Decolonize Your Bookshelf Reading Challenge for 2023
"It's time to decolonize your bookshelf."
This has been the entire mantra for Paperbacks & Frybread and it's something I will continue to encourage heavily into the new year of 2023.
But this can be a really daunting task, which is why I have created a reading challenge to share with you all to make it oh-so-easy to implement.
What does 'Decolonize Your Bookshelf' even mean?
When I was a little girl, I rarely saw books about people like me. The only Indigenous books I was ever exposed to were ones written by white folks about Thanksgiving. This doesn't really make a kid feel seen, lemme tell ya.
As an adult and an avid reader I started working as a book blogger and reviewer for a few years. I can only think of about 1 or 2 of those books being from Black, Indigenous, or other people of color.
Examining my bookshelf while also scanning the shelves in big box bookstores I was seeing a trend. None of these stories looked like me. None of these stories were written by people who looked like my family or my non-white friends.
This is literally why our online book boutique, Paperbacks & Frybread, was born.
I wanted an opportunity to help people add richness and diversity to their shelves. I wanted families of all kinds to see themselves in books and be able to have easier access to them.
Our bookshelves shouldn't look like our homes have been colonized.
Why is Decolonizing Our Bookshelves important for everyone?
When we have diversity and inclusion on our bookshelves, we have access to different opinions, ideas, and experiences than our own. Books are keys to the world outside our four walls. But if those keys just build us an eco-chamber we are doing a huge disservice to ourselves and our communities.
These stories should challenge us and make us grow and sometimes even make us uncomfortable. Stories of people who aren't like us will absolutely help us breed empathy for humankind.
There is nothing negative that can come from reading books from a plethora of backgrounds.
I only read fiction, does this apply to me?
When I discuss the the importance of Decolonize Your Bookshelf, those opposed to this idea usually comes with two arguments:
1) They don't care about the race or gender of the author they are reading.
2) They only read fiction so none of this matters.
This is SO far from the truth!
First off, if we aren't intentional about choosing diversity in our books we are doomed to have a bookshelf of only cis, straight, white authors and protagonists. This has a lot to do with the publishing industry and marketing, but we keep encouraging these tactics when we vote with our dollars.
Second, fiction has huge impacts on the world around us. Many times these fictional stories-even the high fantasy kind-can be illustrations of allegories of life and its problems. It would be impossible for an author to not inject their own ideas and experiences into their writing no matter how fantastical it may be.
Works like Animal Farm wouldn't have the impact it did if we only looked at it as as story about animals and their conversations.
Where do I start with 'Decolonizing My Bookshelf"?
This can be such a daunting task when starting out. But do not fear! This is why I'm here. I created an easy-to-follow reading challenge for 2023. You can see the graphic down below!
This can be posted on all your social media platforms to encourage your friends and community to join right in along with you!
Wanna take it a step further? Why not grab one of our Pick Your Magic Book Boxes and let us pick out some books for you? You purchase a box according to your budget, and you tell us the kind of books you're into.
Space themed science fiction?
Whatever we enjoy we can find you diverse books that fit into those categories.
And if you don't want to do a mystery box, just hit up our chat box on the website and we can give you some recommendations. Even ones we don't have listed on the site just yet!
Decolonizing Your Bookshelf is a lifestyle, not a one time challenge
Take the challenge as guidance. If you don't read this many books in a year don't try and force yourself to read all of these out of shame or guilt. Start with what you're able to and keep moving forward. (And yes, children's books, graphic novels, and audiobooks all count!!!)
Supporting just one author that is out of your normal reading habits is a huge step.
Can you imagine the impact it could have if we all took the initiative to Decolonize Our Bookshelves?