My Reading List

My Reading List

Motivated by the desire to spice up my reading life, I’ve been on a mission to diversify my reading list and learn about cultures other than mine from people who live in them. A review of what I’ve read in recent years shows it to be mostly books written by straight, cis white men from white-dominated countries (US, UK, Canada).  Not surprising since my comfort zone is sci fi and speculative fiction, both dominated by that demographic.  I was listening to the Origin Stories podcast where Adam Savage talks to Nnedi Okorafor about her writing which she calls a blend of ‘Afro-mysticism, 3rd world technology and science fiction’.  I realized that I’d never considered sci fi from outside Western tradition.  And that realization embarrassed me.  What the fuck had I been thinking, that only white northern European types thought about technology, aliens and the future?  I went right out and ordered a couple of her books.

This was right about the time I was looking for books I could read to gain authentic perspectives about people who see the world differently because of differences in their culture, religion, socioeconomic class, education, geographic region, skin color, or other elements of identity.  I have been hungry especially for the voices and stories of women, people of color and other queer and trans people.  I’ve been seeking balance. This isn’t just about entertainment value.  I’m motivated to educate myself about the issues other people, people different than me, face both historically and in contemporary life. I’m looking for diversity in format, subject matter and author.

With that in mind, I’ve been paying attention to the books I pick off my to-be-read pile and being more conscious about not getting stuck in a rut.  For example, if I just read a fiction novel, I’ll lean toward something non-fiction.  If I read something written by a man, I’ll look for a non-cis or female writer. Queer and trans writers are going to get favorable weighting, as will local writers, and writers I know personally. 

Here’s some of the diversity I’ve brought into my reading list this year:

  • Ghosts on the Highway, speculative Native American fiction, Scott West 
  • Rising Strong, non fiction, Brene Brown (white, female, US)
  • The Three-Body Problem, sci fi, Liu Cixin (Chinese, male)
  • From Here to Eternity, non fiction, Caitlin Doughty (white, female, US)
  • Home, sci fi, Nnedi Okorafor (Nigerian-American, female)
  • Autonomous, sci fi, Annalee Newitz (white, Canadian, queer, Female)
  • Miles Morales (black Afro-Latinx Spider Man),
    comic book series, Brian Michael Bendis (white, male, US)
  • Lagoon, sci fi, Nnedi Okorafor (Nigerian-American, female)
  • Death Warmed Over: Funeral Food, Rituals, and Customs From Around the World, non-fiction, Lisa Rogak (white, female, US)
  • Station Eleven, sci fi, Emily St. John Mandel (white, Female, Canadian)

My ‘want to read’ list on Goodreads is stuffed with referrals I’ve gotten from PoC on twitter and elsewhere, as well as trans and queer authors I’ve come across.  I have a stack of books by trans women loaned to me by a dear friend.  Some areas I want to get into are stories by the indigenous people of the land now known as the United States and Canada, stories by Central and South American authors and more sci fi by authors outside the US/UK/Canada. I’m open to suggestions.

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