[LET’S CHAT] The Dilemma Of Reading Diverse Books As A Diverse Reader

Spoiler alert: I am not white.

I can’t really tell if it’s a surprise that I’m not, since I have pictures of me on my blog, but I’m not. And I thought that since there’s been such a huge move in #ownvoices and listening to minorities and teenagers, that I thought I’d talk about something more personal that bothers me a little: the fact that it seems like because I’m a minority, I have some sort of job to be the paragon of diversity.
So, let’s talk about it, I guess.

Sometimes, I feel guilty for the fact that I don’t dedicate my life to reading diverse books and have zero need to inflate a book’s rating because there’s diversity in it. Now more than ever, it feels like since I’m not only a minority, but also a teenage book blogger, that my voice needs to be elevated and that I must now be some sort of example for minorities being represented in books. That I now am able to be the one who can say a book has good rep or bad rep.

And I really, really hate it.

I mean, shouldn’t I care about representation in books? Have I not been asking for stories that feature protagonists like me? Didn’t I rave over The Hate U Give, and shouldn’t I demand more books like it? Do I have some sort of job as a minority to care about all these things? I HAVE NO IDEA.

I totally understand why people want to elevate my voice and voices like my own. YA is mainly written for young adults, and we’ve been pushing for diversity in books for years, and we don’t just want diverse books, we want diverse books that are written well, that have good representation, and make people feel like they’re not alone, which is completely and totally valid. So, obviously, we’re going to look to minorities and teenagers to make sure that those messages are getting across correctly.

As a black girl, I feel like I’m obligated to care.

I feel like I’m obligated to read all the diverse books out there. I feel like I’m obligated to read books featuring black main characters just because I’m black, and shouldn’t that be what I want from the publishing industry? I feel obligated to constantly be on the outlook for problematic content, and call it out when needed.  And I feel guilty sometimes when I realize I’d rather read or promote books with white protagonists or protagonists that are nothing like me.
A snapshot of my life: I live in North Carolina, which is in the south, but not the SOUTH south. I go to a private school where pretty much every single student is white, and only a handful are black. All my best friends are white, and I don’t talk to the black kids at all. My family and I are pretty much middle class, and I’ve never had any sort of “huge discussion” with my parents because of our race. I have never experienced overt racism. Ignorance from white people (which is to be expected), but nothing that’s been said to my face to make me feel lesser than. In short, I notice that I’m different than the majority of people around me, but I have never been in the mindset of feeling different because I’m black.

I think I’ve realized that, personally, representation has never mattered to me.

I know that it can definitely be helpful to other bookworms, especially since we all have different experiences, but it’s never been that way for me. I remember my mom always wanting me to have black people to aspire to when I was younger. Trying to push me to read more books with black main characters when I was younger, trying to get me to befriend the new black girls at my school when they arrived, wanting me to look up to successful black women such as Shonda Rhimes and Viola Davis when I (briefly) wanted to work in the entertainment industry. And I just never got it, and I think I’ve realized that it’s just because I’m lucky. I have never personally felt that I couldn’t do something because of my skin color or that I can’t be successful. I’ve just never put those types of limits on myself, and I have no reason to WANT to put those limits on myself. I’ve always just relied on me, especially since I’m a very introverted person, and I don’t think I can’t do something.
And I think that attitude just bleeds into my reading life as well. For me, reading is a hobby that I love that helps me de-stress. Blogging is a hobby that I do for fun that I hope is helping me for my future of wanting to work in the publishing industry. And being constantly bombarded with negativity and what’s problematic and what’s not and being told OVER AND OVER again to read diverse books I have zero interest in is not something I want to involve myself in, nor do I need that added stress and negativity in my life.

And that bothers me a little.

Because I sometimes get nervous wanting to make discussions that aren’t on the popular side regarding diverse and problematic books (but I’m going to anyway). Or just saying that a large majority of diverse books just don’t interest me. Or when I say I straight-up hated a diverse book without beating around the bush (like the ones pictured above that disappointed me). Not only because of the reaction, but just for the fact that I feel like it’s my job to be the opposite of all of those things AND MORE, and it’s some sort of betrayal that I’m not championing for diversity every five seconds as a diverse reader myself.
I guess there can’t really be a conclusion to this since it’s still an issue that I’m working through, but I did want to end this post with some recommendations of underrated, already released diverse books and some 2018 diverse releases that I’m very much looking forward to so this post doesn’t seem all Negative Nelly!

  • Evenfall by Santino Hassel & Ais // The obviously much-better hate to love, slow-burn romance between two guys where one is violent and angry, and one is…less violent and angry, but still violent and angry, with a little bit of sass set in a dystopian world. So basically Illegal Contact, except a ship I actually care about. Don’t knock me for still not having read the damn sequels.
  • Tattoo Atlas by Tim Floreen // A smart YA sci-fi novel that asks if a bad person can truly change via science and if it’s necessarily right to do so with a gay boy at the helm of it. I literally haven’t said a word of this novel on my blog, but it is freaking amazing and begging to be read.
  • Boy Robot by Simon Curtis // An action-packed, emotional sci-fi novel brimming with a cast of wonderful diverse characters and beautiful stories and all the feelings and a cliffhanger to boot because SIMON CURTIS HATES ME. This book isn’t talked about enough, and it demands to be.
  • At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson // A fantastic mix of sci-fi and contemporary with authentic teen voices and a fantastic cast of characters and a heart-breaking ending. I think I’m still recovering from this book, to be honest.
  • Release by Patrick Ness // A contemporary novel where a gay boy who has grown up in a conservative Christian family goes through a pretty rough day. The book is so honest! The friendships are so great! The way sex is handled in this book is what I’ve been waiting for my entire life! Please read this book when it comes out!
  • Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra // The book that got me obsessed with cutthroat ballerinas! Deals with a lot of race and gender and mental health issues in ballet, and the duology is completed, so you don’t have to suffer through the cliffhanger like I did! NO EXCUSES.
  • Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody // A fantastic dark fantasy with a mix of a murder mystery with great world-building and one of the best premises of ever. I know this just came out, but I don’t think it’s getting the attention it deserves!

  • Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh // Necromancers! Zombies! Fantasy! An inclusive world with zero discrimination! Great reviews! I want this book now, please! 
  • Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed // A contemporary novel tackling Islamophobia! This looks like it’s going to be amazing, and I’m totally digging that cover. 
  • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton // I HAVE AN ARC OF THIS AND I CANNOT WAIT TO READ IT! A fantasy world where only certain people get the coveted spot of being a Belle and the idea of working from the inside? I’m loving it.
  • The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson // I need all the Shaun David Hutchinson I can get. Also, another weird mix of sci-fi with a bit of Christian inspiration. I WANT. 
  • Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston // Space? An M/M ship? Fugitives? Heists? I AM SOLD.
  • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland // Zombies! Conspiracies! Missing families! Alternate history! Badass girls! THAT COVER! I am desperate for this book.
  • Lizzie by Dawn Ius // The Lizzie Borden case has begun to interest me ever since I watched the Buzzfeed Unsolved episode about it, and this one dips into the theory of Lizzie having an affair with the maid, and because her parents disapproved of it, she killed them so the two of them could be together. YES, PLEASE. 

For any diverse readers out there, do you feel the same way as I do (or am I just silly)? How do you view diversity and representation? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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81 thoughts on “[LET’S CHAT] The Dilemma Of Reading Diverse Books As A Diverse Reader

  1. You know what I’m kinda… on the edge about… it’s the fact that I, openly and honestly, don’t read a huge amount of diverse books. I’ll be honest I don’t… and it’s not because I don’t support that movement but rather because I’m more of a ‘like the synopsis.. like the cover… like the vibe… will pick up the book kinda person’. But I feel like if I said that more often (especially as a white girl from the UK may I add)… that I don’t really read many diverse books that I’d be… ‘attacked’ (might be too heavy… although it can still happen… but you hopefully get the gist). I feel like as soon as you ‘don’t read’ many diverse books you’re kinda seen as the bad guy… that’s the thing that bothers me most about this… I’m not someone who will go out and actively look for certain types of books (like diverse reads… but please don’t misunderstand… I do read them)… I just go by feeling and if I like the synopsis… but does that make me a bad person? I always share support (mainly through re tweets mind you) on my twitter for those minority communities but I don’t pick up every diverse book under the sun… and… I kinda feel like if I said it more often I’d be judged in a negative light… does that make sense?

    Either way it’s a topic that will always be talked about and I also feel like it’s a topic in which you say one thing that can be taken completely out of context… basically I stay primarily quite… not because I don’t support diversity but because I’m scared I’ll say something wrong or have something I say taken out of context…

    *sigh* it’s a… interesting topic… and frankly there will always be discussion and somewhat mixed opinions…

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, it doesn’t! You’re basically describing my situation, except you’re white! And I think that’s important! I’m a “pick up a book by the synopsis” girl as well, and a large majority of diverse books are contemporary, and I don’t like contemporary, so I feel bad when I say I’m not interested in that book, even if it gets ALL THE HYPE – because it just sounds boring to me, and I’m worried it’ll be misconstrued as “You’d rather read all these books about white people by white authors! How dare you!” when it’s not like that at all!

      And that makes sense! Which is why I panicked about this post. And probably a lot more posts about diversity. But, oh well if it does, I guess? 😂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I get where you’re coming from!
    I’m also also a minority, but I grew up in a very diverse community where the minority was actually the majority. So, I’ve always cared about representation. That being said though, I do feel pressured sometimes to pick up books just because they’re “diverse”. I get how people think it’s important that we go out of our way to read these books, but it totally defeats the purpose of my hobby if I’m forcing myself to pick up a book that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
    You should totally continue to make posts about your unpopular opinions regarding diverse or problematic books. It’s nice to hear different perspectives. After all, that’s what blogging is all about, right? 😊 Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, you’re the second person to say that! I do find that interesting, because I know there are minorities who have lived their entire lives surrounded by minorities, and then there’s people like me who really haven’t, and other minorities who have lived in mixed communities! And I agree! I’m glad that they’re are people out there who take it seriously, but reading is a hobby for me, and it ruins the hobby when I have to turn it into something big, I guess?

      Aw, thank you; I think I will??? Even though it still terrifies me and I’ll one day get a million angry comments, but this actually wasn’t so bad? And I want to hear other people’s thoughts, so we shall see! 😄 Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it is really brave of you to openly discuss your feelings about this because you’re more likely to be attacked because of your opinions than not. Yes, I think diversity is extremely important but I really believe in the “dream” that racism, bigotry, homophobia etc…will no longer be an issue when society stops labeling everything under the umbrella of “diversity”. By doing this we are still segregating. Can’t we all just be people, equal as human beings regardless of everything else? In terms of reading choices, I think you’re just reading what you like because you like it. You’re not following characters because of any cultural or physical characteristic. They’re just the characters in a book you like. Undoubtedly flawed because they’re humans but still “just people” in a book.

    That’s my 2 cents for whatever it’s worth. For the record, I’m a white woman married to a Mexican man. We are both very liberal and are raising our kids to be the same though we encourage them to think for themselves. I’m no stranger to adversity either.

