When you’re picking out a new book to read on vacation, do you usually just grab the latest thriller in a mystery series? If the answer is yes, you might consider giving the detective work a break and opting for something a little different. Not only can reading diverse literature be more entertaining than slogging through the same formulaic series, it can also broaden your worldview by exposing you to new ideas, genres, writing styles and points of view.
Why It’s Important
A great story has the power to move you and stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Choosing diverse literature will not only teach you something about your own identity, but also open your eyes to the experiences of others. In a TED Talk called The Danger of a Single Story, author and MacArthur Fellow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses how sticking to only one type of narrative can lead to stereotyping and misunderstanding of other cultures.
Choosing to read diverse literature helps increase your ability to connect with people whose life experiences are different from your own. This can make you more empathetic and more knowledgeable about the world and people around you.
With so many books to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming to jump in and pick just one. Instead of simply judging a book by its cover (which is never a good idea), here are a few ways you can discover diverse literature that you’ll enjoy.
- Consult the Experts: Authors and book critics tend to be well-versed in literature of all kinds, which can make them a great source for new reading material. For example, this list of female-authored works by literary journalist Bethanne Patrick could be the perfect place to start discovering some new points of view. Also check out books by Native American writers, as compiled by the First Nations Development Institute. And don’t miss the Huffington Post’s list of must-reads by Latino authors.
- Skip the Best-Seller List: Unfortunately, as this Washington Post article points out, best-seller lists, mainstream book reviews and even many literary awards are often dominated by white, male authors. To really discover some diverse literature, you’ll have to do a little digging. Luckily there are some good resources, like We Need Diverse Books.
- Visit a Bookstore: In the digital shopping age, it might seem easier to use an app to download a new book right to your tablet, but when you’re looking to discover new, diverse literature, there’s nothing quite like browsing through the aisles — and pages — at an actual bookstore. Your local bookstore is a great place to spend some time checking out titles. Many bookstores also host readings and events where you can meet authors or hear discussions on books, which can be great ways to get introduced to something new. Book fairs are another place to learn more about what’s out there in the wide world of literature.
- There’s an App for That: While brick-and-mortar bookstores offer community, there are some great apps out there for discovering books. For example, Goodreads makes finding books a breeze. Using their app, you can find relevant curated lists, read reviews, connect with friends and get personalized recommendations. Tagged genres like “Gay and Lesbian” and “African-American Literature” make it easy to find what you’re looking for. There’s over 11,000 books tagged under African-American Literature alone!
Books are gateways to different worlds, cultures and ideas. They let you travel and meet new people all without ever leaving the comfort of your couch. Expand your point of view and learn something new by selecting diverse works of literature.