Variety is The Spice of Life.
A highly caffeinated look at diversity in literature.
In my life as a book lover, I have never put boundaries on what I read. Whether it be a genre, background of the author, culture represented in the book, fiction, or non-fiction, I never limit myself. I mean…why? Why should I try to put myself in a box when there are so many stories I could learn or worlds I can enter. Books have always been my way in hearing a voice I can immediately identify with, but also experiencing one so different from my own.
This is why it pains me that the publishing industry is still not as diverse as it could be. Don’t get me wrong, there are far more authors of different backgrounds, religions, sexual preferences, sizes, and genders than ever before. However, is it enough? There are so many of the same stories being released over and over again. How is this entertaining? It is not for those of us who want to connect with the characters we meet and truly be transformed at the end of a tale. We live in a world where there are so many people, places, and cultures to be inspired by. The experiences and views of those who are not publishing’s norm make a story richer.
Recently, I started to actively seek out books which address circumstances far different from my own. Yes. I am a 36 year old slightly thin (though I still have jiggly bits as Bridget Jones would put it) white girl from the suburbs who reads books dealing with racial divide, body positivity, civil rights, and feminism.
I seek to push past my privilege and begin to understand different perspectives. By doing so, I have found that I gravitate to many books by women or stories with more complicated female characters. They can be powerhouses or deeply flawed. It doesn’t matter. Actually, I prefer the characters who don’t have it all figured out and make mistakes. Seriously…who among us is perfect? Sure as shit, not me.
It is so amazing to see how authors are bringing vivid and unique voices to the world. Fiction or non-fiction, I will always include one book about something I have not experienced or no little about in my monthly reading list. It has been my challenge over the past year or so. Truthfully, I am happy I am doing it. This simple act has made me much more aware of my own privilege as well as start to understand what others go through.
Now, before I get blasted and twitter shamed, I am not saying I will ever fully comprehend the experience of a black woman (or man) or what a Muslim may have to go through just to practice their religion or the daily struggles a transgender individual may face. What I am saying is I want to be better informed and as a result of this be less judgmental about those who are not like me. I want to read more and have more availability of stories about all walks of life. The more diverse the authors and writing, the better the stories can be.
Here is the thing about change. It doesn’t happen over night. However, when we can start to understand that each of us is unique and our differences are not scary, this is when change will happen. Don’t let preconceived notions of a culture or religion stop you from expanding your knowledge. Fiction can be one of the best ways to step outside of your normal.
I have compiled a mini list of some of the more diverse books which have crossed my desk lately.
To suggest more diverse books in fiction or non-fiction, comment on this post.
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