Over the last few years, I’ve set reading goals. Selecting a number of books to read and posting it on GoodReads motivates me to close Tumblr and pick up a novel. This year I aim to read 75 books. (Last year’s goal was 60; I read 63.) However, recently I’ve been thinking that I’d also like to read more widely and more purposefully. This woman, for example, has read one book from every country, which is pretty amazing.
I’m not quite that ambitious, but I like the idea of discovering new authors and learning about different cultures and lifestyles. So I’ve decided to set a different reading goal each month in 2014.
Without meaning to, I started the year with five books by authors of color: The Secrets Come Out, Persepolis, American Born Chinese, Aya: Love in Yop City, and A Tale for the Time Being. I decided to keep going and read only fiction written by people of color for the rest of the month. It’s embarrassing how easy it is to only read books by white authors. Jason Low looked at the diversity gap in the New York Times Top 10 Bestsellers list, and he found that only three of the 124 authors for appeared on the list were people of color. None were African American. This is sad, though not entirely surprising.
I think it’s especially important for librarians to read diverse titles. I don’t want to spread my own unconscious biases through my reader’s advisory and collection development work. Throughout the year, as I move on to other monthly goals, I’ll still try to seek out books by writers of color.
So far, I’ve enjoyed this month’s titles. Marguerite Abouet’s Aya series is one of my new favorites. I was almost sorry to finish it. Aya is an intelligent young woman living in the Ivory Coast in the 1970s. While her friends want to find good men, Aya wants to go to medical school. Through Aya and the people around her, Abouet captures the drama and humor of small-town life. As Abouet explains, “That’s what I wanted to show in Aya: an Africa without the . . . war and famine, an Africa that endures despite everything because, as we say back home, life goes on.”
Here are my goals for 2014 (They may get shuffled a bit.):
January: Fiction by writers of color
February: Books by LGBT authors and/or featuring LGBT characters
March: Genre fiction only
April: Books from my unread pile
May: Literature in translation
June: Books by or about people with disabilities
July: Authors I haven’t enjoyed in the past
August: Books about religions other than my own (Christianity)
September: History I didn’t learn in school
October: Librarian/librarianship books
November: Books by Wisconsin authors/set in Wisconsin
December: Recommended reads
I’ll post all of titles I read here.
Got any book recommendations? Share them in the comments.