But take a look at my reading list and tastes, and it's pretty white out there.
What I want to say about my reading is this: I choose books based on the quality of the story. I'll read books about anyone if the writing is good. I am open to reading about experiences and people outside of my world. I read and review LGBTQ books and have had my reviews posted at Gay YA. I'm working on a thesis/journal article about queer YA fiction.
The truth is, these stories aren't that far from my realm of experience. I have quite a few gay friends now. I know their stories and they are part of my story. Just because it's not a popular story here in Idaho doesn't mean it's unfamiliar. So am I really that educated and enlightened? Am I really working on my prejudices? If you knew me back in high school, I think you would give me some credit for growing up and chilling out. It's been a rough journey, and I'm still ashamed when I think of some of the ideals I held, although I'm giving myself credit for changing and growing and recognizing that I still have a ways to go.
But the truth is, I've gotten comfortable in my position again. This really hit home when I was in Philadelphia this summer. I won't go into the exact thoughts or reactions I had because truthfully, I'm still a little ashamed and humbled by them. I've seen a wall that I put up. It's not a particularly big or threatening wall; it's solid but scalable.
Diversity in YA Fiction, a website that, well, celebrates and promotes diversity in YA fiction, offers readers a challenge this summer. Diversify your reading. You can read about the challenge on the site. Here are the books I'm going to try and read by the September 1 deadline.
|All photos from Goodreads|
Liar by Justine Larbalestier
I think I've written about the cover kerfuffle with this book, but I've not yet read the darn thing, despite high praise from colleagues and reviewers. How can I honestly promote this book if I haven't read it?
The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees
I met a librarian who worked at an alternative high school who used this in her book club with the kids.
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII is an uncomfortable topic for nice white folk like me. I did a project in a college anthropology class on baseball in internment camps, and Idaho had a camp at Minidoka, which I've visited. But I still don't know enough about this topic, and that's a shame and a crime.
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Truth. I have avoided Myers books. I don't want to read about Vietnam or Iraq, topics of some of his most popular books. I want to pretend these wars haven't happened/aren't happening. I'm still avoiding Myers's war stories and starting with his Printz Award winning book Monster.
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
This is my one safe choice in the bunch. It's got the paranormal story line I've been digging of late but a diverse cast of characters.
So that's my plan. I'll blog about each book as I read it, as per usual. If you're interested in taking up the challenge to diversify your reading, be sure to check out the details here.
I'm going to try to finish these books mentioned above before school starts. But I've gotten a look at my fall reading list and it's chock full of Dead White Guys (Shakespeare, Hardy, Montaigne to name but a few), and so I'm also going to pledge to diversify my school reading. My profs are really great about letting the students follow their own curiosity as far as term papers are concerned, so I'm going to seek out writers who are women, not white, not European, queer, maybe all of these at once, and diversify my education.
I'll be interested to know what you choose as well.