Two years ago I decided I needed to diversify my reading list.
I did some calculations and discovered probably 98 percent of the books I’ve read over the last 33 years of my life (ok… 30 years; I didn’t start reading straight out of the womb) were written by white people. I was surprised to see that female authors outnumbered male authors; however, white male authors dominated particular categories like theology. It was time to make a change.
Since then, I’ve done a pretty good job of intentionally choosing books written by people of color. I spent most of 2016 reading a collection of slave narratives and Roots. In 2017, I read Drew Hart, Jhumpa Lahiri, Octavia Butler, and Bryan Stevenson.
Honestly, it’s been slow-going making progress on my goal. I realize it will take a long time to balance out the diversity of my lifetime book list, but it shouldn’t be taking this long. Part of the problem is I don’t read as much as I used to. TV and Netflix have become my escape. I spend most of my time on the couch in front of the screen instead of reading.
Which brings me to the main purpose of this post: my reading list for 2018.
I’ve set a goal of reading 30 books this year. I’ll probably read more than that because I still have a few I’m finishing up from 2017. But these are the 30 I am definitely going to read this year. While there are a couple of white male authors on the list, the rest are not. I’ve curated the list from recommendations made on a Facebook post from January 2016 when I asked for suggestions of authors of color I should be reading. I also discovered this list of suggested books by women of color and picked a few from there. Finally, because I’m continuing to grow in my desire to be an ally in the quest for racial justice and the eradication of white supremacy, I chose a couple of items from this list of required reading for white allies.
Here’s the list:
Counting Descent by Clint Smith III
Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed
The Changeling by Victor LaValle
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Human Acts by Kang Han
Incognegro by Mat Johnson
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
Refuge by Dina Nayeri
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaiptora
When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
The Black Christ by Kelly Brown Douglas
An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation by Nyasha Junior
Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith by D.L. Mayfield
The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew — Three Women Search for Understanding by Ranya Tabari Idliby
Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places by Kaitlin B. Curtice
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times edited by Carolina De Robertis
Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
I put together a “shelf” on Goodreads with the full list so I can track my progress (and have easy access to it when I’m at the library trying to decide what I want to read next). I’ll probably also write reviews or “what I learned” posts here as I finish each book.