2015 Reading Goal – Read More Non-White Authors

You guys. I did this last year, remember? I looked at my current-year reading stats, was horrified by them, and declared that I wanted to read more books by women and more books by non-white authors. Well, let’s see how I did (looking at January through November). For the sake of simplicity, I’m not counting comics in these stats. Let’s look at the books.

57 books read 

26 were by men, 31 were by women

46 were by white authors, 11 were by non-white authors 

Well shit.

Alright, so I did better with reading the ladies than I thought – although my Outlander and HP re-reads are in there, so that’s really two ladies and I’ve already read them before, but still.

My diversity stats are ATROCIOUS. What the hell happened? I actually have a good idea of how… I wasn’t paying attention. When I look at my spreadsheet, I can actually see that I stopped really paying attention in March – right after I switched to a new, very demanding position at work. This is in no way an excuse – I’m mad at hell at myself, for letting a busy schedule get in the way of me being aware of what I was choosing to read.

Well that just sucks. So here we go again for 2015. I’m going to try to maintain my roughly 50% gender stats, and I’m going to aim for roughly 50% non-white authors.

And in the spirit of actually making more of an effort, I’ve been making a list of non-white authors.

  • Michio Kaku
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Sharon Draper
  • Alice Walker
  • Octavia Butler
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Toni Morrison
  • Meg Medina
  • Benjamin Law
  • Zadie Smith
  • Gene Luen Yang
  • Jason Mott
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • N.K. Jemisin
  • Ishmael Beah
  • Teju Cole
  • Karen Lord
  • Helen Oyeyemi
  • Walter Mosely
  • Jesmyn Ward
  • Cynthia Bond
  • Amy Tan
  • Ruth Ozeki
  • Saul Williams
  • Roxane Gay
  • Samantha Irby
  • Sherman Alexie
  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Saladin Ahmed
  • M.K. Asante
  • Maya Angelou
  • ?

If you’d like to suggest anyone to add to this list, feel free. I have it handwritten out in a notebook that I usually have on me, so I can refer to it at the library or when I’m bookstore browsing.

I’m also adding a secondary goal – spend more dollars on non-white authors than white authors this year. I haven’t tracked my book purchases in a couple years, so this will suck. BUT I want to make sure I’m using the small power I have as a consumer to show that I care about diversity. I can’t wait to see those stats this time next year. And while I think the indiegogo campaign for We Need Diverse Books is over now, I’m going to try to continue supporting them whenever I can. It IS something that I care about – and I’m going to prove it, if to no one other than myself, in 2015. I can’t wait to get started.

~Sarah

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18 comments

  1. I think this is always going to be one of my goals, too. My stats are somewhere around yours (I think I’m near 60% women and about 25% authors of color right now) and I’d love to aim for that same 50% goal, too. I’ve started requesting that the library purchase more books by authors of color in hopes that they’ll buy more copies than I can and that they’ll be good for my diverse neighborhood. I’ll start brainstorming a bit to see if I can think of anyone else to add to your list!

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    1. Oh I love library idea! I think you can “suggest” books to my library… there’s no guarantee that they’ll get them, but maybe if I start requesting a whole bunch of non-white authors they’ll follow through and purchase at least some of them.

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  2. I think this is a good idea. Not something I would do, I don’t really look at an authors background before I read it. I actually tend to read about 80% female authors I think, haven’t really looked.
    The Grove of the Sun by Parvathi Ramkumar is a good book by a female Indian author. She is also a friend of mine, so I am a little prejudiced.

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  3. I have the exact same goal for 2015. I own quite a few books by authors of colour I just suuuuuuuck at actually reading them! You have most of the people I would recommend already on your list (which, by the way, I’m stealing for reference purposes if that’s ok?) but Tash Aw is good and also Junot Diaz… oh and I like Xinran as well. Murakami?

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    1. I do have some books by non-white authors on my shelves waiting to be read… but of course, I have HUNDREDS of unread books, lol. I’ll add those authors to the list. I think I have a Junot Diaz on my shelf, actually..

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  4. I’m aiming at 35% nonwhite authors — that’s fairly close to what I had this year — but I do want to try to read more non-American authors. My reading skews WAY more American than I thought, and I want to read more internationally in 2015.

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  5. I checked my stats out of interest (it hasn’t been my goal so far so the result is random) and it was like around 10% out of 99 books read this year. However, it’s better than in the past, definitely, when I think I’ve been readling pretty much exclusively white authors + an occasional Asian author. I’ll try to pay more attention next year.

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    1. Aiming for any increase is a good goal 🙂 I think I feel worse, living in America, and reading so few non-white authors. We have such a crazy huge mix of people, especially just within my own state, yet my reading is about 80% white. I’m shaking my head at myself.

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  6. I very much like your goal not only of reading more non-white authors, but of actually putting your money towards those non-white authors. And I appreciate you putting together this list of non-white authors. I’m going to need to bookmark this so I can come back to it when I need to diversify.

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  7. I’m embarrassed the number of non-white authors I read this year as well. And it was fewer that usual. I blame the change on the fact that i was a dedicated library user in 2014. I can’t read the non-white authors if they’re not there. Sad times. I’m all for buying more in 2015 if it means diversifying my reading.

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    1. I think I used the library a LOT this year, and I wasn’t noticing that the books I was grabbing off of the “new release” shelves were mostly white authors. I also read a lot of science and non-fic in general this year, which seems kind of dominated by white men.

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  8. You could go old school and pick up works by Zora Neal Hurston and Langston Hughes from the Harlem Renaissance era. Zora, in particular, is a spunky one and I think you would enjoy her writing.

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