I’ve been participating in a reading challenge at work. One of my favorite things about working at a university is being able to participate in campus activities geared toward faculty, staff, and students, and meeting so many interesting people with specialties in different areas. This challenge recently made me think about my reading habits and what reading means to me and others. The challenge encourages participants to read books that will promote inclusivity and diverse perspectives. The challenge is split into months and cover the following categories:
- Read a book about Activism, Advocacy, Antiracism, or Allyship
- Read a book featuring a character with a [dis]Ability – to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Read a book in any genre by a Native, First Nations, or Indigenous Author
- Read an LGBTQ+ book, graphic novel, memoir, or comic featuring an LGBTQ+ character and/or written by an LGBTQ+ author
- Read a book written by or about a refugee
- Read a book written by an author of color
- Read a book written by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse
- Read an #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America
I have completed 7 of the 8 reading challenges on this list and will be reading the final one before the challenge is done. The recent self-reflection made me realize that although I read a lot and try to read widely, I also fail to venture into certain literary areas or pick up books that would be good for me to experience.
I am absolutely a big fan of science fiction and fantasy and many of my reading decisions sway toward this area. I read “classics” and memoirs and books on science and I try to remain open to all types of books. Granted, my reading list is forever long, but I couldn’t help but notice that there are many areas I should be including. I did take advantage of a few of these challenges to read authors I’d always intended to read but hadn’t yet picked up their work (like Octavia Butler and Viet Thanh Nguyen), but a few of the challenges above steered me toward a few new areas.
Reading, for me, is an enjoyable experience that lets me escape into wondrous worlds, learn new things, and meet great characters. Reading, especially fiction, is a great way to build empathy. I consider myself a highly empathetic person and I credit my enthusiasm for reading as a part of this. That being said, I think I was a bit surprised that my reading habits do often tend to stay on the same highway. One or two challenges above made me make a few pitstops I wouldn’t normally have made, and I realized I need to maybe make more pitstops on my journey through life. I will always read what I love to read, of course, but I think some great experiences may be waiting for me outside my standard fields of interest, and these experiences will likely make me a better person. To put it simply, I realized I need to read more widely than I have in the past. Libraries are great for trying new things.
I hope you examine your own reading habits and perhaps try a few books outside your own comfort bubble. Perhaps you will try some of the challenges above. Maybe you will find a new favorite arena to explore.