    Great discussion post!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Aw, thank you! I haven’t gotten any negative comments so far, and I was freaking out about this post for SO LONG – but it’s really nice to see everyone’s thoughts! 😄

      That’s a valid point! I think, for now, we still need to label diverse books as diverse just because we’re still facing bigotry and most minorities still really aren’t on the same playing field as he majority, not just in HUGE things, but even in the publishing world sometimes! I think that makes sense! I like to usually read books if the concept interests me, so diversity or not, if I’m not pulled in by the blurb, I can’t force myself to read it!

      Thank you! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I agree, we are definitely no where close to being able to stop educating people about diversity, that’s just my utopian fantasy 😉

        I do think that since this seems to be the “thing” right now, the industry is focusing on the marketing and financial gain instead of the quality of writing. Which is why so many of the most hyped books of the year were kind of meh. But it has to start somewhere suppose 🙄

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not black, but I am Asian so I feel you! In some ways. as in I feel people think that POC’s are these people who NEED to be represented and they DO! YES FOR REPRESENTATION but like…it’s nothing major.

    A recent example is An ember in the ashes new covers. First people were complaining about the cover change and then others were saying ‘Just look how happY POC are going to be seeing themselves on the cover’ and maybe TO SOME PEOPLE they get happy seeing themselves and i’m glad for that but I don’t really..care. I don’t really like people on covers and even it’s a POC, i’ll still prefer the other covers.

    Great discussion1 I really think you conveyed your thoughts well in this one

    Liked by 1 person

    • That makes sense! I mean, it’s easy to get that sort of vibe since nine times out of ten, we usually look to the loudest voices in a minority group, and then immediately say, “This represents ALL of them,” so if they’re saying that, we all assume it?

      I feel you! I really hate the new covers, and it sucks to say, but I feel like they’re more likely to be skipped over at a bookstore??? Not like I’m the expert or something! But I was frustrated that it seemed like it was wrong to say that the covers were not-so-great looking BECAUSE there was rep on the covers. I think both statements can coexist – plus I’ve seen books with POC on the cover that look STUNNING, so the design could have been carried out better!

      Thank you so much! 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am somewhat similar to you. I’m white Latina but I mostly grew up with the white side of my family, and so didn’t grow up with any of the culture that comes with my Latino side. I’ve never gone out of my way to read books with Latino characters, but sure if they were in the books I read it was great. I would probably never read a book just because there was a Latino character, though.
    Somehow I’ve taken a bit of a grudge with lgbt books, though. There are a ton books with male gay or bi but there are hardly any books about lesbians or bi women that are popular and well written. You can find a few if you search, but it always seems to be not quite what I’m looking for. I love that queer males are finally getting more mainstream media, but I can’t help but wish there were more for younger girls and women. In my opinion, it is much easier to find Latino characters than anything like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get that! I’m not really involved in “black culture,” which can make me feel weird at times, and makes me wonder if I’ll feel out of place once I go off to college and I’ll meet more black people. Does that even make sense??? 😂

      I think that’s definitely a valid concern and I’ve seen it brought up a lot! I’m definitely doing a discussion post about more diversity in diverse books (probably next month? This month I’d not next. 😝).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes it 100% makes sense! I live in a predominantly latinx neighborhood and I feel completely out of place. I don’t eat or cook the same food as everyone, I don’t speak spanish, I just don’t get a lot of things in general. But honestly when it comes to black, latinx, whatever there doesn’t have to be just one culture and one way of doing things. We all grow into ourselves in different ways and you’re definitely bound to find other people that feel the same as you! So I think you will do fine in college you shouldn’t have to worry about fitting in!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. well, i guess we all have our different experiences even as marginalized bloggers. i’m guessing you’re one of the few sort-of-privileged ones like me. so far, i haven’t experienced oppression in my end (and i’m hoping not to). i live in a multicultural country, after all, and we tend to be xenocentric especially when it comes to whites. i admit i still have a colonial mentality–i value books written by foreign authors more than i do with local ones. i totally get you on this. i felt like a traitor for not liking our own literature because it’s boring, slow-paced and has badly written characters. i admit to have never read a book with a single person of color or lgbtq+ rep in it (aside from token/side characters tho) before last year because i was always like “if the blurb sells, i’m sold”. besides, i can hardly find such titles in my local bookstore so purchasing diverse reads has always been difficult for me. and i don’t have much resources, might i add.

    additionally, 2017 has been a year of exploratory politics for me (what with all the trump drama over there) so i try my best to decolonize step-by-step. i start by reading more on movements like #weneeddiversebooks, #blacklivesmatter etc. over these past few months, i’ve made it a habit to read diversely and i found it really refreshing to learn about new cultures, feel the struggles of being gay or a person of color, see characters of color lead political upheavals and even donning armors and slaying kings in a world not modeled after medieval europe.

    honestly, i felt obligated to care, though. i don’t want to be white-mouthed anymore. i don’t want to be part of a white-mouthed-book-loving community that run the literary world. as someone belonging to a marginalized identity, i feel it is also my responsibility to join the movement and continue advocating for diverse reads + #ownvoices works. doing so gives purpose to my to-be hobby (because i haven’t started yet xD). i don’t want to simply book blog just for the heck of it. i want to support diverse reads + #ownvoices works because i know they’re out there somewhere. we haven’t been looking hard enough. i know that if the majority of my reads and fave authors are white, cis-het and able-bodied, i’m feeding the river that is drowning creators of color.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ok this got really long and my thoughts are all over the place what the heck im so sorry if it’s impossible to understand xD but thanks for bringing this up! i really appreciate your honesty =D and i’m thinking of creating a well-organized post in response to your thoughts (and possibly everybody else’s in the comments) soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true! I’m more privileged than other black people out there! Oh, so you don’t live in the US? I think it really depends on WHERE in the US you live – and even then, a place that is usually known as liberal or conservative can have places that are outliers (I live in a conservative-leaning state, and there are still diverse cities in different places around here). I think that makes sense! I know there are some places that don’t have as many resources for books IN GENERAL.

