More On Why I Created Read Diverse Books

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!

Bye!

*Goes into reading corner*

10 thoughts on “More On Why I Created Read Diverse Books

  1. I freely admit to my reading being heavily skewed towards white male authors. The problem is that I identify with the culture, and though I’m female, I prefer the more political outward-looking approach men take as opposed to the more internal writing of women. I’m generalising hugely of course, plus I think things are changing in contemporary writing now that, in the West, at least, women are as political as men. But I’ve recently been trying to read a bit more diversely, and I must say black women, like Thurston and Morrison, are doing considerably more for me than white women like Wharton and Woolf. I’m hoping you’ll introduce to me to some writers I might not routinely come across. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!
      Keep reading what you enjoy, but I’m glad you’re open to sprinkling some diversity every now and then. Buying these books, discussing, and reviewing them goes a long way in helping more diverse authors get published and become successful. I feel like we can all play our small part and still read everything we love.

  2. For me, choosing to read outside the anglo-saxon realm of literature is more about culture and a different way of seeing the world, so it is less about the colour of the skin and more about the different environments, families, cultures and storytelling traditions. I like to read across different cultures and especially books that have been translated from different languages, that is the kind of diversity I’m always on the look out for.

    I think we have to be careful when we choose on the basis of “seeing myself in the stories I read”, yes it’s important when we have never, ever seen ourselves represented, but we also need to see and read about people from other cultures, traditions, countries and backgrounds, (and yes we’ve all had an overdose of seeing things from the white, anglo-saxon perspective), but we need to go beyond the obvious choice of same culture, different colour and also learn from those who experience their day to day in a different way to that which we have experienced.

    1. Diversity in literature that spans different cultures is the kind I find most important as well. If I, a Mexican-American man, only read stories about Mexican-American or Latin-American people, I wouldn’t consider my reading “diverse.”

      This post was mostly personal because I was unable to find books that I could see myself in (when I was younger) and that spurred an interest and a passion to read diversely. I soon acknowledged that the next step is to read books by and about people from all over the world whose stories may go unheard because doing so will enrich and educate us.

      That is the aim of this blog and eventually all my reviews will reflect that, though currently it seems I have been reading books by/about Africans-and African-Americans, which is likely due to Black History month.

      Thank you for such an insightful response!

    1. Hmm, that’s a hard one. It would depend on what kind of story it was. If it was a story set in Israel with with a Jewish protagonist, and especially if it focused on the conflict with Palestine – then yes, I’d probably review it on this blog. But a story about an American Jew, for example, I would probably not review that kind of book on here. I know it’s a very tricky and fine line and I don’t mean to offend anyone. But I have a specific focus for my blog that is obviously not perfect and subjective. Outside of what I review on here, I read all kinds of books. 🙂

  3. Just wanted to find out 🙂 no hard feelings. I am actually a Jew from Russia. In Europe we were treated like minorities in America. When I came here at eight, I found myself feeling alone and left out from everywhere it seemed. I could not connect to American Jews because Russia forbade us from celebrating and being Jewish. Immigration wise, it’s mission impossible to find a children’s book or story about coming over to America. (I grew up in 90s) pretty much that is my reason why I do my best to promote multicultural literature on my blog. I don’t want for future generations to feel alone as I have without a voice.

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