Eva van Emden, Freelance Editor

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September 12, 2017

The Don’t Just Read White People Project

Last year, I looked through my reading list and noticed how male-dominated it was. That led to the “don’t just read dudes” project. This year, I’d like to take on the extreme whiteness of my reading list. (Next year, I’m thinking of a “don’t just read Americans and Brits” series, possibly to be followed by a “books not originally written in English” festival.)

So, I read a lot. What I like best is great genre fiction, preferably science fiction. And my meta-genre is “people being good to each other.” Like a lot of heavy readers, I find it challenging to find new stuff to read. First, when I find an author I like, I read everything else they’ve written. That’s a no-brainer. I like to get recommendations from friends who have the same taste, but I don’t know that many people who love the same books I do. Then, there’s everything else: Hugo nominees, Powell’s Books featured reviews, authors whose tweets find their way into my Twitter timeline—who knows. So I’m always searching for books, and these little projects are a way to focus my search.

Incidentally, the Sad Puppies partly catalyzed these initiatives in my reading. I voted in the 2015 Hugos, and the Puppies nominations were so bad, so old-fashioned, so impoverished, and the other nominees so surpassingly good, that I was filled with a new determination to find great new books.

So I’m seeking out some non-white authors. Let’s say ten? No, fifteen! Here’s the list so far:

  1. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  2. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
  3. The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
  4. The Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin
  5. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin