I don’t normally overtly talk about politics on the blog, but some stuff has happened in the Australian federal parliament this week that has really upset me. I know most of my readers are not located in Australia, so rather than rabbit in about how crappy it is that we now seem to have some neo-Natzi in the parliament who my fellow Australians have voted for and who my tax dollars are supporting, I thought a post about reading as resistance might be helpful.
Reading and books are amazing. Studies have shown that reading can improve empathy and if we have empathy, things like racism becomes less of a thing. (Ranty note: the above study references that literary fiction rather than genre fiction – Danielle Steele in particular – is needed to positively impact empathy. I think this is nonsense and as long as you are reading genre fiction that thoughtfully challenges the status quo it will have the same effect. I can’t imagine your average reader reading Octavia Butler, Yoon Ha Lee, Nnedi Okorafor, or Claire Coleman and not having the way they view the world changed.)
Reading diversely has helped me gain a broader range of perspectives on life from a range people who I would never have met in my day to day life and from points of view I couldn’t experience as a cis white woman.
The media, marketing and politicians all want to impact the way that we think, which is why, particularly in the tiny Australian publishing market, certain books are advertised a lot and placed in particular spot in chain bookstores and other books seem to sneak into the shelves when they are stocked at all.
If you are not already, you can make your reading an act of resistance. Here are a few more ideas:
- Start a diverse reading book club at work
- Talk to people about the diverse books you read. Talk to anyone: your mum, your friends, your partner
- Talk about diverse books on social media: there’s plenty of people interested in books on places like Litsy, Tumblr and Instagram. Take your diverse reads to the people!
- Talk to your local book store: If you can afford to support the author, order your books in at your local book store. Talk to the staff about how cool diverse books are. Book store staff are also generally readers and want to read amazing books. My local bookstore staff are great at this, which I appreciate.
- Ask your library to stock diverse books: If your library doesn’t have the diverse books you want to read, they should have a method for you to be able to make requests. My library is particularly awesome at this. Books in libraries are great for authors as well – more people will have the opportunity to meet a new favourite, and it could lead the library to buying more of their books.
- Read in public! One Aussie author self published his first book and advertised it my reading it on public transport. You reading a book in public is a way of you making a book recommendation to any readers who see you. Read on the train, on the bus, in your local cafe, in the park, at the hair salon.
Do you have any other ideas? Have any of these been successful for you?