One of my goals for the past several years, and again this year, is to read “the book that’s not for me,” as NPR put it in an article in mid-November about a way to bridge the divide. As a cis hetero white woman, there’s a sizable number of books that ARE for me. But reading books about people whose experiences and beliefs and struggles are different from my own makes me a more educated, critical thinking, empathetic, and loving person.
This seeking out of the book that’s not for me comes in conjunction with asking myself these questions: What am I actively doing in order to do and be better? How am I actively seeking ways to understand people who are different from me? How can I think more critically about my privilege and previous assumptions? Part of this comes in being vocal and forthright in my views, and reaching out to my representatives to urge them to represent my interests. Part of this comes in paying attention to voices that challenge me on my privilege and whether or not I’m truly being an ally. And part of it comes in reading diverse books by and about diverse people. Especially in the current climate, when facts seem to be less important and the experiences of people different from ourselves seem to have no value, I am going to reject that notion and do as much as I can in the other direction.
So in that vein, I wanted to share the first books on my list this year, which I'll most likely finish in the first quarter of the year. Many of these I pulled from lists about diverse books, authors of color, and/or lists about background/history, so for those that I can remember the list they came from, I have included a link.
You can also check out my video where I talk a little bit about each of the books.
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis. I got this from the Bust Top 20 Books of 2016 list.
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois. I purchased this after reading Ta-Nehisi Coates many references to DuBois' writing in Between the World and Me.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This has been on my list for the several years since it came out.
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi. This was on basically all the lists, but I finally bought it because John Green recommended it in his sort of best of 2016 vlog.
Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America by Kali Nicole Gross. This also came from the BUST Top 20 Books of 2016 list.
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right: A Journey to the Heart of our Political Divide by Arlie Russell Hochschild. I got this from the NPR article that I mentioned, about reading the book that's not for you.
Do you have any books that I should add to my list? Leave them in the comments.