Dig A Little Deeper To Find Diverse Books

Monday, January 30, 2017

Stop Recommending Bad "Diverse" Books

   The reason why I put exclamation marks around the word diverse is because I don't consider certain books I always see being recommended as diverse books. We constantly hear how they have bad representation or problematic but they're still constantly pushed as diverse. Why is that?

   Notice that they're also mostly written by white and straight authors writing outside their lane. Sorry not sorry if this offends you but I'm just tired of seeing certain books that have been called out on recommendation lists for meant for diverse books.

   I happen to love Cinder. It's okay to love problematic books but don't go praising them for their bad representation.

(I've linked the titles to reviews that go more in depth on each book and why their representation sucks.)

   First and foremost, listen to those readers that come from the same marginalization background. If you're going to read a book with a transgender main character, read a review coming from a transgender. If you're going to read a book with a Mexican-American, read a review coming from a Mexican-American (I'm you're girl ;).

   And yeah I know some of you will be rolling you're eyes and go ahead and say "fuck that shit, I'm just here to read for fun."

   Good for you but not everyone has the luxury of seeing themselves in every book they read. We should all be reading like if we were all librarians and needed list of recommendations for all kinds of representations.

   What if someone wanted books with a female bisexual main character? Or a black male? We would be failing our role as a librarian. Stride to make our reading inclusive. Otherwise we'll never see a growth of diverse books in bookstores, which is already hard to find.

Here's a scenario:

   We've got two books with a Mexican main character. One of the authors is white and the other is actually Mexican. Which book are you going to read and recommend? Which book do you think will have better representation of the culture? No amount of research will ever be perfect or will beat someone who actually identifies with the main character they're writing.

   I've seen readers say they don't care if the representation is good or not, they're just glad it's there. But if you were asked to choose a book that represents your culture, would you choose a book by an author with the same marginalization over another who isn't? Would you choose Cinder by Marissa Meyer over Stacey Lee's novels?

   Back when I started blogging, I read a book called Perfect Chemistry which I absolutely loved. But now that I think about it, it has the stereotype of Mexicans being in gangs and portrayed a Latina as the mean girl to the white protagonist. Who knows what else I'll find if I reread it.

   If someone is going to read a book about Mexican-Americans, I would prefer they pick up books by authors who are Mexican-Americans. I don't want a character that's the same ethnicity as me to be defined by stereotypes. That's why Own Voices was created.

   The hashtag #OwnVoices was started by Corinne Duyvis and it's basically books by marginalized authors writing about a main character with the same marginalization. For example, The Hate U Give is own voices because the main character is black like the author. Sorcerer To The Crown isn't because the author is writing about an african male and she isn't even though she's marginalized.

   It's actually quite easy to search an author and find out whether their book is Own Voices or not if you're willing to do the research. Search their website, Goodreads/Twitter bio, or ask people.

   I seriously needed to get that off my chest and it feels like a weight has been lifted off me. Ever since people have been more frequently talking about the importance of diversity, it's just made me open my eyes to how I haven't even been including myself in books when I read. And I want to see myself slaying a dragon!!

What are some of your favorite diverse books you've read or are looking forward to reading?

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