Month: August 2021

Reading Diversely, #WITMonth and Other Ramblings

Posted August 1, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 2 Comments

“Diversifying your reading” has always been a much talked about topic in the bookish community. From blogging to BookTube to BookTok, this has constantly been a popular topic, and for good reason. It is very easy to fall into a trap when it comes to our reading. I have talked about this before but when I first started getting into reading, I relied heavily on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list to help explore “good” literature. The problem with that was it is very heavily male dominated, and I also quickly discovered I was reading far too much American literature. So, when I see people talking about diversifying their reading and they keep referring to American literature (an African American author, an Asian American author, etc) I can see where this is coming from, but I also feel like this is a problem that I am still trying to break out of. I am not American, but I can see just how much American literature dominates the literary world. While I see people are trying to diversify their reading it can get a little frustrating to know that they are not paying too much attention to reading from other countries as another avenue to be more diverse. However, I’m not here to be judgmental of other people’s reading journeys, I’m here to talk about my own reading and the journey that I took.

For a long time, I thought people should be reading whatever they want to read, and I still believe this, but we need to be more aware if we are trying to be diverse. It was not till I started tracking my reading via a spreadsheet I discovered my own bias. I think it is important to be aware of our biases and work towards more reading equality. This is a journey that everyone needs to discover for themselves, and I constantly feel the need to revisit my own journey. I think I am doing well on reading the world, it is just nice to self-reflect from time to time and this has been on my mind for a while. I am probably rehashing some old thoughts that I have blogged about in the past, but I want to talk about what’s on my mind, and I think it’s useful to understand just how much this does affect my reading journey.

With WITMonth coming up, I thought it was a good time to remind myself of my own biases in my past reading and check my current journey. Because WITMonth has been a big part of my own journey in diversify my reading. I started to read translations when I discovered, through my reading spreadsheet, that 95% of the books I was reading were from American authors, but it was WITMonth that helped me continue that journey as I started exploring women in translation. For those who don’t know, WITMonth is dedicated to exploring more women in translation during the month of August. For me, I try to dedicate the whole month to only reading women in translation, but that is not always the case, so it’s not mandatory, just a major focus. I am excited to see what everyone is reading but I am not going to talk about all the books I hope to read, I know that I am a mood reader, and I cannot schedule my reading. I do wish I was less of a mood reader; it would be so much easier if I could stick to a reading plan. Past experiences have taught me not to push myself in ways where I know it would not work. I have many books on my shelves that I do hope to read and there is always the library, so I will just see where my reading takes me.

I may have to rant about this in a future post but being a mood reader really does not help me when it comes to all the projects I want to be involved with, book club or the Invisible Cities Project. I do try to make Invisible Cities my focus, even if I am not keeping up to date with the project, I am loving the community on Discord. It is just such a joy to see what people are reading and I love following people on their reading journey. Thankfully the Invisible Cities have made some changes, which means our focus will now be on two countries a month instead of three. So, in August we are doing South Korea and Nigeria, September is Chile and Palestine, followed by Guinea and Sweden for October.

I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone is going to be reading in the Invisible Cities Project as well as for Women in Translation Month. There are just so many amazing books to read, I try prioritising my own books, so I think I will be making a few trips to the library. I am excited to watch more people explore the literature I love to read. These both are great projects and a good way to push yourself towards exploring different writers from different countries. I hope it will encourage more people to read translated literature and continue their journey in diversification.

If you are looking for some recommendations for Women in Translation Month, here are some suggestions