Monday, December 13, 2010

POC Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

I signed up for the POC Reading Challenge with a goal of reading 10-15 books, and I easily met that goal.  In 2010, I read 21 books with authors and/or protagonists of color. Here is what I read:
- Ash by Malinda Lo
- The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
- The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
- Kindred by Octavia Butler
- Liar by Justine Larbalestier
- Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
- Libyrinth by Pearl North
- Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway
- Bloodchild by Octavia Butler
- The Freedom Writers Diary by the Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell
- Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
- A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar
- Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Color of Water by James McBride
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
- The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman 
Of the books, my favorites were The Remains of the Day, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Marcelo in the Real World.  Each of these books was completely different, but all touched me and stayed with me in some way.  Ishiguro, the author of The Remains of the Day, and Octavia Butler are the only authors I read twice.  My least favorite book was probably Freedom Writers Diary, which, to me, completely lacked authentic student voices.  I also couldn't make a connection with The Color of Water or Ash, though I know others have enjoyed them.

I did have a quite startling realization from this challenge.  I realized that although it was easy to find books with characters of color, it was much more difficult to find books by authors of color.  I was disappointed when, part way through the year, I noticed how many of the books I'd read and qualified for the challenge were written by white authors.  Recently, I stopped counting some books for the challenge that theoretically could have qualified but had white authors (like Three Cups of Tea and The Windup Girl), but in the end, at least 8 of the 21 books I read were written by white authors.  I found it was difficult to learn of books by authors of color through my typical sources: book blogs (with some notable exceptions), newspaper reviews, and award winner lists.  My difficulty in discovering books I was interested in was compounded by the fact that authors of color are under-represented (or, at least, under-promoted) in some of my favorite genres (science-fiction and fantasy; contemporary literary fiction).

I will likely participate in this challenge again next year, but I think I will focus only on books written by authors of color.  It's undoubtedly important to support and recognize white authors who include diverse casts of characters, but I think the former is where I want to place my energies.

1 comment:

  1. That will be a real challenge, finding books written by authors of color and only counting them for the challenge. But I definitely think it can be done, I know there are at least 15 YA books by authors of color that would work and quite a few women authors of color.

    I want to focus this year on reading more science fiction and fantasy with people of color in it too (I'm particularly looking forward to Libyrnth). In 2010 I read almost no non fiction and the only nonfiction I like are usually biographies so I'm going to try and read more of those (like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks).

    Great post and we look forward to reading your reviews in 2011!