Monday, January 19, 2015

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

King is often quoted and for good reason. He wrote incredible speeches, but my favorite quote is one you don’t see very often. It’s unfortunate because it’s particularly astute, even in 2015.


"Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

We live in a diverse world. No matter how much some people don’t want to admit it, we do. And that’s ok. Diversity is what makes life interesting. The recent movement #WeNeedDiverseBooks seeks to support books with nontraditional characters. When was the last time you read a book about someone who was from another country? Or a character with a disability? Or someone who’s gay? The vast majority of traditionally published books are about straight, white characters if you think about it, but there are diverse options out there.

In honor of diversity and Martin Luther King, who wanted us all to know each other better and not be afraid of differences, I’ve decided to take the Diverse Reading Challenge this year. I’m kind of a sucker for challenges these days. :)

Here’s the challenge:

1) Read a book by an author of color – I’ve always wanted to read Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. Just after Christmas 2014 I read Octavia Butler, and woah was that different! In a good way :) I’ve chosen Song of Solomon and I know why the caged bird sings.

2) Read a book with a person of color on the cover –  It’s a little silly to read a book just because of its cover though, but have you ever noticed how there’s a lot of books about people of color that don’t show them on the cover?? Yeah, hmm.  Do publishers shy away from people of color on book covers, I wonder?  I did just come across one today that I think I'll read though. It's non-fiction, which is unusual for me, but the subject is so intriguing. It's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It's about a black woman who's cells were collected by a doctor in the 1950's and have since been reproduced for scientific study all over the world.

3) Read a book about coming out – I’m going to read Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg . It actually sounds kinda cute. I hope it’s not depressing.

4) Read a book with a main character with a disability – I’m going to read All the Light We Cannot see by Anthony Doerr about a blind girl during WW II. Looks amazing. Pretty cover too.

5) Read a book with bullying – I think this will be easily found, as a lot of YA deals with bullying. I‘m considering If I Ever get out of here and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part time Indian. I’ve been meaning to read Sherman Alexie for a long time. I’m reading Winger by Andrew Smith right now. It’s about privileged white kids in a private boarding school, but they sure bully the heck out of each other. Ugh. Depressing. I guess bullying is something everyone gets to enjoy.

6) Read a book illustrated by an artist of color – The suggestion was Kadir Nelson. I’m not familiar with Kadir, but I will be soon!

7) Read any Walter Dean Myers book – another author I’m not familiar with, so that’s good. I’ve chosen Monster. Written years ago, it sounds just like something you’d see on the news these days.

8) Read a book by or about someone who has a spectrum disorder – I found two I want to read. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine both look very interesting

9) Read a book about a child soldier or a child growing up in the Middle East- I have no idea where to start. Any ideas?

10) Read a book about a character that suffers a sexual assault – Eew. I don’t normally read this kind of book because I find it difficult to read such stories. I mainly read to be entertained and I couldn’t possibly see such a story as entertainment. I only hope I can find one that’s up lifting in some way. I’ve already read Speak. Wasn’t crazy about it. This might be the one I don’t get to.

11) Read a book with some same sex parents – Ideas?? Maybe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? Seems like there was a female couple in that, but the parents are out of the story for much of the book so I’m not sure about that.

My Goodreads goal this year is to read 21 books, so a good number of them are going to be diverse subjects. I hope you’ll join me, if not for the whole challenge, for just a book or two. I’ve love to have a book club chat. At least read my new novel this year, Vessel, a dystopian scifi with Asian main characters. It’ll be out in May. Eep!

Please check back and see how I’m doing as the year goes on. I’ll post updates and hopefully reviews of the diverse books I read. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts too. OK everybody. Let’s Read!
 *That's me at the Lincoln Memorial in 2011 where King gave his "I Have a Dream Speech". Let Freedom Ring!

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