Heartbreak: My Accidental 2018 Reading Challenge

I did reading challenges in 2015 and 2016. I spent a ridiculous amount of time writing things in defense of the first challenge (one which I did get paid for, so hey!). Despite the doomsday cries of the peanut gallery, the market for white male authors did not collapse due to my — or anyone else’s — personal reading choices. Just check out the Bad sex award 2018 nominees!

I didn’t read much in 2017 for a lot of reasons, but did manage to get in proportionally more LGBTQ-centric works than I had in previous years.

2018 proved that my 2015 and 2016 challenges were effective. While I didn’t actively focus on any particular sort of author this year, I ended up reading a wider range of authors than I had in the past. I made my way through proportionally fewer books by and about exclusively cis, straight white men, as was the goal of my challenges.

2018 was an important year in one way: I learned what it is to miss my window for enjoying a book, and to mourn that fact. I accidentally challenged my unconscious idea that a good read will wait for me for as long as I need it to. Continue reading “Heartbreak: My Accidental 2018 Reading Challenge”

Heartbreak: My Accidental 2018 Reading Challenge
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Learning to Read Books Again: A How-To

I began to read at a very early age. Spurred on by spite (thanks, cousins who mocked me for being a baby who couldn’t read when I was a literal baby!), I became an incredibly strong reader by kindergarten, eagerly devouring the chapter books designated for the older kids. Beauty and the Beast was the first Disney movie I saw in a theater, and what a lovely coincidence it was that Belle and I shared the same primary hobby.

Part of why I was such a devout follower of Islam was that I fed my very literal young mind with extensive religious reading. After I’d exhausted the theological options available at my parents home (not to mention finishing the children’s dictionary a few times), the school library as well as the community one became my true home. After spending most of my childhood, adolescence, and college years reading extensively, that I was a bookworm was one of the few stable aspects of my identity. In a way, you could blame the books themselves for the majority of the tumult in terms of who I was (i.e. strong Muslim then progressive Muslim then secular deist then avowed atheist).

At some point in my early 20’s, I got caught up in the whirlwind that was social media and blogs and think-y journalistic outlets (Slate, Salon, and so on). I also began catching up the TV shows and movies that I’d missed as a super-bookish, overly-pious Muslim kid. I didn’t realize that I’d shifted so hard in the focus of my media consumption until it was too late. When I realized I hadn’t read a book in a while, I picked one up — an exciting and fun one, no less, one I’d been looking forward to reading for years — and tried to finish it. I found that I…. couldn’t?

It was as simple as that. I had lost the ability. And it was shocking. Continue reading “Learning to Read Books Again: A How-To”

Learning to Read Books Again: A How-To

In Defense of Excluding White Male Authors

Update: A recommendation list of non-white and/or non-male authors.

I recently announced something I’d decided on ages ago: That I’d exclusively be reading non-male authors in 2015 and non-white authors in 2016.

The moment of resolution happened when my horrified eyes beheld my reading record on gender. Not only were my percentages far less than 50/50 (favoring male authors) but also most of the female authors on record for me reflected books that I’d read as a child and younger teen. From the time I started university until now, I’d mostly read white male authors.

Furthermore, the works by the relatively few authors of color I’d read were on racial issues and the non-male authors I’d read were writings on feminism.

How did this happen to a voracious reader who graduated with a double degree in the Humanities, an area of study widely reviled as diversity-obsessed? The short answer is that I paid no attention to gender or race in my reading, and not caring is a recipe for bias in a world riddled with inequality. Continue reading “In Defense of Excluding White Male Authors”

In Defense of Excluding White Male Authors