Happy week three of Nonfiction November! This week we are exploring diversity in nonfiction, hosted by Becca at I’m Lost in Books. Be sure to head over to Becca’s blog to add your links for this week’s post. Also, just a reminder that we’ll be posting about our readalong titles tomorrow!
The great thing about reading is that it gives us the opportunity to read about other experiences rather than just what’s familiar, but those books don’t just fall into our laps. We have to actively seek them out and make them a priority.
When it comes to reading diverse nonfiction, one thing that I have noticed is that I’ll pick up a book about a different culture or race or ethnicity and see that the author is white and, often, from the US. Those books, of course, still have value as being an opportunity to learn more about a country or culture, but at the same time, it’s also important to seek out nonfiction written by authors of color.
If diversity is important to you, you can’t just say it. You have to make a point to choose the books that reflect that. You have to pay attention, whether you want to focus on reading more nonfiction books by authors of a different race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender (or all of the above!). I wanted my reading for the second half of Nonfiction November to reflect that priority, so I put together a list of what I’ll be reading over the next two weeks:
Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl – I’m a little bit more than halfway through Unnatural Selection, which focuses on sex selection in Asian countries starting with the cause of the problem (hint: the US had a lot to do with it), current ramifications that we’re already seeing in many of these countries that have had a skewed sex ratio since the 70s, and what it will mean for Asia and the rest of the world going forward. What I love about Unnatural Selection is Hvistendahl’s determined approach to debunking the idea that sex selection is solely based on cultural preference for boys and for calling out organizations for not taking a stand on sex selection because it is a complicated situation tied up in abortion rights. It is a complicated situation, but one that is going to cause more disparity, more unrest, and more problems over the next 20-40 years. Hvistendahl has lived in China for many years and interviews many women and family’s for this book, making it a strong choice if you’re interested in learning more about a complicated problem affecting China, India and other Asian countries.
Capital by Rana Dasgupta – Okay, I’ll admit. I was drawn to Capital on the library shelves because it has such a stunning cover. Then I was hooked when I saw Rana Dasgupta’s name. I read his novel Solo in 2011 and it still stands out to me as one of the more beautifully written novels I’ve read over the past few years. I’m looking forward to see what Dasgupta does with nonfiction. This book focuses on the history of Delhi and the new elite in India, people who made it rich after the opening of India’s economy. Dasgupta accomplishes this by interviewing a range of people in Delhi and combining the history of Delhi with their narratives and his own personal journey. It’s a book that’s garnered amazing reviews and I think it will be next for me to read!
No Land’s Man by Aasif Mandvi – Aasif Madvi has been making the NPR rounds these past few weeks and I was immediately drawn to the way he talks about his experiences and about representation. When he was starting out as an actor, he was often asked to read for parts like the snake charmer or the voice of a terrorist. In fact, he wasn’t even interested in auditioning for The Daily Show because he assumed it was a role like those he had been offered in the past. Instead, it was for the role of Muslim Correspondent and Mandvi nailed the audition. No Land’s Man was described by the interviewer on NPR today as at turns hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking. It sounds like an honest, fascinating memoir from a person I’d really like to know more about. I received a free copy of the audiobook and I can’t wait to listen on my drives this week and next.
Do you have any diverse nonfiction titles you’re hoping to read in the second half of Nonfiction November?