Expanding your reading horizons

As 2019 draws to a close, I find myself thinking about my reading goals for next year. When it comes to reading for pleasure, most people (including me) tend to stick to what they know. Downtime is such a rare commodity that you want to spend it reading the books you know you’ll like — genres you’re familiar with or authors you love. And there is certainly nothing wrong with comfort reads!

But there is something to be said for stepping out of that comfort zone and trying books you may not automatically gravitate toward. Expanding our reading horizons exposes us to new ideas and experiences, and can inspire us to ask essential questions about ourselves and our beliefs.

With all of this in mind, one of my goals for 2020 is to be more intentional about my reading choices. I want to read more books by authors of color, more non-fiction, more poetry and more graphic novels. Below are six books that are at the top of my list. I can’t wait to read these books and, by doing so, enrich my life, cultivate more empathy, and enhance my understanding of the world.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney C. Cooper

In this collection of essays that are by turns blistering and hilarious (and sometimes both at once), Brittney C. Cooper explores her relationship with feminism, sexism and anger in a society that often dismisses or even demonizes the rage, experiences, and advocacy efforts of black women. As a white woman, I am always trying to learn more about my privilege and my complicity in the marginalization of people of color. I’m certain reading this book will inspire me to reflect intently upon my own behavior and beliefs.

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

The first in a trilogy, this story explores a community that has formed at the edge of a “mysterious alien biodome.” The citizens are by turns terrified of and fascinated by this phenomenon, which has rumored healing powers. The main character, Kaaro, is a government agent and a sensitive, which means he can read and understand the psychic energy the biodome creates. When other sensitives mysteriously start dying, Kaaro takes it upon himself to figure out what’s happening and how to stop it. The author, Tade Thompson, is a British-born Yoruba psychiatrist who is gaining fame for his science fiction novels.

Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English by M. Lynne Murphy

As a writer and lover of language, I was immediately delighted by this title when I saw it in the book drop one day. In this book, linguist M. Lynne Murphy explores the complex relationship between American and British English, how the languages have evolved over the years, and why some American words are spelled just slightly differently from British words.

Life of the Party: Poems by Olivia Gatwood

I discovered this gem while shelving during one of my shifts. The cover and title first drew my eye, and after I read the first poem, I knew I would enjoy the whole book. It’s a collection of powerful feminist poems that explore the dangers, terrors, and bravery of moving through a violent world as a woman. I can’t wait to check it out next year and finally give the whole volume a read.

The Book of Delights by Ross Gay

I’m particularly excited to read this collection of essays by Ross Gay. The collection grew over the span of a year during which Gay wrote “almost-daily” about things large and small that brought him joy.

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

This title came recommended to me by a colleague, and is a graphic novel memoir written by Maia Kobabe, who is genderqueer and asexual. Kobabe uses the pronouns e/em/eir, and through eir memoir talks about coming out, coming of age, and crushes. Reviews indicate that this memoir is an excellent and heartfelt guide through Kobabe’s experience and the topic of gender identity in general.

As you think about your intentions and goals for 2020 and which books you might like to read next year, I encourage you to consider the titles I’ve discussed here, and others which are beyond the authors, series, and genres you might otherwise automatically reach for. If you ever need help with recommendations or searching for books, please visit our staff at the service desks throughout the library. We are happy to help you find your next read!

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