      Oh, yes, I live in the reign of Trump. 🙃 This is the first time I’ve really gotten involved with politics – I was too young for other elections, and this one seemed to be the one that was the most divisive one yet. I don’t think it changed my reading life much, since I was reading diverse books then, and I continue doing so now.

      That’s definitely true! I think it’s fantastic that people want to be a leader of the “We Need Diverse Books” movement, and I think it’s great that diverse books are being published (though I do think that to publishers, it IS sort of a trend and marketing strategy, but maybe a discussion for another day?).

      Liked by 1 person

      • nope 😄 i’m filipino and yes, i guess it depends on the community where you live in + your own upbringing by your parents. at my school, the kids don’t really care much about representation or diversity. we’re more on academics. on one prestigious university in our area, though, the students are encouraged in activism. but i think that’s really inspiring, you know, to have something to stand up for 😊.

        i’m guessing our local bookstores don’t distribute much diverse books mainly because they’re unheard of 😞 and nobody wants to buy them. most filipinos i know love imported stuff and are very hospitable to foreigners (especially whites) so i guess that’s why. it sucks tbh.

        i agree that diverse books have become sort of trendy these days after the movement’s inception. that can be a good thing and a bad thing too. but the thing is, there had always been plenty of diverse books before and/or are written by writers of color. they just can’t compete with top dogs like jk rowling, cassandra clare, sjm and more 😭 and the white mouths that run the literary world… i’d love to see what are your thoughts on that one too! and i plan on elaborating my stand on these issues as well (in my future posts, hopefully this month 😅).

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s true that we have been conditioned to like more books by white people – I know there’s been conversation about why all the classics we read are written by straight, white men when there are so many amazing books written by women that should be taught as modern classics (which I agree with; the same old classics get boring, and I’ve read more interesting books that deal with the exact same themes in modern day, and I hate how they’re just ignored???)! I know I love Rowling, Maas, and Clare’s books, and they’ve been in the industry a long time, so I know they’re going to do better than a debut novel no matter what, though I do know mostly about diverse books through hype, hype, and more hype by other bookworms than anything!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not black. I’m just your typical white girl, so I really can’t relate on the topic of diversity. Of course, I really try to make the books I write diverse, not only just racially, but with all manners of disabilities. But it’s scary. Especially as a white writer the diversity in my books will be put under a microscope so I guess I can SORT OF relate to the pressure you are talking about.

    All in all I would probably say that you are not obligated to do anything you don’t feel connected to. Read what you want. Rant about the books you like. What more does there need to be in a bookworm’s life?

    I can say, however, that as someone who went through a lot of abuse as a child, it is comforting to read about abused people who go through and get out of depression, and it does make me very upset to read books that represent these things in an unrealistic or unhealthy way. It’s not the same, but it’s a similar concept, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get that! I think there is a certain pressure to write diversity into books, and it’s terrifying, especially seeing what happens if you don’t or someone doesn’t like the way it’s written! 😅

      That makes sense! I know there was some book that came out called The Pearls or something where it was a world where white people were enslaved, and black people were the “superior race,” and it was written by a white author, and it was just a hot mess. 😬 I do know I’ve read reviews or seen things by other black people that say that “so and so” is harmful, and I’m just so confused because “How???” But that sounds like a totally different discussion lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh man something that really bugs me though is that racially diverse books are picked apart. You try to do something right, and then it gets thrown back into your face. And you happen to have an antagonist that is dark skinned and then you get skinned alive for it. Like if the bad guys aren’t all white it’s racist, or if you don’t have at least one racially diverse protagonist you’re a racist.

        It’s all so exaggerated and it’s hard to please everyone. Impossible, even!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful discussion post! I’m a very pro-diversity person and try to support diverse books & authors, but I always like seeing a slightly different perspective than the majority regarding diversity. I’ve definitely read my fair share of diverse books that everyone raved about, but didn’t find it particularly good at all. I think it’s important to speak out about diverse books, but also to stay true to your feelings and rating. I’m SO excited for Reign of the Fallen, Heart of Iron, and The Belles!! I’m hoping to snag at least some of those ARCs at YALLFest 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi!
    I’m white and don’t really belong to and diverse groups, and it was really interesting to read your post. I don’t read A LOT of books that are classed as really diverse, but have and have really enjoyed them. I’m pro-diversity, but sometimes a book that I like just lacks it? And tbh, I don’t really mind about the characters diversity, just as I wouldn’t care if the character was white like myself? Is that bad? For me it’s about the story that’s told.
    Obviously, if I read a book and it’s diverse, I’m really happy but I don’t go out of my way to read diverse books, and I feel like I should be because I’m not from a diverse community and feel like I’ll be judged for not reading enough diverse books?? it’s silly really, but it’s there.

    really interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey! I totally get that! I feel like there’s an innate “ally guilt” attached to reading diverse books, that I think we all experience – we want to be a good ally, so we should read these amazing diverse books, right? And if we don’t, we feel like we’re being a terrible ally.

