As it’s the start of a new year, I have been searching for a new reading challenge. My favourite challenge from the past few years, the Reading Women Challenge, is not being renewed in 2022, so I needed a new one. A review of my reading stats from 2021 has revealed a disturbing lack of diversity in the books I have been reading. And I want to change that!
Last year, I read 86 books in total. Of those 86, only 13 were written by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour) authors. Only 13 had BIPOC main characters. Only 5 had queer main characters and sadly only one was written by a queer author. Over the last few years, I have made an effort to read more women authors, but I need to step up my diversity game.
The 2022 Diversity Reading Challenge, hosted by Celebrity Readers, is the perfect way for me to do this. To classify a book as diverse, I am going to be using the challenge’s definition: “The author or the main character – or one of the leads, who preferably has a POV – has to belong to a diverse group.”
This challenge is in two parts: firstly, the aim is to encourage readers to intentionally read more diverse books. My personal goal is to read 30 diverse books or almost half of my reading goal for the year.
Secondly, there are a number of monthly themes to tackle different kinds of diversity. Although these are set out on a monthly basis, there is no obligation to complete them as such. Personally, I know that I would rather just follow the themes as prompts for my reading throughout the year, rather than committing to a monthly theme. So, I will be looking for books to match the themes and just reading them whenever I can, hopefully completing between 5-8 of them (or Level 2 of the challenge).
Below are the themes and some potential books:
JANUARY – diverse folktales/culture/mythology; or diverse retelling; or non-western setting: Girl, Serpent, Thorn, by Melissa Bashardoust; She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan; The Forbidden Wish, by Jessica Khoury
MARCH – #ownvoices; or gender: female authors in male-dominated genres/non-fiction: The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
APRIL – poc: Middle Eastern/South Asian: We Have Always Been Here, by Samra Habib
MAY – poc: East Asian/Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander: Two Trees Make a Forest, by Jessica J. Lee
JULY – LGBT+ pride summer: sexuality and gender identity
AUGUST – mental health/addiction: Dear Scarlet, by Teresa Wong
SEPTEMBER – poc: hispanic/latinx: The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
OCTOBER – physical/sensory/cognitive/intellectual/developmental disabilities: Disability Visibility, by Alice Wong
NOVEMBER – poc: Native American: Seven Fallen Feathers, by Tanya Talaga
DECEMBER – religious minorities
Of course, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I clearly have a long way to go.