I saw a meme last week that said, “Stop reading books by straight white men.” First, I was annoyed. You, a random person on the Internet, have the nerve to tell me who I can and can’t read? I stared at the photo and tried to remember if the authors of the last few books I’d read were straight white men. I couldn't even remember if they were male or female. When I narrowed it down (just straight, or just white, or just men), I couldn’t remember that, either.
Why does who the author is matter to anyone? I notice if people have alliterative names, but I’ve never looked at the bio in the back to decide if I should read something or not. “Oh, my gosh, she’s Asian?” is a ridiculous reason to put a book down, don’t you think? As long as an author can weave a compelling story, I could care less about their personal lives or history.
Now, you might be thinking, “She doesn’t get it. The meme was trying to get more diverse stories published.” It’s fighting The Man and challenging negativity in the publishing industry. OK. So the way to fight intolerance is with… intolerance?
In my mind, there is a difference between author and story. The Internet wants us to stop reading stories written by certain people. According to my reading of international histories, this approach has never gone well. Unless, of course, your goal is to foster hate by keeping people from understanding one another.
Instead of boycotting specific types of authors, how about we boycott crappy books? Don’t skip over an author who happens to be a straight white dude because he’s a straight white dude. Boycott him because he only writes blonde bimbos who serve as plotpoints for men, or because his protagonists are about as deep as a kiddie pool.
Feed your brain with innovative, creative stories. If you like historical non-fiction, read it. If you love fantasy, read that. Learn a language and read poetry and novels and news releases in it. And then share the books you love with the people you meet. It’s our enthusiasm for story, not our boycotting of types of writers, that will change the world.
But don’t do it just because I said so. Do it because you want to.
Michelle's opinion is her opinion. Unless it is her opinion about dark chocolate. Then it is law.