TVTT Brown Ajah Edition - Reading BIPOC Authors

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Author: Rhed al'Tere
Published: February 2 2021 - Tar Valon Times Blog Link

In June 2020, when the Black Lives Matters protests were growing, I decided I’d only read authors of color for the next 6 months. I normally read a lot, but many of the books I read are by fellow white people, and I knew to better understand the growing movement around me, I needed to branch out.

Not only branch out, though; that sounds too organic for what I knew I needed to do. I made deliberate choices to read authors of color, Black authors in particular. That’s what it took: deliberation. I couldn’t just go haphazardly through my bookshelves and find the number of books I’d need to keep me reading for 6 months. I purchased a lot of books last year, most by BIPOC authors. I put books on hold at the library. I read recommendations online, and got recommendations from friends.

Furthermore, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just reading about Black pain. I wanted the full spectrum of emotion, including Black joy.

It was amazing.

I read about laws that keep Black and brown people in prison (The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander); I read amazing collections of poetry (The Body’s Question by Tracy K. Smith). I read two books by Muslim women describing opposite experiences (Threading My Prayer Rug by Sabeeha Rehman and The Wrong End of the Table by Ayser Salman). I tore through romances like they were nothing (Alyssa Cole, Talia Hibbert, Alisha Rai). I read horror and mysteries and essays.

In all, I read 73 books in 6 months. Seventy percent of the 134 books I read last year were by authors of color, which is a huge increase from previous years.

I came away from this choice with a much richer understanding of Black lives (most of the authors I read were Black). I got deeper insight to the culture and richness of Black lives. But, most especially, I read some really excellent books, some of which I list below as recommendations.

I’d encourage you to take on a similar goal to read more BIPOC authors, whether it’s a time frame like I did or a percentage of books you read in 2021. Perhaps you alternate between BIPOC and white authors. Whatever you do, it’s sure to enrich your reading life as much as it enriches your thinking about the world.