You may have heard me mention my Super Very Top Secret Reading Project (or some equally lengthy variation thereof) on Twitter a couple of times. I was going to keep it a secret all the way through August and then only reveal it after I was finished, but I don’t think this is the kind of reading endeavor that’s meant to be secret. So.
In August 2015, I’m going to exclusively read non-white authors.
Why? Well, for very personal reasons.
To my knowledge, I have only once read a book that I identified with in terms of race/ethnicity. (Granted I haven’t been as active in seeking out those books as I could have been.) I’m a white-passing Latina, which comes with a whole bunch of baggage (like how “but you look so white!” and “at least you’re not like those other Mexicans!” aren’t actually the compliments people think they are) that makes me not want to bring it up often, even though it’s part of myself I’m very proud of and think is significant to who I am—but that’s a whole ‘nother subject for a whole ‘nother time. Anyway. Back to my reading project.
Back when the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign got kicked off, one of the arguments being pushed out there was how if readers wanted to see more diversity (race, sexuality, gender, religion, disability, etc.) in fiction, we should read the diverse books that have already been published. At the time I thought “hmm! what an excellent point!” but then never did anything with that, until recently, when that concept really started to hit home for me.
How can I sit around bewailing the lack of Latinx (or non-white in general) representation in fiction when I’m not reading the books that have already been published by the very many excellent authors of color who’ve been working so hard to push diversity.
Hence, my reading project for this month. Now, I don’t want to fall into the trap of reading a book just because it’s diverse without making sure I’m actually, y’know, interested in that book. That helps nobody, especially not me. So I’ll be careful of that. And I also am not limiting myself to just Latinx authors, though I’m sure I’ll be reading at least a few!
(One question you might have is—some white authors write about POC characters, why aren’t you reading those books? I will! Totally; I love to support authors who take the time to research cultures/identities other than their own. Just not this month.)
Anyway. So that’s where I’m at. I really don’t see this project as “limiting” myself in any way. There isn’t one genre that non-white authors write, nor is their one universal narrative. I see this as myself just being more conscious in what I read and what stories I’m supporting with my time and review space, not narrowing my pool of reading choices altogether.
And that’s pretty much it. I just wanted to publicly come out and state my intentions and the reasoning behind it and just what’s going on in my head lately.