Scouring my shelves. Looking at lists. Searching, googling, and they are there. But I do not know them. The books I need for this list.
I sat down this morning to write my list of Top Ten Books with Older Protagonists. Right away, I jotted down Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and then I drew a blank. I did a little searching, and remembered that Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin has an older narrator. I thought of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, and someone on Goodreads reminded me that Ursula in One Hundred Years of Solitude is up in years as well.
But then, then I was pretty much at a loss. Clearly, I have read more books with older protagonists, but this part of those books’ stories – well, it must not have been important enough for me to note. For example, are there older people in Toni Morrison’s novels? Probably, but I don’t remember. I did know that Potok’s The Gates of November, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the details there. I was stuck.
I sat up by my fiction shelves and stared, and I was confronted, once again, by the narrow focus of my reading – it’s very young, it’s very white, and it’s very American. I want to be able to share a list that is diverse culturally and ethnically. I want to be able to share titles that resonated for me with voices very different than my own. But I cannot. I read who I am.
This makes me sad, not because I read horrible books or because my reading trend indicates anything beyond my own self-centeredness. But because I want to do better. I want to read more broadly and know more of what it is to be someone other than me.
So I’m asking for your help. Who do you recommend I read? I’m looking for books by people of color, by people who are older or that feature older characters, by people from Europe and Asia and Africa and Australia and South America . . . and if you know any Antarctican writers, share those, too. I’d like to read more work by Native American writers, and I’d like to read more work by octogenerians.
Please, give me your recommendations. I’ll shape them into a list and post them somewhere – here, perhaps – and tell you how I go with the reading.
And in the meantime, I’m going to get started on this list of 100 Books by Black Women Everyone Must Read.
What do you recommend?