Earlier this year I posted about the Read Harder challenge. The goal of the challenge is to make you read more diversely and boy did I feel like I was doing a great job. I read books in translation, books by authors from different countries, graphic novels, nonfiction, and still managed to keep up with books that I just wanted to read anyway. I figured that putting any focus on reading diversely would expand my reading life. Proud of my accomplishments, I decided to take a quick inventory of the demographics of the authors I read. I was expecting a pretty even distribution. I didn’t get that.
While the ratio of men to women authors was split pretty evenly, of the 34 books I read so far this year, only six could be considered to be by authors of color. And four of the authors of color were men. That’s pretty shabby for someone actively trying to introduce diversity into her reading. Sure, I’ve succeeded in pulling myself out of my literary comfort zone and I feel like that’s an accomplishment in itself, but I’m going to try harder the rest of the year. That means that I’m putting aside the rest of the explicit Read Harder challenge (no worrying about reading a book written before 1850 or by an author under 25), but I’m going to take the spirit of the challenge to heart. I want the majority of my reading the rest of the year to be by authors of color.
And I think it’s going to be harder than I anticipated. I don’t think I’m going to get close to a 50/50 distribution, but if I can get a third of my year’s reading to be diverse that would be great. I know it would be easier if I completely banished Anglo writers from the back half of 2015, but that’s not my goal. I want to read a Stephen King book in October and after finishing We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, I want to start The Haunting of Hill House, too. There are far too many awesome Anglo authors that have something unpredictable to add to my life to remove them. I just want to make room for other voices as well.
So here’s to the next stage of my 2015 reading journey. I’m currently reading Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai, a middle grade novel that takes place in Vietnam. It’s taking me awhile because I keep stopping to figure out how to pronounce Vietnamese words. That’s what reading diversely does. Makes you look like a fool trying to pronounce things to yourself in public places. I think I’ll keep it going.