Why is Diveriverse is my favorite reading event of the year?
About two years ago I decided to make a point to read more authors of color. When I looked at my reading at that time, it was almost entirely white. That wasn’t something I had realized before. My next concern was how to find out about authors I wanted to read. As Aarti from BookLust who runs Diveriverse says:
Reading diversely may require you to change your book-finding habits. It ABSOLUTELY does not require you to change your book reading habits.
I started by looking for recommendations on lists about diversity in publishing. BookRiot had a lot of articles. The #weneeddiversebooks tag on Twitter can help. Find blogs featuring diverse books and see who they like. Follow authors on Twitter and see who they recommend. Once I started looking it wasn’t hard at all.
Once you make a conscious decision to look for something, it pops out at you. I find myself noticing authors more than I ever did before. I notice that I’m more likely to click a link or pick up a book because I notice that the author is a POC. I don’t read a book just because of the race of the writer but a few seconds of extra attention may mean that I find a book I like that I wouldn’t have noticed before.
What does my reading look like now? Even with concentrating on increasing the diversity of the authors I read it can still be about 50 to 75% white in any given month. That’s a reflection on the books that get published. That’s why it is so easy to only read white authors if you aren’t paying attention.
The focus on race of the author you are reading can also be problematic. It is a fine line between increasing diversity and fetishizing people. When I count up the race of the authors that I read am I holding myself accountable for my reading and/or “collecting” people in categories? I don’t know always how to define that line. As one of my favorite authors tweeted recently:
What is “diverse” to some is everyday/all day/mere existence to others.
— Nnedi Okorafor, PhD (@Nnedi) September 26, 2015