KJ (owlmoose) wrote,

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Reading Challenge

Many of you may have seen the blog post by K. T. Bradford from a couple of weeks ago challenging us to change our reading habits for a year -- specifically, to take a break from books and short fiction written by cis straight white men. At the time, I was mired in my backlog of Hugo contenders, so all I could do was make a note of it. But now that the nomination deadline has passed, and I can justify reading things that aren't sci fi, fantasy, or related works written in 2014 (really, I have got to plan my media intake better next year), I can take some time to consider the article, the challenge she's suggesting, and how I might approach doing it.

Normally, my reactions to diversity challenges like this is to shrug them off. To consider them a great idea for other people, but not something I needed myself. For as long as I can remember, I've actively chosen to read lots of female authors, so I felt like I was doing pretty well on my own. But... am I, really? I don't actually track my reading habits all that closely, so I don't have numbers to back up my vague sense that I read at least as many books by women as by men. Whenever I write a book rec list, I'm conscious of going for gender parity -- but sometimes it's more of a struggle than it should be. And if I'm honest with myself, those female authors I gravitate toward are mostly white, and I don't pay enough attention to know which, if any, identify as gender or sexual minorities. I might be doing all right on gender balance, at least better than average, but in other areas I'm probably not. But how would I know, really, since I don't keep count?

So I'm taking on a modified version of Bradford's challenge. As of today (March 11th), I will do the following for a year:

1. When selecting from books and short fiction already on my to-read list, I will chose stories written by authors who are not cis straight white men, and I will prioritize authors who are not cis straight white women.
2. For works that are new to me (that is, works published in 2015, or that I never heard of until 2015), I will start tracking the books I buy and the stories I read. This will give me a better sense of how I'm actually doing on this metric.

I expect I'll have to make some exceptions for Hugo nominated works, and I'm not sure how I'm going to handle comics (do the writer and artist both have to be female? or can I do some sort of balancing trick here? how badly am I cheating if I exempt comics from the challenge entirely?), but overall I feel pretty good about taking this project on. It's not going to be easy, but what kind of challenge would it be if it were? And I'm curious about what new authors or perspectives I might discover.

Recs absolutely welcome, especially for writers of color and LGBTQA authors.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/704688.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.
Tags: books, reading challenge

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