      I don’t think that’s a bad thing! I’m happy when a diverse books is fantastic as well, but I know I have faves that are not diverse at all, and that stresses me out sometimes because shouldn’t I demand it ALL THE TIME? I think the only thing I’d be truly upset about is if some white person said diversity isn’t needed AT ALL – that’s a problem to me, and I think is clearly wrong.

      Thank you! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • YES, that’s exactly it.
        And yes, I agree, I think that diversity is mega important and is most definitely needed, but I still like/love books that don’t have much. (I feel like it’s “wrong” to say that?? gahh idek bc I don’t want to offend anyone!)

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m not a POC, but I feel you! It seems like it would be exhausting to feel like you have to champion books with a diverse cast of characters, even if you didn’t like them or just didn’t feel the need to like them.
    Some of these books look amazing, like The Belles, Heart of Iron.
    Fantastic discussion! It was great to hear from your perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is sometimes! It can get overwhelming, especially when people are like, “There is no excuse for not reading all the diverse books!” or sort of sneer at people when they rate a book low that’s diverse.

      Ah, I can’t wait to read The Belles! Heart of Iron looks amazing; I wasn’t interested in Geekerella because it was a contemporary, but this is more my style! 😍

      Thank you! 😘

      Like

  11. I like reading diverse books, but I don’t think you should feel forced to read them, and definitely not feel guilty if you read a book that isn’t diverse. Sometimes I do feel guilty that there are so many LGBTQ+ books I haven’t read, especially those with bi rep, but just because I’m bi, doesn’t mean I have to read them all. If the book sounds interesting AND has bi rep obviously I’ll want to read it, but I’m not going to read it just because it has bi rep. I don’t think anyone should put so much pressure on someone for reading diverse books and calling out problematic books. Just because someone happens to be a POC, member of the LGBTQ+ community, mentally ill etc. doesn’t mean they have some kind of responsibility and they definitely shouldn’t be pressured/made to feel guilty.
    Reading and blogging are things most of us do for fun, and if you don’t want to do those things, that’s completely okay!
    I really loved reading this post, I don’t think this is discussed a lot when it comes to diverse books, but it’s really important!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true! I feel bad if there’s a book out there with a POC main character, and I’m just not interested in it whatsoever, because shouldn’t I be??? Especially when it seems like publishers are hinging on sales of diverse books to keep publishing them and knowing people want them.

      Thank you so much, Michelle! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I think diversity should be portrayed more, because hell, it’s really important and everyone should be educated.
    I love reading diverse book, especially if they are own voices, because I feel they are really powerful, and they always get me emotional.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m glad you decided to post this, even if some people might disagree with things you’ve said. I don’t think you have an obligation to read ALL of the diverse books – just promote the ones that actually interest you! There are so many diverse books out there, in every genre, it’s not your job to love all of them.

    I’m bisexual, but I tend to stay away from most LGBT+ contemporaries, because in my past experience they make a big deal out of coming out and being gay or whatever and I get bored by that. I love when books feature diversity, but I don’t want sexuality to be the main focus. I do love picking up books by POC, but I think that’s because I’m white and I want to know where I stand, what white people are doing, and how POC feel about it. I want to learn from those books and know what I might be getting wrong. I don’t feel obliged to read gay fiction, because I can relate to the experiences (at least partly), and while I do enjoy seeing characters who are like me, they don’t teach me anything new. I will certainly not pick up an LGBT+ novel if the synopsis seems shit. I think I’m rambling a bit but I hope you get my point! Good post, in any case 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thank you! (Also, unrelated, but, I’M LOVING THAT PROFILE PIC. You’re so pretty! 😍). That’s true! I’ve found diverse books that I really liked in genres that I enjoy – and I hope it continues to branch out!

      That definitely makes sense! I think it’s a very good point what you said – that because you ARE bisexual, reading coming out stories can get boring. Like, I loved THUG, but if EVERY book with a black main character in it was like it, I’d get tired of it, mainly because I KNOW the things being talked about, and when situations that are particular to certain minority groups are dissected, it’s mainly to teach the reader something. I’m not a part of the LGBT+ community, so there are times where I read a book with that type of representation and learn that something I’ve been doing is ignorant, while I’m sure people part of that community are like, “Meh,” and would rather read a book where sexual orientation isn’t that big of a deal. NOW I AM RAMBLING. 😂

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      • Omg you’re making me blush! Thank you!! ❤ You’re very pretty too!!!
        Yes exactly, that’s what I was trying to say! I’m glad you get it! 😀 Reading about things you already know really well can be fun but it can also get really boring and repetitive.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. This is such a big and complex topic. We can alla discuss for hours and still having new things to say.

    Personally talking, I think that since people aren’t monolith, it’s normal to have different approach to diversity in books, even if they’re POC. People have different experiences and life too.

    I get you a bit about some feelings, even if on a different level. I’m ace, but I don’t feel the need to see ace represntation, even if I get its importance, even if I like to see ace characters and I hope to see more books with them. Yet, I can go on with my read.

    Also, people tend to think that diversity is just like on a level only. There’s what is rigth and what is wrong, while things are more and more difficults.
    Your dialogue about being bombarded and how it impacts your life in general and being a reader is also really important and I totally get you. Being aware is importante but there’re different way to spread the awereness. Or at least I think so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s definitely true! I think different experiences chalk up to different wants – I definitely don’t assume that people of any other minority ALL share the same experiences and want the same things, because that’s ridiculous and sort of buys into a whole thing where I only think of a person and define them as their identity, even when they’re more than that.

