How has your reading changed in 2020?
LochanReads started as a blog focused towards book reviews and discussions. Reading books and then talking about them with others has always been something I’m passionate about, but I finally decided to act upon that passion three years ago with the inception of my blog. Admittedly, the books I have chosen to read and recommend on this site haven’t had any particular intent behind them. For the most part, I would simply read books that captured my interest or fell into familiar reading territory, such as Wordsworth classics or A Song Of Ice And Fire with a sprinkling of something ‘a bit different’ in between. However in terms of there being a specific focus behind my reading, there was none.*
That changed around June 2020 with the renewed worldwide interest in the Black Lives Matter movement, which initially began in 2013 but sparked anew in response to increased reports of police brutality in the United States. Furthermore, these atrocious events led to conversations at home, in the U.K. about the lack of black representation within the publishing industry as shown by startling figures released by the UK Publishers Association. Figures released in the Diversity survey of the publishing workforce 2018 found that those who identify as BAME** make up only 11.6% of the workforce. This has since increased to 13%. – See sources below. –
These conversations also began gaining momentum within the book community on social media and it made me rethink my own personal reading habits. Suddenly I became aware of the fact that my own bookshelf is comprised of an overwhelming presence of white authors and protagonists and altogether heavily Westernized narratives. I had a very small number of books or number of books read that center on black voices, Latinx voices, indigenous voices, LGBTQ+ voices, Asian voices and minority ethnic voices. Of course I have some books that fit this bill such as Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, probably one of my most talked about books of the last two years, but not enough to really say I was contributing to amplifying the voices of marginalised groups.
That being said my reading habits underwent a metamorphosis and now as 2020 comes to a close, I can say that I’ve noticed a huge shift in my reading. From reading whatever takes my fancy or whatever is currently trending on Instagram to reading books that celebrate own voices and cultural diversity. My reading has become imbued with the very intent and purpose it lacked when I started this blog.
Such is the inspiration behind a series of videos that I am planning to release on my Booktube channel @LochanReads Book Reviews centered around recommending BAME books. To make sure you don’t miss the first instalment, which will be going live soon, please Subscribe and don’t forget to turn on notifications.
Diversity survey 2019, Publishers Association – https://www.publishers.org.uk/publications/diversity-survey-of-the-publishing-workforce-2019/
Black Writers’ Guild article from The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jun/15/black-writers-guild-calls-for-sweeping-change-in-uk-publishing
Black-owned bookshops article from The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/nov/02/black-owned-bookshops-call-for-more-diversity-in-uk-publishing
* Although I feel like I have benefitted greatly from having more focused reading habits, that’s not to put down anyone who prefers mood reading.
** BAME – Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic – comes from the British literary award, Jhalak Prize for BAME writers, founded in 2016.