Saturday, July 19, 2014

A lil' preview of the remix: A More Diverse Universe


For the past two years, I've hosted the A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour, a tour that focuses on highlighting diverse authors of science fiction and fantasy.  The first year, there were more than 50 participants, which was amazing.  Last year, it was a shorter time period and much less organized, but it was still a pretty fantastic event.

Regardless of how much #Diversiverse has impacted the reading habits of its participants and observers, it has had a massive impact on my own reading.  After hosting the event the first year (with a ton of help!), I made a concerted pledge to read more diversely all year long, not only in fantasy and science fiction, but in all my reading.  Now, I read about 50% diverse authors, and it comes naturally to me to seek out non-white authors.  This is a massive change from where I was three years ago, when I read almost exclusively white authors.

I wish my new habit did not require so much seeking out, that I could default to best sellers or critically acclaimed novels and know that I was reading books by a wide array of authors.  But that is not the case.  If you want to read books by authors of diverse backgrounds, you have to be very conscious about doing so.  If you stick with the best-seller lists or most award-winners or the books that people tend to talk about, even on blogosphere, you are looking at a very monotone set of authors.

So in thinking through this year's iteration of the A More Diverse Universe blog tour, I wondered what it would take to make more people participate, and to motivate more people to read diversely all the time, not just for an event.

There are a lot of reasons people use to defend the lack of diversity in their reading.  The most popular one seems to be that of the "moody reader."  Someone says, "I'm such a moody reader, I just don't want to put rules up that would drive me away from reading altogether."  I used this excuse myself all the time.  I didn't want to change my reading habits because I enjoyed what I was reading, and why should I have to change something that I did for a hobby?

I explained the "why" for changing this habit in pretty great detail two years in a row.  I'm sure I'll do it again as we get closer to the #Diversiverse dates.  For now, let me just say that the "moody reader" argument doesn't really make sense because it implies that diverse authors do not write books that meet your current mood's criteria.  This is unlikely.  I cannot make this clear enough:

You may have to change your book-finding habits to include POC authors in your reading rotation.  You absolutely do not need to change your book-reading habits.

Let me explain.  Have a thirst for epic fantasy?  There's a growing number of books available to you.  Science fiction?  A small but strong contingent.  Non-Fiction?  For sure.  Memoirs?  Definitely.  Graphic novels?  Absolutely.  Travel writing?  Got you covered.  Romance?  Yup.  Women's fiction?  Mystery?  Thrillers?  Historical fiction?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes.  Whatever genre you enjoy, you can read diversely within that genre.

Thus, the A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour is evolving into something bigger and more inclusive than it was previously.  Instead of being focused on science fiction and fantasy, now #Diversiverse is about expanding your entire reading universe.  And instead of being a blog tour, it's more of a challenge.  The criteria are simple:

  • Read and review one book
  • Written by a person of color
  • During the last two weeks of September (September 14th - 27th)
That's it.

I'll make an official sign-up post, because, well, that makes it official.  It will go up in early August and will include a lot of reading suggestions, organized by genre.  Consider this your Save the Date :-)

Also, if you would like to help promote or organize or do anything else, please let me know!  If you have authors you want me to highlight in the sign-up post, or genres you want to make sure I include, or if you want to tackle one genre with author suggestions, or promote the event on Twitter or Facebook or ANYTHING, I am completely open to and absolutely grateful for your help.  Just leave a comment here and I will come find you!  

And if you know how to create buttons or know someone who does, and if you or that other person would be willing and able to make a fun button/badge for people to use when they post reviews for A More Diverse Universe (#diversiverse), I would be very grateful.  I need a refresh so that people know it is not limited just to speculative fiction, and so that people know the dates are in 2014, not 2012.

But really, what I most need (and seriously, I do need it, not want it) from you is to commit and sign up and EXECUTE this reading challenge.  The more we vote with our dollars, our library cards, our reviews, and our recommendations, the more diverse our bookshelves will become, until it's second nature to all of us to read in technicolor.  Let's DO this.

33 comments:

  1. >>You may have to change your book-finding habits to include POC authors in your reading rotation. You absolutely do not need to change your book-reading habits.

    I absolutely love this, and it is a hundred percent true. I'm looking at my genre reading stats for this year, and nothing about them is different from any other year -- about a quarter each of speculative and literary fiction, a little less than that each for YA and nonfiction, and some miscellaneous comics, translations, and mystery. (I know comics isn't a genre but I've broken it out anyway and I hope Ana doesn't fuss at me about that when I do my 2014 sum-up.) But I've read 35% authors of color this year, which I know I haven't done in years past. It's completely about changing how I look for books.

    I'm in for this! Naturally!

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    1. lol. There will be no fussing :P

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    2. Yes, exactly! I don't think my reading habits have changed a ton, either. I mean, they have evolved in that I don't only read historical fiction and fantasy any more, but I certainly still only read books that interest me, and don't feel at all like I've had to sacrifice anything.

