Since I’ve started blogging I’ve read many blogs that are either dedicated or just touch upon the topic of diverse books. Being the first time I’ve encountered this term, I did a little research* about it and I want share my findings with you.
About diverse books …
Let’s start from making sure we have the same (or at least a similar) understanding about the meaning of the term diverse books. Naz from ReadDiverseBoosks defines diverse books as follows:
“[..] books that represent the variety of voices traditionally marginalized and underrepresented in the (Western) publishing industry”
A more specific definition is given in the mission statement of WeNeedDiverseBooks:
“We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction).”
From my personal point of view, the term diverse refers to stories that depict a different environment than the one you’re used to, get you out of your bubble and help you discover other cultures and experiences. For example, if you’re living in Europe, diverse books might refer to stories from Asia or Africa or Latin America, and the other way around. However, I consider diversity is not only enabled by geographic location, but also by other human features different from yours: sexuality, disabilities, religion, and others.
To give you a specific example, one book I’ve read that can be labelled as diverse is Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides. The novel tells the story of Cal Stephanides, an intersex person who has a genetic condition called 5-alpha-reductase-deficiency. Born as a girl, with many feminine traits, Callie finds out at puberty that she’s intersex and assumes the male identity she has been feeling long before in her heart and body. Apart from exploring gender identity and the challenges a hermaphrodite encounters, which I consider is the main theme of the book, the story also presents three generations of Cal’s family and their experiences as they moved from Greece to the USA. This bildungsroman is a diverse book from my point of view, as it presents experiences very different from mine and focuses on topics unfamiliar to me: gender identity, immigration, ethnic identity.
… and where to find them?
If you’re interested in finding a diverse book and you don’t know where to look for it, here’s a short and comprehensive list of online places you can start with. There are ideas of books on topics such as disabilities, mental health, religious diversity, sexuality and gender identity, folktales and mythologies, and many others:
- Reading list from the Diverse Reads Book Challenge
- List of websites with diverse books recommendations from WeNeedDiverseBooks
- Book recommendations from ReadDiverseBooks
- A huge list of lists from Writability
- If your are a youtube fan, this list of booktubers from list of booktubers from WonderlessReviews might be of interest
To conclude, I would like to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone when you choose the next book you want to read, and take advantage of the numerous opportunities that we have to discover the beauty of human beings’ diversity. As the famous saying by George RR Martin goes:
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
… let’s live not a thousand lives, but a thousand diverse lives!
I am looking forward to hearing your opinion about diverse books! Have you read any book that falls into this category? How did you feel about it?
‘Till next time, happy reading!