I feel that my mental experience is as much a part of my life as my physical experience; my dreams, my daydreams, my by-proxy experience through imaginative absorption, all create me as much as my physical experiences do. Since my mental experience is something I have a lot of control over, I am very selective about the media I consume -- especially media that is new to me. I was gonna explain books, movies, music, and tv shows, but this is a much more extensive topic than I thought so I guess I'm doing this as a series, starting with books.
I will not purchase a book written by a default (straight cis nondisabled white man) or read it unless it is really, really exceptional. Out of the books I have chosen to read in the past seven years, I have read no more than one book by a default each year, probably fewer. I read easily hundreds of books by defaults in my childhood and I'm going to balance that out. Also, they just tend to be terrible, full of stuff that is either ethically terrible and/or the imaginative equivalent of a bowl of oatmeal. That criteria rules out probably at least 70% of books published in English.
Also, I will not read a fiction book written with a default main character, or about someone who spends the book pining over a default, or about anyone whose primary yearning is a romantic relationship. I'm including the nominally-different who act exactly like a default because the author hasn't bothered to learn perspective-taking. I will not read any patriarchy-affirming gendered bullshit. There better be at least a little bit of criticism of gender roles, and no rape unless it is approached in a truly honest and meaningful way, with no rape myths in the method or motive. And it must be first-person: do NOT use it to show the empathy in your main character while the victim is a mere cardboard cut-out with no other story. I will not read white savior or "my whole planet just happens to be white" books, or books that have more dark characters in antagonist roles than in protagonist roles. I will not read ableist-trope shit where disabled people are saints or demons. All this stuff is really really common.
My preferences for fiction (none of which are ALL true in a given book but the more it has, the more I like it):
- themes of non-human, non-humanoid sentience, especially plant, fungi, and microbe sentience.
- characters who vary widely in appearance, ways of thinking, emotive patterns, and cultural norms.
- unique worldbuilding that gives me new ways to imagine.
- characters who connect to each other in an unusual way.
- resistance to an oppressive regime (with enough magic/revenge/joy to balance it out).
- magic, if it is a unique system or a system that feels similar to how I experience it.
- extended metaphor and/or satire.
- characters who grow noticeably.
- any gender concept that is not some variant of binary ruler/ruled.
- retold fairy tales & myths, especially if they're sinister and gritty.
- not fat-phobic and doesn't reinforce ableist ideas about cognition or mental illness etc (sadly this one is a preference because some of my favorite writers who fulfill almost all my other criteria fail this one, but at least they do it rarely enough that I can just scribble out the lines on those pages).
As for non-fiction, I am unlikely to read anything about spiritual practice written by a white person, and decidedly will not read it if the practice they're discussing belongs to a non-white culture or was stolen from multiple cultures. We committed so much spiritual genocide (on top of physical genocide) that I think we need to spend at least 12 generations doing nothing but learning, and frankly most white people package up colonialist capitalist attitudes in shiny new phrases and sell them to make a shitton of money. I will not contribute to that and I don't want any of that shit in my head. Further, in any kind of book that gives advice no matter what the topic, it better fucking be concrete actions you can take without needing money, or it's useless. The author better have actually followed the advice and benefited from it.
Non-fiction that claims to be fact is held to my highest standard. I don't check the author status here, I check the references. In science books, I want a FAT section of references and every single one better fucking have decent experimental design. Don't understand statistics? don't write a book about science, because you can't tell a good study from a bad one and your opinion is not reliable enough for other people to approach it as fact. If you're writing about social science and you reference structural functionalism in any way other than as a debunked and ridiculous attempt by defaults to justify and maintain power, you're a fuckin quack.
Preferences for non-fiction:
- in autobiographies, I want to know how things felt and how the author solved problems. I want to feel like I am reading a journal, and like I am vicariously experiencing things I can learn from and apply to my own life.
- in dense matter, I want short chapters with visual space to help me take my time.