|The Met Office uses this image to promote its diversity|
But we can always improve, right?
For me, one of the many beauties of reading, along with entertainment, is getting to explore other worlds and perspectives through others' eyes. Perhaps even gaining some insight, in among the rollicking stories.
Before looking ahead though, a quick look back on where I've been so far.
In recent years, I've been really good at reading a broad geographic range of authors, inspired by Kerrie and Dorte's Global Reading Challenge, and my own love of travel and different settings. Whenever I travel, whether it's to Latin America, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, or North Africa, I try to buy local crime fiction (in English - my language skills aren't so diverse, unfortunately). Last year I read crime novels set in around 20 different countries, from authors of more than a dozen nationalities (including several novels in translation). So that's not too bad (a normal-ish year for me) and is something I'd like to continue.
On and off, I've also been pretty good at reading a decent amount of female authors, though some years this has slipped (last year around 30-35% of the books I read were by women, which is a little low).
I've found that keeping a record can be helpful, as much as I often like to 'just wing it' in life in general. So this year, along with using my Good Reads reading log to note the titles, author nationalities, and settings of the books I read, I'll be paying more attention to the diversity of the main characters and authors themselves.
I'm glad I did. Plakcy crafts a good mystery tale. I'm not used to reading descriptions of gay sex in crime novels, so that was interesting to get used to, but after feeling a bit wary at first, I like the way things are woven together, and to me at least - and I'm a neophyte to gay crime, so don't have much to compare it to - it seems that the love/sex elements are organic and necessary to the crime story and the hero's character, rather than gratuitously put there in an erotica kind of way.
So here's the start of my Diversiread 2016 efforts:
- THE NIGHT CHARTER by Sam Hawken: US male author, Florida setting, Hispanic female hero
- KILLING TRAIL by Margaret Mizushima: US female author, Colorado setting, female hero
- THE POLAR BEAR KILLING by Michael Ridpath: UK male author, Iceland setting, black female hero
- CRUCIFIXION CREEK by Barry Maitland: Australian male author, Sydney setting, Aboriginal male hero
- MAHU VICE by Neil Plakcy: gay US male author, Hawaii setting, gay Hawaiian hero
So that's a pretty great start on main character diversity, I think, but I will have to keep an eye on the authors I choose to ensure I increase the diversity there as the year progresses (more female, more minorities etc).
It's a self-challenge rather than any official challenge, but feel free to join me on Diversiread 2016 if you like.