I hope I come across very clearly when I saw I find nothing wrong with any of the white cis-male authors I referenced yesterday. Nor with any of the other white cismale authors on my shelves–I’m pretty deliberate in my book collection and wouldn’t invest in an author unless they had an element that I found necessary or desirable or hopefully both to my interpretation and understanding of the world around me. What I’m finding is how dominated it is by those white cismale authors. I hadn’t realized how much they fill what I read, and how in turn that shapes my thoughts.
This is because I read to understand the world around me. I read to understand the language I speak in my head and to learn how that translates to the world I exist in, and then beyond the immediacy and into worlds different than my own–not a global view in the broad sense but even beyond that, to the global view in a narrow sense. Reading allows me to learn about the subtler nuances of different cultures and not just how they are different, but how they are the same.
I mean, don’t be mistaken–I personally pretty much never go into that deep of a level on a regular, constant basis, god no. But I do approach my books with these assumptions that I will be reading about more than the types of lives of those immediately surrounding me and that those lives will have similarities to my own. I think there might be some fundamental flaws in this approach, but that’s best saved for another post. There are worse approaches, after all.
For now, though, I think I’m just facing the reality that predominantly white cismale writers constitute the baseline of my reading, and through their majority are forming the springboard from which I jump into literature. I don’t like this. I don’t want my books to be ruled in such a fashion–I want my shelves to be samplings of all sorts of cultures and experiences. Which leads me to the easiest and hardest part in all of this–to remember that, particularly when I’m standing in a bookstore looking for my next pick.
Oh and it leads me to my next looming project, finally committing to take a new inventory of my books. It’s been almost four years since I’ve last done it, and my shelves have definitely evolved since then–they’ve even gotten an additional contributor, so there’s that. I’ve realized this time it’ll be easier if I use my camera phone to help me. Instead of standing next to my shelves hours trying to awkwardly write using my arm as a brace, I can just take close up photos of each shelf and sort it out that way.
The real trick is if I seeing if I can start and finish this project all today or if I am going to spend my day off reading the book to be discussed on Monday at my lunch date… The book I’m one chapter into, out of thirteen.