      Oh, that’s so interesting! I think ace characters are WAY less represented than black main characters, so it’s really interesting to hear that! I think you articulated my thoughts better than I could: it’s important, and I hope to see more black MCs, but I guess it just doesn’t matter as much to me as it does to others.

      That’s true! I think it’s a lot more complex, and we’re really on surface level – and I think there’s a huge divide as well and we act like there’s only two sides, when there’s really not? I’ve seen a range of opinions on diversity within minority groups, so it’s definitely not black and white.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Here’s some food for thought from an elder: Weave books from different perspectives into your reading. Myopic readers are a no-go. If you constantly read from a perspective that’s not yours, you miss out. Representation does, in fact, matter. You should want to see yourself on the page or screen.

    If you’re reading from one constant voice and perspective, you miss the richness in the world. You really do. Open your world.

    I think, as a teenager, you see the world one way, and as you grow, you’ll see how things aren’t so neat and understanding. We’re not a monolith, but we have more in common than our differences. You want to enjoy a rich life. Staying in one comfortable lane won’t enhance (e.g. reading the same stories repeatedly), but will hinder you.

    Be a gatekeeper of your voice, even if you think it doesn’t matter. You’re not obligated to read diverse stories. But, you should read diverse stories, once in a while, as you might see yourself in them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But I think that’s the point of my post: this idea that I’m being told that I SHOULD want/do something. Which I’m not. Do I like representation? Of course. But I do I have a burning desire to see myself like others do? Not really. And if there’s something wrong with that, then I guess I’m really weird. 🤷🏾‍♀️

      And that’s the thing. I DO read diverse books – all the time. I literally recommended some that I loved in my post. I have lots on my TBR. I’ve read some and really hated them. And that’s my point: that there’s some assumption that if I’m not a champion for diversity, that I must be some terrible person who only reads classics by white guys and thinks that books shouldn’t be diverse. There’s a gray area, and I guess I’m in it – but to say that I’m only reading from one perspective is wrong, or I wouldn’t have recommended the books I had.

      Like

  16. Huh, this is a very interesting take, Mikaela! I’m a diverse reader — I’m Asian (and questioning). I think that it’s important to see minorities represented in books, of course, but like you, I don’t feel obligated to read diverse books and offer my thoughts on whether it’s “god or bad rep”. For one, even if you’re in the same minority, you’ll have different experiences, so you’ll never be able to say if it’s ALL AROUND good or bad rep — it will always be that way for YOU.

    But I do like to read diverse books?? I really think people need to see themselves represented in books, and I really don’t believe that an all white, straight, cis, Christian, etc. cast is, how do I say this, ~preferable~. (Unless the other alternative is forced diversity or wrong/problematic rep.) I do think it’s crazy that only diverse readers are called on to give their opinions of whether the rep is good or bad — other, not diverse readers can do this as well!

    Great discussion, Mikaela! Don’t hate on yourself, okay? 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yeah, that’s a topic I want to talk about next month (I think that’s when I have it slated for lol), because I think that’s interesting – I’ve seen black people say something is offensive and I’m like, “What????” because I literally don’t see anything offensive about it, and then I wonder if I should have?

      Yeah, I don’t like that! I feel like it’s mainly because I guess we’re supposed to be “experts” or something, but I am certainly not. Like, at all! 😂 I actually don’t agree with the fact that “Christian is the majority,” though, not in real life, but mainly in media, because most main characters are atheists/agnostic, and I can name only two books that had Christian characters that really mirror my experiences and thoughts as a Christian, while any other representation is either demonization or over exaggeration (but I feel like that’s a topic for another day; that was too many thoughts lol).

      Thank you! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hello from another North Carolina blogger! 😀

    I am not personally a part of any minority, so I don’t feel like I have the ability to really speak on this subject. However, I feel like I can see what you’re saying and understand how you are feeling about this. Reading is an escape for so many people and when we feel pressure to put focus on only one kind of book, it ceases to be an escape. It becomes a chore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, really? That’s so awesome; I never thought thought there was another one out there! 😄

      That’s true! I’m glad people have dedicated time and energy into making sure diverse books are published and good rep, but I just have way too much going on, and books are just fun for me!

      Like

  18. I am just so wowed! by this post, and thank you for sharing your very honest thoughts. There was recently an article featuring an #OwnVoices authors, where she expressed her frustration with everyone expecting her to write books featuring characters that share her personal background. So, I think the pressure to promote/write books featuring your ethnicity/sexual orientation/etc is out there. My daughter is biracial, and when I asked her about this very thing, she admitted she does not seek diverse books. As a former teacher, I appreciate that there are diverse books out there, because there are readers who that book could prove very important, but I don’t think one should feel like they have to read a book just because it is diverse, like they have to meet some sort of quota. You brought up a very important point – the representation needs to good. I grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn (a largely Caribbean neighborhood) and now reside in a area that is almost 50% South Asian, so I have diversity all around me, but some people don’t. That book may be their only way to learn about someone with a different religion, different sexual orientation, different ethnic background, or having a disability. Therefore, the publishers and authors have a huge responsibility to make sure it is done properly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much! ❤️ That’s so true! I know there are authors who hate it when they’re asked to write books with their representation just because that’s what they are – I mean, when I wrote my own stories (or, at least, when I used to), only a couple of my MCs looked like me – and the rest ranged from age and disability and race. Oh, that’s interesting; I’m so glad to hear there are other diverse readers out there who don’t actively seek out diverse books since it seems like EVERYONE is.

      That’s so true, and you brought up a great point: that might be someone’s only exposure to a different race or culture or sexual orientation, so it should be done right!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Well done for such a brave post! I get that this is quite a sensitive topic, but you handled it so well.

