Books, Uncategorized

Why I advocate reading diversely

This past year it came to my attention how little diversity I had in the books I was picking out to read. This came to my attention via two ways. The first probably being the most unsurprising place possible: Tumblr and the second through a book tag on YouTube meant for fun. I was catching up on my book tube subscriptions and I came across the lovely Londoner, Lauren (Reads and Daydreams) doing the Diversity Tag and I thought to myself, "hmm, I bet I'll nail this one" and oh man was it sad. I had almost no books on my shelves that were from an author that existed outside North America. The only exceptions were a few authors from the UK and one from Australia. It was really disappointed and I was even more bothered by the fact that 98% of the books I owned were authored by white men and women.

The whole point of reading, I think, beyond just enjoying yourself is to become educated in something you otherwise wouldn't have known. It's to see another viewpoint. If as a collective group people refuse to learn or to expand their world view we remain stagnant. Diversity in the media we choose to consume can either expand or contract that view. In this case, by using media I'm referring not to networks like CNN or Fox, but instead to the main means of mass communication (especially television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet) regarded collectively.

To expose people to a view entirely unknown to them was the reason that writers like Mark Twain, Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison wrote. How different would the world be if Harriet Beecher Stowe hadn't written Uncle Tom's Cabin? A book that made such an impact to it's readers it led President Lincoln to allegedly say,"So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!" to Stowe. I am of course referring to the common myth/legend that Stowe's book sparked aggressive discussion, if not creating a direct link to tensions that led to the American Civil War. As easy as it is to write books off as paraphernalia for frivolous past times (and many are) they're so much more. When done well, novels are the mirror held up to society.

Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman to raise the issue of victimization of workers by their capitalist employers. Upton Sinclair's wrote The Jungle, a book of fiction so horrific and disturbing it caused the creation of new laws, after visiting the meat packing industry.

Reading books from the perspective of someone distinctly different from me opens me up to learning about things that I didn't even know existed. In the past couple months, I read Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed; a novel about a young Pakistani* girl living in America. I'm unsure if she was born in America but I am positive that she lived most of her life there with her parents having grown up in Pakistan and then moving to America. Naila's, the protagonist, parents are conservative and when they believe she has lost sight of her roots they decide to return to Pakistan "visit family and explore her roots." While there she essentially becomes trapped in her family home and when she refuses to do so willingly, is forced into an arranged marriage, following the traditions of her family. Whats horrifying is that it's not "forcing" as in do this or you're grounded, Naila is genuinely imprisoned in a room and the only food and water she receives is drugged. When she refuses to sign her marriage license her family takes her hand and does it for her. The worst part of this whole disturbing scenario is that this novel was realistic fiction, meaning this kind of thing happens everyday, all around the world to young women.

It's easy to write this kind of behavior off, by saying "oh, it's the culture and it really only happens to women in third world countries" but first off, that's still horrible and second it happens to women in the so-called 'first world' too. Naila in this book was first generation American; she'd grown up in the states, went to a regular high school and still became trapped in an arranged marriage by her family.

Before reading this book, I knew what arranged marriages were but I had no idea the extent or how real it is for so many women today. The author of the novel, Saeed, had an authors note at the end of the book explaining how arranged marriages can happen in any culture, country or religion and should be based on love by all parties involved and no one should ever be forced. Saeed was married through an arranged marriage, but she was not forced as Naila was.

I would also like to clarify that 'arranged marriage' is not necessarily a synonym for forced or unhappy or abusive marriage. An arranged marriage can be a healthy and successful one as in the case for Saeed. But the ones there are too many cases where arranged marriages are like the ones Naila experiences as this book describes.

Had I not read Written in the Stars I never would have known what I know now about the practice of forced arranged marriages. Even though Saeed's novel was a work of fiction it still acted as a mirror to the world today exposing me to something beyond my regular scope of understanding.

Essentially, what I'm trying to say with this post is that I choose to read diversely because that's how we learn. The world changes when people know things. If I continue to live in the box of the North American white (fe)male I'd never learn anything new; I'd never understand or even know of the plight of other people. Summed up in one cliche: "I can't fix what I don't know is broken."

*Please, correct me if I'm wrong. It's been a little while since I've read this and I did not have a copy of the book to double check when I was writing this. **I'd also like to say this was written over a year ago and was in my archives. 
Books

Wow, it’s been a while

Oh,

I can’t believe how long it has been since my last post. I’m pretty sure it was in 2016 for glories sake. To be fair, I did forget this blog existed for a while, but never fear I’m back and better than ever.

For some updates:

I’m still reading, but just not as much. And currently all but a precious few of my books are locked up in a plastic bin, until I stop moving around every few months. Unfortunately, my lifestyle doesn’t call for that at this moment in time, so it’s gonna be a hot minute before I see them again.

