Disclaimer: I am absolutely new at talking about race, so some of my language might not be the preferred terms. I absolutely welcome any corrections you have on how/what I say since I am clearly not an expert here!
I keep track of statistics about books I've read during the year (that aren't rereads or picture books, since the picture books I read are largely not ones I've chosen to begin with), and as I was updating my list, I noticed something.
(This is the largest I can get it in the post - if you click to open it in a new window you should be able to see it in a readable font)
Take a look at the author's race (Column F). Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Of the 30 different authors I've read in the year 2015, only two are definitively not white (race is complicated - I could be wrong about some of the authors who appear white.) That's right - two. 6% of the authors I've read.
I was somehow surprised by this (you'd think I'd have learned by now that this is an entirely unsurprising fact), in part because I felt like I'd been reading books with more diverse characters. I then realized that my criteria for a book being diverse was simply to have at least ONE character who as not white, cis-, abled, or straight. And even then only half the books I've read include that, and I mean I'm talking even super background characters here. Of the books I've read that have diverse characters, only four series had a main character who fit that criteria (five if you count Magnus Bane as a main character, which I am inclined to do. Also I couldn't remember if Aria from Under the Never Sky was white or not). Surprisingly, all four (or five) of these authors are white (unless Aria is not white). I'd like to give a big shout out to Michael Grant, because a huge portion of my diverse characters came from him.
Despite what these covers might imply, the main characters are a cast of all races, sexualities, and body shapes. (There might not be a bi character so excluding that. And sadly no trans characters that I can remember, but it's still the most stunningly diverse cast of characters I've come across. And I read Tamora Pierce!). And they are all ranges of good and evil and it's a TERRIFYING dystopia, and I basically just highly recommend you read this series.
As I was mulling all of this over, I stumbled across this article. And it got me thinking...I already read primarily female authors (I think it's just part of the territory when it comes to YA books, which is AWESOME), but I've only made a priority of trying to find books with diverse characters. If I really want to help support these changes in the publishing industry, what I really need to do is seek out the authors of color. I LOVE seeing any authors write diversity in books, but I think it's important to get more diverse voices in all genres of literature. (Although after going through my TBR pile for diverse authors, it looks like I may have been mistaken about them not existing in sci-fi/fantasy). So for the month of April, I'm challenging myself to read ONLY authors of color. Since I'm already not sticking to my no-buy no-library book ban, there isn't a good reason for me NOT to do this challenge. Here's some more thoughts behind this:
1. I'm choosing to focus solely on race this time around because
A. I'd like to focus on only one thing because I'm going to get too distracted otherwise.
B. Knowing an author's sexuality takes a bit more research in a lot of cases, and a good number of the gay authors I know are white, cis, men, and that's where this all started.
C. I don't actually know of any trans authors (at least ones who write fiction. I try my best when it comes to nonfiction but....I know myself well enough to know that I'm more likely to just stop reading than to read nonfiction. Sad, but true.) But if you do definitely send them my way because regardless of this challenge I WANT to read those authors!
2. I'm only doing this for a month instead of a year because I am TERRIBLE at challenges. I can't think of a single challenge I successfully did for more than a month.
3. As I was thinking upon this I realized it might be fun to open this up to do with other bloggers, but I of course have only had this revelation at the very, very end of the month so that doesn't leave much time. But if anyone is interested, maybe we can do a twitter hashtag of sorts? And there's a high chance that I'll do this again (or at least some form of diversity - maybe not only authors of color, it just depends). It's also extremely likely another blogger is already doing this sort of challenge (if so let me know! I'd love to join in on something that requires 0 planning from me beyond what I've already planned!)
4. I could have waited until May to do above things, but...ok I'm only a little bit ashamed to say that Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses comes out in May, and well. She's white. And I REALLY NEED THAT BOOK.
5. The only exceptions to this challenge will be the books I have left to review. So assuming my faith in my own ability to post said reviews is not misplaced I should have those up soon. Ish. At least two of them anyway...
6. I'm hoping I will be posting lots of reviews this upcoming month. After all, what's the point in trying to support diverse authors if I don't use my blogging powers for good? So here's hoping I'm going to feel review inspired since I rarely do that anymore.
I've already gone through my TBR-for-reals shelf on goodreads (aka the shelf that is more selective than my 850 book TBR shelf haha) and came up with a surprising number of authors who aren't white, so here are the books I'll be choosing from this month.
Here's where you guys come in: I would LOVE more recommendations. Don't look at me like I'm crazy - I know I'm not going to get through 20 books in a month. Or I'm probably not (but I'll definitely come close). I'm not sure how many of these my library will have in AND I do better when I have a lot to choose from, because as I've said, if I'm feeling stuck with my book selections, I'm more likely to just not read than to power through. (Also the smaller likelihood I'll have to finish 1Q84 is greatly preferred). So the more options I have, the better! I prefer YA but I'm open to any audience recommendations. I also prefer sci-fi fantasy, but I'm open to contemporary. Nonfiction is just likely not going to happen, but I may try some poetry while I'm at it! I'm also specifically looking for more black and Native American authors since I think I have a grand total of 4 authors total between both of those races. And you know what's even better about all these recommendations (I hope) I'll be getting? Whatever I don't get to next month is just going to add from my percentage of diverse authors to choose from (because I only came up with 20 authors between two bookshelves with a grand total of over 200 books) when I go back to reading whatever I like!
So have at it! Let the recommendations flow! (And I now only have a few days to finish Rae Carson's trilogy before it will be against the rules to do so. So excuse me while I go binge read that IMMEDIATELY.)