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Week 3: Diversity and Nonfiction:
This week we're talking about what diversity in books means to us. 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?
Personally, I think we’re doing ourselves and our children a big disservice if we think of diversity in terms or skin color, nationality, gender, religion, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. Likewise, I don’t care if the book I’m reading was written by a Smith or a Huang or a Goldberg. What matters to me is the material presented and the quality of its writing. This does not mean that a Goldberg wouldn’t bring a different worldview to the material; he would. As would a woman or a gay man or a libertarian. This will be a much bigger deal with fiction than nonfiction, as most nonfiction is objective in nature, or clearly labeled if nonobjective. I read mostly nonfiction, so I care very little if a book about the Battle of the Bulge, say, was written by a man or woman, a lesbian or straight person.
That said, diversity of subjects is very important to me. I seek out books on subjects I enjoy (American history; food and cooking; politics & Washington, D. C.; biographies; living abroad) and subjects I know little about (this year I learned about polar exploration, baseball, horse racing, and President Garfield). I just love learning new things. (Even if that statement nominates me for Geek of the Year.) I read a lot of memoirs, and you just can’t get more diversity of life experience than that. I love to read about different cultures, cuisines, parenting styles, families, religions and faith. I read a lot of books about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, France, and England. Many of my favorite books deal with diversity in some way, though I seldom seek out reading material because it’s diverse. I find it and it finds me because that’s who I am and what I enjoy.
Here is a list of my favorite books dealing with diversity of thought, culture, and experience.
My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor
Puerto Rican-American Supreme Court Justice’s memoir.
Becoming Sister Wives, The Brown Family
A polygamist Mormon family.
Bloom, Kelle Hampton
A mother’s experience raising a Down Syndrome baby.
Kabul Beauty School, Deborah Rodriguez
An American woman creates a beauty school in Afghanistan.
Extraordinary, Ordinary People, Condoleezza Rice
African-American Secretary of State’s memoir.
French Kids Eat Everything, Karen Le Billon
Raising good eaters—the French way.
Lipstick Jihad, Azadeh Moaveni
An Iranian-American caught between cultures.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua
Raising children the Chinese way.
Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman
Raising children the French way.
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, Kathleen Flinn
An American woman studying at Le Cordon Bleu in France.
Elizabeth the Queen, Sally Bedell Smith
A biography of the Queen of England.
Little Princes, Conor Grennan
American aid worker recovering trafficked children in Nepal.
Hungry Planet, Faith D’Aluisio & Peter Menzel
Food in world cultures.
Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton
Portraits and short interviews with New Yorkers of all stripes.
Home is a Roof over a Pig, Aminta Arrington
An American family living in China.