How white is your reading world?

Interesting article in the Washington Post here.

My thoughts on this issue are kind of confused and probably rambly and a bit stupid. To answer my own question, though: I have no idea how white my reading world is at the moment, because I couldn’t care less. The writer’s resolve to only read racial minorities for a year is admirable in many ways, but it’s curiously focused and not for me.

When I pick up a book, I honestly don’t pay much attention to the author. I’ve read books by what I assumed were American authors, only to find out the author was British or from places further afield. I’ve read books I assumed were written by a woman, but were written by a man, and vice-versa. I’ve reviewed several books where I don’t actually know which gender the writer even is, and I don’t know what gender they identify as, either. If the book looks good, I’ll read it.

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4 thoughts on “How white is your reading world?

  1. I don’t think I’m in favour of so-called positive discrimination, mainly because it’s impossible to positively discriminate in favour of all alleged minorities. I agree with your sentiment so far as books go: if the blurb or first couple of pages grab my attention then that’s generally good enough for me. (Having said that, of course, I’m also attracted by a good sleeve, so if the cover art is of a scantily-clad young lady, and seeing as how they MUST be a minority because of their scarcity in my daily life, then perhaps by reading a book with such a cover I guess I must be positively discriminating in favour of the Scantily-Clad Young Lady minority.) 🙂

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    • I was surprised that her list of Approved Minority Authors included writers like James Baldwin – yes, he’s an African-American writer, but he is not exactly super-obscure.

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  2. Thank you for this!
    I’m like you, I pick up what looks good I read constantly and always have at least 2 books going at a time. But I took a moment this morning to think about it and looked at what’s on my shelf and the list that the author of that article put up.
    It turns out my reading is pretty diverse in author and in characters with regard to culture/gender/sexuality whathaveyou and that made me pretty happy. I also found a few new titles to add to my reading list for this year.
    I read at least 50 books a year, so odds are in my favor of coming across books written by people of all sorts. Someone who reads 5 books a yearly will have to make more of an effort if they want to diversify their reading list.
    But I will confess, out of my top 5 authors, 3 are white males…
    It would be great if more authors, good authors, could get their writing out there

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  3. i think the point of these sorts of exercises is to intentionally expose yourself to voices you wouldn’t normally hear. our experiences chance how, and why we write, which is why some people choose to read diverse voices. i think the We Need Diverse Books project is important, and it is important that books by people of all races, faiths, sexualities, religions, etc., are published. but as well as being published they need to be read as well.

    i set myself reading challenges – ie, to ensure i read women and other non-male voices, to read more australian novels, to read more contemporary Japanese women writers, winners of particular prizes (usually pulitzer, because i tend to like them the most, and nobel prize winners) and to get through particular books. i think it’s important that we look at things like gender, race, class, etc in what we read, because it can expose interesting things about the world we are seeing through literature.

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