This post was inspired by Diana from the Words Between Worlds Book Club, she asked me to write a guest post about why I read books by authors of color.
I am a reader.
I read for a lot of reasons, mostly to learn about people and places. I read to learn about things I’ve never heard of, and to read about things I’m obsessed with. I read a lot of nonfiction. I love nonfiction. I like the idea of truth and reality, and I know I’ll never fully get either.
Here is a list of some of the reasons why I read books by authors of color. Not that I, or anyone, need a reason. I want to note that while I do read the work of people of color to challenge the narratives that are presented by White authors, I also read authors of color without any relationship to White people. For me, these books exist in their own right and I read them for that reason alone. Reading authors of color is not always a conscious act of resistance. The list below has my reasons and then books that match those reasons. There are many books I love missing from this list, mostly because there are too many books by people of color that are absolutely amazing, and also because many of the books I love are out on loan and I needed a good stack for this picture. I’m just keeping it real.
And before I get too carried away, let me just say, I have a lot of work to do in diversifying my own reading. As a Black woman I skew toward Black authors. I am working on reading more authors who don’t look like me. I could always do a little better. So know that I am a work in progress.
Ok here goes….
WHY I READ BOOKS BY AUTHORS OF COLOR
- Because people of color exist. Their stories exists, their experiences exist, and I choose to bear witness.
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
- I like to learn about people who are different than me. I have only lived one life, and I want to know about how other people have lived theirs.
- The Girl Who Smiles Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
- As a reminder that while we are different from each other, we are also more similar than we know.
- There There by Tommy Orange
- I want to learn about systemic racism so I can fight against it. People of color do a better job documenting and calling out the work of White supremacy. Often times bringing to the forefront theory I didn’t know, and explaining racism in a new way.
- To get intersectional. To learn about life from the cross section of race and any given issue, from gender studies to the environment. Intersectionality is important and is best understood by those who reside in the intersection.
- Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts
- I love learning about history from a lens that is other than White and male.
- Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
- To learn about a topic that the White community is unwilling to look at, weather it be because White people are implicated, or White autors do not care to explore.
- Because representation matters, and so many people have been erased, books give them back their voices.
- Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
- To hear a good story.
- Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
- To laugh.
- To cry.
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
- To get really angry.
- To read an award winning book
- The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
- Because you don’t have to be White to write a great American novel.
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- I read books my friends recommend to me. My friends read authors of color. My friends are cool and super smart.
- The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
- As a Black person, I want to learn about where I came from.
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
- As a Black person, I want to learn about the leaders who have fought for my rights.
- Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
- As a Black person, I want to learn about people who look like me. To see their struggles and their successes. To remind myself that I can never “turn off” or “take a break” from my Blackness, no matter what.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- To read books that teach me how to advocate for people who can not always advocate for themselves.
- Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions by Valeria Luiselli
- To learn about a place I’ve never been, a place I hope to go to, a place I’ve always loved. To see the world.
- Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War by Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple
- I know that my money speaks for me, and that in buying books by authors of color I am saying that these stories have value and worth. I am saying I support these stories and I support these authors.
These are just twenty-one reasons why. I could go on and on. Mostly, and this is the really important one, I read books by authors of color because I can, and because they are really fucking good.
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