Hope 2015 has been good to you so far!
Writing-wise, I’m in limbo at the moment. The laptop I write on died in December. I knew it was coming – the poor thing had been limping along for awhile – but there’s never a great time for a computer to fail, is there? Anyway, I bought a new laptop, but the little local Mac store didn’t have it in stock and had to order it. It hasn’t arrived yet. I do have my old, faltering fallback laptop for Internet access, but it does not contain up-to-date versions of my writing files. The new one will have all that transferred over from the zombified remains of my dead laptop. Can’t wait!
In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Last year, I made a list of fifteen books to read I felt I ought to have read sooner. (Fifteen isn’t a lot for me – according to Goodreads, I read 154 books in 2014. But I do regularly read and review graphic novels for No Flying No Tights, not to mention oodles of other books.) I enjoyed this, and I’ve thought about repeating it in 2015.
The main obstacle, of course, is that while 2014’s list included books I’d guiltily avoided or missed for many years (The Giver, Ender’s Game), there aren’t a lot of those left now. There are still many contemporary books I feel I ought to read. These include influential books I might not pick up without a list to make me do it, generally because they’re sad (If I Stay and Thirteen Reasons Why, I’m looking at you). And there are authors I think I should read (Ellen Hopkins, Chris Crutcher) or read more of (Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green).
Note: When I say I “should” read something, that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t expect to enjoy it. I loved many of the books on my 2014 Shame Unreads list, when I finally got around to them.
None of the above, however, seem like things I want to make a point of reading this year. You know what does? Diverse books.
By “diverse books,” I mean books written by and/or about people of color, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and generally anyone who isn’t already widely represented in the world of books and authors. I’m a big fan of the We Need Diverse Books campaign. I already read diverse books, and when I encounter a good one, I push it in everyone’s face. (I love being a librarian.) A few of my favorites in 2014 were:
- Amulet graphic novel series by Kazu Kibuishi – Gorgeous and exciting!
- House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle – Check it out, I CAN read adult books!
- If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth – Fun yet touching realistic YA.
- Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine – I love me some retold classics.
- Pointe by Brandy Colbert – Thrillery and well-written.
- The Selection series by Kiera Cass – Fluffy and fun.
In 2015, I intend to read a lot more than fifteen diverse books, and there are many that I would read whether or not I stuck them on a list and guilted myself into it. However, I want not just to read diverse books, but to be loud about reading them! Talk about them! Promote the good ones! Overuse exclamation points! And to that end, my Diverse Books Reading List for 2015!
I might read these in any old order, so I’ll just list them alphabetically. With each one, I’ll include the factor(s) making it a diverse book.
- 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith – protagonist has epilepsy – This author is supposed to be great, and I haven’t read anything of his yet.
- A La Carte by Tanita S. Davis – author and protagonist are African-American – The main character wants to become a famous vegetarian chef? I’m in.
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – author and both protagonists are Chicano, and protagonists are both queer – I’ve heard this is a fantastic, beautiful book.
- Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier – author and protagonist are Indian-American – A modern classic that I somehow missed.
- Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang – author is Chinese-American; the books are set in China and feature Chinese characters – Technically, this is two graphic novels, but they’re a set, so I’m counting ’em as one. I’ve heard great things.
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – author (and protagonist, as this is a memoir) is African-American – National Book Award winner, and it’s supposed to be awesome!
- The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson – author is Jamaican; protagonist is mixed-race – A post-apocalyptic novel featuring a PoC! And also volcanoes!
- The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco – author is Filipina; protagonist is Japanese – I started reading this on a borrowed e-reader and didn’t get to finish it, but it’s creepy, well-written horror with cool Japanese mythology-type elements
- Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky – protagonist is transgender – I’m thrilled when I see middle-grade books featuring LGBTQ people, as there’s a frustrating assumption by some that LGBTQ people themselves are somehow PG-13 content. Plus, I read the first page of this when it came across my desk at one point, and I didn’t want to put it down!
- How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle – author and protagonist are Choctaw – I liked Tingle’s book House of Purple Cedar, so I look forward to trying this one.
- How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon – author and, from what I can tell, most of the characters are African-American – Highly topical, and I’ve heard it’s well-written.
- I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – one of the two protagonists is gay – Supposed to be an excellent book.
- Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper – author and (I think) protagonist are African-American; protagonist has cerebral palsy – From what I’ve heard, this is a beautiful and important book. Also, have I really not read anything by Sharon Draper? Time to change that!
- Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan – author and protagonist are both Iranian-American lesbians – I liked If You Could Be Mine, and this one sounds good, too.
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin – protagonist is a person of color – HOW HAVE I NOT READ THIS. Alternate-world fantasy is my jam! And PoC protagonists in alternate world fantasy are tragically rare! And this is supposed to be a great book!
Boy, I had trouble narrowing this down to fifteen! Do you have any reading resolutions for 2015?