Perspective changing is possible

Upon reflection during the last few months I have realized that nearly all of my favorite authors are straight white men.  I cherish the time I’ve spent with Kurt Vonnegut, Edward Abbey, Phillip Pullman, Chuck Klosterman, and Wendell Berry, as well as many other wonderful writers.

But in the interest of continuing the ‘noticings’ and anti-racism work that has been so important in my Lutheran Volunteer Corps year, I want to challenge myself to go beyond my favorite straight white male authors.  Which is why I have decide that for one year I will read from the margins, or at least closer to it than the majority of prose these days.  I will read science fiction and fantasy by women, history by people of color, and novels by LGBT individuals in hopes of more intentionally viewing the world and the realm of possibility through a non-dominant lens.

This personal challenge has already proven difficult.  I went through my library requests queue to delete anything that was written by a straight white man, and lo and behold I was left with not a single book in my request list (though, for full disclosure, I have three books waiting for me on hold that are all by women).  Will I have to try harder to find interesting things to read for the year?  Certainly not.  There are multitudes of overflowing bookshelves filled with insightful and intriguing writing penned by individuals outside of the demographic in power.  But will I have to be more intentional and aware of my reading choices?  Certainly so.  But it will be a pleasant intentionality I think.

I hope to start this new year of reading with recommendations, especially for non-fiction.  A few have been shared by friends in the Twin Cities area, but I am always always always looking for more.  So- who are your favorite non straight white male writers?



8 thoughts on “Perspective changing is possible

  1. Okay, I was going to suggest a few favorite authors, so I glanced over my sagging shelves. Nope, just straight (well, who can really say) white men. With the exceptions of the already mentioned Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, there’s a copy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, some Ann Rice vampire novels and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and that’s it. I honestly can’t remember the last book I’ve read penned by a female or person of non-straight-white-male persuasion. This has never crossed my mind before.

    I suppose I should make a trip to the library as well.

    Thanks for the interesting post, Jack

  2. Non-fiction: Annie Dillard, Mary Rose O’Reilly, Janisse Ray

    Fiction: Lousie Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko,

    Poetry: Naomi Shihab Nye, Marge Piercy, Jane Kenyon

    These are all women. And all off of the top of my head. I’ll keep thinking!

    1. I’ve read some Annie Dillard, as well as Barn at the End of the World, and loved both enormously. I’ll definitely have to look up the others that I haven’t read, though- thanks Ellie!


      1. Marge Piercy (I believe) has also written some SF that I have loved. The one I am thinking of is “He, She, & It” which has to do with cyborg theory, sexuality, gender, bodily integrity. It wasn’t as smooth a read as I would have liked, but it prompted many a thoughtful moment.

        Salman Rushdie is always worth reading. His elegant and delicious prose is something I can always fall back on.

        I’m also reading Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery which is hilarious, heartfelt, and wonderful.

        I always have more. Check Feminist Review on GoodReads, too.

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