We were talking on Heavy Medal about which books might be getting overshadowed in the award discussions for one reason or another. Nina mentioned The Book of the Maidservant, which she hadn't heard talk about much of anywhere.
I first heard about this book in July at ALA, at the wonderful Random House presentation of books coming for fall. I seized a review copy eagerly afterward; I couldn't wait to read it. But it's been sitting in my to-be-read pile ever since. Why?
I'm sorry to say, folks, it's in large part because I put a lot of effort toward reading the books everyone else is talking about (or the books I think everyone might be talking about soon). I want to join in the conversation. And when I review a buzzed-about book, people respond more here. There's nothing wrong with that, in theory. But I think most bloggers do it... and what happens then? Books with buzz get more buzz. Books without buzz get left on the to-be-read pile. Even when I read a book that isn't getting a whole lot of attention--even if I LIKE it--sometimes I don't bother reviewing it, especially here (I review some books on Goodreads and not here).
What if I put that effort in another direction? There's still a dearth of books being published by and about people of color, and even more of a dearth of buzz about those books. As things stand, I'm missing a lot of those books.
It's going to be a struggle, but I'm going to try to do something different this year. Instead of making it my priority to read the books I hear about the most, I'm going to put the same amount of effort into reading books by authors who are people of color. I know I won't actually make a change in my reading unless I sacrifice something else for the sake of these books; I know it's unrealistic to think I'm going to read more and can just add those books to what I'm already reading. It wouldn't happen. So what you're going to see is a conscious effort (I hope and plan) to rechannel my energy into "books I really want to read, and books by authors of color"--instead of the current "books I really want to read, and the books everyone else is talking about" focus.
I've been debating for a while having a post-tag that links to my/our posts reviewing or discussing books with protagonists or authors who are people of color, but I've never done it because I wasn't sure how it would appear to others--I thought it might seem insensitive, or white-guilt induced. And I couldn't think of the right tag. But I think it will be necessary for this plan to have maximum effect. Should it just be "authors-of-color"? or "POC", and then include books I might read by white authors about people of color? Suggestions/comments needed.
I hope those of you who read our posts and then go put the books we review on hold, or on to-read on Goodreads (you've no idea how exciting it is to see that happen!), will be just as open to the books I review in the future. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and I'm looking forward to this new year.