Hey guys! So if you are active on Twitter or Youtube you might have seen the big discussion about Diversity that has been going on for quite sometime now. It all more or less started with a girl posting a video on Youtube referring to Diversity as something unnecessary and something she does not want to see in (YA) books. As a result of this, the Booktube community and later on the Twitter community has been showing a great amount of passion when it comes to Diversity, literally everyone started pushing Diverse Books, Ownvoices Authors and Diverse Ideas. And even though some of the things that have been going on over there were not that amazing and good, the majority of threads and videos and tweets I saw were so inspiring and amazing! They really encouraged me to stop this silent about Diversity on my blog and finally get into writing about Diversity in books.
This is why the only challenge for 2017 I am participating in is the #DiverseReads2017 by Mishma and Shelly. This challenge is supposed to encourage you to read more books with diverse characters, topics or settings and to push OwnVoices Authors on your blog. There is no goal to be met but you should set your own goals and try to fulfill them as good as possible. Added to that this challenge is not only about reading more Diverse Books, but also to get in touch with other reads with the same aspiration and to write more about Diversity on your blog in order to show other people how important it is to include Diversity in the media.
But why is Diversity so important for me? Clearly, as a white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cis-gender and privileged woman it is very easy for me to connect with the characters in my books. Since my early childhood years each and every book I read was about white, heterosexual, able-bodied kids going on adventures and having the time of their lives. So I feel like I am not the right person to talk about the lack of seeing myself presented in books. Nevertheless it is an issue that really matters to me. First of all, I have a wonderful bisexual sister who, I am not gonna lie, had a very hard time coming to terms with her own sexuality. Added to that, she had to deal with major depression and anxiety. Those two things made the past few years quite hard for her, and even though I will probably never understand what it felt like to go through this, what I do know is that I would have helped her a lot to see characters like her in books, movies or TV shows. Characters who are NOT hetereosexual or characters who in fact have to deal with mental health problems, to show her that what she is experiencing and feeling is by no means wrong or unnatural. This is why I am so happy that Diversity really is becoming a thing, it makes me incredibly happy to see her watch TV shows like Supergirl or Wyonna Earb and really see herself represented in those characters. Secondly, I love that our world is a diverse place. I love that there are so many different languages and cultures and skin-colors and religions and ways to live your life, that our world is such a colorful and rich place. However, I do not see this wonderful, diverse world presented in books. There are not only white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cis-gender, privileged people in the world, so why only make characters with those descriptions your protagonist? Why not show that this beautiful world is diverse? Why not give children all around the world the impression that they matter and that they deserve to see themselves in fictional characters? Reading shaped me so much as a person, it was so important for me, and still is, to connect with fictional characters and to follow their stories and to learn something for my own life from it, and I find it so unfair that this privilege and this amazing experience should only be limited to white, heterosexual, cis-gender, able-bodied children/teens/adults. To cut a lot story short: Diversity matters to me because it is not something made up, but it is real and we can see it in our world and in our society and I do not see any reason why we should not include this in the books we read or the films we watch. Everyone matters and everyone deserves to be represented in books and I really hope that this challenge will help spreading awareness when it comes to Diversity and why it matters.
Okay, so that was quite a long statement, but to finally get into the books, let me show you my goal for this challenge plus a TBR I created the last couples of weeks, which I will not force on me but which will rather be a list of ideas of what to read. But hey, reading more or less all of them would be like my ultimate goal!
How many Diverse Books do I hope to read throughout the year? As I am probably setting my goodreads goal to 50 books this year, because of my graduation, so my goal is to read more diverse books than non-diverse books, so at least 26 books.
What books am I planning to read? I don't really want to force myself to read any particular books but I managed to created a list with over 50 books on goodreads featuring diverse aspects. Today I want to present you 36 books I would love to read throughout the year, however, if there are other books I feel like reading instead I am not gonna put too much pressure on myself. Nevertheless I set up the goal to fulfill the monthly challenges that this challenges offers.
