I think the diversity debate boils down to this:
- White writers are over-represented in publishing because the percentage of authors who are white is higher than the percentage of white people in the population
- Reading books written by people from other backgrounds exposes readers to a lot of different viewpoints that they may not have experienced otherwise
- I don’t pay attention to the race of the writer when I choose a book.Â I just read stories that interest me.
I started paying attention to the race of the authors that I read a few years ago.Â Here’s the thing.Â If you don’t mindfully choose your books you will end up reading almost all white authors.Â How do I know this?
Look at my numbers from 2015.
Here are the unique female authors I read.
Unique male authors
Compare that to the real world
Remember, these are the authors I read when I was actively seeking out POC authors to read.Â My reading was still overwhelming white.
Since I started making a point to find out about POC authors, I’ve found some wonderful authors whose work I love – Nnedi Okorafor, Tananarive Due, Courtney Milan, Jamie Jo Hoang – just to start listing a few.
Ok, how do I find new authors?
Follow people posting about POC authors
- On Twitter – @readincolor, @_diversebooks, @readdiverse2016, @BBandGT
- Book Riot posts a lot of recommendations
- The Englishist has a link up at the beginning of every month for reviews of books
- Google your preferred genre(s) and “POC author” to find lots of lists to get you started
Then Hold Yourself Accountable
We all keep track of what we are reading.Â Monitor your authors too to make sure you are not reading all white authors.Â I have bars on my sidebar to keep track.Â On my monthly wrap up reports I keep a tally of how many POC authors I’ve read.Â Even when you open yourself up to reading diversely you still have to pay attention.Â This January I ending up reading all white authors.Â I balanced it out with reading all POC in February.
Need more suggestions?
- Books featuring characters with physical or mental diversity
- International YA (not all POC authors)
- Books set in Africa and Asia (not all POC authors)
Thank you for sharing all of the links and such. I truly need more diverse reads. Those charts are very eye opening.
My Armchair BEA post.
I love your post about diversity. You did an excellent job with the graphics. I’m an author. I began writing when I couldn’t find any books from the Shawnee people’s perspectives. I decided to write the book. I think it’s important for authors to press the limits that have been given in literary circles. More voices need to be heard from characters who aren’t normally represented in literature.
I have had the same problem. It’s a bit embarrassing to realize that even if you think you are perfectly open-minded and not actually racist, you can still be consuming disproportionately white media (whether that’s books, movies, news, whatever) without even thinking about it. My Classics Club challenge list is particularly bad, because in that case it’s a clear majority of male authors, as well as being overwhelmingly white. I do need to do a better job of supporting authors who don’t look like me! This is a very thought-provoking post.
Those pie charts are a real eye opener! I can’t believe how different it is to the real world! I want to read more African and Asian authors this year but have made a pretty poor start. Thanks for the links to recommendations! I will definitely find those useful! Great post!
Wow. Well done with the charts and graphs! I’m duly impressed. It;s also a great idea to join reading groups that are focused on another genre or culture.
Reading your breakdown of authors made me take a look at the books I’ve read this year alone, and I’m embarrassed by the lack of diversity there. In terms of gender diversity, I’ve got a greater proportion of female authors (important because women are underrepresented in sci-fi and fantasy, which are my preferred genres), but a definite lack of racial/ethnic diversity. *rearranges TBR pile*
Most people don’t realize they are reading all white authors unless they purposefully try not to.