    I definitely agree with you in that I’d like to read more diverse books but I also try and remember that reading is meant to be a hobby, not something you do to fulfil a political agenda. If you enjoy books with black protagonists then that’s great, but I also think it’s good that you don’t feel pressured to read diverse books just so you can say you’ve “ticked them off the list” ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  20. You make so many incredibly important points in this post. I DO think diversity is important because I want all sorts of people to see themselves in books (and I think it helps us all to understand other points of view when we can put ourselves in the mind of a POC protagonist), BUT I agree with you that there shouldn’t be any particular pressure on you or anyone else to specifically read diversely. You shouldn’t have to feel bad if the book you loved has all white characters—stories are stories and diversity certainly isn’t the only factor that makes a story great—and you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re not doing your “job” if you’re not a champion for diversity.

    In some ways, I feel like the diversity discussion when it comes to literature (and especially YA literature) is a double-edged sword. Inevitably, many people just end up feeling guilty—whether it’s authors who try to represent POC characters accurately and respectfully and still manage to offend people, authors who don’t include POC main characters and are berated for it, POC readers who aren’t “POC enough” or don’t champion the cause, or non-POC readers who aren’t allowed to have opinions on diversity because we have no authority on the subject but are still expected to champion the cause as much as possible. (Reading that back, it sounds pretty bitter, and that’s not my intention—Like I said, I am a strong supporter of diverse books, but I just think that there are LOTS of ways to feel guilty about this subject. And, see, even just saying that makes me second-guess what kind of reaction I might get.)

    I think the important thing is that we all need to keep talking about it—and trying to see the world from each other’s points-of-view and see that there is no one life experience for a POC (or otherwise). Your experience might be very different than mine, but it also might be very different from the black person who lives in another city in the US—and that’s okay. The more we talk about it, the more we can learn to accept diversity in all its forms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that second paragraph brings up a lot of valid points! I think there’s a lot of guilt that basically surrounds diverse books, because if it sounds in any way that you’re not 100% for it, people can be a bit demonized??? And I don’t agree with that at all; I think diverse books are a very gray area, in my opinion! I think it’s completely valid to be annoyed at championing something they no one is explaining to you; I get the fact that minorities aren’t supposed to teach the majority things about their community, but I do feel like some things are just assumed, and if you don’t also assume them, then arguments start.

      That’s true! This is probably why I really hate it when someone of a certain minority gets a huge following – because then people NOT in that minority assume that everyone in that minority thinks that way just because they’re popular. And that’s beyond Book Twitter, that goes to just in general, I think!

      Like

  21. Diverse or not book is book and story is story! I don’t have any strong opinion on this. Definitely I’m against any kind of discrimination. People sometimes forgets what’s actually being human is. So I think as long as a book teaches readers to be at least ‘human’ that’s best book book in my eyes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. It’s awesome that you’re able to articulate how you feel as a diverse person. I am one too and a female. I think the whole point of the “movement” is to say that the industry doesn’t promote books written by minority authors as much as it does other authors. As a result – I think exactly what you say happens – you don’t come across many books written by authors of color that you’d like to read. Whereas there are so many other books out there to choose from that 1) it makes up the majority of your reading (and mine too) and 2) you become a bit disillusioned because the choices you come across don’t appeal to you much.

    I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction – so my choices for books written by #ownvoices seem even more limited and I really have to search for books written by authors of color. But I do it anyway – and even being conscious about it, it still doesn’t take up the majority of my reading. Hopefully you keep an open mind about it though – I mean reading books written by #ownvoices. Sometimes our parents try to teach us things when we’re younger – that we won’t realize how important it was until we’re older. That might just be one of those things (gosh I hope I don’t sound condescending there).

    Like

    • Hm, I don’t know! I have a lot of non-diverse books that I’m just not interested in reading, no matter how much they’re promoted – and I think diverse books get more online hype (and I guess publisher hype, since diversity is definitely a marketing trend from a publisher’s POV), so I do see them, I’m just not interested in the concept. Like, I have zero desire to read the To All The Boys I Loved Before trilogy…but I also don’t want to pick up a Kasie West book. And both of those authors/series are mighty popular, but they’re just not for me. I honestly think I reject and love diverse and non-diverse stories equally – I just wouldn’t say it’s my goal. I do read #ownvoices stories, though; I mentioned that in my post.

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  23. I’m like you: I read for enjoyment. If a book catches my eye, cool. If it doesn’t look like something I’ll enjoy, I move on. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. People read for different reasons, and there’s nothing that says you have to adopt a particular goal. I’m in it for good books, which may or may not be “diverse.” There’s nothing that says you have to love all diverse books or that you have like or identify with characters who happen to have the same skin color. Goodness knows there are loads of white characters I don’t identify with. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very true! We all have different reasons for reading books, and I think that’s awesome! I feel you on that! And I think a point I should have made in my original post was that I rarely relate to characters. It’s just not my thing. I’ve only related to three characters out of the hundreds of books I’ve read, so that says a lot. 😂

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  24. I can totally understand everything you are saying. I love reading books that have tons of diversity in them because they truly reflect reality, but I wouldn’t want to be pressured into reading something so that I can review it because I belong to the minority, etc., just as you said.

    I’m so happy that you acknowledged and shared all of these thoughts! I don’t think you’re being silly AT ALL. This is SUCH a valid opinion and so enriching.

