Readers are typically intelligent, thoughtful people who want to better understand the world, how it works, and the people, institutions, and natural world that surround us. But a question I finally asked myself is: what happens when we only hear what a few people have to say about everyone else? What happens to our perceptions of others when we mistakenly let someone else describe them to us instead of listening to them describe themselves?
All sort sorts of awful things happen when we don’t listen to people describe themselves, and we end up thinking we know all sorts of things that are actually false. This page is a work in progress. I’ll include lists others have already labored over as well as highlight some of the books that have profoundly changed my life, books where various people describe themselves and their histories and presents.
Here’s a brief post by Alaina Leary, 30 Days of Social Justice: Why the #OWNVOICES Movement is Crucial for Young Readers. She raises many of the issues I’ve been thinking about. I will say that as a white trash woman, I’ve been incensed by most accounts I’ve seen about poor white people (typically written by middle class white men looking to be edgy and dark. One particular book that made me want to throw it against a wall won numerous awards and was recommended to me over and over and over again). And, well, having two degrees in English Literature/Creative Writing means I’ve been bombarded with depictions of what Very Important Men think women are and should be. It makes me think of all the complaints I’ve heard from men that they don’t understand or “get” women. Maybe don’t only read books by other men who don’t understand or “get” women? While, you know, maybe considering that we’re not actually monolith, but individuals with different thoughts, feelings, and preferences?
One great list that amplifies voices historically ignored is the #PulseOrlandoSyllabus
There’s an awesome table of contents that will let you immediately zero in on whatever media interests you, be it genres of books or music or tv or games, whatever!
If you’re interested in scholarship (I am!) and want to learn about intersectionality from the black women who created it and know the most about it (I do!), I highly recommend Melissa Brown’s Intersectionality 101: A Reading List on Blackfeminisms.com. I’ll be reading many of the texts on her awesome list.
Not quite ready for scholarship or looking to mix it up? Crystal Paul has a list on Bustle (she has MANY awesome lists up on Bustle!), 12 Books to Keep Your Feminism Intersectional, with 11 books I need to check out, and one that I already know and love: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color.
This list of 19 Sci-fi & Fantasy Reading Suggestions for International Women’s Day looks extremely promising. I’ve read and loved six of these titles. Others are already on my radar, and I think I’d like to read everything on this list.
My Recommended Reading of individual books can be found by clicking the previous link or searching my site for “recommended reading” or scrolling the blog portion of this site, News & Notes. I’m trying to add new recommendations every week (and not even coming close), from a broad range of authors writing on many different topics, both fiction and nonfiction. I also sometimes do Recommended Viewing of movies, TV shows, and documentaries I find outstanding/useful.
Warning: I’m typically choosing to link to Goodreads, and, as one might expect, any text written by people about themselves instead of members of the dominant classes tend to get some really really negative, dismissive reviews, that often end up front of the list as other people who also don’t want to rethink what they thought they knew glob onto these negative reviews in a self-defensive position of adherence to ignorance and rationalizing away what they don’t want to hear. You’ve been warned. I’ve seen so many negative reviews that were utterly, factually false, despite any “difference of opinion” that might legitimately exist, and yet, there they often are, the top of the list. Funny how that might work.
A great starting place for people who are interested in truth, in our actual shared history, and in seeing how many lies surround us in our everyday lives is Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. We already know that “the victors write history,” but have we stopped to think about what that truly means and how much more accurate it would be to say, “the victors RE-write history”?