13 September, 2016

#DiverseAThon tentative TBR

The #DiverseAThon is a read-a-thon on booktube this week, inspired in part by a pretty angry video posted a few weeks ago that really shunned the concept of diversity as a quality to be encouraged and celebrated in books. I honestly couldn't get through all of that initial video, because it truly just confused and saddened the hell out of me. Why isn't diversity something to strive for or celebrate in books? Diversity of experience, background, culture, gender, sexuality, etc. are all normal within our society, and yet they're often not expressed in media in the same ways in which they exist in reality.

The failings of popular media and "classic" media to offer diversity as a worldview isn't accidental at all, because to avoid expressing the world as it is takes a lot of outright ignorance or intentional blindness. This isn't to say that an author is "bad" because they write what they know, although this argument (one that Lena Dunham used so unabashedly when Girls was rightfully criticized) seems like a cop-out to me. If authors truly just wrote what they knew, then we'd end up with an awful lot of published diaries. Instead, it would be awesome if our society encouraged people of very different backgrounds who may wish to pursue a career in writing to do so, and to have the space in which to publish their worlds (be they realistic, or not so realistic). It seems like lack of diversity in publishing is likely a failing of both culture and marketing, and unfortunately, the biggest way we could change the marketing from a position outside the industry, is to change the culture that responds to it.

Importantly, there seems to be a lot of caterwauling about white, male, cis-gender authors being overlooked when there is a focus on diversity. I'm sorry, but are you kidding me? Just because we're bringing more ideas into the fold doesn't inherently mean that we are ignoring or failing to recognize books that should get their due (in fact, it should often mean the opposite. There are a lot of great books that have likely been ignored for far too long). The whole thing confuses me, and I can't help but feel that it's born from some internalized discriminatory beliefs that are not being appropriately explored.

Luckily, what was born from that mess is something that could be really cool: the #DiverseAThon. I first learned about this read-a-thon when I watched the below video by one of the original four creators:

I wholeheartedly planned (and still plan) to take part in this read-a-thon. In the last few days I've been struck down by a nasty goddamn cold that has had me flat out and only reading only comfort books (e.g. The Fellowship of the Ring). Nonetheless, here's what I'd like to get to this week:

Saints by Gene Luen Yang (one half of a graphic novel duology about the Boxer Rebellion in China)
Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

Has anybody read these? If so, what were your thoughts? What would you like to read for the #DiverseAThon, or what books can you think of that celebrate the normalcy of diversity?

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