We have another open ended topic this week! Since the topic of diversity and cultural representation in books and literature is picking up steam right now, we decided to highlight some of our favorite diverse reads. The diversity umbrella can encompass a wide scope of culture, such as sexual orientation, race, and even different points of view from the narrator and/or author. Today, Bekka and I are sharing our top diverse novels.
1. Little Peach by Peggy Kern
I recently read Little Peach and it blew me away. This book is extremely important and takes a look at heavy-hitting issues a lot of us would rather ignore, like extreme poverty, drug addiction, and sex trafficking. It’s not an easy read, but a heroine like Michelle deserves to be heard.
2. Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Add Not Otherwise Specified to your TBR list immediately! Etta is a bisexual black ballerina recovering from an eating disorder in the middle of very, very white Nebraska. This book is just so honest and raw and authentic – Etta’s voice just screams at you. She is so many things at once and this book takes a good hard look at that in between identity of being bisexual and also what it’s like to navigate the world as a young black woman.
3. Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
If you’re looking for a fantasy with sexual diversity, this is the series for you. The main character is a bisexual girl, she is in a relationship with a trans boy and their two best friends are an interracial gay couple. Of course their identities mean a lot to them, and they guide the story, but it doesn’t feel heavy handed – it feels perfectly balanced, like of course these people are real and these fantastical things are happening to them.
4. The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgordoff
Set in China, The Undertaking of Lily Chen takes on lore than I had never heard of before. I think it’s incredibly important to open our worlds to other cultures – in a respectful, thoughtful way – and if you’re looking for tales you haven’t experienced, this graphic novel is the place to start. It also helps that the art is just beautiful.
5. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series – big surprise, I know. I fully believe that there is something for everyone in these books and between the five heroines (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Levana, and the forthcoming Winter) each reader should be able to see themselves reflected in these characters. The settings, the characters, the cultures are all diverse and a joy to learn and witness through the pages. The feeling of the whole series is very cinematic and you owe it to yourself to give these books a chance if you haven’t already.
1. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Not only is the book focused on the black community during the civil rights movement, but the gay relationship also makes this a wonderfully diverse novel. On top of that, I LOVE the story, and the voices of the two characters sets this book apart as not only a wonderful historical piece, but an overall glorious story.
2. The Change series by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
Imagine a story that brings together race, sexual orientation and culture in a mash-up while tackling a new point of diversity of humanity. The Change series approaches the topic of diversity by illustrating acceptance of current hot topics, such as same sex relationships, race and family as the norm. However, there is a new form of cultural clashing in the book, which makes readers approach the topic from a new angle.
3. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
The biggest factor for placing this book on the list is the realistic obstacles faced by a girl living with Muslim radicals. The author steers away from demonizing an entire religion, yet does not shy away from the horrible events happening at the moment in some Taliban-controlled countries. The author is not apologetic and does not set out to make a political point. She is inviting readers to step into the world that is controlled by a radical cell of people.
4. Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
I never thought the Phantom of the Opera would work in an Asian-culture setting, but the two subjects blend beautifully together. My favorite part of this novel stems from the author’s choice to delve into the fantasy Asian culture while staying far away from some of the more boring tropes that one would find in Asian fantasy. The cultural struggle between the two people in Fine’s book also mirrors many real events in our own world.
5. Nation by Terry Pratchett
Leave it to Pratchett to write a beautiful and touching story about a European/Savage meeting. While the cliche has been repeated many times, this story illustrates wonderfully the nature of “society” while giving a fair balance to some of the best parts of the two worlds.
Do you have your own list of books with diversity? Do you have another idea on topics and the people in such novels? Leave a comment below!