Expanding My Bookshelf

Tamiko Beyer
December 18, 2010
Comments 6

Last week, I wrote that there are no easy answers or solutions to the problem of the underrepresentation of writers of color in the publishing industry.

As small step towards a solution, LaToya Jordan at The Rumpus suggests, might be to “take a look at our bookshelves and agree that we’ll all add writers who are not like us, whether that be because of race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

A white friend of mine wrote a great essay, which I hope will be online soon, about this issue. He said that as an anti-racist ally, one of the things he tries to do is read widely so that when people ask him for reading recommendations, he has a ready list of writers of color to recommend.

On Monday, fellow KR blogger Elizabeth Ames Staudt posted her list of literary things she is grateful for this year.

Inspired by all of this, I thought I’d take a look through my Goodreads “read” and “currently reading” bookshelves (it’s as accurate an account of my reading history as I’ve ever managed to keep), and make a list of books by writers of color that I’ve been thankful to have read or re-read this year.

Many of these have shown up on this blog already, but I recommend the following to anyone who wants to expand their bookshelf:

Looking at this list, it’s clear where my own gaps have been this year. Not surprisingly, my list is mostly poetry, with only a few books of fiction and nonfiction thrown in. It’s almost exclusively Asian, Asian American, and African American. So next year, I’m going to be read more novels by people of color in general, and more poetry by Latino/a, Native American, and Arab-American writers. Do you have suggestions? Send them my way!

6 thoughts on “Expanding My Bookshelf

  1. Tamiko– What a gift this list is! Chimed thought: read in bell hooks’s essay collection, Teaching Community, her thought that her college lectures often meet such harsh Q&As because most white people in the audience are simply unused to being lectured for an hour straight on anything by a woman of color, much less a subject as touchy as structural racism. On my own to-read list is Ben Okri’s said-to-be-dazzling animist-realist novel The Famished Road

  2. I have recently become enamoured of Indian authors and novels set in India. I thoroughly enjoyed The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and highly recommend it. Also, The Death of Vishnu and The Age of Shiva, both by Manil Suri.

  3. Pingback: Tamiko Beyer: Expanding My Bookshelf / Kenyon Review Blog « word pond

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