    Diversity to me is the people that exist in the world. We’re diverse, we’re different, and we are also similar. What you are expressing shows that existing diversity, and it breaks yet another stereotypical posed to under-represented groups. Not all black people have experienced discrimination and not all black people want to read about themselves represented all the time for the sake of reviewing and saying if the rep is okay/accurate.
    You do you and you read the books you want. I loved your discussion! EXCELLENT post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think that’s important! Not all POC are monolith, so I find it silly that people will just immediately say that a group of minorities will want this or that. It’s like these weird extra expectations that minorities have to be perfect and to never make a mistake. 😝 Thank you! ❤️

      Like

  25. As a white teen, I feel like I can’t exactly relate to this post, but I wanted to comment because i feel like it probably took a lot of courage to write something contrary to the “popular narrative” on diverse twitter/ among diverse book bloggers.
    I never really thought about diverse books at all until this past year when I began following more (very passionate) people on Twitter, and now I also feel sort of bad when I pick the white book over the one with POC. I think it’s sort of a tough issue because you can’t rate a book highly/read it ONLY because it has a diverse cast, but you can’t only read nondiverse books either…
    I’m definetly going to be checking out some of the books on your list 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think it’s a very complex issue! I don’t feel like I have enough “material,” I guess you could say, to write a discussion about it, but I do hate that it either seems like you’re “hardcore diversity advocate that only reads diverse books” or “anti-SJW, anti-PC, anti-whatever.” I fit more in the middle??? Like, I love SJM books (which I’m sure the diverse bookish community would tear me apart for), but at the same time, I enjoy Adam Silvera and Shaun David Hutchinson and loved THUG, etc. People act like those things are exclusive, which doesn’t help. IT IS COMPLICATED. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m Chinese and personally?? I LOVE reading books with Chinese representation that I can relate to! Obviously not everyone who’s Chinese can have the same experiences, but personally I really love reading those in particular because I know the main character looks the same way that I look instead of everyone being white.

    However, I definitely can still relate to white characters! Just because you’re a different race doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re connected to the culture of your ethnicity- and even if you are, there can still be traits that you have and share with white characters or characters of other ethnicity.

    Honestly, I LOVE Sarah J Maas books, even though she’s “not diverse” and all of that. And I still enjoy Maggie Stiefvater. (Okay, I’ve only read one of MS’s books but I liked it!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome! I think I’ve just never had an extreme desire for it, though it definitely is nice to have a black main character! 😄 Yeah, overall, I’ve never been the type to connect to a character! I’ve read hundreds of books and I’ve only really identified with three or four characters. 😂

      Same, I love SJM! I guess there’s this perception that all of her readers are white and straight, etc., which of course there are, but I’m black and I love the books, so…Ah, you should read ALL THE STIEFVATER BOOKS. Never agree with the hate she gets either, to be honest.

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  27. Good discussion. Sometimes I feel like I can’t even SAY my opinion because I’m “not diverse enough”. Although I live in a country which never historically had any PoC (because, you know – we never enslaved anyone, and that’s a good thing, right? Except I’m not diverse enough cause I live in an all white country. Which is white cause we didn’t have slaves. Go figure, with this logic.) I definitely feel bad about this sometimes, because there’s another underlying problem – okay, I’m white, but why am I lumped with Americans? My culture has nothing to do with American culture, BUT I can’t say my opinions on things because I’m lumped with a culture that is literally one half a world away from me. GAH.

    So maybe I should also write a discussion about that. But we come back to the topic of “hot discussion topics”, and I probably won’t, cause I’ll probably be lynched for having an opinion, although I do not have anything to do with America. GAH #2.

    And the fact that you (as a black girl) feel obligated to care, and I (as a white girl who has nothing to do with American culturally ingrained racism) feel insecure about even having opinions, says that there is something quite possibly going awry with this whole diversity situation.

    (In the end, I guess, maybe I’m diverse too? Post-soviet? I hate it that I have to explain it to people though.)

    The funny thing as well – I’ve never been to America, and from the movies and all, I’ve always felt like, well, they treat black people like every other race. Buuuuut… After I started blogging, a whole ‘nother picture came up. So now I constantly keep wondering, what it’s like t be black in America? Is it that bad? Do the movies lie? What do I even believe, right? Glad to hear your experience is okay. But I guess America is pretty vast, and it’s probably different from region to region.

    I also agree with you that a lot of books are pushed JUST BECAUSE they have diversity. I’m glad you can say it – I couldn’t ever say it (return to GAH #2)

    Rant over! Loved this post.

    Like

  28. I completely agree. Diversity is important definitely and I’m glad we have representation where people need them but I don’t go actively search for it. I’m diverse but I didn’t grow up discriminated. I’m a white Hispanic and I grew up in a Hispanic based community. Do I appreciate it when there’s a main character who’s Hispanic? Yes because it’s nice to see myself represented. But I don’t search for it. I search for something that is good. There is a pressure to read “more diversely” meaning to forget about all the white authors and read more authors person of color which I understand the need of it but I don’t want to force myself. If I find one that I’m interested in, I will. I feel like these days the diversity feels like a checklist instead of actually just caring about the story and just having real people. I just want a book that has good characters and good plot because that’s what I read for. I won’t actively search for diverse books but if I find one, I’ll buy it if it interests me. I personally love contemporary but I understand it’s not everyone’s thing. But I am trying to be more delved into other genres.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! I feel so awkward because so many people’s reading resolutions has been to read diversely or track their diverse reading, but I just don’t care? I’ve never focused on reading diversely, and I’ve still managed to read lots of diverse books, some I enjoyed, some I didn’t. But it not going to force myself to read diverse books I don’t like or I’m not interested in. It’s not me. 😝

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do want to read more diverse authors because I know it’s important but I’m not going to force myself. I’ll read what I want to read XD

        Liked by 1 person

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