This is my first time giving this meme a try as I felt like I would have a lot to say about this week’s topic: Diversity in Books.
What do you think is the meaning of diverse?
Here is the dictionary definition of diverse:
- showing a great deal of variety; very different.
- including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.
To me, diverse means stories outside of my own. I am white. A story about someone who is Black, or Middle Eastern, or Asian is going to be very different from my own knowledge of being brought up in the suburbs of New York City in a white, middle class family in a mostly white town. To me, diverse also means someone who identifies on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
Who do you think is qualified to write a diverse book?
Now, this is a tough one. If you are any race besides white, I think you are qualified to write about that race – to me, that’s an obvious one. I also believe this includes mixed races.
When we talk about LGBTQIA+, that one is more difficult – as we saw with Becky Albertalli, she wrote a book (Leah on the Offbeat) about a bisexual female character and was given hate for it, because she presents as a straight woman, married to a man. After publication of that book, she wrote an article and came out as bi. Should authors be forced to come out if they write a book with a non-straight main character? I think this experience was eye opening for me to see and think about.
Here’s the thing. Personally, if I am reading a LGBTQ book, I will prioritize books by authors who say they are LGBTQ over authors who are not. I want to read a book about gay characters by an author who is gay, or a trans book by an author who is trans. I value that life experience and know they are writing about something they know, even if its a fantasy story. No, we don’t know dragons in real life (sadly) but we do know queer people. They are real and they are valid and what they feel/think/say is valid. I want to read those authors stories.
Did I read Becky’s Leah on the Offbeat and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda before I knew she was bi? Yes, I did, because of the hype. So while I am going against what I said above, that was past me and current me is always learning. It’s a fine line when it comes to LGBTQ, and I’m not saying authors can’t write on that spectrum with research, but March 19, 2021 me says she will prioritize LGBTQ books by authors who identify as that.
How do you find diverse books to read?
I would like to thanks bookstagram and twitter for opening my eyes to SO many new books! I’ve been consciously reading diversely for a few years now, so authors like Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, and Jason Reynolds are my go to for stories about Black characters, and I will always listen to what they recommend.
Bookstagram really is my favorite place for recommendations, and while I am more of a Twitter fan than Instagram, theres no denying that pictures of a book in your face will make you remember and want to pick up that book.
And of course, I’d like to thank all the book bloggers who blog about books! It’s really word of mouth (digitally) that helps me learn about upcoming and new diverse books – and even older ones I might have missed.
What are some diverse topics/POVs that you specifically look for when you’re finding books and why?
Ever since the Black Lives Matter movement last spring, I have been actively reading Black books by Black authors, and listening to their stories. As I said, I am white. I will never truly understand the struggle of a Black person, but I feel like I can learn so much from books and hearing what Black people have to say.
Likewise, I’ve also made more of an effort to read LGBTQ books by LGBTQ authors. I’ve been prioritizing trans authors and trying to read more of their stories, as I honestly haven’t read many (if any) before 2020. I want to learn more and be a better human, and for me, reading is a way to learn.
How do you decide if a diverse topic/POV is done well?
If I have learned something and feel strongly about a topic after I finish reading it, in my opinion that was done well. If I want to learn more, or read more stories from that POV, it was done well. If I want to share it with everyone and shout from the rooftops – it was done well.
I don’t feel I’m in a place to judge diverse stories, but I can learn from and enjoy a different experience, and see what its like walking in someone elses shoes.
And even if I didn’t like the plot of a story – that doesn’t mean it’s not important. I’m still glad diverse books exist, even if I know the plot isn’t for me. One example of that is You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson. Reading the summary, I had a feeling that story wouldn’t vibe with me. I read it, and it was cute, but it wasn’t my thing. For Black queer girls, for girls who don’t fit in, for girls with anxiety, this is an important story and I’m glad its out there. I still think it was done well even if I didn’t love it.
Not every book is going to be for everyone, and that’s ok!