8 Reads To Diversify Your Bookshelf

How good a reader are you? Anonymous Was A Woman podcast hosts Jamila Rizvi and Astrid Edwards are dissecting their reading habits and decolonising their bookshelves.

By Becky Hansen

How good a reader are you? Anonymous Was A Woman podcast hosts Jamila Rizvi and Astrid Edwards are dissecting their reading habits and decolonising their bookshelves.

By Becky Hansen

In season one’s bonus episode of Anonymous Was A Woman, Jamila Rizvi and Astrid Edwards unpack how we develop our reading habits and why we pick certain books off the shelves and not others. 

Reading is the ultimate act of empathy and understanding. Reading the works by writers who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour puts you in someone else’s world, someone else’s thought processes and someone else’s experiences. 

To assist us in reading more widely, and exploring the works of different authors and genres, Jamila and Astrid invited some of their favourite authors to share their favourite reads, plus added a few recommendations of their own.

1
Recommended by Jan Fran, Walkley-award winning journalist and author

Talkin’ Up To The White Woman by Dr. Aileen Moreton-Robinson

Dr Aileen Moreton-Robinson “talks up” in this provocative interrogation of feminism in representation and practice. As a Geonpul woman and an academic, she provides a unique cultural standpoint and a compelling analysis of the Whiteness of Australian feminism and its effect on Indigenous women. First published twenty years ago, new editions prove the continued relevance of this classic work as a critique of the Whiteness of western feminism.

“If you consider yourself any kind of a feminist in Australia, you need to read this book. If you consider yourself anyone that is interested in race and the way in which race plays out within feminism in Australia then you need to read this book.” – Jan Fran

Talkin’ Up To The White Woman by Dr. Aileen Moreton-Robinson

2
Recommended by Jessie Tu, journalist and author

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-joo

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is the South Korean sensation that has got the whole world talking. The life story of one young woman born at the end of the twentieth century raises questions about endemic misogyny and institutional oppression that are relevant to us all. Kim Jiyoung is every woman. 

“It’s such a lonely place to be when you don’t fit into the criteria of the the typical trajectories in which women are supposedly meant to aspire towards, the wife, the mother, the perfect daughter, all those roles are so constricted and women who decide that they don’t want to follow those models of female happiness are still ostracized in very horrible way I feel.” – Jessie Tu

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-joo

3
Recommended by Astrid Edwards, Anonymous Was A Woman co-host

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Dana, a modern Black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the White son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

“A beautiful work of speculative fiction that explores the origins of not only civil rights but all of the intergenerational traumas and true horrors that come from slavery in America.” – Astrid Edwards

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

4
Recommended by Leah Purcell, award-winning author and playwright

Is That You, Ruthie? By Ruth Hegarty

An inspiring life story, this remarkable memoir won the prestigious David Unaipon Award in 1998. Ruthie is the central character in this lively and candid memoir of institutional life in Queensland’s notorious Cherbourg Aboriginal mission. Her milestones and memories reflect the experiences of many dormitory girls. The strong and lasting bonds that developed between them helped to compensate for family love and support denied them by the disruptive removal policy of the day.

“If non-Indigenous people want to know the Indigenous experience it’s best to read the memoirs, the autobiographies, because you can’t deny a person their story…” – Leah Purcell

Is That You, Ruthie? By Ruth Hegarty

5
Recommended by Jamila Rizvi, Anonymous Was A Woman co-host

The White Girl by Tony Birch

Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. After her daughter disappeared and left her with her granddaughter Sissy to raise on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. When a new policeman arrives in town, determined to enforce the law, Odette must risk everything to save Sissy and protect everything she loves.

“It is a really stunning book about the legacy of colonisation. It’s also about dignity, the quiet dignity of First Nations people in the face of enormous discrimination, violence and hardship.” – Jamila Rizvi

The White Girl by Tony Birch

6
Recommended by Alice Pung, award-winning writer, journalist & essayist

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko

Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things – her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley. Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble – but then trouble is Kerry’s middle name. 

“If you’re familiar with reading books like this, it’s a great joy because they’re books about humanity they’re not books about race.” – Alice Pung

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko

7
Recommended by Jamila Rizvi, Anonymous Was A Woman co-host

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

In 2014 Reni Eddo-lodge wrote a blog post that went viral. Her 2018 book on the same topic sparked a national conversation, exploring everything from eradicated Black history to the inextricable link between class and race. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand modern Britain. 

“I think most People of Colour, particularly Black and First Nations people, know that White people generally don’t like talking about race. It’s a subject you stay away from at dinner parties, it’s not polite. When White people do go into the discussion, it’s framed as a debate. Whereas for People of Colour this is who you are, this is the body that you live in everyday, and the consequences of that and the discrimination that comes simply from being you in the world isn’t a discussion topic for a university lecture, it’s your entire being.” – Jamila Rizvi

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

8
Recommended by Astrid Edwards, Anonymous Was A Woman co-host

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era Black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. This sweeping collection of new and selected essays explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a Black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.”

“This is a Black man exploring race in America and I learned so much. I also feel like I’m still coming down from the emotional rollercoaster that is this work of non-fiction.” – Astrid Edwards

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Can’t get enough?

Anonymous Was A Woman podcast is hosted by Jamila Rizvi and Astrid Edwards. It’s a conversation on books by, and about, women. Season 2 begins on August 10. Until then, subscribe below and catch up on Season one.

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