Top Ten Diverse Books

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.


  1. I think your mention of Blubber brings up a good point- we need to expose kids to diversity in literature as well!

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Oh, absolutely 😀

  2. I am definitely going to look into getting COCONUT for my library. We have so few books about African culture. Thanks for this varied list. Anne’s Top Ten

    1. barefootmegz says:

      You can’t go wrong with Coconut!

  3. ChrissiReads says:

    Every Day is a great choice! I must check out the rest of the books on your list.

  4. Katrina says:

    Hooray, Aristotle & Dante!!! That made my list too, it’s an amazing book 🙂

    Check out my Top Ten Tuesday list!

    Also, please take the time to see what I posted last week!

    Katrina @ Chased By My Imagination

  5. Nish says:

    I really should get to Eleanor and Park someday. So many bloggers recommend it highly!

  6. readerbuzz says:

    Coconut sounds fascinating. Thank you. I love books that ask questions more than those that answer them.

    Here’s my Top Ten!

  7. 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.

    And, since you do read SciFi, be sure to pick up some Octavia Butler too. Her Xenogenesis series defines diverse.

    Oh, Ursula LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness explored gender and sexuality in an altogether new way…back in 1969.

    Happy reading!

  8. Sue Holmes says:

    I loved Every Day & Eleanor & Park. Yay for including a South African title 🙂
    My TTT

  9. harveylisam says:

    Oh man, it’s been so long since I read Blubber that I don’t even remember what it’s about. I’ll have to take a trip back in time and re-read.

  10. Ironically, I think your list includes more LGBTQ books than I’ve read! I’m definitely going to check out some of your suggestions.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I hope you’ll enjoy the ones you try 🙂 There are many others that I haven’t yet read, too.

  11. Rachel says:

    Great picks, and some new-to-me ones as well that I’ll have to look in to! R x

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