It feels like November is just flying by. I can’t believe it’s already the third week of the month. Next week will be Thanksgiving and the week after that it’s already December. Craziness.
Diversity and Nonfiction: What does “diversity” in books mean to you? Does it refer to a book’s location or subject matter? Or is it the author’s nationality or background? What countries/cultures do you tend to enjoy or read about most in your nonfiction? What countries/cultures would you like nonfiction recommendations for? What kind of books besides different countries/cultures do you think of as books of diversity?
I thought about some more creative ways to approach this topic, but ultimately I decided to go with the easy way out and treat the prompt like a survey. Here are some unorganized thoughts on diversity in nonfiction.
What does “diversity” in books mean to you? Does it refer to a book’s location or subject matter? Or is it the author’s nationality or background?
About a month ago I wrote a post about how one of my goals is to pay better attention to reading more books by authors of color. But I think that’s just one way of thinking about diversity. There’s value in reading books about different cultures or places that are written by white authors, even if their experience in a place is very different from the experience a local to that place might have.
What countries/cultures do you tend to enjoy or read about most in your nonfiction?
I tend to read a lot of books focused on issues in the Middle East. A few that come to mind are The Secretary by Kim Ghattas, The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg, Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni, House of Stone by Anthony Shadid, and Hope Street, Jerusalem by Irris Makler. I’m interested in that area because of the complicated gender dynamics and the role that region plays on the world stage.
What countries/cultures would you like nonfiction recommendations for?
One area that I don’t read enough about is Africa. I’ve considered several memoirs by African writers – A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah or Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller – but I just don’t tend to pick them up. I would love some other suggestions for nonfiction set in Africa.
What kind of books besides different countries/cultures do you think of as books of diversity?
My first reaction to this question is to assume that diversity has more to do with different countries or cultures than it does with anything else. However, I think there’s value in thinking about diversity a little more broadly, reading about anything that is not familiar or not part of the dominant culture. One of the things that is great about nonfiction is the way it can help us understand lives that are completely unlike our own.
Before I end this post, a little bit of self-promotion: I’d like to suggest a couple of posts I wrote for Book Riot on diversity in nonfiction: 12 Excellent Memoirs by Authors of Color and 12 Excellent True Stories by Authors of Color. I’m proud of those posts, and I think they’re a great resources of you’re looking for some ideas for diverse nonfiction.
- Our readalong posts for The Restless Sleep and Cleopatra: A Life will go up on Wednesday, Nov. 19. Follow this link to find out more about the readalongs.
- Our Nonfiction November Twitter hashtag is #nonficnov. The conversation there is awesome.
- A big shout out to my co-hosts: Leslie (Regular Rumination), Katie (Doing Dewey) and Rebecca (I’m Lost In Books). Rebecca is your host this week so make sure to link up your discussion posts and reviews there. Katie will be hosting week four.