Wednesday, January 20, 2010

POC Reading Challenge


I'm entering another reading challenge. My decision to add yet another challenge into the mix is based on my own desire to diversify my reading a bit. I hadn't really thought too much about it until the recent blow-up over Bloomsbury's whitewashing of book covers (Helen's Book Blog has a pretty good synopsis with links about it), and the most recent Diversity Roll Call (hosted by Ali at Worducopia), which asks bloggers to name their favorite read of 2009 by a non-white author. Upon inspecting my 2009 reading list, I was mortified to discover that I had not read one book by a non-white author in 2009. *diversity fail*

So, I went looking for a reading challenge that would help me to focus on bringing some diversity into my booklist. I was excited to see the emergence of the new POC (Persons of Color) Reading Challenge. Basically, this challenge calls for participants to commit to read books by and/or about persons of color. For the most part, I plan to focus on books written by authors of color.

My goal: Read 10-15 POC books in 2010.

Why do I want to do this? Because reading books with a more diverse point of view enriches my reading experience. It helps me to better understand the world around me, and it brings me into contact with some really excellent and worthwhile books that may not be as well-known because they are not written by white authors (it is sad but true that POC authors are not as well publicized and that regardless of their books' excellence they are often pigeonholed into "genre" corners that limit their exposure to general audiences). Eva at A Striped Armchair will probably be a great resource for finding new books. She reads prolifically, and she has committed herself to reading the same number of POC fiction authors as white fiction authors. Her blog catalogs all sorts of interesting and diverse authors.

But the best thing I can do is pay more attention--pay more attention to the authors that I've never picked up but should have. I want to learn more about the world around me. This will be a great way to do that.

I'm brainstorming and just quickly putting down a list of books that I'm interested in:

Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
Pipestone: My Life in an Indian Boarding School by Adam Fortunate Eagle
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
This Bitter Earth by Bernice McFadden
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Sweetsmoke by David Fuller
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
On Gold Mountain by Lisa See
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Peony In Love by Lisa See
The Red Princess Mysteries by Lisa See (Flower Net, The Interior, and Dragon Bones)
The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

I'm so excited! There are a lot of books out there that I am looking forward to reading by POC authors. And I'm sure my list will turn out different than the one above. I'll keep track of the books I've completed below.

Completed:
  1. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (1/2010)
  2. Deadly Intent by Camy Tang (1/2010)
  3. Sugar by Bernice McFadden (3/2010)
  4. Glorious by Bernice McFadden (4/2010) 
  5. Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran (4/2010) 
  6. A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott (6/2010) 
  7. The Eyes of Willie McGee by Alex Heard (8/2010) - non-fiction history
  8. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (9/2010)
  9. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane (9/2010) - non-fiction biography
  10. Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America by Peter H. Wood (10/2010) - non-fiction history
  11. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (11/2010)
  12. Celia, A Slave by Melton McLaurin (11/2010) - non-fiction history
  13. The Trouble With Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante (11/2010)

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