Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Reading more diversely (and 20 books by writers of colour)

Sunili Govinnage (follow her on twitter @sunili) has written eloquently here  about her commitment to only read books written by writers of colour in 2014. And while I am not making the same commitment, I would like my 2014 reading list to be significantly more diverse than it was in 2013 where I read only five books by non-white and/or non-western authors:

Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her
Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowlands
NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names
Paul Yoon, Once the Shore

In 2014 I already have these books sitting on my shelves (real and virtual):

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being 
James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (National Book Award winner)
Isabelle Allende, Maya's Notebook
Amy Tan, The Valley of Amazement
Louise Erdrich, The Round House 
Zadie Smith, NW
Chang-Rae Lee, The Surrendered 
Chang-Rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea 
Paul Yoon, Snow Hunters 
Tayari Jones, Silver Sparrow


Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped: A Memoir 
Oscar Martinez, The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail
Baratunde Thurston, How to Be Black
Jung Chang, Empress Dowager Cixi

As well as wishing to read more writers of colour, I aim to make progress on the giant pile of books by Australian authors I brought home on my last trip and will be checking out Anita Heiss's (follow her on twitter @AnitaHeiss) Black Book Challenge.

I spent the last minutes of 2013 in bed attempting to finish Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season before the clock struck midnight. I didn't succeed so this will be the first book on my 2014 #52books52weeks list (and one of the only science fiction books I have ever read), followed by Jill Lepore's brilliant Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. These two books could not be more different, one set in the distant past, one in an imagined future, but both featuring interesting strong (white) female protagonists.

In January I am excited to report I will be attending talks by Ruth Ozeki and Amy Tan .. which means I need to do some fast reading. I look forward to sharing some of what these two writers have to say here in the coming weeks.


  1. I too am working on a writing challenge for 2014, moreso to read the books I keep saying I want to read but never getting around to. I haven't exactly worked out my plan yet, but I want to read more Dickens and Murakami, get into Tartt and Mantel (two biggies I have no gotten round to) and tackle either Proust or Dante. But as I read that article yesterday it made me think about diversity too. Though I do read a whole range of stuff, so I think I am ok! I bought a LOT of books last year and barely made my way through them, plus there are all the ones I bring home from work...occupational hazard! So I need a plan to help me be less overwhelmed by the piles I have everywhere :)
    Happy Reading :)

  2. I also want to read Mantel and Tartt plus Atwood's Year of the Flood and some Jane Austen. I am trying to make sure to include a few unread classics each year.
    Am also working my way through the impossibly big unread pile. These are happy problems to have :-) I am jealous of your occupation.

  3. This is true about happy problems!
    I am in 2 bookclubs and set the reading lists for both so try to squeeze the odd one on my to read list in there...shhhh!
    I think it is just about ensuring enough time is put aside, I did that much better last year but can certainly still improve!