*Afterthought #73 – Diverse Reading


so_many_books_so_little_time_book_lover_mug-rbea615033e65472aa410e89e12f61101_x7j1l_8byvr_324The only downside to working at Lopez Bookshop is that at the end of each shift I feel a bit blue—and overwhelmed—about all the books I want to read and haven’t gotten to yet. And knowing that the next week, there will be another stack of New Arrivals calling out to me. There’s a reason the truism “So Many Books, So Little Time” emblazons t-shirts, tote bags, and coffee mugs.

With limited time for “pleasure” reading, I have to settle on just a few titles every month or so. I recently joined a book club for the first time, and that takes care of one selection. Recently I started following the blog Reading Diversely by Lopez Island native Emma Ewert (now transplanted to Montana). In her blog’s introduction, avid reader Emma notes that last year her reading habits started to shift, “…consciously choosing to read books written by women, or people of color, people from other non-European countries, or people from other typically marginalized groups.”

Despite the reality that male writers are published in far greater numbers than women writers, and that white authors dominate the literary world, Emma created an enormous book list of diverse authors she’s read since she began this challenge in April 2017.


It might take me the rest of my life to read all of the books on Emma’s shelf as of today, not to mention all the other fine titles she’ll undoubtedly continue to add. But I’m grateful to have her recommendations to help with the tough choice of what to read next.

tear in soulI have a suggestion for all of you, and for Emma, that meets her list of criteria for diverse reading. As soon as I finish this post, I’ll return to a book I’ve just begun (and can hardly put down)—A Tear in the Soul by Australian author Amanda Webster. The memoir relates Amanda’s personal journey to uncover her own racism, and that of generations of Australians, toward Aboriginals, and to move toward reconciliation and friendship.

What diverse reading have you done lately?


*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.


  1. I am reading Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns (rather belatedly, as it came out in 2010). It’s a beautifully narrated history African American Great Migration, seen through the lens of three individuals fleeing the South in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. I had never thought of that internal migration as being parallel with the immigration of, say, Jews fleeing Poland, but that’s exactly how it was. Thanks for the question!

    1. Thanks for this suggestion, Gretchen. Sounds like another title for my TBR list. And as an author, I find it comforting to know that people read our books many years after publication!

  2. Hi Iris. Hey, you don’t have to work in a book shop to be filled with angst about all the books you must find time to read! My son Gavin got books for his birthday (is there any other gift option?) and already has inherited this mix of pleasure and display about all of the possible reads waiting (in our case, without even leaving the house!!). I have been reading We Were Eight Years in Power by Coates. This is a real eye-opener for me. It has been slow going. I have an awful habit of reading pieces of many many books and then losing track of them, getting back to them much later if I am lucky. Coates is a fine writer.

  3. Yes, “We Were Eight Years in Power” is one I’ve been meaning to read, too. Ta Nehisi Coates’ previous book, “Between the World and Me,” was quite powerful. I have the same reading routine as you – several going at once – and the same experience of having to re-read when I return to those I’ve set aside. My shelves are bursting, too; reading the (unread) books I have right here would keep me going for a long time!

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