How a Christian Can Diversify Her Bookshelf

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  • Is your bookshelf lacking a little luster? I want to help you diversify your shelves.

In the beginning, there was King.

My voracious appetite for reading started when I read my first Stephen King book. I could not get enough. Don’t ever tell my mom I sat in front of the TV, joined a book club marathon of hardcover King novels, and impatiently waited at the mailbox for weeks so as not to be caught!

I think I was finally found out when the book club stopped sending books. For the next few years, I was into all things mysteriously creepy – Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Revelations! The first few years of college, my bookshelf was oozing with goosebump marathons.

Then, there was Tehran.

It wasn’t until my hypothetical senior year in college (entirely different post) in a Creative Non-Fiction senior seminar that my literary world opened up. There is where I found, “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi. Women in Tehran had to go underground to read classics or face tyranny? What on earth was I reading? The realities of people living half a world away from me.

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.” Ani DiFranco

I needed to know who else, why else, and what else was happening in the world. I picked up Borges, Saramago, Alvarez, Cisneros, Santiago, and the Bible. Again. Slowly I added to my shelves. I made connections. In a world where everyone wants to escape and find that books are that escape, I argue that they are our connections.

Expanding our worldview is imperative to embracing God’s creation. If we only know King and not Tehran, we fall short of the glory meant to fill our hearts.

Here are three ways to expand your bookshelf:

  1. Take a chance
      Romance is not my thing. This year I challenged myself to review two romance novels. Even if I’m not a fan of lovey-dovey stories, I am a fan of learning something new. After all, romance is the number one best-selling genre. Ever.
  2. Read the hard stuff
      If it doesn’t grow you, try again. Books need to challenge you. They need to make you ask questions of yourself and of the world. If your current bookshelf selection is not doing that, it’s time to join Goodreads and browse the suggestions.
  3. Go back home  
      If home is your Bible, then always go back to it. Reading secular books doesn’t make you a heathen. It makes you well armored to take on questions and build informed responses. If you know you can always go back home, your adventures will become more robust.

“To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.” Carlos María Domínguez

A challenge!

Get to your local library. Approach your librarian and ask for a book suggestion. Go out on a limb.

If you’re really up for a challenge find a library on a side of town you don’t frequent. Ask the librarian for a recommendation and sit in that different library for a couple of chapters. Journal your experience.

I’d love to hear if you took the challenge. Or if you’ve started your diversity project, let me know how it’s working or not working for you. Happy reading, friends!

 

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