My OwnVoices 2017 Reading Resolution

Today we’re going to talk about diversity in books. Specifically, the OwnVoices movement.

Most of us can agree that 2016 has been a year full of turmoil, trouble, and tears. As an historian, I watched the Republican candidate’s campaign with growing horror. I could draw so many parallels to totalitarian regimes in history, and frequently I did. But you know that old saying, “Those who study history are doomed to be ignored by people who didn’t.” Or something like that.

The upshot is, we now have to face the actuality of the United States under a fascist ruler who appears to have no compassion. We’ve seen hate crimes increasing. Just today I read an article about a Jewish family in Pennsylvania being forced to flee their city because of threats. We’re seeing the very real possibility of a Muslim registry, which should frighten everyone, not just Muslims. We’re seeing legislators in North Carolina arguing over stupid things like who uses what bathroom when there are people going hungry all across America. For heaven’s sake, let people use the toilet they want to use, and start worrying about the fact that there are 22,000 veterans who were discharged for misconduct despite the fact they were suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other crippling ailments thanks to their service.

Image with book graphics and text that says "OwnVoices: My 2017 Reading Resolution"Okay, sorry, got sidetracked.

The point is, I fear that in 2017, those who are marginalized in the US are going to be even more marginalized. There are a lot of ways to take action on that, and I’m exploring several of them. One of the things I’m going to do next year is try to have OwnVoices books outnumber the books written by white, cishet, Christian males. Nothing particularly wrong with those guys, but I’ve been reading them all my life.

(You probably know this, but OwnVoices books are books with PoC characters written by PoC authors. Books with GLBTQ characters written by GLBTQ authors. Books with Latinx characters written by Latinx authors. And sometimes books with GLBTQ, Latinx characters with anxiety disorders, because intersectionality is a Thing. YALSA recently published an article about the importance of OwnVoices if you want to read more about it.)

I’m compiling a list of OwnVoices books that have been recommended on various websites, Twitter TLs (check out the #OwnVoices hashtag), etc. This is a working list, and I invite you to contribute to it. I know there are some areas where I’m stronger (GLBTQ voices) and there are probably areas I’m overlooking. And I don’t know that I’ll read every book on this particular list. But here’s my list so far.

My OwnVoices Reading List

  1. Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History – ed. by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older
  2. Vengeance Bound – Justina Ireland
  3. Promise of Shadows – Justina IrelandCover of Long Hidden OwnVoices anthology
  4. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
  5. On the Edge of Gone – Corinne Duyvis*
  6. Otherbound – Corinna Duyvis*
  7. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
  8. The Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
  9. The Grace of Kings – Ken Liu
  10. The Wall of Storms – Ken Liu
  11. The Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray
  12. An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir
  13. A Torch Against the Night – Sabaa Tahir
  14. The Wrath and the Dawn – Renée Ahdieh
  15. The Rose and the Dagger – Renée Ahdieh
  16. The Weight of Feathers – Anna-Marie McLemore
  17. Unicorn Tracks – Julia Ember
  18. Killer of Enemies – Joseph Bruchac
  19. Shadowshaper – Daniel José Older
  20. Ghost Girl in the Corner – Daniel José Older
  21. Midnight Taxi Tango – Daniel José Older
  22. Battle Hill Bolero – Daniel José Older
  23. Lagoon – Nnedi OkoraforCover of Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  24. Binti – Nnedi Okorafor
  25. Binti: Home – Nnedi Okorafor
  26. The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin
  27. The Obelisk Gate – N.K. Jemisin
  28. The Stone Sky – N.K. Jemisin (releasing 2017)
  29. The Cutting Season – Attica Locke
  30. The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind – Meg Medina
  31. The Star-Touched Queen – Roshani Chokshi
  32. The Girl From Everywhere – Heidi Heilig
  33. If I Was Your Girl – Meredith Russo
  34. Labyrinth Lost – Zoraida Córdova
  35. Of Fire and Stars – Audrey Coulthurst
  36. Signal to Noise – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  37. Salt Houses – Hala Alyan (releasing May 2017)

Obviously I prefer to read inside the speculative fiction genre, but I’m open to reading most genres, though I’m not a fan of horror. I know I need more Asian voices on my list, and I don’t think I have any non-fiction on there yet. While I don’t love non-fiction, I’d like to read at least 5 non-fiction OwnVoices books.

What books have I left off? Do you have a favorite that isn’t here? Tell me and I’ll add it to my list!

6 Comments:

  1. I love speculative fiction, so I’m adding a bunch of titles from your list to my TBR pile! :) I highly recommend Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation (edited by Bornstein/Bergman, contains LOTS of different voices!) and Jennifer Finney Boylan’s Stuck in the Middle With You for #ownvoices transgender nonfiction.

    • Awesome! And thank you for the additional titles–I’ll put them both on my list, and I’m especially interested in the transgender nonfiction. I’m getting really excited to start reading! :)

  2. What an awesome resolution! I plan to still heavily from your list, since I want to be reading more new books instead of just rereading my old favorites for comfort. Here’s my contribution to the list…

    Last year I read and really loved Nat Turner by Kyle Barker, which is a graphic novel based on the confessions of Nat Turner, so kind of non-fiction?

    I also have the first volume of the New Black Panther comic, by Ta-Nehisi Coats, on my nightstand.

    I enjoyed the romance novel The Bollywood Affair for some nice fluffy reading, and it is by Sonali Dev. I happened to read it during Fifty Shades of Grey Frenzy, and had a Long blog post planned about how it did everything write that Fifty Shades was trying to do and did horribly, horribly wrong. Maybe I should revisit that idea for blogging this year! Not exactly topical anymore, but I suppose I could post it in February…For Valentine’s Day.

    If you haven’t read it already, Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely true Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one of my all-time favorites, and I also really love his book flight, which is similar to The Catcher in the Rye only better. Sorry, Holden, it just is!

    • Hi Peggy!

      I love Sherman Alexie’s writing! I’ll definitely check out your other recommendations too. :D And I’m glad you mentioned Ta-Nehisi Coats, because I meant to read his work this year as well.

      Aren’t they filming the second 50 Shades movie? You should time your blog post to coincide with the release! ;)

      • LOL, they totally are. The trailer actually looks… kind of OK? The second book had more of a plot (like, comparatively?) because it actually had like TWO villains (other than Christian, I mean). THERE I SAID IT

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