The Story of Reads En Route

I’m a full-time copywriter and part-time freelance writer. Why am spending time to build a blog when I could otherwise be writing on assignment for pay? Here’s my story.

I grew up in different blogging communities. In elementary school, I learned to code by building an Avril Lavigne fan page on Matmice. In middle school, I fostered my passion for writing by role-playing on Xanga. In high school, I developed my identity as a creative through Tumblr. In college, I blogged during study abroad trips. Once I graduated last May, I knew I had to start a new blog with a supportive community behind in, but didn’t know what encompassing theme would bring it together.

One of my New Year’s Resolution’s this year was to read more writers from diverse backgrounds. I wanted to escape the white, heteronormative cismen I’d been reading my whole life. I wanted my GoodReads account to have more diversity in gender, sexuality, race, religion, and more.

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As early as six months ago, I had a different approach to my bookshelf. I believed in reading everything. Read the good, the bad, the awfully-written, the well-written, what you agree with, what you disagree with. This sounds like a good idea, and it worked for me for a while. According to my GoodReads reading challenges, I’ve read 394 books between 2012 and 2015. After analyzing authors, 30% of books were written by women authors, 10% were written by non-white authors, and 2% were written by LGBT authors.I anticipate other backgrounds, such as trans and disabled authors, were even more marginalized in the books I read. My motto about “reading everything” had failed diversity.

That’s why in 2016, I committed to reading more women authors, black authors, trans authors, and more. I prioritize writing written by those from overlapping marginalized identities as well, such women of color and Latinx writers. As of April 3rd, I’ve read 27 books this year. 23 were written by women, but only 9 were written by racial minorities and none was written by someone in the lesbian/gay community. My goal wasn’t perfect, and I wanted a way to kickstart it.

According to the 2015 Baseline Survey conducted by Lee & Low Books, the publishing industry overall accounted for 88% of cisgendered women. That sounds like a step in the right direction until you read on. On average, industry professionals are 21% non-white, 12% non-heteronormative, and 8% disabled.

Thus, Reads En Route was born. I wanted a forum to publicly hold not only myself accountable for reading more diverse authors but those in writing and publishing communities around me.

When reading, everyone is en route. We’re each on our own literary journey towards a new revelation, discovery, or adventure. Reads En Route is more than what you’re reading on the bus, subway, train, plane, and any other mode of transportation. It describes the in-between feeling as you flip another page, grasping to understand how a book will phase you. Constantly, I find myself en route to understanding experiences that aren’t my own. This project is dedicated to promoting underrepresented voices through discussing their literary work and personal journeys, in addition to promoting a community of diverse writers.

The survey also reveals that the majority of book reviewers are typically heteronormative, able-bodied white ciswomen. I admit, my credibility is limited within marginalized populations because I’ve benefitted from growing up as cisgendered, heteronormative, able-bodied, and (of course) white. Although I don’t identify as straight nor as cisgendered, I pass as someone who is; oftentimes, no one will know otherwise until I tell them. Why me?

Ideally, I’d like to compensate a diverse staff of writers and editors. Despite founding this blog, I’d one day like to write and edit not only alongside, but under those I created this blog for. However, I don’t (yet) have funding in any capacity. This is a side hustle to my day job and freelance writing career. I don’t want to solicit free labor, either, especially from those in marginalized backgrounds for the obvious reasons. However, I rely on the community behind this project to engage, educate, and empower. I want to foster energy to promote more diverse bookshelves.

Are you in? There are a few ways to get involved right now.

  • Commit to reading more diverse authors this year. Sign the pledge here.
  • Tweet about the pledge! Use #readsenroute to link to petition and encourage your followers to do the same.
  • Reach out to me via email if you’re a writer that could benefit from this blog, or someone that might.

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