Warning: this is a personal post; no books will be reviewed here 🙂
I’m hesitant to admit that I did not appreciate reading until I entered high school, but it’s true. Part of the reason was because I could not speak or understand functional English until I was 9 years old. But in large part it was because I was not fortunate enough to live in a home that fostered the love of reading, creativity, and language. Fortunately, I grew infatuated with reading soon after I became fluent in English for many common and cliche reasons, which I will note delineate here. Now, I write a blog because reading is one of my main hobbies and I truly, genuinely, passionately love it.
Despite getting a late start, today I can say proudly:
So I read for years, through high school and college. Not as much as I wanted, but about 15-30 books a year. Certainly more than the average American.
One day, after I graduated college and had obsessively cataloged all the books I could remember reading on Goodreads, I looked at my reading history and noticed one unsettling pattern. A majority of the books I had read skewed toward one specific type of person. Straight, white, men.
I don’t know how this happened, but it appears to me that if people in general read only what is popular and commonly advertised (which was what I did), their reading lists will more often than not skew toward straight white men. If not that, than predominantly to white authors of both sexes.
Let me first state that there is nothing wrong with reading predominantly white authors. I have read and will continue to enjoy many books written by white authors. I only bring this up because I have broached the subject before and people have been offended. Occasionally in real life, but much more commonly online. I remember one specific comment I made during a book vlogger’s top 10 favorite books of 2014, which were all written by white authors. I innocuously pointed this out and recommended a few great reads by people of color written that year. The ensuing comments were disheartening to say the least.
Plenty of people will say that when it comes to reading a novel, the race of the author should not matter, that it’s irrelevant because all that matters is the story. That stories are universal.
This is true…
But let me stress how important it is for all people, children in particular, to see themselves in the stories they read. It takes a certain kind of privilege to say that everyone should be able to enjoy any story no matter the race of the author/characters, but that same person doesn’t have to worry about his or her community being fairly represented in media.
So, in 2014 and 2015 I actively sought to diversify my reading history to make up for previous years. However, I chose not join one of those “Year of Reading _____” challenges, meaning readers would only read women, only people of color, or just anything but white men. I never wanted to limit my reading experiences and I don’t want anyone to ever have to do that. I only want readers to take a look at their reading patterns and perhaps decide if reading more diverse authors would benefit them.
My goal at Read Diverse Books is to promote and discuss books written by people of color, as well as LGBT and other marginalized voices, because the publishing industry does not exist in a vacuum and we, as readers, can impact and affect change in the publishing industry with the books we choose to buy.
So please visit my blog every few days for updates and maybe one day you will find yourself going to the book store and picking up a book I recommended. You would make me beyond happy to have served my purpose.
Now that this obligatory post is out of the way–
I have sooo many books to read!