Read Local With the Reading Writers of Color Challenge

This post is part of the Reading Writers of Color 2021 challenge hosted by Lonely Cryptid Media’s staff writer and editor, Dan Michael Fielding.

With November right around the corner it’s time for the November Reading Writers of Color Challenge! This month’s challenge is to read a book (or other piece of written media that fits in your schedule) by a local author.

We’re also in the planning stages for our 2022 challenge. If you have feedback on what you’d like to see you can join the conversation on our Twitter!

You’ve probably heard the phrase “shop local” or “buy local” and now it’s time to read local! The idea behind staying local in your consumption decisions is threefold. First, it allows your dollar to go farther by reinfusing your local economy. A study by American Express found that 67 cents of every dollar spent locally stayed within the community. Another study in Maine found that every $100 spent locally generated an additional $45 in local spending, compared to only $14 additional dollars generated by purchasing at big-box chains.

Local spending can assist in maintaining jobs within a community while also increasing the tax revenue necessary to maintain community living. 

Second, shopping local helps center a reduction in environmental impact. Supporting local farmers, for example, can help reduce the miles food travels to reach your plate. In a world where food can travel thousands of miles to find its way onto a grocery shelf, shopping from your neighboring farmer can reduce emissions tremendously.

Finally, consuming locally helps us strengthen our ties to the community. We live in a complex world where our decisions as consumers often don’t have the big impact we want. We can’t individually buy our way out of climate change, for example, but by taking collective action we can work towards a more socially just society. It’s hard to make a difference when you feel like you’re alone.

This month’s challenge encourages us to think locally and communally. Good questions to ask when choosing your book are: Who is my local community? Whose voices are heard locally and whose are being silenced? Who, or what structures, are doing the silencing? What stories about my local community am I interested in reading? What learning do I still need to do? 

You get to decide what “local” means for you and this challenge. Local can mean many things, from down the street, to within your city, to regional borders. As we discussed during the September challenge to read more translated books, the United States is far and away over-represented in global publishing. If you live outside the United States you might decide that reading within your country is “local” enough. If you’re from a major city you may wish to read something published by an author who grew up in your neighborhood. If you’re from a rural location (like me!) you may need to expand your concept of local beyond your town to include the region or state.

In the comments, let us know how you are conceptualizing “local” for this challenge. What does reading local mean to you?

I’ve chosen to conceptualize “local” as a regional boundary. I considered only reading authors from my home state of Minnesota, but I’m interested in reading Indigenous authors whose ancestors were local to the area long before we ever conceived of state borders. Plus, it gives me an excuse to read some of the Louise Erdrich books I have sitting on my shelf! 

The cover of Tales of Burning Love shows a painted human figure in red lounging on a blue and white striped bed. Where the figure's head would be is instead a black cat.

Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich

Stranded in a North Dakota blizzard, five women bond over their shared connection: All of them have been married to Jack Mauser.

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6 thoughts on “Read Local With the Reading Writers of Color Challenge

  1. This month’s prompt was really challenging for me. I didn’t want to interpret “local” as national, but it was really difficult to find an author of color in my region. Finally I came across Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim, who is a pretty well known popular scientist in Germany and I discovered, that she was born not too far away. So I decided to read “Die kleinste gemeinsame Wirklichkeit” (which can be translated to something like “smallest/lowest common truth”).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, interesting, I have to look her up! Same for me, I‘ve been thinking about it and so far came up with „Deutschland schafft mich: Als ich erfuhr, dass ich doch kein Deutscher bin“ by Michel Abdollahi. He lives in Hamburg, I‘m near Stuttgart. Same country, but not exactly next door.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wasn’t sure how to approach this—Connecticut? New Haven area?—but I did a Google search just to see who would come up. Turns out that poet Hanif Abdurraqib lived in New Haven for a bit, long enough that the city claimed him. References to his poetry showed up in my Twitter feed the other day, so this felt like fate! I’ve got his first poetry collection, which I think published while he was living in New Haven area, on hold at my library. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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