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  2. I'll be signing up for this again and I think it's a great idea to expand and include other genres. I know my own reading still isn't diverse enough but I would really like to change that. I'll look out for your suggestions post!

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    1. Hooray! There will probably be multiple suggestions posts for different genres - look for them soon!

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  3. I'll see what my library has, or try to look at my shelf. Lots of googling then

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    1. I know you try hard to participate every year! I hope you are able to find something.

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  4. I'm in - even though I'm not "blogging" anymore, I'm still reading like crazy & posting about it on other sites, so I'm in for reading & talking about more diverse authors with you.

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    1. Hooray! That means a lot, as you are one of my oldest blogging friends :-)

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  5. This post is perfect and I agree with everything you said. My stats for this year weren't so great, so I devoted the whole of June to books by POC and read some amazing (and very varied!) stuff. I definitely think the more you do it the more it becomes second nature. I was there a few years ago when it come to reading women, and now it just comes naturally. I want to make sure the same happens with books by authors of colour.

    I no longer have any button making software, but I'll definitely help spread the word as far and wide as I can!

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    1. Hooray for your diverse month of June (especially since it means you read Thorn!). It absolutely becomes more natural the more you do it, and I think you realize just how rich the whole literature field is, too. It's not all Tudors, which is nice ;-)

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  6. Ack! My previous comment was lost. As usual, you can count me in for this event. I love that you're including all types of genres this time around. I plan on spreading the word.

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    1. Yes, let's see how it goes with the wider variety of books available for people to choose from - hopefully that will get more people to sign up and change their reading habits!

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  7. I'd really like to get involved this year and would be totally up for posting promotional material on Facebook. I could also bring it up at my school's various English related clubs.

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    1. That sounds wonderful - thanks very much for the help!

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    2. I've posted a link to this on Facebook!

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  8. I'm definitely in again and can't wait! If you need any help let me know!

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    1. Yay! Do you know how to make a button? :-)

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  9. This sounds like a fun challenge, depending on my workload around September, I might be able to participate.

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  10. Great idea Aarti! I am in and if you would like an help with anything at all I would love to give you a hand. I will promote this on my blog as well. I love this! YAY!!!

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    1. Thanks very much, Alysia! I will reach out to you separately for help, if you have time.

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    2. Looking forward to it! I have a post going up later today about this event. Thanks!

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  11. I would like to participate again this year!

    I saw your requests on Twitter and took the liberty of trying to make a button: http://oi61.tinypic.com/t5niwy.jpg I left off some of the text from the ones above because this year seems more general than speculative fiction, though. Is this the kind of thing you're looking for?

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    1. Thanks so much for the A More Diverse Universe button. I tried to comment on your blog, but keep getting errors, so hopefully you see this :-) I completely understand that I did not provide much guidance. Do you want to email me at booklustblogger AT gmail DOT com, and I can give you a sense of what I had in mind? I like how you put the universe in there and the person. But I agree, maybe since it is not just SFF-focused this year, we can make the button seem a bit more universal.

      Thanks again - I really appreciate your help!

      Aarti

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    2. Sure! I sent you an e-mail, but I haven't heard so I'm guessing you haven't had a chance to respond yet- in case the message goes astray, you can e-mail me at this username at gmail. Thanks!

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  12. You may have to change your book-finding habits to include POC authors in your reading rotation. You absolutely do not need to change your book-reading habits.

    So much yes to this. At the beginning of 2014, I decided to aim for 25% reading material by POC (or with POC contributors, since I read a lot of anthologies and fiction magazines). As of yesterday, I'm sitting at just over 50%. As soon as I started searching for fiction by POC, I found myself drowning in a wealth of interesting stuff: SFF, general fiction, nonfiction, short fiction, and heaps of comics from all genres. I haven't had to alter my reading habits at all, and I've discovered some fabulous new-to-me authors.

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  13. Coming very late, saying that I'm very in! I don't have a great way of tracking this info, but I don't think my stats are all that great. My to-read list, however, has some great stats, so I'm making a September list and I'm going to participate the hell out of this event! If there's anything I can do to help, besides talk it up, let me know!

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    1. Hooray! I am so glad :). Really, just talking it up would be so helpful. Let's make it huge!

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  14. This year I decided to read more diversely, and I ran into the exact problem you mentioned - that I have to hunt for a book and not just default to the first nice-sounding book at the library. But it's been a great hunt thus far - so many new books added to the list, so many great choices to pick from. I'm need to decide which book to highlight for #diversiverse. (Oh, and I'm so glad that you are expanding this event beyond speculative fiction!)

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  15. woo hoo, I'm in! Let me know if I can help!

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  16. Yay! I'm absolutely in and let me know if there's anything I can do!

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