This is a guest post from Christina Orlando. Christina runs Muse Monthly, the subscription box for books and tea. She is a champion for diversity in the lit community, and is dedicated to supporting marginalized voices across the publishing industry. She lives in New York, sports seven literary tattoos, loves all media, and is a proud queer Latinx business owner. Follow her on Twitter @cxorlando & @musemonthly.
This is not your mother’s reading challenge.
As we steadily inch closer to the New Year, there will be a lot of talk about reading challenges, goals, and ways to knock down that ever-growing To-Be-Read Pile. I’m a big fan of reading challenges, especially those that encourage you to step outside your comfort zone a little bit. However, this year I’ve decided to do something a little different. I’m assigning myself a list of non-fiction works centered around my personal identity—texts on gender, sexuality, and race, with a focus on intersectionality and queer and/or trans people of color.
This pursuit is less about reading for pleasure and more about academic enrichment and personal growth. This past year has been a tough one on anyone who could be considered a minority—the past few years, really—and though society and young people are becoming more and more aware of the growing issues facing minority groups, for me, it’s not enough to be “woke.” A lot of the information I have now comes from the internet or from the experiences of friends, which is important information, but I still don’t feel properly equipped. My list focuses less on personal essay collections a la Bad Feminist (which are still important) and more on academic sources, when possible. The intention of this reading challenge is to give myself a better education about the history of feminism and queerness, racial issues, and how modern conceptualizations of these issues have evolved.
I remember taking a single Gender & Sexuality class in college—the required amount—and the professor asking on the first day what we hoped to learn. I mentioned I wanted to learn more about how bisexuality fit into LGBTQ history. The subject wasn’t even touched. Racial differences weren’t even touched. Latinx lit or history classes weren’t even offered. There was so much that I missed out on. Good news is, I feel like a better student as I near my thirties than I was during my college years, so I’m ready to take this challenge on. I encourage you to do the same.
Here’s my plan:
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
Sexing the Body by Anne Fausto-Sterling
A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski
Transgender History by Susan Stryker
Sapphistries: A Global History of Love between Women by Leila J. Rupp
A History of Bisexuality by Steven Angelides
Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldua
“The Uses of the Erotic: Eroticism as Power” by Audre Lorde
“The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex” by Gayle Rubin
“Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” by Adrienne Rich
Special Thanks to Adriana Sisko, Gender & Women’s Studies PhD Candidate specializing in sexuality at the University of Kentucky and Dena Lagomarsino, City, Culture, and Community specialist at Tulane University for their guidance and recommendations.