The whole point of reading is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
It’s about relating to people that *are not* like you. I thought for a bit about books with characters like me in them and they weren’t people that matched me in identity, but in thoughts, feelings and actions. When I read I can be anyone else. So why would I just want to be me?
And since it’s almost guaranteed that someone will go “ah that’s cos you’re privileged and represented in books so many times” and it always comes back to technicalities of “what you are” instead of who you are, I will be blunt: the vast majority of the time I’ve read about people with my ethnicity and gender they’re being murdered… so lucky me, I guess?
But really the point here is not to say “I need books where people like me are not being murdered”; nor is it to say that there is some secret class of people that somehow manage to abscond with all the “privilege” in the world. If you know me at all, you’ll know that’s not what I’m about. In fact I am saying quite the opposite- the truth is we can all relate to books where on-the-surface there is nothing relatable in them. Art is the great leveller in a free society.
Let’s be honest, none of us have much in common identity-wise with Dobby the House elf, but many of us still cried when he died (come to think of it I don’t have much in common with Hedwig either and that did me in too…). Books do not have to be about what we are at all to have a profound emotional effect.
So read beyond what makes you comfortable, never segregate your reading habits and explore horizons you never thought you could.
Just a thought… Let me know what you think in the comments!