Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Reading Habits & Responsibilty

Hello all and welcome back to our weekly salon. Each week I'll post query. I'll do my best to present interesting topics and if I fail, send me a topic.

What a week: whitewashing, boycott, new campaign and a POC challenge. Lots and lots of talk about why book covers matter or don't, that reading is political and questions about the responsibility of public reading.

This week's query is to break down the collective and social implications of larger issues raised to the personal. Our query: Is reading political for you? If someone scanned your personal library, what do you think their overall impression would be? When you reflect on your collection, what do you see? Is the absence of color/diversity an issue for you? Has this week's controversy given you pause? Did it cause you to reflect on the social and political debates raised this week? Will your reading and blogging change or remain the same?

I'm not going to rehash what I've said this week. While I would not change anything I said or did, the week was emotionally draining. If you don't know how I feel, read my Open Letter, see our new Readers Against WhiteWashing page and know that I am participating in one more challenge when my plate is already full.

If you looked at my personal library, you'd find lots of color and lots of women. If you scanned the jacket covers, you'd learn what has shaped my politics and activism. You'd find spiritual texts and self-help books. When you fight like I do, you need to be fed. You'd learn I love art including black and white photography. You need beauty after confronting ugliness all the time. You'd see my largest single collection is poetry because I am drawn to writers who do so much with very little space. My collection says I'm a woman who has grown and desires to understand the world around her. That's what I think you'd see.

Happy Reading.


April said...

Hurrah for poetry and the bit of beauty it can bring to one's life. (I feel I need to pick up more poetry)

It was definitely a crazy week in the blogging world with the white-washing controversy. I am glad that it got people talking though, and as lame as it sounds I'm glad I've forced myself to examine my reading and to be more inclusive.

You raise an interesting query this week. I think if you looked at my collection, you would see serious people books and brain candy books. Among my serious books, you'd see feminist texts (the Second Sex; the Feminine Mystique) as well as history texts (A People's History of the US, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, etc). As far as color goes, you'd see much more color among my adult books than my YA books. You'd also see a huge amount of female writers.

I know I'm going to be purchasing/blogging more color. I'd like to complete my Isabel Allende collection as well as complete my Toni Morrison collection. I have to purchase 90 more books before I hit 1000 books, so I'd like to obtain at least 50 books by PoC authors to round it out.

Great questions!

Color Online said...

A 1000 books. Can I come swoon over your collection? Sounds like we have a lot in common. I think I read 95% women. I've bee working hard to give guys some of my time.

You must read Audre Lorde. As far as I'm concerned she is required feminist reading.

Gavin said...

This week's events cause me to pause and look at my reading habits. I will be reading more fiction and poetry by and about people of color.

My shelves are filled with fiction, poetry, nature writing and history. The kind of history I didn't learn in school.

Thank you for the questions, Susan.

King Rat said...

On my shelves you'll find a mix of old white guys from my earlier reading and a fair selection of stuff across the spectrum from the last few years as I've attempted to broaden my reading. I generally don't make a big issue of diverse reading with personal friends who see my walls of books though. I'm already in danger of being written off as "that guy". This way I can recommend a few women/ poc for every white male when asked for books to read. I am not really intellectually equipped to be too overt about it.

susan said...

Hi King rat, I so understand "that guy." I think some people avoid me now for being "that gal." lol

Thanks for reading and commenting. I read your post on Fledgling. I love Butler but towards the end I was unhappy, too. I can't remember when she died in relation to when they published the book but I do wonder if she would have tightened or changed any of the story. Still, overall I did enjoy it. The opening had me by my throat. It was the most chilling intro I have ever read. Primal and frightening.

Anonymous said...

My library sounds a lot like yours LaTonya. Lots of "color", lots of women, and a fair amount of poetry. I once was a novice poet myself, so I have several of my own journals on the shelves. Someone perusing my book titles might say that I'm militant and feminist. ;)

Jessie Carty said...

ya know, i think the poetry section of my library is the most diverse. i'd like to make sure when i am picking out non-fiction and fiction books that i branch out a bit more. seems like i have a lot of old white guys in both of those categories!

Tarie said...

I love your query, Susan! Thanks for raising it. :o)

This is what people would say if they saw my personal library: "Whoa! You really like children's books!"

LOL. So I think I need to read more adult books this year. I also need to read more male writers. And yes, I need to read more books by and about POC!

Reading didn't used to be political for me. After this week, it is.

Edi/Crazy Quilts blogger said...

Interesting, Susan!
Have you ever gone is someone's home and *not seen any books? What a statement that makes!

I'm not sure what someone would see in my books about my values, or politics or maybe I know and won't say! I do know I would love to meet the man who would come into my home, be pulled in by the titles, he would reach for a book or two, read them and leave with a few tucked under his arms. I guess he'd really get me!

I'll have to send you an essay my daughter wrote "I want to be your book".


Vasilly said...

What a great question! Before this week, I really didn't think of my reading as political but not it is and I'm happy about it.

I'm going to think about this question and come back and answer. I never thought about it.