As I sat down at my desk to ponder my response to the powerful question, “Why is diversity important in the 21st century?” I couldn’t help my eyes from drifting toward the direction of my bookshelf. I had just finished a memoir written by Carrie Brownstein- lead guitarist of the band Sleater-Kinney and co-writer, producer and star of Portlandia along with Fred Armisen. It was fantastic (I am now even more obsessed with Portlandia AND newly obsessed with her band’s music). I remembered that I would never have had discovered this little gem of a book if I had not read ANOTHER memoir by ANOTHER audacious lead guitarist named Kim Gordon last winter- AND more importantly, I never would have been exposed to a new type of music. I love reading for the exposure to culture, perspective, and new knowledge that it gives me. The potential every book has to inspire me to want to learn more and more about a new interest is endless.
SO!- transitioning from my interest in riot grrrl! punk rock to the booklist at hand, I would like to introduce you to 10 non-fiction books that I have read recently that have inspired me to want to learn more about the world and its beautiful DIVERSITY. Of course this is not a finite list! Ideally this list would represent every single culture and religion and personality, etc so I apologize for all of the amazing books that I left out! But check out this list because I promise these books left me mind-blown. It’s a good place to start & branch out. After giving a couple of these titles a try, I implore you to share a list of books that inspire YOU to learn more about diversity in the world or in the universe. Happy Reading!
1. The Underground Girls of Kabul by JENNY NORDBERG- an investigative journalist explores what it is really like to grow up as a girl in Afghanistan.
2. Central Park Five by SARAH BURNS- exploration of one New York City’s most infamous crimes starring racial discrimination, police misconduct, and the media.
3. Bad Feminist by ROXANE GAY- a series of essays including, but not limited to, topics of feminism, race, and pop-culture.
4. The Freedom Writer’s Diary by THE FREEDOM WRITERS WITH ERIN GRUMWELL- a group of students share their stories of experiences with the struggles of racial discrimination, dyslexia, homelessness, terrorism, divorce and domestic violence and the honors of meeting a Holocaust survivor and having their voices heard and their words published.
5. Return, Afghanistan by ZALMAI AHAD- an incredible photo essay detailing the legacy of Afghanistan and its streets ravaged by invasion, occupation, and war.
6. 30-second Religion by RUSSELL RE MANNING- some thought provoking religious beliefs, “each explained in less than a minute”!
7. Between the World and Me by TA-NEHISI COATS- written as a letter to his son, Coats tries to answer the biggest questions about “race” in America.
8. The Moon Under Her Feet by CLYSTA KINSTLER- “a feminist retelling of the conception, birth, life and death of Christ”-Publisher’s Weekly
9. Nonviolence: the history of a dangerous idea by MARK KURLANSKY- The Dalia Lama among other religious and world leaders discuss the possibilities of non-violence.
10. Eyes on the Prize: America’s civil right years by JUAN WILLIAMS- the companion to the PBS television series of the same name that illuminates the voices of US civil rights’ leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. and important pieces of legislation that shaped the time period such as the 1954 Supreme Court Case Brown v. the Board of Education and The Civil Rights Act of 1964.