Now, since one of my last blog posts was my “2016 bookish resolutions” I figured I’d update you to keep you in the know.

2016 Resolutions Recap:

  • Read a Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
  • Maintain the overarching book buying ban
  • Get the TBR pile down to 60 books
  • Read at least 65 books this year
  • Read more diversely
  • Finish completed series

I want you all to know that I’m a terribly garbage human, who has to this day still not read the first tome in George’s insatiable Game of Thrones series. Although, I will say I have been desperately pawing around for a copy of the book since I trapped mine in one of the aforementioned crates. Moreover, to cement my status as a terribly garbage person, I have even fallen behind on the GOT show! Which is bad considering season 7 premieres a week from today (7/16).

Up next, maintain the overarching book buying ban. I would say I did a fairly excellent job on this one and am continuing to do so. I’m not perfect, I still fingered the shelves of my local second hand book store and when I was feeling extra frisky I perused the shelves of Barnes and Noble. In my defense, however, I did get two Barnes and Noble gift-cards this past year, so really I was spending someone else’s money.

If I could go back in time, I would tell my deliriously foolish self that there is no way I would get my TBR pile down to 60 books. After almost two years, my TBR pile is hovering somewhere about 85 books, which is unfortunate. But is it really my fault that such amazing books come out every year? And that I have to read them? I don’t know, you tell me.

Now I wanted to read 65 books last year. Did I meet that goal?? No, in fact I came up 25 books short. This year, in an effort to recognize that I’m crazy busy and like to binge watch TV too much in my spare time, put 45 books as my goal for the year. Already, I’m 7 books behind. Oy vey!

I wanted to read more diversely and I stand by that goal. This was a pretty vague resolution, did I mean authors, characters, regions of the world? Yes, yes and yes. I would say I half accomplished this goal. Did I do way better than I had previously? Sure, could I still do better? One-hundred percent.

Finally, my last goal was to finish completed series. If you are confused as to my meaning, don’t worry, I recognize how poorly worded that is. This goal, to read all the books in a series that had no more books coming out, I think I did this, but I honestly have no clue. Unfortunately, I’m lazy and don’t want to go over everything I read last year to find out. I’ll just check the “I did it” box, because I’m pretty sure I did it.

In summation, I did a meh job with my resolutions for 2016. Hopefully, I’ll actually reach my reading goal this year and also read diversely. More importantly though, I’ll finally read A Game of Thrones!

We’ll see.

 

Books

Bookish New Years Resolutions

So technically, it’s over a week since New Years has passed and most people have outlined their resolutions already, but I think I deserve a little leeway. I’ve been super busy doing nothing and binge watching Sex and the City, so it seems pretty understandable why I’m a little late to the ‘new year, new me’ bandwagon. To be fair, I’m not lying to myself about going to the gym or getting up earlier or any of the other plethora of unachieved resolutions floating around out there.

Anyways…on to the actual post and moving away from my unnecessary but impossible to remove, witty banter. Last year, I had several Bookish Resolutions and I’m pretty sure most of them failed. One of them was to read A Song of Ice and Fire series (a.k.a. Game of Thrones) and sorry George but I’m still stuck on page 11 of the first book. I know my TBR pile remained steadily around 75 books despite me reading books from it and I failed to even kind of post/review regularly. So all in all, my resolutions from last year were a spectacular failure.

In all fairness, I did reach and slightly surpass my goodreads reading challenge goal for the year without scrabbling the last two weeks of the year to read a bunch of books and best of all, mostly to my wallet, I maintained my book buying ban fairly well.

So, in an effort to keep myself from failing miserably all over again I’ve decided to keep my goals at a more realistic place. In no particular order:

  • Read a Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
  • Maintain the overarching book buying ban
  • Get the TBR pile down to 60 books
  • Read at least 65 books this year
  • Read more diversely
  • Finish completed series

Seven goals. I like to think it’s not too many, but I’m sure I will find some way to disappoint myself at the end of this year and I’ll be honest I’m looking at you George. I love the show so much, I’m just not sure I have it in me to read that series and before you lose your heads, I know the book is almost always better than the tv series/film.

Anywho, the first five goals really don’t need an explanation as they are mostly carry-ons/overs from 2015. The last two, however, don’t necessarily require explanations but I’ll do it anyway. I’m trying to read a bit beyond the scope of what I regularly read/know for reasons you can find in blog post coming soon (keep an eye out!) to help expand my parameters of knowledge.

The last goal I have stems directly from my consistent but accidental picking up of books that are in series. I have the hardest time finding standalone books and because of this I have a never ending list of series that I’m in the middle of. I can name several off the top of my head that I only have one book left before I complete them and they’re just waiting to be read (several of which are on my TBR pile). I’d really like to finish those up before I start any more, but we’ll see how that goes. Like everything else it’s a work in progress.

Anyways…Until next time!