Some time ago I wrote an article and issued a reading challenge: take One Year off from reading fiction by straight, white, cisgender male authors and instead read fiction by authors who come from minority or marginalized groups. This includes women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ authors along with a wide variety of other marginalized identities from which to create a reading list: people with disabilities; poor and working class authors; writers with non-Christian religious or spiritual beliefs; and for Americans, even reading books in translation by authors of any background will open up new viewpoints.
The point is not to say that books by straight, white, cisgender male authors are bad or that you are bad for reading and liking them. The point is that these authors get the lion’s share of attention and marketing and fill up a ton of space in the cultural conversation. More than their fair share seeing that people who are not straight, white, cisgender, and male make up the majority of the people on this planet.
My challenge to you is to make conscious choices when picking fiction to read. My challenge is to broaden your horizons, even a little bit. My challenge is for you to take a look at the last 20 books you read and see how many of them are by straight, white, cisgender male authors and think about why that might be. My challenge to you is to explore amazing books by amazing authors you might not know about.
But How Do I Find These Amazing Books You Speak Of?
Good question! There are many ways. Here are a few.
- Subscribe to my web series. Every week I pick a book, tell you why I like or even love it, and challenge you to read it.
- Browse the Tempest Challenge Bookstore.
- Follow the hashtag. On Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and, to some extent Facebook, you will find the #KTBookChallenge hashtag full of book suggestions by various people.
- Make use of Google. Several people have said something along the lines of: How will I know if an author is Black/Gay/Trans/Female/etc? Author bios, author websites, author interviews, author social media accounts. You can also start by looking for lists of books from the genres you like written by people from specific backgrounds. Lesbian mystery writers, black women who write horror, or transgender YA authors. Lists upon lists upon lists exist on the Internet. From there you just pick books as you normally would: by reading the jacket copy or sampling the first chapter to see if it intrigues you.
- Get recommendations from friends. “Hey Joan, I want to read more hard SF written by women. Where should I start?” “Glad you asked, Bob. Have you heard of Karin Lowachee? How about Ann Leckie?”
I Have Books I Want To Recommend!
Excellent. I’m so glad to hear that. Please share books by authors who aren’t straight, white, cisgender males in the #KTBookChallenge hashtag. If you write a blog post or review somewhere, tweet out the link with the hashtag. If you want to do your own book vlog, tag it and share it. (You can also make your video a response to one of my videos.)
Can I Signal Boost My Own Books?
As long as they fit the challenge, yes!