Those are the books I am planning to read/would like to read this year for this challenge:
10 Things I can see from here by Carrie Mac A girl with anxiety falls in love with a girl who is afraid of nothing // Want by Cindy Pon Sci-Fic thriller set in a futuristic Taipei // Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charapotra and Dhonielle Clayton A black girl wants to become a professional ballerina and has to deal not only with the pressure of the stage but also with prejudices and racism // Beauty Queen by Libba Bray A bunch of beauty queens struggle to survive on a lonely island after a plane crash, featuring various characters from the LGBTQIA spectrum.
The Iron Cast by Destiny Soria mystery thriller about a black girl set in the Twenties in America // Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai A story set in Sri Lanka about a boy who is coming to terms with is homo-sexuality // When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Menon Rom-com about two Indian-American teenagers whose parents have arranged for them to be married // Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire Retelling of a Russian folklore
The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine Fantasy story with a f/f romance // Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter Magical Realism featuring aspects from Russian fairy tales // Serpentine by Cindy Pon Fantasy story featuring Chinese folklore set in China // The Bear and the Nightinglae by Katherine Arden Magical realism novel featuring aspects of Russian fairy tales and folklore
Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh Mulan retelling set in feudal Japan // If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan Coming-of-Age story about two girls falling in love in present day Iran // The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz Magical Realism featuring art and a f/f romance // Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke Contemporary novel about a girl dealing with anxiety and depressions
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde Contemporary novel about a bisexual characters set a Comic Con // Our own private universe by Robin Talley A girl going to Mexico on a mission trip and falling in love with another girl // Everything leads to you by Nina Lacour Homage to a live in Hollywood featuring a f/f romance // Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji A story set in Iran about forbidden love and political activism
American Street by Ibi Zoboi Magical Realism featuring Haitian immigrants and vodoo magic // Kindred by Octavia E. Butler A black girl time travels back to the times when slavery was legal in America // The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Contemporary novel about the Black Lives Matter movement // The Girl from Everywhere #2 The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig Second book in a series about time traveling pirates featuring a biracial main character and diverse sidekicks set in Hawaii
Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai Coming of Age story about a boy falling in love with his Canadian cousin set in Sri Lanka // Made you up by Francesca Zappia Story about a girl in College dealing with schizophrenia who falls in love with a boy that might not be real // As I Descended by Robin Talley Macbeth retelling featuring a f/f romance // The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli Coming-of-Age story featuring various characters from the LGBTQIA spectrum
Into White by Randi Pink Story about a black girl wishing to be white and getting that wish granted // History is all you left me by Adam Silvera Contemporary novel about a boy dealing with OCD who has recently lost his boyfriend // The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Gay romance taking place during the Troyan War // We are okay by Nina LaCour A contemporary novel dealing with grief and featuring a f/f romance
Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis A story about two girls falling in love in Iran and getting arrested for being gay, based on real events // The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi Fairy tale retelling based on Indian/South-East-Asian folklore // When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie Mclemore Magical Realism novel featuring characters from the LGBTQIA spectrum // Beast by Brie Spangle A Beauty And The Beast retelling featuring a transgender character
Other books I am very looking forward to picking up: Zahra the Windseeker, The Seafarer's Kiss, The Promise I will keep, Girls made of Glass and Snow, The Library of Fates, Beasts made of the night, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue...
Well...this was quite a lot to list, but I am literally so excited about all these books and really can't decide what to read first. If you know me, you might be surprised the I included to many Contemporary novels, as I am not that much of a Contemporary reader. However, I feel like diverse contemporary books have so much to offer and I would like to try whether it makes me like them a little bit more. Nevertheless I am so happy to have found so many Magical Realism and Fantasy novels with diverse aspects, as those remain to be my preferred genres.
So yeah, let's hope that this will be a great challenge for everyone who decides to take part in it. I hope to read as many diverse books as possible, participate in a lot of discussions and to make a contribution to diversity in the media, something that is so very important.
What do you think about the Diversity Challenge? Does Diversity matter to you? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?