It’s the weekend of your sister’s birthday and you’re excited to spend some time with your older brothers and sister one last time before heading to college. Everything is going to go according to plan, right? You couldn’t be more wrong.
I think I might have written a post like this in the past, but I’ve been thinking a lot about books and genres. It’s probably because I’m in the process of moving across the country and that means whittling my book piles down to the ones that I truly want to read.
I rummaged through all my books, made lists, and figured out that the top billings for genres that I love to read. Here’s what I got:
My general fiction contains everything from literary greats to the beach read. I love fiction in general, but there’s a time and place for all of it. I like to keep a mix of books available so that I can pick and choose depending on my mood. Most times, I’ll read a fun summer read because I’m always in the mood for those. I didn’t think that my general fiction pile would be so big, but I guess that’s because it’s got some literary fiction, womens’ fiction, some romance novels, and my diverse books.
Most literary fiction I read is from an author of color. I just love the stories that they tell and they always make me think a little harder and understand a little deeper.
The sad thing about this list is that there’s not a lot of literary fiction here. Most of these books are fun reads or “womens’ fiction.” I think the reason for that is because I’ve read so many stories about the young woman moving to New York in pursuit of something. Or that couple that’s on the verge of breaking up and they’re doing what they can to stay together. As I get older, I’m noticing that my tastes are changing and I’m moving away from books by the Jonathans (Safran Foer, Franzen, etc) and more into books that let me escape a little from my life.
Sci-fi and Fantasy is my next biggest genre. If anything, sci-fi/fantasy is my favorite genre. The list here is small, but I also have all my bigger fantasy reads on my Kindle.
When I was growing up, I was in love with science fiction and fantasy. I even ran the sci-fi/fantasy literary magazine at my high school! However, I didn’t read a lot when I was a kid and therefore don’t have a lot of the classic sci-fi/fantasy novels under my belt. While I don’t have many of those classics in my TBR pile, I do have aspirations to read them all. Hello, I haven’t even read Hitchhiker’s Guide yet…
My non-fiction pile is strangely tall. I also included my poetry books in here as well. I think the reason for that is because I haven’t read them. I love reading non-fiction essays and memoirs, but fiction just always happens to take over when I’m reading books. I think I’ll change it this summer and at least read one non-fiction book per month. This way, I’ll get some non-fiction in my life!
Sometimes I like to throw in some thriller, some romance and some YA to mix things up. I always thought I was a YA reader, but I guess most of the YA I’m reading is also Science Fiction and Fantasy. When I think back to my reading life, I think of the Twilight series and Harry Potter and The Hunger Games being big in my life. Isn’t it funny how sometimes your favorite genres are just sitting right in front of your face?
If you were born a first-generation child of an immigrant, then this story will resonate so much in your heart that it might break.
Happy Banned Books Week and it’s going to be a good one.
This year’s theme is “the freedom to read,” which feels oddly relevant given that everyone has been talking about. Censorship is always around us telling us what to do and what to think and how to say things. It’s the faceless folks that tell us that something is too edgy and pushes the envelope. It’s the inability to discern for yourself if something is good or bad for you. It’s the fodder for amazing books that make you think for yourself and that’s a wonderful feeling (as long as you can cope with the anxiety).
On Instagram each day this week, I’ll be posting a book that’s been consistently banned or challenged in the past. While I’ll be highlighting one book, they’re representative of the many books in that genre that undergo scrutiny everyday. I know that the people who make these decisions aren’t doing it to harm young readers. In fact, they would argue that they are protecting them from it.
The choice for children to stay children, but sometimes you have to understand that children grow up. When they grow up without exposure to these banned and challenged books, then they face a world where it isn’t friendly and it isn’t kind and what they think could possibly be more dangerous than helpful.
Of course, I come prepared with an infograph from the American Library Association website on who these big whigs tend to be:
Freedom should be celebrated. We do it every year in July where we remember our fore fathers who came to this country to free themselves from the censorship and persecution. We can pray to whatever God we want, but we can’t read books? Bit of a double standard.
So let’s celebrate our freedom to read! We’re one of many countries that allow it, but I do want to remind people that that’s not the case for a lot of people and still a concern for us as a country. So let’s ring those bells of freedom and get to reading.
If you’d like to participate in Banned Books Week with me, here’s some ways you can easily join in!
1. Read and share a banned book
While for some people this is easy as pie, for others it might not be that easy. It could be because their families don’t like it when you read these kinds of books or it could be because you don’t know what books are on the banned books list.
If you’d like to read a book that’s been banned or challenged in the past, check out this comprehensive list of books provided by the American Library Association.
The most important part about this one is to share those reads. If you learn anything from the book you choose or if it opens your eyes in ways you didn’t think it would, then share that love! Books aren’t meant to be stuck on a shelf and kept to yourself. They’re like living and breathing animals that need to let go and available for someone else. Don’t let what you’ve learned only stick with you.
2. Donate to ACLU or to ALA
While you may not be a reader, reading is considered one of the many freedoms protected by our first amendment. If you believe that we should have the freedom to read or even the freedom of speech, then donate whatever you can to the American Civil Liberties Union.
ACLU is doing everything they can to ensure that we, as a people, continue to speak freely, practice religion without any issues, and always always read books that may make you look at your world a little bit differently.
If you’re not into civil liberties, then perhaps you’ll be into reading books. The American Library Association is also always taking donations to help with keeping libraries across America open. If you ever complained that you don’t have enough money for books, then obviously you haven’t been to a library. Free books! All you need is a plastic laminated card.
3. Share with the bookish community
I emphasized this once, but I’ll emphasize this again. We should all be sharing our love of books with each other. It’s so important to share especially when it’s considered a community. Don’t be afraid to read your books and don’t be afraid to talk about them.
I hope that we’re loving and open enough to accept anyone and their beliefs. The only way our community will be able to make a difference is to share these reads and be empathetic to those who don’t want to read them and hope that they will.
Don’t keep your books locked up on a bookshelf. These may be yours, but the written words are for everyone. Buy another copy of your favorite banned book and leave it on the train or in the park. Donate your old copies of banned books to the local library. Books are physical copies of an amazing journey and you can always take that journey again. Let’s let someone else walk down that path for the first time.