Monday, July 25, 2011

Diversify Your Reading Challenge

I've been meaning to post about the Diversify Your Reading Challenge for a while. Basically, read good stuff, write about it!

But why do it? If you're not sure, read on.

When I was small, I very much wanted to read books that felt like they were about me. I looked for girls with green eyes (more prevalent in fiction than in real life, I think), for example, and contrary to the rumor that girls will read books about boys, I tended to shy away from those! Now that I am not small, I have a better appreciation for the idea that everyone should be able to find something on the bookshelf that feels like me. Whether you take up the challenge to contribute to diversity in circulation statistics at a library, to encouraging profit and loss analyses that tell publishers you'll buy more diverse books, to reading to better understand what's not like me or seeking out more books like me, I think you'll find that there are more good reads out there than you expected.

When I was small, I didn't know that it was okay to read about not like me. I didn't know how to talk about it or if it was okay to talk about it. I wasn't even entirely sure what like me meant beyond superficials. I still don't know. It is okay to read something and not understand all of it. Really.

In a sense, I've been doing this challenge for a while now. Once you've made a conscious effort to try new things, to try things that aren't being recommended by the faceouts in big bookstores, the books that--let's face it--don't always get the promotional pushes, it's suddenly much easier. This book leads to that one, and that one and that one, and you wonder where you were all this time.

I'm being vague, deliberately so. I know that this challenge could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The reason I'm posting is that I've seen a lot of positive changes in my life, in my ability to understand literature, in my ability to understand other people, as I've diversified my reading (along many axes) over the past few years. It hasn't made me a perfect human being, by any means, but it has helped me be more thoughtful, more curious, more aware.

Good luck to you, now, and go forth and read.

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