This September I did a Minority Month: I tried to only read books written by people who are in any way a minority. In noticed that I read way to many white, male, straight authors, and I wanted to bring some more diversity in my reading.
Now, everybody who has ever been to my house knows I have piles of books that I still have to read standing everywhere. So, I didn’t think I’d have to buy books for this challenge, but the confronting thing was: I did have to. I had quite some books by female writers, but especially ethnic minorities where very underrepresented. This is something I really have to work on, so I started following some black writers on Twitter and some organisations on Facebook (like Read My World) that try to promote literature by black writers to keep myself more up to date on interesting books. If you have any tips on how to diversify my reading even more, I’d love to hear it!
Unfortunately, I only had time to read four books for this challenge, because I had to read a lot for my new university courses as well. Now, what did I read?
The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek
I read this book as part of a buddyread with my friend Laurens. We were both looking forward to it very much because Jelinek is a very controversial writer, partly because of her feminism. However, The Piano Teacher didn’t live up to our expectations. I liked the first part of the book, but felt like she lost her edge in the second half. Laurens didn’t like anything about it. I’m still hoping her other books might suit me better, because Jelinek herself admitted that The Piano Teacher was just a way to write her own traumas away, so she might be more focussed in her other books.
Mijn eigen zelf by Anna Blaman
Mijn eigen zelf is a collection of poems and essays by the Dutch lesbian writer Anna Blaman. When published, her books were very controversial because they openly discussed homosexuality. In her essays she discusses feminism and the criticism she received for her books and it is totally amazing. It was very readable, understandable and humorous. I’d recommend this book to every Dutch feminist.
Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou
I’ve read parts of Angelou’s autobiography already and I thought this was another part of it, but actually it’s more of a spiritual work. I wasn’t really expecting that and I wasn’t really in the mood for it. I sometimes struggle with the way Angelou handles her Christianity. On the one hand, she’s very tolerant, but on the other hand, she keeps presenting her own faith as the One Way, and that’s not really my cup of tea.
Niemand dan wij by Wim Sonneveld and Friso Wiegersma
As this is an international blog, this book might need some explaining. The Netherlands has a long tradition of one-man cabaret with songs, comedy and critique on society. During the 50s, 60s and 70s, Wim Sonneveld was one of the biggest artists in this genre and his life partner Friso Wiegersma was one of the great talents on costume design and song writing. They worked together a lot and this book is a compilation of their letters. They give a wonderful insight into their love life, their work, their travels. I like how this book didn’t become some source of gossip by giving all kinds of intimate details about their personal life, it’s never voyeuristic. It’s just sweet letters between lovers while they travel (featuring the world’s cutest nicknames). You can find a complete review in Dutch by me here.