21 July 2015

Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters

This is a difficult theme for me from The Broke and the Bookish because I am embarrassed to say I’ve never truly considered the issue of diversity in books.

I recognise and support there is always a need for diversity in books, but it is simply a case of never really acknowledging it. As such, I was determined to find as many diverse books as I could, not racially diverse ones, but also those for LGBTQ and any others that recognise diversity. I learnt a lot with my googling and read up on We Need Diverse Books and what they do and I am now absolutely fascinated with the work been done so far. Whilst I initially considered diversity to be simply about race and better representation for LBGTQ characters, it is more than that. It’s basically about books being written about real people, be they of different races, gay, lesbian, disabled, whatever, just more books about real people, and that I can totally get behind happening.

Those I’ve Read:
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The Wrath & The Dawn is great because rather than whitewashing the story (always a risk with any retelling) the book is set in the middle east, or a world very similar to how the middle east was historically. Which makes sense since it’s a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights so you would expect it to be set in the Middle East and be influenced by Arabian culture. It was such a fantastic book and one of my favourites of the year so far, I would strongly recommend to anyone looking for a different read.

I Was Here is a book which looks at suicide and depression and how it is not spoken of and what can happen when that is the case. Foreman is a fantastic author, that is known and acknowledged, so it was obvious she was going to write well about a topic that has previously been pushed aside and ignored. It was fantastic for such a well known author to write about a topic that needs more recognition. Although now I feel we risk an oversaturation of such books being published as like all things, the YA genre oversaturates the market when one book finds popularity, I hate those stupid trends that happen, but I understand why. I want these things to be written about, but they need to be written about well otherwise it risks becoming some marketing gimmick, but that is a discussion for another day.

The Book of Broken Hearts is a book which features Hispanic characters you say! This was a fantastic book, I remember adoring the fact that it did separate out the different hispanic cultures and the differences between them, especially as it showed the diversity within Hispanic culture. It was a fantastic read and I would strongly recommend it, it is beautiful and emotional.

American Gods is a book which was going to be diverse as it is a book that features gods of all different religions, if there wasn’t diversity Gaiman would have been doing something wrong. It was such a good read, it made me want to research different Gods from different cultures because I didn’t realise how many different ones there were!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a book I had not even really considered as being diverse until writing this pose, that is probably stupid of me. The thing with me is, I've never really thought about the race of characters beyond it being a description for different characters. I knew Lara Jean was a Korean American with a white father struggling to keep Korean culture in her life following the death of her mother, but it didn’t click in my mind how this is significant. Han successfully incorporates various aspects of Korean culture within the book but does not make it exotic and play up to, it is more a statement of fact that Korean culture is included. It is a fantastic read I would recommend to any fan of contemporary.

And those on my TBR list:
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Written in the Stars is a book which features an arranged marriage, I mean arranged marriages are still a thing and this entire book sounds absolutely fascinating. Angsty it probably is, but that cover and the entire premise has fully enticed me. Arrange marriages are not exclusive to one race or culture, it is still prevalent in various countries so a book about a Pakistani American girl who is resigned to being able to live a life in America and has the freedom to choose everything but the man who she will marry is certainly an interesting concept, especially when she visits Pakistan and finds there her future husband has been chosen for her and she is trapped in a country she herself does not fully understand. I want to read this, the more I write about it the more I want to read.

Everything Leads to You is a book I’ve not read and I am seriously dying to pick it up, but this one is a lesbian love story and you just don’t get enough LBGTQ representation in the bookish world, at least not what in I’ve been reading anyway. I recognise that empty space in my reading shelf and plan to remedy it soon. This book is not about the struggle of coming out, or about someone just discovering their sexual preference,s this instead about a woman who knows herself and embraces her sexuality and that is so interesting to read about because it’s a side that I do not see enough of, so this is continuing to wait to be read in my TBR pile.

None of the Above, I’m going to be honest and say this is not one of the books on my TBR list, or it wasn’t until I started writing this post and actually read what this book was about properly! It is one book that springs to mind when it comes to bookish diversity because it broaches a topic I would never fully considered – the story of an intersex girl Kristin and her journey in accepting this fact and how it affects her identity. After reading more about the book I can’t help but want to read it for it’s utterly unique story.

Gabi, A Girl In Pieces is a book where I can’t remember where I first heard about it, I think someone posted a photo of the first page and the writing in that first paragraph clicked with me. I haven’t bought yet but I definitely will be and now I’ve read further into this book and discovered not only is it about Gabi, an Hispanic girl who is a ‘fat girl’ who enjoys eating, you also get the story of her pregnant friend Cindy and her gay friend Sebastian. It is just all round a fantastically diverse sounding book I will definitely be reading sometime soon.

The Curvy Girls Club is not a book I would categorise as being diverse, not until I read more into diversity. Now, looking at it with fresh eyes it is a book that looks at those many would classify as fat and obese and representing them in books. This is a book about women that are fed of being told they don’t fit the stereotype, their weight is not seen as healthy and most look down upon them as needing to eat better. But that is boring and it isn’t fun, why spend so much time trying to fit into a certain category when they can just be themselves? This one is on my Kindle waiting to be read.

What do you reckon, do books appear diverse enough? I would love to hear some recommendations to expand my reading collection, who knew there were so many different types of diversity to consider when it comes to reading?

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