2019 Reading Challenge - Who's With Me?

Obviously, I like to read and I tend to read a lot and I write a lot about what I read.  In fact, if you're reading this blog, I'm going to guess you already know this and appreciate that (some have commented that they look to this blog for reading recommendations), you are a fellow reader who enjoys seeing what I come up with here, or you're someone I know who is mildly entertained by how much I talk about books.  And I've discussed how I come across books in a previous post but I haven't really talked about deciding upon what books to read.  Mostly because it hasn't been a conscious strategy in so much as a grab-what's-in-front-of-me kind of strategy.

But since it's the new year and I've been thinking about my new reading goal, I realized I had an opportunity to do something different this year with my reading.  I've been thinking about what I read and why and the different gaps it fills or inspiration I encounter.  It's all great but I wondered if I could be a bit more deliberate in my reading practice, especially as it relates to things that are important to me. 

To that end, I figured if at least a third to a half of books that I read in a given month represent or engage in things that are important to me, it could help me better appreciate, flourish, or think more critically in those areas.  So I came up with the following list of types of books I will try to read each month. 
Word cloud of the blog post on books

An Author who identifies within LGBTQIA 

I realized that while I certainly have books on nonheteronormative identity, I don't know if my reading is as wide as it could or should be in this area.  I also just want to be sure to expose myself to a larger range of authors in this area, because it's been a while since I was actively ready lots of books around gender, sex, and sexuality (much of that reading was done in the lead up and completion of my first Master's Degree). 

An Author who is African-American

While I certainly do read a lot about black identity and racial politics in the US as we've seen here and here.  I think I just want to make sure this is a conscious strategy moving forward and in some ways, I think with this particular goal, I want to move away from predominantly African American authors writing about racial injustice and more into other areas so as that is not my only means of engaging with African American authors. 

An Author who is from another marginalized group

While my reading on African America people is significant, I don't have nearly as much breadth and depth for other marginalized people of color in the US or the world.  I hope to not only expand my familiarity with their cultures, struggles, and experiences but also to create a larger range of authors with which I can readily refer to or include in future recommendation lists or as part of courses that I teach. 

An Author whose political/social/cultural views do not reflect mine

Now, this should be an interesting one to pursue and may at times be a bit frustrating.  However, I also think it's an important avenue for my continued development to hear from voices, problematic as I may find them, that do not necessarily value or believe in the same cultural, moral, social, and political views.  I need to think somewhat about how will I approach this but I think it will be valuable nonetheless.  What I hope to get out of them is a more nuanced understanding of whatever the book focuses on and a better appreciation at least for the perceptions that other people may carry with them around such issues. 

A Book that is open access

I call this goal, my walking-the-walk reading goal.  I'm a big fan of open-access publishing and it is in fact a major focus of my dissertation.  Therefore, I need to be more cognizant and supportive of the open access landscape and actively seek out books on this subject matter.  Otherwise, I'm only paying lip service to something that is increasingly important in the work that I do. 

A Book that is fiction

Maybe this is an obvious one for others and for me, but I want to make sure I'm still actively reading fiction each month.  I find it both an opportunity to step into other worlds but also an opportunity to be exposed to ideas that may not always easily come through in the nonfiction world.  I also appreciate the way that fiction stretches my mind as I think about the rich worlds developed by the authors. 

A Book of poetry

This is something entirely new for me in terms of my reading challenge.  I'm not a big fan of poetry and yet, I have lots of respect for it as a form of writing.  I think I want to spend a bit more time with poetry over the next year and see if I can better appreciate it as a genre of writing and include it more often in what I read.  Also, of all the kinds of books that I'm looking to read this year, this one is the one I would love recommendations for as it is one that I'm not as versed in.  So please, send me some great recommendations!

So that's my reading challenge for the year.  Can you think of any types of books I should put on my "be sure to read one of these a month" list?  Do you have any good poetry anthologies/chapbooks to recommend?  What is your reading challenge for 2019?

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