November 17, 2014

Nonfiction November: Diversity and Nonfiction

How is everyone enjoying Nonfiction November so far?  I am having a lot of fun and learning a lot, too!

This week it is my turn to host the weekly discussion for Nonfiction November!  Here's the topic:

Diversity and Nonfiction: What does “diversity” in books mean to you? Does it refer to book’s location or subject matter? Or is it the author’s nationality or background? What countries/cultures do you tend to enjoy or read about most in your nonfiction? What countries/cultures would you like nonfiction recommendations for? What kind of books besides different cultures do you think of as books of diversity?

Diversity is a topic close to my heart. I like to read stories created from all over the world, about all over the world. I want to read Japanese and Kenyan and Greek authors and I want to read stories that take place in Japan, Kenya, and Greece. I love it. I read a lot of diverse books, but I always want to read more and more and I never feel like I read as much as I want to.

However, to me, diversity isn't just about diverse cultures and ethnicities. Diversity is about diverse genders, sexual orientations, ages, socioeconomic classes, life experiences. Books like Sweet Tooth by Tim Anderson, the memoir of a diabetic, gay teen in ultra-conservative 1980s North Carolina (a great book, by the way), or Fire and Forget: Short Stories of the Long War by Colum McCann, revealing soldiers' stories during the decade long war in the Middle East following 9/11 - an experience I will never have (this is also an intriguing read.) To me, these books are just as diverse as reading about Princess Masako of Japan or Cuba's greatest abolitionist in history. Diversity is about varying experiences of all kinds.

I tend to read and enjoy books from East Asia, South Asia, and the Near East the most in both fiction and nonfiction. I find these parts of the world fascinating. But I have also read a lot about Egypt as well, particularly Ancient Egypt, which I am, admittedly, moderately obsessed with. 

I would like to branch out though and read more from other corners of the world. I recently updated my list of books read by countries/cultures and found that Europe and Asia are overly represented, while the rest of the world is looking pretty sparse. I want to branch out more in the coming year. I have a couple of books on my bookshelf waiting to be read that would expand my horizons::


In April of 1994, the government of Rwanda called on everyone in the Hutu majority to kill everyone in the Tutsi minority. Over the next three months, 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler's war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch's haunting work is an anatomy of the killings in Rwanda, a vivid history of the genocide's background, and an unforgettable account of what it means to survive in its aftermath.


This is the powerful autobiography of Mary Brave Bird, who grew up in the misery of a South Dakota reservation. Rebelling against the violence and hopelessness of reservation life, she joined the tribal pride movement in an effort to bring about much-needed changes.


The Color of Water tells the remarkable story of Ruth McBride Jordan, the two good men she married, and the 12 good children she raised. Jordan, born Rachel Shilsky, a Polish Jew, immigrated to America soon after birth; as an adult she moved to New York City, leaving her family and faith behind in Virginia. Jordan met and married a black man, making her isolation even more profound. The book is a success story, a testament to one woman's true heart, solid values, and indomitable will. Ruth Jordan battled not only racism but also poverty to raise her children and, despite being sorely tested, never wavered. In telling her story--along with her son's--The Color of Wateraddresses racial identity with compassion, insight, and realism. It is, in a word, inspiring, and you will finish it with unalloyed admiration for a flawed but remarkable individual. And, perhaps, a little more faith in us all.

I would love some recs for diverse nonfiction about the Inuit peoples.  What can you recommend?

Discuss Diversity and Nonfiction and then leave your link below!

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