We all have books that we have read in private, and even worse, we may harbor a secret love for them. These books may have elicited taboo emotions, even though they are apparently contrary reads that don’t quite mesh with what we are traditionally thought to enjoy. Personally, I have no such shame because I honestly enjoy books from a myriad number of different genres and could never understand how love for one genre strictly defines what you normally enjoy, or something like your gender, political views, or race, or even religious views somehow has a bearing or monopoly over what you read. Meaning if you’re a staunch liberal, you’ll ever read mainly liberal-minded books, and never dare touch books outside that small world you have established for yourself.
*Each time, we pick an ideologically-safe book, we’re keeping our bubble library of books non-challenging, safe, and non-contradictory*
No of us are free from the shackles of a certain strong desire to construct a foolproof, ideologically-safe bubble-style library of acceptable, palatable books. We never dare disturb our reading beyond what we normally read, and we may actually start minimizing our reading selections to only certain types of books, either because of implicit social pressure, or even just a certain shred of nagging complacency.
Every reading this has a choice this month to partake in this month-long event, where you will challenge yourself to break your ideological shackles, or emancipate yourself from your genre cloister, and force yourself to read something radically different than what is normally read. Share your thoughts, feelings, questions, etc. with the hashtag #contradictoryreader about a certain contradictory book, different from what you normally read!
My own designated selection will be focused primarily on Women’s Fiction books. As someone that is quite honestly aloof to gendered-type thinking, I have always found the categorizing of books under “Women’s Fiction” to be a very interesting psychological phenomenon. From a marketing stand-point, it is completely sensible to have such a categorization, but when you’re already conditioned to being ignorant as to gender norms (I seriously have trouble fathoming it), the categorization of books by gender can sometimes be a very curious thing. Again, that’s not to say I found that categorization repellent, insulting, blasphemous. No, I just see it as a curiosity, much in the same way I found the staunch “I am liberal, and refuse to read conservative-minded books,” or the conservative counterpart of “I am conservative, and I will not read liberal-minded books.) to be a curiosity. And this type of categorical thinking is becoming rampant, especially with social media.
Through social media, people sometimes uniformly casting aspersions on certain writers for not abiding by some arbitrary prescription for a host of different things, including whether something is “feminist” or not, or whether something is socially-conscious about issues about race or gender. Sometimes, these criticisms, when civilly expressed, are warranted, and can lead to some thoughtful discussion about books. Other times, they inadvertantly lead to a more chastened form of reading, a pattern of reading guided, and compromised by social pressure. And while social media is a boon for progressive, sometimes vital social change, it sometimes leads also to a restriction of democracy, especially when our patterns of expression are uncivil and dogmatic.
As a blog that celebrates liberalized, free patterns of reading, and deeper, more constructive expressions about what we read (simply put, we love books, and the inherent democratic freedom found through reading), this is a very important month, even though it is above all meant to be extremely fun. I really hope people will join me in selecting several books that they don’t normally read, and what society sometimes implies is something that we may not want to read, either because of our race, our gender, our religion, our political viewpoints.,etc.
So join me all throughout this month, for a few reviews of a #contradictoryread that I recently read and enjoyed. Please feel free in sharing your thoughts on contradictory reads you want to read below in the comment section!
If what you’re reading is making you indignant, unsettled, or uncomfortable, you are reading a #contradictoryread.