Recently, Didi—over at Brown Girl Reading—posted about reading diversely on her great blog for book-lovers of all kinds. Her post has generated nearly 50 comments from all over the globe thus far. She reminded readers that diverse means “variety” and “different;” then took umbrage with BookTuber “hoopla” on YouTube and said “If you want to read a variety of literature then stop talking about it and do it.” Didi noted that many writers dislike being pigeon-holed because “It’s like being reduced to your race, your nationality, your sexual preference, or even to a handicap.” She went on to say that “what is diverse to one person is not diverse to another.” I loved her point that reading differently helps us learn more about the world.
It was one of those conversations I was just itching to pitch my two-cents-worth into, so I responded thus:
“Whew! Way to get people thinking, commenting, laughing….scowling! Thanks for a great post! I remember [back in the “olden” days-lol!] when I visited a library and choosing a book to read was like being on a treasure hunt where I was led by instinct and curiosity: sometimes book cover designs, titles, fonts, and brief dust-jacket descriptions inspired my choices. Book covers weren’t peppered with as many “blurbs” from well-known writers like they are now; and there didn’t seem to be as much hype leading the way. When urban public libraries started putting all of the “Afro-American”-authored literary works in one section, they were hoping to make it easy for patrons to find these works [because there were much fewer being published then than now]. Bookstores later followed suit. But then a strange thing happened: many black people came in and went straight for those shelves ONLY, while non-black people purposely avoided those shelves like the plague! It may be hard for some folks to believe, but all sorts of ethnic studies, women’s studies, LGBT studies, environmental studies, etc—basically DIVERSITY in [American] education is all less than 50 years old, so the process of reading diversely is still in its infancy, I think. Something tells me I’m going to be thinking about this for a while.”
Well, that was five days ago, people!—and here I am thinking about how the words “diversely” and “diversity” in recent decades have become code words to indicate anyone who is not a “contemporary-white-privileged-heterosexual-male.” They have become the politically-correct terms for corporations and non-profits and anyone else to use when they need to garner “street cred” for being inclusive [and win grant monies, too!]
At the risk of really getting Didi’s ire up by inviting you to jump on this bandwagon—what does reading diversely mean for you? Does it mean reading more text messages? More LGBT Science Fiction written in Italian?
I would be reading more diversely if I:
- read more non-fiction
- read more graphic novels
- read more translations
- read works written in languages other than english (Didi also reads en francais)
- read more humor
- read more works “in the Western canon”
Care to chime in?
You may also want to check out these articles and discussions:
- “How to read diversely AND authentically”
- “Reading Diversely FAQ: Part 1”
- “Reading Diversely: Reflecting on the Year”