2018: A Reflection on Reading

December 31, 2018:

screen shot 2019-01-03 at 12.03.46 pmI had been so happy to create my best reads of 2018 list.  I had made it a personal mission to continue my effort to #readforempathy in 2018 by reading books written about or by people who were somehow different from me–or to read books about and by women.  I felt quite accomplished.  40 books might not sound like many, but I am a slow reader, and I am easily distracted.  Not to mention, I have 3 children still living at home, work full time, and have a pretty active social life with family and friends, so 40 books was a challenge for me, but I met my goal just under the wire.  I ended up reading a variety of books, fiction & nonfiction, professional texts & award winners, graphic novels & biographies.

Narrowing my 40 reads down to 5 was exciting, yet I pretty much knew which ones would make the cut.  As I opened my Goodreads account and went to my reading challenge, it didn’t take long to scan my list and screenshot the book covers of my top 5 and put them on my Google Slide to share on social media.

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It wasn’t until my list was created that I noticed something unsettling.  Though my favorites technically fit into my #readforempathy category, they were primarily glaringly white.  CMBYN: a white gay love story.  An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: a white science fiction.  Guernsey: a white WWII historical fiction.  My two slivers of saving grace are  Anne Frank: a Jewish historical memoir and Little Fires Everywhere, which features an Asian author and cast of characters.

I didn’t publish my list because I was upset about it, but I did message my best friend and my book twin about it, and they tried to reassure me that my intent was solid and to continue my efforts in 2019.

So, I guess my intent of this blog is to try to hold myself publicly accountable to continue to #readforempathy by amending my earlier goal to include several books by or about various races and ethnicities.  I’m also upping my goal to 50 books.  Keeping track of my efforts on Goodreads and pursuing Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge should help my efforts.  I might tweak some of the Read Harder challenges; for example, “21. A comic by an LGBTQIA creator” might become “a graphic novel by an LGBTQIA creator.”

My first read of the year is Where Crawdads Sing, written by a woman, featuring a female protagonist.  It was absolutely beautiful, and it was a great book to start off the year.  However, it is “white lit,” but I had already started reading this before I realized what my 2019 mission would be.

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I also accept that I will read other pieces of “white lit.”  White literature is not bad, and reading white literature isn’t a bad thing.  I suppose people read that with which they most identify.  I just don’t want it to be the only thing I read.

Currently, I am reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. I plan to read Dave Cullen’s Columbine and his forthcoming ParklandLittle Women is on my list for a classic, as is Anna Karinina.  From Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge, here are some of my ideas (Note some books might count for more than one category.):

  1. An epistolary novel or collection of letters  (glad they included a possible list, but I do have March by Geraldine Brooks that I am considering since I’m reading Little Women this year.)
  2. An alternate history novel
  3. A book by a woman and/or AOC (Author of Color) that won a literary award in 2018 (The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo)
  4. A humor book (Born a Crime by Trevor Noah)
  5. A book by a journalist or about journalism (Columbine & Parkland by Dave Cullen)
  6. A book by an AOC set in or about space
  7. An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America (might change this to Nigeria: Americanah by Chimamanda Nagozi Adichie)
  8. An #ownvoices book set in Oceania (Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak–yay! I got this one for Christmas!)
  9. A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads (not gonna lie–will probably tweak this category)
  10. A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman (Trick by Dominico Starone, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri)
  11. A book of manga (probably will tweak this category)
  12. A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character
  13. A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse (big list here)
  14. A cozy mystery
  15. A book of mythology or folklore (Circe by Madeline Miller)
  16. An historical romance by an AOC
  17. A business book (will probably change this to an educational professional text)
  18. A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
  19. A book of nonviolent true crime
  20. A book written in prison (Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela)
  21. A comic by an LGBTQIA creator
  22. A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009
  23. A self-published book
  24. A collection of poetry published since 2014

Just happened upon this suggestion list from NYPL while researching.  Better get to it.  Happy reading!

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