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Diversity in Reading Meme

May 16, 2009

Stolen from Claire and Susan, because it’s so right up my alley. :D

1. Name the last book by a female author that you’ve read.
Non-fiction? Human Cargo by Caroline Moorehead Fiction? Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin

2. Name the last book by an African or African-American author that you’ve read.

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliot (and it was so good! Thanks so much Susan for having the giveaway. I’ll be reviewing it soon!) Coincidentally, Elliot has a blog and just did this meme too. (Not really a coincidence, since we’re both fans of Susan and Color Online.)

3. Name one from a Latino/a author.
Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende

4. How about one from an Asian country or Asian-American?
I’m currently reading one by an Indonesian author: This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. He’s an incredible storyteller. The last completed book by an Asian author I’ve read is The Noodle Maker by Ma Jin.

5. What about a GLBT writer?
I don’t know the orientation of most authors, but I know Freak Show by James St. James falls into the G and T categories, while Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters covers L. I can’t think of a bisexual writer off the top of my head, but it’s not really my business, is it?

6. Why not name an Israeli/Arab/Turk/Persian writer, if you’re feeling lucky?
I just finished Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red.

7. Any other ‘marginalized’ authors you’ve read lately?
Indigenous peoples! They weren’t covered in the other questions. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read anything *by* them this year, but I just read Javatrekker, which involves the author’s travels to indigenous communities worldwide. And I’m planning on reading Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, a Maori author, this month, after I finish This Earth of Mankind. And I do have some Louise Erdich on my shelves.

Any suggestions for indigenous authors? Or GLBT? They’d be much appreciated!

For most of these questions (except GLBT), I could have listed at least five authors I’ve read this year…I make an active effort to diversify my reading, which is why I like challenges and making the accompanying reading lists. Because if I just read books randomly, I probably wouldn’t be exposed to nearly as many world views. Actually, I can prove that since I have my 2006 books read list posted (I started blogging in 2007). I read 68% male authors vs. 32% female, a tendency that I’ve since worked to balance. This year, I’m at 54% female authors! Similarly, only 26% of my fiction was international (note: I never include England in int’l, since I lived there for so long) and if you take Europe out of the equation, that percentage drops to 17% (and half of those were Indian authors). This year, I’m at 34% (taking Europe out leaves me at 28%), and I’ve read authors from every continent except Antarctica. I’ll stop with the geeky statistics, but my point is that I’ve managed to change my reading habits, and while I still need to work harder on some areas (only 8% of the fiction I’ve read this year was written by American minorities, which is better than 0%, but definitely not stellar), I’ve benefited enormously from broadening my reading. There’s that great quote, “Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.” And at the end of the day, that’s why I seek out authors whose backgrounds are completely different from mine.

Do you strive for diversity in your own reading? Or do you not worry about it? Why or why not?

Ok, I’m going to stop rambling now. ;)

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2009 8:48 am

    Eva, girlfriend you are so cool. Thank you. And know our orientation isn’t anyone’s business but supporting each other instead of shunning when we do, is our business. As usual, you’ve given me more options like I need more options. Girl, you will get me back to more meatier reads and I love you for it. Glad you enjoyed AWAM. Thought you would.

    I love your geeky. You feed my wannabe geekiness. Great closing. I love my girls but if I could have another daughter, you’d be it. That’s saying volumes. I’m very, very happy I only have two. LOL

  2. stacybuckeye permalink
    May 16, 2009 9:16 am

    You have shamed me! I am so impressed with the diversity of your reading – stats and all! I am almost afraid to go back and look at the books I’ve read this year for diversity, but I will. I read for pleasure, but do get stuck in a rut of reading the same sorts of books. Great post!

  3. May 16, 2009 10:42 am

    Stacy,

    I hope at some point we get to a place where we think diversity can go hand in hand with fun and leisure. Everything that is written by people of color or other marginalized groups is not all doom, tragedy and pain.

  4. elliottzetta permalink
    May 16, 2009 12:23 pm

    Greetings, Eva! Thanks so much for giving AWAM a chance! I think I’m the opposite when it comes to reading habits–I almost never read male authors these days, even though I’m conscious of the imbalance. I think I’m making up for the first 20 years of my life when I read Dickens and Hardy and EM Forster…those were quality books, and I don’t regret reading them, but find women writers focus more on interiority, and that matters more to me than just who did what to whom…(not that all men write that way). As for suggestions, The Bone People by Keri Hulme is one of the most important books I’ve ever read–she’s Maori, I believe, and since Whale Rider is also one of my all-time favorite films, I think it might appeal to you…

  5. May 16, 2009 12:57 pm

    That’s awesome that you make a point of diversifying your reading. I don’t really think of my reading in terms of the author, but I do try to diversify the types of books I’ll read. Sometimes I definitely get caught in a rut!

  6. mel permalink
    May 16, 2009 4:19 pm

    “The Last Time I Saw Mother” by Arlene Chai, a Philippino author, is a very good first novel told from multiple points of view of female members of a family spread apart by time and distance. It is a pretty easy read. It provides insight into Philippino and Chinese Culture. As a personal bonus, it is written by a graduate of Mariam College in Quezon City in the Philippines where one of my daughters goes to school. That was in fact why I bought it but I liked to so much I bought her second book “Eating Fire and Drinking Water” which is in my TBR pile.

