Top Ten Diverse Books

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This is going to be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday! Right in line with the We Need Diverse Books campaign, here is a list of my favourite books that celebrate diversity (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.).

It’s kind of sad how few books are truly diverse. When I was going through my books, I noticed that although a lot of books had diverse characters, many of them were fairly flat and seemed to be little more than tokens. I mean, it’s kind of like movies having the token female scientist and then thinking they’re sorted for diversity. Uhm, no. Not that this is at all a groundbreaking realisation, so moving on to the books:

1. Every Day/Another Day by David Levithan (minorities, disabilities, socioeconomic, neurotypical, EVERYTHING)

‘A’ occupies a series of diverse bodies in Every Day and offers some excellent insight into their lives. Another Day is the long-awaited companion novel – my review will be live at the end of the month.

Original Art by Adam Abernaty

Original Art by Adam Abernaty

2. Undertow by Michael Buckley (…you decide. Intergalactic?)

Okay, so this one might not strike you as “diverse” immediately but the way the Alpha are treated by humans reminds me SO MUCH of black vs white and school integration in the US during the 60s. It does not come across as a strained analogy to me, which is pretty important in a book with parallels to real life history..

3. The Mall Rats Series by Lily Herne (cultural/racial diversity, LGBTQ)

As if I haven’t touted this South African series enough. Seriously, if you’re writing South African fiction and your characters are not diverse then you’re doing it wrong (or you live behind very high walls). What makes this stand out for me was that it did not feel like there were “token” gay or black characters. The character makeup feels very natural – in fact, characters of colour outnumber white characters which is statistically accurate given the South African demographic.

4. The Lumikki Andersson Series by Salla Simmuka (LGBTQ)

It is only hinted at in the second book, but there is an element of pansexuality coming to the fore. It’s one of the reasons I want to read the third book, even though I wouldn’t really call this a “series” as we have come to know it. More a series of independent stories with the same protagonist.

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

Gotya! This book celebrates diversity by showing us a bland world without it. And although it is a very political book (I wrote a ranty review here and I much preferred the film) it does something for appreciation of diversity.

6. Coconut by Kopano Matlwa (cultural)

Sharing the stories of two very different black African girls in South Africa – one who embraces Westernised culture and sees only backwardness in her own; and one who is slowly beginning to ask potent questions about the value of her heritage.

coconut quote

7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (socioeconomic, phenotypes)

Apart from Park being half-Korean, Eleanor is not your typical heroine, and also comes from a very difficult background. Given the amount of kids living in broken homes, it’s important to be able to read their stories too.

Image by Hafsah from IceyBooks.

8. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (LGBTQ, minorities)

I don’t think this even needs introduction. It was such a gorgeous, gorgeous book.

9. Luna by Julie Anne Peters (LGBTQ)

This may have been the first proper LGBTQ book I read and it was really eye-opening for me.

10. Blubber by Judy Blume (phenotypes)

Was this the first “diverse” book I ever read? Maybe! I had never read a book before where the protagonist was anything but gorgeous and skinny. I think in encouraging diversity in terms of ability, gender, religion and race; we must also celebrate diversity of body and life-experiences.

15 thoughts on “Top Ten Diverse Books

  1. You wouldn’t want to miss Francesca Lia Block either. Her YA Weetzie Bat series was just the beginning of her long career and our happy reading.
    http://www.francescaliablock.com/books

    And, since you do read SciFi, be sure to pick up some Octavia Butler too. Her Xenogenesis series defines diverse.
    http://octaviabutler.org/publications/

    Oh, Ursula LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness explored gender and sexuality in an altogether new way…back in 1969.
    http://www.ursulakleguin.com/UKL_info.html

    Happy reading!

  2. Pingback: Writing Advice From Successful Authors: Lois Lowry | Dispensable Thoughts

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