The entire purpose of my blog is to continually remind people that reading diversely is important. My Twitter, my Instagram, Tumblr, and Goodreads accounts are all dedicated to that purpose. I try to lead by example and am very dedicated. However, my reading history still has some glaring holes and omissions.
Many of the books I read are by people of color who live in America or Europe, some from Canada. While I am very proud of this, I have much room to grow. For example, I have never read any books by Filipino authors or any Southeast Asian authors. I have neglected many countries in Africa, focusing mostly on Nigeria. Essentially, reading more internationally is something I hope to improve upon as a reader. I’m not too worried about it because I have many decades left to read the books of the world.
However, the glaring omission in my reading I must rectify immediately is the literature of Indigenous and Native writers. I have read some in the past, but have not reviewed a single one for my blog. I finished The Round House by Louise Erdrich in June and will have a review up in the coming weeks, so that’s a start.
As someone who constantly reminds people to read diversely, I need to do better. I do not exempt myself from criticism because I also have biases and preferences that I fully acknowledge. One of the goals I set out for myself when I started this blog was to become a better reader and person by reading the stories of marginalized people. So I will continue to do that — for the rest of my life.
Below are 10 books by Indigenous, Native, and Aboriginal authors. As the title implies, I plan to read at least one of these books every month to make up for the lack of Indigenous representation in my reading history.
Exploring the Works of Indigenous Writers
Birdie – by Tracey Lindberg
Naomi introduced me to this book with her post about Canada Reads. I have wanted to read it ever since. This is a dark, but comic story about a Cree woman filled with adventure and tragedy.
House of Purple Cedar – by Tim Tingle
I’ve never read Tim Tingle before, so this will be exciting. It’s a novel about the Choctaw people of Oklahoma and it highlights the tense relationships between the native people and the white inhabitants.
LaRose – by Louise Erdrich
My first experience with Erdrich was very positive! She has so many books that it’s difficult to decide which one to choose. But My Lit Box sent me this book in June, so I may as well read it.
Crazy Brave: A Memoir – by Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo is a prominent Native voice and I have not read any of her work. That’s inexcusable! I will start with her memoir, which centers around her life, her struggles, her family, the breaking away from that family to find herself.
Medicine Walk – Richard Wagamese
Another recommendation from Naomi! I hadn’t heard of Richard Wagamese until I read her review and now I’m confident I will love his work.
I am also interested in reading Indian Horse. If I find the time, I will read both.
The Swan Book – Alexis Wright
I will readily admit that this book intimidates me. Many people have praised it, but just as many have said this book is convoluted and doesn’t make sense as a story. However, I am fascinated by the mystery of this book. I enjoy challenging books on occasion. Vijayalakshmi wrote an eloquent review about the difficulties she had reading, but how she ultimately appreciated that it got her out of her comfort zone.
Celia’s Song – by Lee Maracle
I hear this one is a tough, poignant, yet beautiful read about loss, heartbreak, grief, family and community. Lee Maracle is a new author to me, one I hadn’t heard of until I did research to write this post. I’m glad I found her because I think her writing will suit me perfectly.
Islands of Decolonial Love – by Leanne Simpson
This short story collection has excellent reviews on Goodreads. The stories explore the lives of modern Indigenous peoples in all the diversity of their lives. I’m going to prioritize this one because from the reviews I’ve read, it’s going to be a winner.
The Orenda – by Joseph Boyden
Joseph Boyden has written numerous novels to much acclaim. I was at a loss for where to start. I thought about Three Day Road, and I still may read it anyway, but decided to highlight The Orenda instead because it sounds extraordinary. It’s a story about a clash of cultures, searing emotions, and complex yet human and believable characters. This book must go in my collection.
All Our Relations – by Winona LaDuke
This is one I already own, so I figured I’d add it to the list. It’s nonfiction book by environmental activist Winona LaDuke. She writes passionately about Native resistance to environmental and cultural degradation. Given how little I know about this topic, I expect to learn much from this book, which means I will only enjoy and appreciate it even more.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of Native/Indigenous writers.
I am only listing a few that I want to read to get started. Most of these are novels or memoirs, but I hope to read more nonfiction as well. If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments below. I am fully committed to read more Native voices. They are the group most commonly and egregiously erased and I refuse to take part in the erasure. As a reader, the least I can do is read their stories.
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