For 2015, my goal is to read 50 books written by authors of color, nonbinary or nontraditional gender or sexual identities, women, or international authors.
Why do I want to do this? Well, for one, this will provide a greater variety of stories. Different identities provide different mediums, metaphors, and ideals, which translate into plots that haven’t been broached in the canon of American White Male Literature. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with Faulkner or Hemingway because of their identities – it’s just that the majority of my literary experience has been shaped by these kinds of voices. So on a superficial level, expanding my reading will allow me to be entertained by all manner of new stories.
Additionally, people’s experiences and viewpoints are reflected in the stories they tell. By reading these stories, I can become exposed to and subsequently begin to understand these viewpoints and experiences. This will (hopefully) facilitate better understanding and communication between people with different identities from me and myself. My reality is different from the reality of millions of other people; I should recognize and respect these differences, and I can do that through reading. This is especially important considering America’s incredibly complex and violent history regarding those considered to be different.
Julie Otsuka, Sherman Alexie, Ursula LeGuin, and John Okada are among the authors whose work I look forward to exploring. If you have any suggestions for reading that would fit the aforementioned categories, please feel free to leave a comment – I’d love to hear your recommendations.