Just How White Our Reading World Is

This popped up in the Washington Post:

I read books by only minority authors for a year. It showed me just how white our reading world is

White authors reign in book reviews, bestseller lists, literary awards and Amazon.com recommendations.

HamletIt’s an old story that I have been pointing out for many years but Sunili Govinnage gives a much more specific representation of what is known in some circles as the Dead White-Man Syndrome and in others as the Western Canon. One thing Govinnage does which I seldom do (being 85% literature snob) is read and cite some of the less literary and more popular fiction of the countries involved. I’m thinking that reading some good crime novels from, say, Indonesia, might be educational as well as entertaining. I know there have been several mystery or crime novelists from outside the United States who have been popular recently but they’re from Sweden or the Netherlands, or even Iceland … but they’re still a part of the world that reveres the Western Canon.

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You Are What You Eat?

Real FishHave you ever found bones in your sautéd scallops? Does your expensive red snapper look identical to the generic fish dish at the next table? When I was much younger, living in California, we had a neighbor who was an independent butcher and I learned more about the cuts of meat and the tricks butchers often use to maximize their profit without tipping off the customer that they were being robbed. Of course, he attributed these nefarious tactics to the butchers in the super markets who are forced by capitalistic overseers to squeeze the last dime of profit out of the pork chops. Now that I am retired and less concerned about cost than convenience, I have been lax in my buying habits, but two things have caused me to stop and think.

First, my butcher friend made very clear that the fewer cuts a butcher (or stainless-steel meat chomped) made, the cheaper the cut of meat. I’ve seen the price of a standing rib roast at the market and it is obscene, but if you take that roast home, cut it into individual steaks, you will end up spending far less for your meat. The same thing holds true for most chops, roasts, whole birds, and a whole No. 5 at the sandwich shop. Buy the big one, take it home and cut it up yourself. For years I only bought tenderloin when it was on sale, cut it up into steaks, and froze it for later use. Which brings up a point:  a large or separate freezer is often useful to save money on meats.

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Nerd Fury

Don’t know what to read next? Your trip to the big-box-bookstore left you unfulfilled? Here’s an excellent tip that will result in more reading recommendations than you can handle in a year. Try Nerd Fury.

Go online, preferably at your own web log, and announce that you have just read the best novel ever written and you are afraid that no other novel will be able to stand up to IT [name some quasi-coherent book here but keep it general or you will only get responses of the same sort of fiction … and avoid Science Fiction like the Venusian Death Grip]. All you have to do now is sit back and read all the followup posts and comments that tell you you’re crazy and such-and-such book is patently superior. This is where the recommendations come flying in and you will have more books to read than you ever hoped for.

I have to admit that I didn’t come up with this excellent advice on my own. Tony Bourdain, the voice of international cuisine and shill for organ meats, related the technique called Nerd Fury in a recent interview (you can read about it at Serious Eats), but he was talking about discovering local foods and other gustatory delights. I merely adapted Nerd Fury to the reading of books. Come to think of it, reading and eating are quite possibly the two most important factors in human existence; there was another one I think but I’m too old to remember.