All good stories: A review of Love in Color by Bolu Babalola

I love a good short story collection — I think as a writer, it takes so much talent to be able to capture so much meaning in a small space. But usually with any collection, there are always some standouts that really resonate with me, and some that don’t — that doesn’t make the collection better or worse, in my opinion. That’s just usually how it goes!

But with Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold, by Bolu Babalola, that was not the case. Literally every story was amazing and left me wanting more.

Quick synopsis: “In her debut collection, internationally acclaimed writer Bolu Babalola retells the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology with incredible new detail and vivacity. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Babalola also reimagines Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and stories from long-erased places.

“With an eye towards decolonizing tropes inherent in our favorite tales of love, Babalola has created captivating stories that traverse across perspectives, continents, and genres.”

From the book description

These stories were absolutely magical and full of delight, most of them based on traditional tales from a variety of traditions cultures. However, Babalola rewrote each one in a way that I feel was so respectful and paid great honor to the original story while transporting it to a new time and place. Some stories were more recognizable, such as Pryamus and Thisbe, or Psyche and Eros. Others were more unfamiliar to me, but I loved having the opportunity to read the remix, then do my own research about the original.

What I loved most was how all the stories were so diverse in terms of not only race and culture, but also LGBTQ+ representation and much more. Some of the original stories that have their roots in homophobia or misogyny (like many stories that are ancient as these ones), Babalola turned those stories on their heads, breathing new life and making them inclusive. Most importantly, these tales were just as the title of the collection suggests — so full of love and pure romance.

While each story had something truly special, my personal favorites were Nefertiti, Siya, and Zhinu’s stories — but it truly was hard to narrow them down because I loved them all! In addition, Babalola also added three original love stories in there that I found equally as compelling as the remixes.

If you check this one out, which I highly recommend you do, I suggest reading only one or two stories at a time. They’re great to sit with and really think about — I got too eager and read up to four at once, but looking back, I wish I had slowed down a bit to enjoy the reading more. I also recommend reading the Author’s Note and Sources of Inspiration after the stories. The background work that Babalola put into this collection was truly jaw dropping and just made me that much more impressed with her work!

If you love short stories, Own Voices stories, amazing representation, mythology, and perhaps most importantly, love, then I think this is a collection for you.

Welcome to my new blog!

A photo of myself, wearing a red-pink shirt and holding a white hardcover book.

I spent hours pouring over what I wanted to write as my first-ever blog post ever — should I list my favorite books of the year? Do an in-depth review of a book I adored? Feature some of my most anticipated TBRs? But as we turn the page on 2020 (pun certainly intended!), I wanted to start with a little bit about me, why reading is so important to my livelihood, and what my 2021 reading goals are looking like.

About me

My name is Ellie, thus, Ellie Turns the Page! Obviously, I’m a huge fan of books and reading of all sorts, but I prefer fiction, including contemporary and literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, mysteries, and occasionally romance or historical fiction. However, I definitely worked hard starting last year to read more nonfiction, including memoirs and essay collections like Here for It by R. Eric Thomas, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans.

While this blog is certainly going to be dedicated to reading and all things book-related, I wanted to share some more about me with you all. So here are some non-bookish facts about me:

  • I’m a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. I currently live there with my husband, Erik — we met in 2017 at the University of Cincinnati and have been together ever since!
  • We have a sweet husky mix named Addie and a Betta fish named Barry. And yes, Addie is named after a literary character 🙂
  • Some of my favorite tv shows include The Office, Avatar: The Last Air Bender, and New Girl. But I’m also a total sucker for some trash tv — like The Bachelor franchise!
  • If I had to choose between this or that, I’d definitely pick mountains over beach, dogs over cats, chocolate over vanilla, and tea over coffee.
  • And my favorite non-reading activity is probably cooking! I’m a vegetarian and love trying out new, meat-free recipes.
My pup Addie with her namesake, Addie LaRue! Photo by Ellie Turns the Page.

Why I love reading

Reading has always been foundational to who I am as a person. As a kid, I was notorious for staying up late to finish whatever book I was on (I’m looking at you, Twilight and The Hunger Games…) — but let’s be real. I still do this nowadays, too! Except it’s usually with a thriller, and it’s because if I don’t finish it I’ll be too scared to sleep.

My real love of books started in high school, however. During my junior year of high school I discovered a book called The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, thanks to my English teacher, which we read alongside our unit on the Vietnam War. I can truly point to it as the book that revealed to me why stories are so vital — they have the power to make you feel emotions deeply, connect to others, and even keep memories alive. That book lead me to major in English during college, pursue a graduate degree and career in journalism, and now actively engage with other book lovers through my bookstagram and this blog!

My reading goals

While 2020 certainly had its ups and downs, one of the biggest blessings it gave me was time. I was finally not a full-time student, settling into my first job nicely, planning a wedding amidst a pandemic, and quarantining at home. So what better way to fill my time than to commit to reading?

In the isolating moments of the pandemic, I wanted a community to share my love of books with, leading me to starting my Instagram profile @ellieturnsthepage. It started small and was at first simply a record of what I was reading, but slowly and surely it grew into this awesome thing that brings me great joy. It was and still is a passion project to keep me accountable to read, connect with others, give book recommendations, and just savor the joy of reading.

When George Floyd was cruelly killed by cops, America was once again faced with a reckoning — and for me, it was a clear hit on the head about how little I was doing personally to educate myself and stand up for racial inequalities. What could I do to make a difference? I looked at my bookshelf and became fully aware of how white it was. And with a slowly but surely growing following, I realized that starting with my own bookshelf was something I could do. So shortly after, I made a commitment to diversifying my shelf especially when it came to reading Own Voices books by BIPOC writers and those identifying as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

With 2020 now in hindsight, I used what I learned last year to inform my 2021 reading resolutions. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Read 70 books and review all books on Goodreads.
  • Aim for 50% of books written by BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ identifying authors.
  • Start a book blog (check!).
  • Read at least one ARC per month.

Last year I went into my goals casually, but this year, I want to continue to shape my reading to focus on both joy (reading a lot but keeping the number low enough that I can truly enjoy each book) and education/awareness (reading and reviewing books by diverse writers to expand my own perspective and show publishing companies that we as a reading community want more representation in our books!). So here’s to starting this blog officially and for another full year of loving books!

Let me know what your 2021 goals are in the comments below, or reach out via Instagram!