One of my most popular posts on my blog has been 5 Tips For How To Read More. Today’s post revisits the ideas from that post and encourages us to not just read more, but to read broadly.
Prompted by the world events in recent times, and the Black Lives Matter movement I took a long look at my shelves and I saw a problem.
I have been reading books by authors from a similar cultural and ethnic background to myself. I had been unintentionally excluding other authors from my shelves. That is a problem.
Why is it a problem? Because books are reflections of ideas, and real world realities.
Yes even fiction.
By reading only authors from one particular background I was missing out on exposing myself to new ideas, experiences and approaches to life. Missing out on experiencing new writing styles and great story-telling
Humanity is richly diverse, and I am a believer in equality. In justice and love. So why haven’t the books on my shelf reflected this?
I had identified an area of my life I hadn’t considered deeply before. My reading habits.
In today’s post I’ll be encouraging you to join with me and look at your reading habits. Let’s think about how we can broaden our literary horizon.
Maybe you’ve done better than me. Maybe your shelf is a nice mix of authors from all backgrounds. If that’s the case, keep up the good work.
I’ll be sharing book recommendations as well as tools you can use to equip yourselves to broaden your book horizons.
This reflection on our reading habits is relevant not just for right now, but always.
I’ve decided to ensure I am representing all authors with my blog, so you can expect to see a more diverse range of books reviewed at stephhuddleston.com.
Use Social Media
At the moment there is a flood of book recommendations on social media. Take some time to look on your social media for recommendations of books by black or other under represented authors.
Book’s I’ve recently been recommended on Social Media that I can’t wait to check out?
Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron. This book is a fresh take on the Cinderella Story. Sounds perfect for fans of Kiera Cass’s The Selection series.
A new release, A Song Of Wraith’s and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown. Ancient magic, enemies to lovers and an intriguing plot of royal intrigue? Sound great to me.
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow. This sci-fi adventure follows a book loving human and an alien breaking all the rules. Intrigued? Me too!
Consider who you’re following on social media. Consider following people who read different genres or authors to those you are familiar with. Follow black authors online to keep up with their latest releases.
Recent times has shone a light on many areas of society that need improvement. One of those is the publishing industry. If you followed the #whattheypaidme hashtag on twitter, it’s clear that black and other minority authors need readers support.
Find some new favourite authors, enjoy their books and support them. This will have a flow on effect with more black authors being brought into white dominated traditional publishing. If you’d like to read more about this, The Guardian has an article you can read here.
Ask For Recommendations
Ask friends, family, those online for recommendations of books they enjoyed written by black authors. Follow reviewers who will suggest books by authors from all backgrounds.
Around the internet it’s easy to find compilation lists recommending books written by black authors.
Here’s a few good ones to check out!
Changing habits doesn’t happen quickly. But reading diversely is important, particularly for fiction genres. These authors have so much storytelling talent to offer, but unless they are supported by readers it’s hard to break into publishing.
I’ve decided to read at least one black or minority authored book a month as a starting place. Will you join me in intentionally diversifying your shelves?
Does this mean I’m stopping reading my favourite white authors? No. I will continue to support those authors. However, I want to ensure I am exposed to great stories, from all backgrounds.
Request Books From Your Library
While it’s always great to support authors by purchasing their books, don’t forget about libraries. These book sales are counted by publishing houses too.
Libraries are wonderful resources, and many have been making great efforts to ensure they have a diverse range of books in their collection.
Help them out by requesting particular titles from black authors to be added to the collection.
‘I’ve always loved reading. But there aren’t a lot of books about kids like me. And I just think every kid deserves a book that looks like them.’Opposite of Always – Justin A. Reynolds
The above quote comes from Opposite of Always and is spoken by the main character. The Opposite of Always is a YA Romance featuring time travel. It’s not explicitly about race. But this is just one example of a story that can influence race discussions for the better.
This leads to my final reason reading diversely is important.
Because it reminds me of the privileges I have for no other reason than my skin colour.
I have never felt as though I have been lacking representations of me in books, TV and movies.
I have many characters I can relate to.
Reading Opposite Of Always was a reminder that for many out there, that’s simply not their experience. That is awful.
I want to do my best at supporting authors who are sharing their stories. Those stories are important, whether it’s realized or not. I want to partner with these authors and attempt to make the world of literature a more inclusive and representative space.
Will you partner with me and other allies in reading diversely?
If you have recommendations for fiction books written by black authors, please comment them below. Have you read any of the books on today’s list? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments.
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