Adventures in Curating Diverse Reading Materials

Step one of curating your reading materials to focus more on diversity: Make the decision to do so. Easy part, done.

My last post was easy. Choosing to only read books with characters and authors of color was simple. But now, I have to actually start putting my back into it. So, where to begin?

22295304At first I was going to focus on one genre. I was very keen on only dipping my feet into the pond that is urban romance. But I stumbled upon urban fantasy which was something I didn’t realize existed until I spent a late night scrolling through the depths of the Kindle library. And then there’s the world of Asian Literature I once ventured into during high school because of its beautiful settings and culturally-infused stories. Plus, the world of Hispanic Literature – where I have even less experience. Can you tell I was a little overwhelm?

It seems a bit silly to be torn in so many different directions. Since my goal is diversifying my reading why limit it to just one sub-genre? That would defeat the purpose of this whole resolution. So I’m doing a little bit of everything. I threw in some genre classics and then added some newer things with the cheesy romance covers I’ve previously tried to avoid. For Asian Literature I’m revisiting two authors that captured my attention quite a few years ago, Gail Tsukiyama and Haruki Murakami. For Hispanic Literature I found Daniel Jose Older, who is in the beginning stages of his career as an author and already lending a hand in nudging the industry in a more inclusive direction.

Before I reveal my list here’s a few tips on trying to find your own diverse books to add to your reading lists:

  1. Remember what you like. Just because you’re adventuring outside of your normal reading habits doesn’t mean you have to compromise. I love young adult romance. Transitioning to romance with more diverse characters was a little shock to the system because the marketing’s much different than what I’m use to. Judging a book by its cover is a habit I have yet to kick. Searching for romance between two African-American people had my inner critic flashing red stop signs. But I’m not giving up the genre just because publishers think sexy covers is how you sell a book – another topic for another post.
  2. Mix it up. Read the staple writers of a certain genre like, Haruki Murukami or Octavia E. Butler. And more new, upcoming authors which you can track down on sites that create intensive lists like this one on Goodreads.
  3. Keep in mind some books are going to be a miss. Just like with not so diverse novels there’s going to be a book that you’re just not going to like. It’s not because of the genre – you didn’t quit tragedies after your teacher forced you to read the melodramatic tale of Romeo & Juliet, did you? Eh, well, you might have. But, just because you might hate Murukami but that doesn’t mean every Asian author is going to disappoint you.

Here’s the list of diverse reads I’m going to tackle for the rest of this year. Feel free to steal some for your own diverse list. Though they are tailored to my own specific needs/wants I’m sure you’ll find at least one book interesting enough to pick up for yourself.

 Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

The Night of Many Dreams by Gail Tsukiyama.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins (this one definitely satisfies the cheesy cover and I’m embracing it)

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History by Various Authors

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older