How diverse is your bookshelf? I counted my books & here’s the results

As reading is such a passion of mine, I wanted to create content this week that supported the Black Lives Matter movement, and discuss the value of a diverse bookshelf. I am committing to learning more, taking more action and supporting Black Lives Matter in the ways that I can. Here’s my recommendations and some reading lists to help you to diversify your reading in support of anti-racism and understanding history.

It’s been an emotional and powerful week. Powerful is something I hope continues and I am putting efforts into ensuring my impact is relevant, positive and helpful in supporting the BLM movement. I can’t imagine at all what the black community are going through emotionally and physically, right now and what they have been going through for hundreds of years. 

For me and many other white people it’s also been an educational whirlwind, personally I have been feeling guilty and uneducated. I’m not proud to say that there is so much I don’t know and should have at least learned about.

I am committing now to saying more, learning more, reading more, watching more, listening more and doing more. As a start this week I have been sharing content, reading articles, listening and watching as much as possible. I’ve discussed things with family and friends, signed petitions, emailed a local MP, joined a virtual protest and cracked on with reading the relevant and pertinent books I already had. 

Girl, Woman, Other, Queenie and Why I'm no longer talking about race - books and my sat cross legged.

I also took a look at my bookshelf in general after a prompt from a friend – was I as diverse in my reading as I thought I was? Without considering my kindle, just a straight up sample off my current book shelf – 39 books, fiction and non-fiction. The results were poor, just 20% of those were by non-white authors, around 10% by black authors specifically and the majority were by white British authors.

Mortifying to be honest. Although I’ve read hundreds of books in my life and cannot tell you the race or background of every author, this sample was enough for me to know I have to diversify more. Chances are, if you’re reading this and are white, you probably need to too. 

Reading from a diverse bookshelf

In more positive news, I’ve just finished “Girl, Woman, Other”, you can check out my review below. This novel gets 5 stars for me – and I would gladly re-read very soon. Next up I’m reading Eddo-Lodge’s “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race” and Carty-Williams’ “Queenie”. 

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I’ve been quiet this week, devouring this book and educating myself through video and articles, finding there’s so much I didn’t know and learning my true white privilege. I didn’t know really what to expect from Girl, Woman, Other. An immersive exploration of twelve stories, a deep dive into their lives, family, expectations, experiences, race, background, gender, class, sexuality and history. These short stories were epic tales in their own right and I was left, at the end of each, wanting more! ⁣ ⁣ The stories are grouped into chapters of three, with clear linkages between the characters, mother and daughter stories, friends etc. As the book goes on you start to unravel the links between the chapters and understand the narrative that brings these characters together through time, location and love. ⁣ ⁣ Evaristo throws out conventional styles of writing with no capital letters and no punctuation. Her unique style was hard to read at first but once I got used to it the words just flowed right off the page. I was hooked after the first chapter “Amma”. ⁣ ⁣ I’ve learned a lot about black history, ways of life, traditions and culture that I have never experienced before. I got insights into sexuality questions I’ve never considered as a heterosexual who identifies as she/her. And I loved every second of it, reading the stories that spanned generations, up and down the country in a way I’ve never read before. I’ll definitely re-read this book that’s for sure.⁣ ⁣ 110% recommend.⁣ ⁣ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

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5 diverse books I LOVE: 

  1. Girl Woman Other – Bernadine Evaristo 
  2. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal 
  3. Becoming – Michelle Obama 
  4. Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini 
  5. To kill a mockingbird – Harper Lee 

Adding new & diverse titles to your bookshelf

There are hundreds of posts out there with book recommendations to help you diversify your shelf, so I wanted to share which books I’ll be reading in the coming months, mostly by black authors but this TBR list isn’t exhaustive for me. I’ve also embedded some awesome links and posts with even more book lists and recommendations:

5 diverse fiction on my TBR: 

  1. Heads of the coloured people – Nafissa Thompson-Spires
  2. Such a fun age – Kiley Reid 
  3. Mr Loverman – Bernadine Evaristo 
  4. An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
  5. A woman is no man – Etaf Rum

5 diverse non-fiction on my TBR:

  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad 
  • I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
  • How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Hood Feminism – Mikki Kendall 
  • So you want to talk about race – Ijeoma Oluo 

Which books do you pledge to read as soon as possible? Tell me in the comments! 

“we need to read books that are difficult or unorthodox, that don’t go down easily. Books that force us to confront our self-serving beliefs and make us aware that “I’m not racist” is a slogan of denial”

Ibram X. Kendi

More reading lists:

Support donate, educate and create real change.

Sarah xx

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How diverse is your bookshelf? I reviewed mine and committed to reading these books.

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2 Comments

  1. June 21, 2020 / 3:16 pm

    I was really shocked by how undiverse my bookshelf has been in the past. I read My Sister the Serial Killer last year, but that was literally the only diverse book I picked up the whole year. These past few weeks I’ve read Queenie and Girl, Woman, Other, which were both fantastic. I’ve started Why I’m No Longer Talking About Race, and I have Me and White Supremacy too. I definitely find the non-fiction much more difficult to read (in general I’m more of a fiction lover, but as well because of how harrowing the content is), but I’m trying to educate myself a little every day. Such a Fun Age is also on my tbr pile – can’t wait to dive in.

    • Sarah
      Author
      June 28, 2020 / 12:20 pm

      I think the fiction books are such a great way to learn because they share the stories and experiences in a way that’s easily visualised by the reader. Halfway through Queenie now, finding Tom very frustrating! Yesss Such a fun age looks great too!

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