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Take the 20/20 Reading Challenge

>Update: for the part of 2020 that we are all spending at home due to COVID-19, we've added some tips on ways to access more books digitally at the bottom of this article.

When Toni Morrison passed away in August of 2019, the public mourning on social media platforms painted a vivid picture of her far-ranging influence and the many people she impacted through her writing – starting with herself: “She has always talked about her first novel with disarming simplicity: it was the book she wanted to read and that did not exist.”  

Some of her readers are inhabitants of the worlds she depicts; others are visitors to them. This shared reading experience is “generative; it makes meaning that secures our difference, our human difference – the way in which we are like no other life.” For Morrison views language “partly as a system, partly as a living thing over which one has control, but mostly as agency – as an act with consequences.” In her Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Morrison noted, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” 

As 2019 ended and 2020 began, social media brimmed again, this time with variations on a theme of doing 20 “somethings” in 2020. Here at the Women’s Center, we’ve been inspired by Barbee’s Daily Kos post to read more broadly this year and to invite you to join us, increasing the measure of all of our lives. 

Step 1: Carve out time to read.

This may seem to be the most challenging part, we know. But it's one that will reward your spirit richly!

Step 2: Choose a book.

Bookstores and libraries (both brick & mortar and virtual) are delightful places to get lost. But the abundance of choices can make it harder to decide where to start. To help us all, we’ve assembled a selection of recommended works by women of color. You'll find recent works as well as a few classics by an array of authors, and lots of novels along with memoirs, essay collections, poetry, nonfiction, graphic novels and even children's books. Please borrow or buy a book – or 20 – that intrigues you.

Participating in our 20/20 Reading Challenge on Grounds?

Stop by the Women's Center to borrow books for this challenge. You'll find our 20/20 Reading Challenge selections on the bookshelf in our front office. 

Joining us for the 20/20 Reading Challenge from afar?

View our selections using the GoodReads list we've posted for this challenge and navigate to your favorite bookseller or library from there.

Step 3: Dive in.

Let’s follow R. O. Kwon’s urging and “try inhabiting one another’s wildly varied, entirely human points of view.”! We're sure you'll be glad you did. And we hope you'll keep coming back throughout the year for more titles that bring you inside the wide variety of worlds near and far inhabited by women of color and the characters they create. Embark on this journey with us today and let us know how it goes!


Tips for Book Access during COVID-19

Browse these digital borrowing and purchase delivery tools to consider in addition to the online options you're already familiar with:

  • The eLibrary page of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library's site features a list of links to browse e-books and other resources that you can access through Libby and other tools. Their "Ask a Librarian" services are also available remotely if you need assistance. 
  • Learn more about Overdrive's Libby app, brought to you by your local library wherever you are. 
  • Local shops are working harder than ever to meet your need to read. Here in Charlottesville, New Dominion Bookshop has posted this list of ways to support your local bookseller, whether you're buying or not. 
  • If you need information about current access through the UVA Libraries, check out their COVID-19: Library Resources FAQ page. 



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