When Non-Fiction Reads You

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

Have you ever had a book that looked directly into your heart and mind and told you about yourself?

For me, that book was Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins. For some it may seem odd that a book by a black cisgender woman spoke so directly and forcefully to me as a white transgender man, but it did.

I read this book at a time in my life when I was just beginning to confront my own internalized racism and the structural racism I played no small part in perpetuating. Collins gave me a framework to understand that growing up in poverty didn’t negate my white privilege. Her explanations of intersectionality in Black Feminist Thought are so clear and consistent that I still return to her words to this day to help develop my understanding.

This May for the Reading Writers of Color Challenge, I want to challenge you to read non-fiction. Some of us read non-fiction everyday, maybe in school or simply for our own learning. For others reading non-fiction really stretches our ability to focus and retain what’s on the page.

Whether you find yourself struggling to read non-fiction, or reading so much of it that it’s second nature, might I suggest trying to find a book that reads you.

What is a book that reads you? This is any book where the content or the author seems to be speaking directly to you. It’s a book that reveals something you maybe didn’t know about yourself, or helps you understand a question you’ve been mulling over for a long time. A book that reads you might reveal uncomfortable truths or provide a healing balm to old wounds.

Books that ask you to pause and reflect frequently are good contenders for books that read you. For example, Ibram X. Kendi’s Be Anti-Racist: A Journal for Awareness, Reflection, and Action is nearly 200 pages of just reflection based on prompts and short paragraphs.

“Being antiracist is not something you are. It’s something we do.” In this workbook Kendi asks us to take seriously the “doing” of anti-racism. This would be the perfect book if you’re looking to do more with what you’ve been learning throughout the Reading Writers of Color Challenge or generally in your anti-racism journey.

The cover of Be Anti-Racist shows a yellow background withe green and red text.

If that type of reflection feels too intense, perhaps a more free-flowing book like Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation by adrienne maree brown might be more your speed. This book is filled with exercises you can use alone or in groups, but it’s also packed with commentary from brown’s colleagues and other facilitation leaders.

Or, for those who want to have an arsenal of answers at the ready for any conversation about race, might I suggest So You Want to Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo. Any questions you can imagine asking related to race probably has an answer here.

Whatever book you choose I hope is one that speaks to you in ways that are new and enlightening.

Have you ever read a book that seemed to read you? What was it? Let us know in the comments below, and happy reading!

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4 thoughts on “When Non-Fiction Reads You

  1. I was intrigued by your description of Holding Change. I looked it up at my library and found that they also have We Will Not Cancel Us by adrienne maree brown.

    “Most critiques of cancel culture come from outside the milieus that produce it, sometimes from even from its targets. Brown explores the question from a Black, queer, and feminist viewpoint that gently asks, how well does this practice serve us? Does it prefigure the sort of world we want to live in? And, if it doesn’t, how do we seek accountability and redress for harm in a way that reflects our values?”

    That description is speaking to me right now, so I’m going to read that!

    Liked by 1 person

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