antebellum South. In the summer, we’ll celebrate the return of Winston-Salem’s own Sweet Potatoes Restaurant owners for their second cookbook, Soul Food Odyssey. The fall promises more debut fiction from a female author, a close look at the black communist movement that stirred before America’s Civil Rights Movement was fully underway, and more.

Below are just some of the books from Blair and our distributed lines that are written by or about diverse communities.

We’re proud of what we’ve published, and are vowing to strive harder to publish diversely each year.  We hope you’ll join our staff, too, in reading #DiverseBooks in 2015. Why not start with a Blair book?