I caught myself in a reading rut. I’m not the first person to have this experience, and others have addressed it already. Nonetheless, here’s my take on the problem as a mystery reader.
What made me notice it was a book in which all the characters were white. I suppose such towns exist, but I’ve lived most of my adult life in majority-minority places. This book woke me up to the fact that almost all the authors I’d read recently were white. Most of them write a broader range of characters, but still, I want to hear from other voices. So, how did I end up buying books this way? What was I thinking?
Actually, I wasn’t thinking. Just clicking. We often get reading recommendations through algorithms. Goodreads or an online bookstore will send reminders that a favorite author has a new book, or suggest that “If you liked X, you’ll love Y.” Authors advertise on the book pages of what they perceive to be similar books. Other ads target fans of what are referred to as “comparison authors.” It’s a system that promotes sameness, not diversity. For that, I had to exit the net of recommendations and start searching.
I liked this article from Writer’s Digest, in which writers of color discuss their experience. I agree with those who say there is an audience for their work, but publishers may not realize it.
This site is a great shopping resource: I Found This Great Book: A Home for Readers of Diverse Books. Its creator says he loves to browse bookstore and library shelves and discover new authors because of a cool cover, and he set up the directory—quite successfully, in my opinion—to give you that feeling. He gives a lot of space to indies, which I appreciated, since I love indie fiction. I wish more of those indies published wide, not exclusively on Amazon, but I still found new mysteries to read on my Nook.
Another site I used for discovery is Crime Writers of Color.
As a New Mexican, I have to recommend the Sonny Baca books by the late Rudolfo Anaya. Most people know his classic coming of age in New Mexico story, Bless Me, Ultima, but he also wrote a series about a private investigator. These crime novels blend in much of the mysticism and cultural depth found in his better-known works.
I plan to read not only diverse American authors, but authors from other countries, other continents. African and Asian and Latin American writers. I can’t go anywhere in person during the coronavirus pandemic, but my reading can take me all over the globe into the worlds of people whose lives are not like mine.
My writing has me at home in New Mexico, of course. Working on the eighth Mae Martin mystery. And I’ll still be blogging. Follow me on https://amberfoxxmysteries.com, where you can also sign up for my newsletter.
Au revoir and Namaste.