This is a repost of an article I wrote in 2016 (I think?). Anyway, I felt like it was important to bring back up in light of you know *gestures to everything*. I’m always looking for recommendations on books by POC and I’m proud to admit that my bookshelf has become much more diverse.
On Saturday, I read this article from BookRiot. It talks about why librarians should read diversely and that, if you are a librarian and you don’t, shame on you. Honestly, I couldn’t agree more. Take some time away from this blog post to go read it. That’s fine. I’ll wait.
I was incensed after reading this article. I grabbed my phone and opened up Goodreads. The last book I read by a person of color was Civil War: Peter Parker, Spider-man by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa in May. In a whole year, from August 2015 – August 2016, I have read three books by people of color. THREE. That’s it. And those were all from the library! It hurt me. I was missing out on a huge, and I mean HUGE, part of the population by limiting myself (albeit, unintentionally) to whites.
I live in an area of Iowa where white is the minority. I have a veritable melting pot in my own backyard: Sudanese, Mexican, Chinese, Laotian, just to name a few. How, in an area with so much diversity, can my bookshelf only hold one color with a few others sprinkled in lightly?
I posted on Facebook that I was looking for book recommendations and was met with a few responses. I had six people comment on my status and one person post on my wall their recommendations. Compare that to another Facebook status I posted in May of 2014 where I had 20 people recommend way more books than I was recommended on Saturday. The difference is staggering. And, as far as I can tell so correct me if I’m wrong, that whole list of Fantasy authors was white.
To add to that, in the entire time that I have been director here (not long, but still), all the stuff I get from Baker & Taylor, Doubleday Large Print, BookPages, etc., have only featured books by white people or white people on the cover! I know, complete anecdata and maybe I have just caught them in a completely white filled three months, they’ll get better, we promise. I kind of doubt that is the case.
Later that day, my wife and I drove to Sioux City and I spent $100 on books by POCs. I think the things that bothered me the most were 1.) I had to ask recommendations specifically for POCs and 2.) I could pull a random book off the shelf at Barnes and Noble and one out of maybe twenty were written by POCs. What a crock!
So, I guess it comes right down to this. We need diverse books. I need diverse books. I need them because I live in a diverse community. I need diverse books because white isn’t the only color. I need diverse books because I don’t know what it is like to be marginalized. I need diverse books because I am a librarian. I serve a community. I serve people.
Here is a great resource if you find yourself in need of education on the subject of diverse books.
Header image from https://diversebooks.org/.