By Anya Shukla
When I applied for a gap year, I told my college that I would spend time “reading and thinking deeply about a list of 50 of the best books of all time.” So far, I have spent as much time “thinking deeply” as I have outside my house (I leave my room so infrequently that it takes several minutes for my eyes to adjust to the sun when I do). Yes, I have read more books by September (238, to be exact) than some people would read in a lifetime. But I wouldn’t exactly call books with shirtless men on the covers and titles like “Beautiful Bombshell” high-class literature. I need to get out of this semi-tragic state of affairs. Not the least because I am literally running out of moderate-to-well-written romance novels to read.
Cue: a new reading list of 52(ish) books by BIPOC authors. Once a week, I’ll read, rate, and review one of its titles on this blog. I’m hopeful that this can propel me out of my burnout and into a more creative mindset—and/or can help me explore the fun side of prose, the side that’s been overshadowed by analytical essays and college apps. Plus, I GET TO READ MORE BOOKS BY BIPOC AUTHORS! I feel like I don’t read many diverse books, so this will be a good time to expand my literary horizons.
When curating this list, I realized that there actually are a fair amount of BIPOC-written books. (Which is excellent!) I just haven’t heard about most of them. Teachers tend to relegate these novels to the one-section-only “World Literature” English classes; the Goodreads algorithm doesn’t recommend me books by foreign authors. Sigh.
That being said, I am excited to dig into this list—there’s a decent spread of race, gender, literary style, and publishing date. I guess I’ll just take it one book at a time and see how it goes. Wish me luck!
The Unofficial BIPOC Book List (in no particular order):