Wrap Up – Diverse Reads 2017
20/40 books were diverse and thus I completed 50% of my goal.
I failed the challenge of only reading people of colour this year. Why was this so hard? I was really beating myself up about this and my partner sent me a link to the Lee and Low Diversity Baseline Study. The publishing industry is very white and female. The study is call for more diversity in all levels of the book world and to that I say Hurrah!
Throughout 2017, I remember choosing books about diverse topics (often when I really wanted to read a certain book or author). I defined ‘diverse topics’ to include learning about a different culture apart from my own western culture and main characters who are people of colour. I also thought deeply on if I felt it was problematic that people of colour are written for their perspective by authors who are not people of colour and overall, I tried to stay away from that in fiction novels.
Where it did come up was in my non-fiction reading about a different culture I wanted to learn about. I read Poets and Pahlevans by Marcello di Cintio and How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less and Rolling Blackouts both by Sarah Glidden. I felt that neither of these authors appropriated the experience of people involved or their subjects.
I also considered LGTBQ and mental illness as a diverse topic as well. This brings my total to: 26/40 = 65%
– I noticed a yearning to read something reflecting my own experience and when I couldn’t I felt frustrated and sad.
And I didn’t even cross the 70% in my reading totals! Now I feel I understand the importance of reflecting many, many, many experiences and perspectives in literature. People need something creative to identify with and to feel not alone. We need to work on fixing this in our society.
– As I’ve been learning a new skill, cartooning/painting/drawing, I noticed that I went to looking at authors who’s style I identified with and am aiming to create. But I can see how this is a detriment to me and my future work. My stuff may look like the majority who have been published.
– I used to live across the street from the library and previous reading numbers showed it. I moved to a new place where the library isn’t in walking distance and now I often miss my holds.
This year I read 3 books by illustrator and writer Lynda Barry who is my new idol and should be included in my Hele Grote Madames. It’s been an educational and inspiring admiration throughout the entire year. I think I’ve listened to every audio interview I could find (some even twice) and followed her tumblr blog to do her assignments for my cartooning/painting/drawing hobby.
I read Barry’s Syllabus three times this year. While I soaked up her teachings, I also found out that she is half Filipino and thankfully fell into my diverse reading goals so I had no guilt during my re-reads.
What I learned from reading this year:
1.Lynda Barry: Don’t be ashamed of what you create. I hold on to her observation that truly creative drawings often come from adults who decided to start drawing after quitting in their childhood. Often the drawings begin in that style or ‘voice’ are truly original and representative of you and it needs to be cherished.
2. Lynda Barry: If you create it, it doesn’t matter if you like it or if someone else likes it. Your drawing still exists either way.
3. Neil De Grasse Tyson: “The power and beauty of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them. In other words, after the laws of physics, everything else is opinion.”
4. Vikram Vij: Always take time to prepare for a meeting, no matter what.
5. Madeleine Thien: A quote from her book, Do Not Say We Have Nothing. “But the painter’s idea of paradise was just a copy of life on Earth. Dancing, wine, books, meat, and music. Paradise offers all of the things we’ve never learned to properly distribute…”
Of course, I learned a lot of other life truths and insights but I’m not going to inflict you with all of them. I’m a firm believer that what you read now, informs who you are in 5 years. So let’s see what happens.
No surprise to any of you who know me, my favourite place to read is in the tub – where’s yours? PS: Here’s my year according to GoodReads.