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Diversity in Reading Meme

Posted by Sherry on 5/4/2009 in General |

Name the last book by a female author that you’ve read.
I read lots of books by women, probably as many or more than I do by men. The last female authored book I read was To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Semicolon review here. I don’t think women are particularly “marginalized” or left unread because they’re women in today’s world.

Name the last book by an African or African-American author that you’ve read. Ummmm, I would have to look up all the authors of all the books I’ve read lately to see if any of them are African or African-American.
The last one I know for sure was African was Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah.
Oh, I read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese in March, and his bio says: “Born of Indian parents who were teachers in Ethiopia, he grew up near Addis Ababa and began his medical training there.”

Name one from a Latino/a author.
I haven’t read any Hispanic authors lately.

How about one from an Asian country or Asian-American?
The Secret-Keeper by Mitali Perkins, and before that one, Walking from East to West by Ravi Zacharias.

What about a GLBT writer?
I do not inquire as to the sexual preferences of the authors I read, and if they start writing in detail about sin and perversion, homosexual or heterosexual, I quit reading. I did re-read Oscar Wilde’s delightful play, The Importance of Being Earnest, not too long ago.

Why not name an Israeli/Arab/Turk/Persian writer, if you’re feeling lucky?
Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris. Semicolon review here. Ms. Ferraris isn’t exactly of Middle Eastern extraction, but her book is set in Saudi Arabia and paints a sympathetic, but realistic, picture of that culture ane the people who live in it.
I’m reading a much less sympathetic but no less realistic book now by Lebanese author Kamal Saleem, nonfiction memoir about terrorism and redemption/conversion. The title is The Blood of Lambs.

Any other “marginalized” authors you’ve read lately?
I dunno. Who’s marginalized?

Now, I have a couple of questions to add to this “diversity exercise”.

What have you read lately that takes an opposite political view from your own?
I’m not too good about this attempt at cross-cultural understanding because reading an entire book from a liberal, anti-religious point of view is annoying in the extreme. I get enough of that bias anytime I look at Time or Newsweek or any other major news source.

Have you read any Jewish authors lately?
Again, it’s hard to say. Half the authors on my list could be Jewish for all I know.

How about Muslim writers?
The above-mentioned Mr. Saleem is a former Muslim. The last book I remember reading that was truly from a Muslim perspective was Orhan Pamuk’s Snow. Semicolon thoughts here. (I didn’t care for it much.)

If you are Christian or at least monotheistic, have you read any books from an atheistic or agnostic viewpoint lately? Or if you are non-religious, have you read anything written by a Christian or other religous person that specifically form a Christian point of view?
I am a Christian, and I’ve read lots of books that incorporate a non-Christian worldview, but nothing lately that has an anti-Christian theme as its main point.

Do you think a reader should deliberately try to sample other cultures, other worldviews, and other ethical and religious perspectives? Why or why not?

3 Comments

  • I do think it’s good to read from different perspectives from time to time. Superficial qualities like skin color or gender don’t seem significant. But reading from different cultures or worldviews can help you understand your own views better and pick up ideas you might be missing, while giving you more insight and compassion for different people. It’s the cheaper–and in some ways more effective–substitute for travel.

    I don’t read diatribes by any side, so I’ve never bothered with the “God is Evil” books that have been out lately, anymore than I would read a “Christian” rant. These mostly serve to reinforce people’s own prejudices, or raise the blood pressure of their opponents. What we’re looking for is thoughtful consideration of human concerns, from any perspective.

    Different people have different tolerance levels for reading books they disagree with. Being a contrarian by nature, I try to avoid too many books that I would naturally agree with (unless they’re VERY well done) because I start finding myself arguing with them and antagonizing myself from my core beliefs. But most of my reading diet is books that I have general agreement with where I can nitpick a few things and still profit from the rest of the book.

  • Carrie says:

    Yeah,that would be my friend QOC above. I’m not sure which I enjoyed most – your post or her comment!

    Oh hum. Well, this was a more intriguing meme to say the least.

  • bekahcubed says:

    I enjoy reading the “Opposing Viewpoints” series on contemporary issues. It gives me a chance to understand a bit of “the other side” without being a whole book long. I occasionally read whole books (mostly social tomes) that are written from a perspective I disagree with–but only on subjects I’m very interested in. I think it’s worthwhile to be diverse in your reading–to a point. But I think that seeking out opinions/perspectives you differ from or disagree with for differences or disagreements sake is foolish.

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