With the #BlackLivesMatter protests taking place across the globe, together with June being Gay Pride Month, I noticed that many bloggers have been putting up posts with their top ten books by authors of color, or their top ten LGBTQ+ books. Now, I don’t like to mix politics with books on my blog. Still… I generally care about equal rights for all, so… that made me wonder:
Am I Politically Incorrect in My Reading Habits?
This is post is for discussion only. I am telling you about me, and asking about you. I ask because I am curious: am I more of an anomaly or am I more like other book bloggers and readers? One way or another, this is my investigation into myself, and I encourage your feedback.
As always, You Do You!
First, my Confession:
I read novels; mostly historical fiction novels. I particularly enjoy novels with a strong female protagonist. I can honestly say that if the main character of the book is someone who existed in real life, I’ll be more drawn to that book, especially if it’s a woman that I know little to nothing about. That’s what I look for in a novel; it really is that simple.
You should also know that I believe that Black Lives Matter is a very important movement. As a Jew, I believe I need to support it. Racism is wrong, in every way, shape, and form, and I oppose it at every turn.
That said, I do NOT understand how people can be racist. Don’t they get that it is just DNA and the luck of the draw? How can one person be inferior because of the higher melanin levels in their body, and another person superior because they have less melanin? Call me stupid, but it makes NO sense to me, at all, whatsoever. Should I be considered inferior because the family I was born into is Jewish? No, of course not! Should someone born into a poor family be deprived of opportunities because of their lack of wealth? Absolutely not! Is one gender to love better or worse than another? It certainly shouldn’t be – it isn’t like we have control over who we fall in love with or to whom we’re attracted! I truly believe that ALL people are essentially and fundamentally equal, and they must be treated that way. It burns my blood when I see one person looking down on someone else, or treating someone badly all because of something they have absolutely NO control over. I repeat: You can’t choose your DNA and you can’t choose the family you’re born into.
That said, and to be specific, maybe I should add that….
I have never gone out of my way to read a book by someone of color, just because of their race. Likewise, I have never gone out of my way to read a book by an LGBTQ+ author or one with LGBTQ+ characters, just because of their gender.
Do I care if the author is a person of color? Not at all. A good writer is a good writer; a good story teller is a good story teller. The level of melanin in their skin or their race is of absolutely no consequence when it comes to quality of writing.
Do I care if the author is LGBTQ+? Not at all. I repeat: a good writer is a good writer; a good story teller is a good story teller. The gender of the person writing the book is of absolutely no consequence when it comes to quality of writing.
Furthermore, I will neither go out of my way to read books by authors because of their race or their gender, nor will I ever avoid reading someone’s novel because of either or both these factors. If you write a book that sounds interesting to me, I might read it; if your subject matter doesn’t interest me, then I won’t read your book. It really is as simple as that.
Have I read books by authors of color? Certainly. Have I read books by LGBTQ+ authors? Absolutely. Do I have a list of them to give you? No, I’m sorry I don’t. But I do have a list of all the books I’ve reviewed right here. I’m afraid that’s all you’ll get from me – an alphabetical list of books.
On the other hand…
I freely admit that I am very wary of any author who isn’t Jewish writing about Jewish subjects and/or portraying Jewish characters. (My regular readers know that I’m Jewish, and I have been living in Israel for most of my life.) While I won’t avoid such books, non-Jewish authors should know that I am totally intolerant and absolutely unforgiving regarding any errors relating to anything Jewish; one too many mistakes and its straight into the DNF pile for you! This is because I’ve been burned too many times reading wildly inaccurate books, and when I’ve complained, I’ve mostly been blown off. They tell me that a Jewish friend or a rabbi looked over the book for mistakes. Well, I’m no rabbi (although my sister is one), but I do have quite a bit of knowledge. In addition, aside from my sister, I know lots and lots and lots of rabbis, and I can double check things with any of them. I also have Google, which apparently, not every rabbi who consults on a novel seems to have (yes, I’m being sarcastic, but for goodness sake, doing this type of minimal research isn’t rocket science).
I should add that really have appreciated all of the bloggers who have put up these lists of favorite books by people of color or by LGBTQ+ writers, and the readathons that I’m seeing. I also appreciated all those who put up links to where readers could support the causes that both these groups promote. Remember, I’m Jewish, so I know a little bit about racism, and more than enough about antisemitism.
However, this is not the time to conflagrate these issues. Let’s just say that throughout almost all of my professional career I have worked in the non-profit sector trying to promote equality and human and civil rights for all, and doing what I could to help the disadvantaged population groups in society. I’m not tooting my own horn here, these are facts; I only wish I could have done more. So, if I’m not putting up lists like other bloggers, or taking part in a readathon, it isn’t because I don’t care – I do, and I thank you all for these posts. I just don’t have any of my own.
I will, however, suggest that what we need to strive to become anti-racist, and one way to do that is through education. We need to learn how to be tolerant, how to overlook the physical attributes of others, and accept them as equals, no matter how different they seem. With that, I believe it is important to teach our children this, when they’re young. You see, there is no gene that makes you intolerant of others; prejudice and racism isn’t in your DNA; the only way you can become a racist is if you LEARN how to hate. Therefore, if we can teach our children to hold onto their innate ability to love and not be judgemental, the next generation will have a better chance to remove racism and prejudice from this world.
So… If you have children or grandchildren and you want to teach them tolerance, may I suggest you buy and read them “The Sneeches and Other Stories” by Dr. Seuss. The blurb on Amazon says “The story of the Star-bellied Sneetches and their star-less friends is a perfect guide for kids growing up in today’s multicultural world. This classic is joined by equally entertaining tales: “The Zax,” a humorous take on the art of compromise; “Too Many Daves,” which shows kids that sometimes standing out is better than blending in; and “What Was I Scared Of?,” which demonstrates how empathy can transform a stranger into a friend.” I give it a full five out of five stars, and I assure you that my kids loved it when I read these stories to them. Their favorites were the title story and the last one “What was I Scared of?” By the way, today my three kids are all all grown up, and they’re all three very much anti-racists! (You can find this book new from The Book Depository or used from Better World Books. Disclaimer: These are all affiliate links.)
What about you?
And do you think I’m bookishly Politically Correct, or Politically Incorrect?
This post is my 8th entry in the 2020 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!