We need to talk about diverse books.
I’m seriously glad that’s not an out of place sentence on my blog — I do talk about diverse books a lot here and I so fiercely love championing and recommending and supporting them. You know I love #ownvoices authors and intersectional rep. You know if you dare begin the sentence “can you recommend me your favourite book–” I will be piling The Wicker King into your arms. When I write up new release blog posts, I softly laugh when I realise all the highlighted ones are queer.
But I could do better. I love what I’ve been doing, but there are still some big gaps in how I advocate for diverse and marginalised authors.
The world has been hurting for a long, long time, but it’s loud right now. Your newsfeeds and daily lives are likely flooded with it too (no matter your country) because people across the world are rising up to say enough to police brutality, systematic racism, and the murders of innocent BIPOC people. A lot of us don’t know what to say or do (I’m an anxious bookworm, I barely even leave my house and I’m not american?) but it’s not the time to be silent.
One thing I can do (well, all of we bookworms can) is take a look at our reading, our TBR piles, the books we feature on twitter and bookstagram, and do better with supporting Black authors. But also POC and disabled and neurodiverse and queer authors too. Not just stories about racism, but also Black authors writing their joy and magic and wonder too. Not just issue books, but disabled authors writing fantasy and fairy tales too. Not just romances, but queer authors writing adventures and thrillers too.
I thought it could be helpful to give some tips on how to keep the momentum alive of supporting marginalised authors! Even after the Black Lives Matter protests lessen and even when it’s not Pride month anymore. Even the smallest things can really help!
Publishing is not built to support marginalised authors. Let’s be real, when everyone talks about the “queens of YA”, what do we see? A list of white authors. Until marginalised authors get the same publicity and opportunities, we have to help lift them up too 🥺🙌🏻We have to make a conscious effort to diversify our TBR piles.
And seriously!! I could do better with this too. I get the bulk of my books sent to me from publishers or book boxes I work with and most of the time I’m not being piled with diverse titles. I do my best to buy diverse books… but afjdksald I wish I was rich (or just employed 😂) and could support everyone.
So look. We can’t do it all. But we can do something.
What Kind of Things Can We Do?
❤️ When you feature book stacks on social media or in photos, include diverse authors! Usually I go for colours when I’m doing a book stack, so sometimes it’s not intentional when I’ve got a pile of white or abled authors. But often times I’ve not gone the extra mile, you know? I’m working on this for me!! (Also when you’re doing rainbow book stacks for Pride, do seriously try to make sure there are queer authors on that stack. I know it’s not always easy if you don’t own the right books though. But we can be aware!)
🧡 Make a conscious effort to have your monthly TBR including diverse books. Even if you only read about 3 books a month, hey just make sure one of those books is by a diverse author! (Ex: we love Cassandra Clare to BITS and she writes fantastic diverse books. Buuut she isn’t a diverse author.) No one is saying you-can-only-read-diverse-authors-forever-more…but your world is so much smaller and bereft if you’re not taking in the world views of diverse authors. We change the world faster by supporting people who challenge the status quo.
💛 Recommend diverse books to other bookworms! Whenever I get a book rec request, I always say The Raven Cycle. It’s my heart favourite, okay!!! I am predictable and happy about it. But you know….I could expand that too. I could make sure I’m rattling off The Wicker King, Felix Ever After, Wicked Fox or Wild Beauty too. I love them! I just need to get into the habit of mentioning them.
💙 When I do book lists on my blog — add in diverse authors. It’s easy to go for the big famous books in hopes readers will recognise them and relate. But I can mix it up!? This also helps the underrated diverse books get seen. You want magical fantasy? Ok read Shadowhunters…and then A Song Below Water (sirens! gargoyles! mythology!) and then pick up Blanca & Roja (fairy tale retelling! shape shifting! siblings!).
💜 Be vigilant as we write reviews of marginalised books. Are we calling a Black book too unrelatable or too sad? Did we call a book with a queer lead too cliche? Did we call the neurodiverse character too unlikeable? It’s time to take a breath and think about this. Just because the narrative isn’t what you’re used to, doesn’t mean it necessarily needs that 3 star rating and “meh” review. NO ONE is saying you have to love every diverse book. Not all books are good, sure. But if you’re white/cis/straight/abled there is room to be careful how you diminish diverse books in reviews.
❤️ Buy diverse books. Lots of us can’t afford to buy a ton of books (I usually can get 3 per month and I feel RICH doing that 😂but I definitely couldn’t as a teen), but if you can afford to buy some…sometimes branch out and make sure you’re picking up something #ownvoices. Also pro tip: ask your library to buy books.
🧡 Review diverse ARCs when you get them! If you have the funds, consider passing them on to a smaller POC or queer blogger too. That’s not possible for everyone, but could be nice if you can afford it! And if you requested a diverse ARC? Prioritise it 🥰 This can help a diverse author who isn’t getting a push from their publisher so so much.
This isn’t saying you shouldn’t read your fave white authors. I have many, many I love. I adore a lot of books that might be diverse while the authors writing them aren’t. (Though to be real…so many of my favourites are by marginalised authors?! Diverse books are good books, my friend.) But we can do so much if we made an effort to diversify our shelves, our monthly reading, our buying (or librarying). It seriously improves your life too by the way. You know how powerful knowledge is? Books are just pockets of magic and knowledge and I love that about them.
Don’t burn yourself out by doing EVERYTHING all at ONCE. If we are here to be sturdy and strong allies, a good way to start is just by changing the everyday things in our bookish lives.
And hey, there. You’re doing a pretty good job loving books. 😚
talk to me about some diverse books you’ve loved this year!! (let’s try and talk about diverse or #ownvoices authors too!!) and which ones are coming up on your tbr pile?