At the end of 2014, I decided that 2015 would be my year of reading diversely. I read books with non-white main characters, books about people with disabilities and illnesses, books about religious minority groups, books about immigrants, books about rich people and poor people, books set in high schools and retirement homes. I read a lot of historical fiction. I read a book set on every continent except South America (I couldn’t find an interesting one). I got into LGBT literature for the first time . . .
And I think I still failed at reading diversely. Here’s why:
For all of 2015, I tracked statistics about the books I read, but I didn’t pay much attention to the statistics until I put them into graphs at the end of the year. When I made my author nationality graph, I saw this:
|Other = Netherlands, South Korea, Norway|
Yeah, that doesn’t look very diverse, does it? Seventy-nine percent of the authors I read last year are from the US. I guess that makes sense because I live in the US, and English is the only language that I can read fluently. It’s really easy for me to find books by US authors.
However, reading so many books by US writers isn’t really diverse, in my opinion. Authors don’t write in a vacuum. They are influenced by the culture, ideas, history, art, media, politics, environment, etc. of the country where they live. I know that the US is a diverse place, but I’m betting that a lot of the authors I read have similar worldviews. The characters in the books are diverse, but how diverse are the ideas behind the characters? How much does an author’s nationality influence what he/she writes? Would a book be different if it were written by an author from a different national background?
I have no idea how to answer these questions, but I’m determined to read more international authors this year.
What do you think? Do you pay attention to the nationality of authors? Do you think an author’s nationality has any influence on what he/she writes?