Monday, July 21, 2014

#Diversiverse Genre Spotlight: Non-Fiction

This weekend, I posted a preview to the revamped A More Diverse Universe event that will take place over the last two weeks of September.  The event challenges you to read and review just one book by a person of color during those two weeks.  In previous versions of the challenge, #Diversiverse focused solely on authors of science fiction and fantasy.  This year, I'm opening it up to authors of any and all genres because I think it's important that people realize not only the depth but the breadth of books out there on so many subjects written by people of color.

Therefore, I'm putting together lists of books for people who are interested in reading within particular subjects and parameters.  I figured that I would start with non-fiction, as that is by far the most difficult "genre" in which to find diverse authors. It's easy to find books about being a minority in Western culture or growing up in war zones in other countries, so I purposely excluded books like that from this list.  Sadly, it's extremely difficult to find books by diverse authors on say, popular science or current events.  Therefore, this list is more of a jumping off point; it is by no means exhaustive.  I would LOVE for people to provide suggestions, and I am happy to add them to this list.

It is pretty exhausting putting together lists like this - for this list, I've gone for quantity over quality as I have not read the vast majority of the titles I list below and therefore don't want to write a misleading blurb about them.  Hopefully, though, some of the titles and subject headings pique your interest!

Those that I have read, I've linked to my reviews.

Economics/Social Behavior
The Art of Choosing, by Sheena Iyengar
Gang Leader for a Day, by Sudhir Venkatesh
Off the Books:  The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor, by Sudhir Venkatesh
Banker to the Poor, by Muhammad Yunus
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua
The Billionaire's Apprentice, by Anita Raghavan
The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Cooked, by Jeff Henderson
Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson
Taco USA:  How Mexican Food Conquered America, by Gustavo Arellano
Curried Cultures:  Globalization, Food, and South Asia, ed. Krishnendu Ray, Tulusi Srinivas
LA Son:  My Life, My City, My Food, by Roy Choi

History/Current Events
The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
The Devil's Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea
India Becoming, by Akash Kapur
A Free Man:  A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi, by Aman Sethi
From the Ruins of Empire:  The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia, by Pankaj Mishra
Factory Girls:  Young Women on the Move in Modern China, by Leslie Chang
The Jaguar Smile, by Salman Rushdie

The Emperor of All Maladies:  A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Complications:  A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, by Atul Gawande
Better, by Atul Gawande
Simon Singh - an author who focuses on a plethora of topics, including codes, the Big Bang, and mathematical phenomena
Michio Kaku - a "futurist" who writes a lot about the science of outer space, the future, and physics



The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kankwamba
Kaffir Boy:  The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa, by Mark Mathabane
An African in Greenland, by Tete-Michel Kpomassie

Kampung Boy, by Lat
Vietnamerica, by GB Tran
Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi
A Princess Remembers:  The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur, by Gayatri Devi

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  And Other Concerns, by Mindy Kaling
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, by Jeanne Theoharis
The Distance Between Us, by Reyna Grande
Lakota Woman, by Mary Crow Dog
Anything by Maya Angelou


  1. I need to look at my tbr list for books to suggesting in econ and social behavior. L.A. Son is a fantastic cookbook. Some people won't like all the swearing though.

    Some recommendations:
    The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee (food and culture)
    Lives of the Boundary by Mike Rose (education)
    Cooking with Amar'e (cookbook)
    Multiplication is for White People by Lisa Delpit (education)
    Take This Man by Brando Skyhorse (memoir)
    March by John Robert Lewis (graphic novel/civil rights)
    Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
    Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

    1. Thank you! And thanks, too, for focusing on the non-immigrant/race-focused books, too. I know those are important, but they are easy to find and the ones above are probably not.

  2. Neil deGrasse Tyson has a couple of books as well.

    1. Thanks - will add those to the list later this week.

  3. Brilllliant to highlight specific genres! Love this.

    1. Thanks, Andi :-) I figure if I'm going to convince people, I should overwhelm them with the magnitude of options available.

  4. Hm...if I could a good memoir. I have read these awesome ones, I never read part 2 of the Oufkir one

    1. Yeah, I'll bet it's easier for you to find POC memoirs than most of the other genres, based on what you've told me of your library. I don't know the Oufkir one, what is that?

  5. Love these lists -- thanks so much for making them! I've heard really great things about Dayo Olopade's The Bright Continent, for your Africa list. Also for the social behavior list, I've had my eye on a book called Blind Spot, which is coauthored by an Indian-American scholar. And for Asia, Tamim Ansary's Game Without Rules is a really friendly and accessible history of modern Afghanistan.

  6. Thank you so much for this - it's really useful. Here are a couple more books I've heard good things about or enjoyed:

    - The Locust and the Bird: My Mother's Story by Hanan Al-Shaykh
    - Things I've Been Silent About by Azar Nafisi
    - A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached
    - All About Love by bell hooks (and pretty much all her books)
    - An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire by Arundhati Roy


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