10 Books In 10 Months – Exploring The Works Of Indigenous Writers

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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 by richard wagamese

 

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 by Alexis Wright

 

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

 

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. 

 

 

The islands of decolonial Love by Leanne Simpson

 

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

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

 

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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43 thoughts on “10 Books In 10 Months – Exploring The Works Of Indigenous Writers

  1. I have to admit that I have not read much by indigenous authors either. Looking forward to reading these 😊 Thanks for linking to my review of The Swan Book 😊

  2. Loving this list! I’ll be happy to read a few of these myself once I get through my current reading list. Haha and I second what Cee Arr said! Naz, you’re a TBR curating mastermind! 😉

  3. Looks like a lot of good picks! My Dad and I just read Medicine Walk and really enjoyed it. Birdie and Three Day Road are also on my list. I know you’ve already got Thomas King on your non-fiction radar – I’d add Green Grass, Running Water as must read. I’ve also enjoyed The Evolution of Alice by David A. Robertson and Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations! It’s hard to find people who read Native authors. I want to be someone who can personally recommend books like these on a dime! I have much work to do, though. But I’m happy to do it.

  4. Excellent list! I should probably make a whole sublist on my TBR for books by indigenous authors — like you, I haven’t historically been awesome about reading books from those authors. No big reason except that I haven’t been seeking them out nearly as much as I could. :/

    1. That’s a very common reason. The Native population is very small so it’s difficult to come across Native literature by chance. One has to seek it out consciously a lot of the time, which is a shame, but I don’t mind doing it. Part of my life mission as a reader is to fill all my reading gaps!

  5. Oh I’ve wanted to read the swan for a while. It’s just sitting in my TBR waiting to be purchased. You’re doing a great job with making people read diversely btw. ^_^

    1. Thank you! I hope people are hearing my message and at least think about reading more diversely. I’ll keep doing the same work anyway because promoting these books is very important to me and I love doing it. :]

  6. I love how you push yourself to read more works of diverisity. Your blog has definitely grown into the to-go place for diverse books, true to its name.

    I have noticed that most books from Africa that I have read are based in Nigeria. I dont know if it is because there are more writers there or they get more publicity. Ghana must go is said to be a good book. I havent read it. It is still on my TBR

    1. Nigeria is a huge country so it’s no surprise that you have read more Nigerian authors. They have some serious literary talent there, so I hope the great books keep coming!
      I also have to read Ghana Must Go! Still haven’t after all these years of owning it :s
      Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana, so you should definitely read Homegoing! The book was incredible, but I’m sure you’ve already heard that. :]

    1. Most people don’t pay attention to that, so I’m not surprised.
      I do pretty much all the time because when I didn’t pay attention to the kinds of books I read, my reading history was 85% white authors. Seeing those stats motivated me to start this blog.

  7. Oh, how I love this list. I feel I just *must* point out to anyone who reads this that 4 of these books are written by Canadian authors, 3 of which I have read and loved. The Orenda has been one of my favorite books in recent years, so I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. But I’m embarrassed to say that I still haven’t read anything by Lee Miracle, even though she has been on my list for a while. I’ll have to look into that soon! Good luck with your list, Naz! Your dedication is inspiring. 🙂

    1. Yes, I was very aware of the Canadian representation. 🙂 Thank you very much for exposing to so many great writers through your blog.
      Naomi, you’ve probably read more Native writers than most people so you certainly shouldn’t be embarrassed to say you haven’t read this or that writer.
      I’m very excited to get started reading this book. It’s should be fun and personally fulfilling! Also, 10 books in 10 months is very reasonable, so I should have no trouble meeting the goal.

  8. Awesome post! I will definitely be adding these books to my TBR list!

    Regarding Filipino authors, might I suggest Jessica Hagedorn? I’ve literally never read anything of hers that I didn’t love. My favorites are The Gangster of Love and Dream Jungle!

  9. “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.”

    I love that you are so passionate about reading diverse books! You inspire me (and many others I’m sure) to do the same. I would just like to add that you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself!!! There are so many types of people, and you are only one person. Don’t feel guilty about not getting to everyone just yet. I’m sure you will in your lifetime 😊

    1. Thanks!
      I like setting challenges for myself and reading more Native voices is one I’m fully committed to. I won’t stress about it or anything because I do have many years to read all the books of the world. That’s one of the best things about being a reader – knowing that there are endless possibilities.

  10. I love your passion for pushing your reading boundaries and wanting to read literature from all over the world. I have no doubt you will do so in the coming years. Thank you for encouraging your readers to do the same. I will look into these authors and titles! I also have a gaping hole in my Indigenous authors reading.

    1. You’re very welcome! This kind of comment is one that makes me happiest. Seeing that my blog, my reading, and my passion for diversity in literature can encourage others to read more diversely means everything to me.

  11. Your desire to expand your knowledge on indigenous writers and their culture is really moving. I’m impressed by the steps your taking to cover more ground on their stories. I’ve never heard of any of these books (I’m not too surprised though, there’s so many I have yet to discover), but a lot of them do sound really fascinating. I hope you’ll enjoy your reads and have a bunch of knowledge to share with us!

    – Lashaan

    1. Thanks, Lashaan. I will try to review as many of these books as possible because they’re very important and these stories shouldn’t be over looked.
      4 of the books are by Canadian authors, btw. Just thought you’d appreciate the Canadian representations :]

  12. Thanks so much for sharing your list, Naz!! I’m putting them all on my list, since I have yet to read most of them! Haven’t even heard of Tim Tingle so wonderful you included him. And I’ve read some of Simpson’s stuff in uni and definitely recommend you watch/listen to her spoken word performances if you haven’t already cuz they are so powerful! I wish I could see her perform live, but the vids are the next best thing.

  13. I hadn’t discovered your site yet when you posted this, but it seems there’s lots of overlap in our reading lists, as this is an area I’m seriously working on as well. Both Tracey Lindberg’s and Lee Maracle’s latest are on the short stack (the sooner stack) for me too! I’ve never heard of Tim Tingle so I’m adding that one to my list too.

    The comments you’ve heard about Alexis Wright’s novel are similar to what I had heard of her Carpentaria too, and I can see where they came from, and it was helpful to know that when I went into it, so I just moved very slowly and allowed the story to sweep over me, so it was more about the wonder and less about trying to analyze it and understand it more literally. It was bizarrely beautiful and I still think back to it every now and then.

    I hope you find many new favourite writers in this project!

    1. Hearing that there’s overlap in our lists makes me so happy because you have great taste in books! 😀
      I will be sure to read The Swan book very slowly as well. I am a very plot-driven reader, so I hope my reading style can adapt and lend itself to reading such a book. I will give it my best attempt, but I’m not one to force myself to read a book I am not enjoying. We shall see.

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