This morning, I spent some time looking over the great lists that were submitted as part of the Super Summer Reading Program. I loved seeing everyone’s list, getting titles I might want to read, and seeing how variant each list was.  6365101775

All in all, the people who participated in this challenge (and shared their lists) read 112 books this summer (not including my piddly list).  That’s amazing.

I did notice a few things as I studied the book genres, publication places, author bios, and dates of publication.

  • Most of the books were fiction.
  • Almost all of them were originally published in the United States or England in English (in fact, I only saw one book  – by Banana Yoshimoto – that was written in a language other than English.)
  • Most of the titles were published originally in the United States.
  • The vast majority of the writers were white.
  • And with a few exceptions, almost every title had been published in the 20th or 21st century.

We did have some more diversity in genre – but no poetry at all was included.  We did find a fairly good balance (overall) between women and men writers.  And we did read books for a variety of age groups.

Still, I would love to see more of what we call “world literature” (as if the U.S. isn’t part of the world) in our reading. So to that end, I’m issuing another challenge.

I’m calling this the “More than 20/21st Century Caucasian North Americans” Challenge.  Between now and the end of 2013, I’m challenging all of us to read books in specifically three categories:

  • Books published outside of the United States.
  • Books written by people who are not white.
  • Books written before 1950.

This means a great deal of our reading will be in translation, so we will need to be mindful of that fact.  It also means we may have to search a little harder to find books.

Let me suggest a few writers you might consider.

  • Chinua Achebe
  • Lawrence Sterne
  • Ha Jin
  • Leslie Marmon Silko
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • ZZ Packer

Maybe you have other suggestions you’d like to add?

The winner of this challenge will receive a $25 gift certificate to Powell’s.

And now for our winners of the Super Summer Reading Program.

  • For most books – all 28 titles – Andi Miller of Estella’s Revenge.
  • For most diverse list – Wendy Edsall-Kerwin.

Congratulations, women.  I’ll be in touch to get you your gift cards.

If you’d like to win another book written by a white American and in the 21st century – a REALLY GREAT BOOK, I might add – check out my post from Saturday and make a comment.