  7. May 16, 2009 6:13 pm

    I’m definitely trying to diversify my reading and having a blast doing it! For indigenous people, Louise Erdrich is a good choice, or have you read any Sherman Alexie? For GLBT authors I feel like I read a lot of them but then I forget who’s what unless it figures into their books in some way. One of my all-time favorite authors, Michael Cunningham, would qualify I believe.

  8. May 16, 2009 6:13 pm

    I loved your rambling! I got all anal about “labels” while reading the answers to this meme, because a lot of people chose Jose Saramago as their latino author, but he’s Portuguese! I know, I’m a Spanish major, so I’m probably the only one who cares. But if you asked Jose Saramago if he was latino, he would laugh and say NO. And if you asked a latino person if Saramago was latino, they would glare at you. A lot. So, while I know it’s nitpicky and no one actually cares, I figured I could probably tell you and you wouldn’t make fun of me. :)

    I’m trying hard to get more diversity in my reading, and I’ve definitely gotten more women writers in my readings. I’m proud of that!

  9. May 16, 2009 6:36 pm

    I really love this meme and have loved reading everyone’s answers. It’s funny because I hung out with a cousin this weekend who said–Trish, you just too intellectual for me. I just want to read about girls like me who have the same interests (she almost mentioned not liking to read books from other countries or even other time periods). I kind of felt bad that she feels that way. How sad for her. But I guess we all have our reading preferences. LOL–sorry for the rambling Eva. I just read Fun Home on Nymeth’s recommendation. It is a graphic novel memoir about the author’s coming out (her father is also gay). But usually I don’t pay attention to an author’s sexual orientation either. In terms of indigenous authors–Keri Hulme is part Maori and her The Bone People is fantastic (New Zealand). In terms of American–maybe Leslie Marmon Silko (Ceremony), M. Scott Momaday (House Made of Dawn), Louise Erdrich (I’ve only read her short stories, but really like them), Sherman Alexie.

    Reading challenges have really upped my diversity as well. I haven’t looked at my trends, but it would be interesting to see how much my reading has changed since blogging.

  10. May 16, 2009 9:03 pm

    You have done some amazingly diverse reading, Eva!

    I’m so glad to hear you loved A Wish after Midnight. I was the other winner and can’t wait to dig in. I’m also waiting to hear your thoughts on the Toer.

    As for GLBT writers, I didn’t really check either. But after doing this meme, I looked it up and found that for a writer to be considered one they do not have to have GLBT orientation, for as long as they have written about GLBT themes. I just read Proust’s Swann’s Way and there are GLBT themes there. The other GLBT authors that I at least am aware of that I’ve read are Ali Smith, Darren Greer, and Jeanette Winterson.

    I don’t consciously strive for diversity in my reading, but I just naturally gravitate towards them. They’re what interest me. :D

  11. May 18, 2009 2:57 am

    My reading had broadened a lot since I’ve starting blogging about them. Mostly I love multicultural fiction. You seem to have many diverse books Eva. Way to go!!!

  12. May 18, 2009 8:10 am

    Susan, thank you so much! :)

    Stacy, I default to the same types of books too, that’s why I love lists. :D

    Zetta Elliot, thanks for stopping by! I’ve heard mixed things about The Bone People, but I definitely want to read it one of these days. As far as women authors, I think it’d be fascinating to spend six months reading only books by them. Fascinating, and probably wonderful. :D

    Kim, you know me: I’m such a list maker, lol!

    Mel, thanks for the suggestion! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by a Filipino author, although I have friends from the Philippines. :)

    Ali, I haven’t read Alexie: I’ll definitely put him on the list! I’ve read Cunningham’s The Hours and enjoyed it.

    Lu, I totally appreciate your pet peeve! Lusophone is one of my favourite random words anyway, lol. ;) So does that mean Brazilians don’t call themselves Latino/a? Interesting!

    Trish, oh! I read Fun Home this year too! LMAO that that one didn’t occur to me to put down on the answer. I thought it was awesome too. Thanks for the recs: I haven’t even heard of Silko and Momaday, so I’m excited now!

    Claire, I’m loving the Toer so far. I hope I can write a cohere review at the end! That’s interesting that authors just have to have GLBT themes: good to know. And thanks for the recs! I gravitate towards diverse authors like you in that they’re what interest me, but I have to consciously seek them out, because so often they don’t seem to have the same prominence. Does that make sense? Plus, I love Western classics too, so I have to balance that out!

    Violet, thanks! Your blog’s a great source of recommendations. :D

  13. May 18, 2009 9:54 am

    First of all, I have to say to Susan, that she can’t have you! ‘Cause if you didn’t already have such a totally awesome Mom of your own, I would have long ago adopted you as mine! ;)

    You put me to shame, sweetie! But you know what, that’s okay…it just gives me more to strive for. I seriously have you to thank for expanding my horizons so much already. Especially in the realms of non-fiction, and learning about the history and the social issues of the world. That’s a big gift, and I am eternally grateful!

  14. May 19, 2009 12:47 pm

    Debi, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the nonfic I recommend! I don’t think I put you to shame at all; I just have a lot more spare time on my hands.

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  1. Swish (thoughts) « A Striped Armchair

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