In this day and age we can find books on literally anything written by anyone. With the advent of self-publishing and boutique publishers catering to specific tastes; the literary world has become a smorgasbord. That being said, I have seen a lot of articles on “how to read diversely”. With all that is available, are those article really needed? (Pot calling the kettle black here.)
No secret I love to read. I will read practically anything. I recently looked through my Goodreads bookshelves (Not every single thing I have read over the years has made it) and I noticed a little something. In some genres there is less to choose from when talking about diversity and inclusion.
The common breakdown I see:
- The author is a person of color.
- The (main) character(s) are person(s) of color.
- The author is falls under LBTQIA.
- The (main) characters fall under LBTQIA.
I find this interesting for a few reasons. These can be mutually exclusive or they can be rolled together. So what is a reader to do?
The first part is how do I spread my reading interest. Well, I like to read for a variety of reasons. For relaxation, I primarily read science fiction, speculative fiction, and fantasy (sometimes I will through an alternate historical book in there).
Let’s stick with relaxation reading.
How do I go about looking for something to read. Like most people I am attracted to the cover, then the synopsis. Usually, I look for the things that are most appealing when I am relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. (Fluff, sweetness, kink, and a splash of drama is perfect). Most of the time I don’t take the author into account. Honestly, I don’t worry about the preferences or the ethnicity of characters either.
The conversation of reading diversely fails at inclusion. This boils down to the writers. I will read what is available in the genre(s) I read. If it is there and looks good, you get my money. So where does that leave the reader?
It leaves the reader at the mercy of publishers. Do some publishers try to be inclusionary? Sure. Do others? Not so much. In the end it is a revenue game. Who are they selling to? According to Pew the people primarily buying books for pleasure in the US are white. There you have it. So what does that say about the market? Of course there is a margin for error. Blacks come in at an okay second when it comes to buying books for pleasure.
Who is in charge of the industry? Well, it is isn’t people in marginalized populations. Where does that leaves us? Self/Independently published authors. While Amazon has become a haven for self-publishing, where does one go if you prefer not to shop there (the horror, I know)? There are boutique and independent publishers. But, based on the numbers, that doesn’t seem to be a haven of diversity and inclusion.
In certain genres do I go out of my way to read a black woman’ work? HELL YES. The comic book/graphic novel industry is rampant with prejudice and sexism. I will patron a black woman if she writes what I like to read. Black women are stepping up their manga game like never before. So yeah, I will buy it if it fits into my Sunday reading genre habit.
(If it fits into what I like to read is the key here.)
Hey, we like what we like. I am not telling you to go read anything. I recommend books to people because I enjoyed (or disliked) it enough to talk about it. What I will say is that, broaden who you are reading. Give someone new a chance. Give a new character a chance to win your heart. Or at the very least, piss you off.
You never know, that dark skin lovely may be just what you need on a Sunday afternoon mental escape. You know, saving the world, rescuing the damsel (or handsome gentleman) in distress, all before bedtime.