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Diversify Your Bookself

It’s no secret that the literary world is dominated by both white authors and white stories. One glance at the current New York Times bestseller list is evidence enough as to who the current face of fiction in the United States is. When you look back at history, it’s easy to see just how little has changed. Thankfully, what’s seen on the surface doesn’t reflect our current world, society, or culture. It certainly doesn’t reflect the diverse and complex communities I call home.

Recently, many of the online literary communities I consider myself a proud member of, have sprung up movements with the intent to expose fellow readers to different books and stories. To encourage others to read outside their given bubble or comfort zone. An initiative to diversify their bookshelves.

Exploring stories and experiences other than your own can help to widen one’s perspective, views, and empathy. Fiction is one of the most accessible and impactful mediums a person can utilize to better understand another’s world. Books are uniquely suited to place you in the shoes of a person or group that you normally wouldn’t have access to, if only you know where to look.

Once you’ve decided to take the first step and expose yourself to different perspectives, the only other thing you need to do is dive right in. The following list is provided to help you do just that.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Butler

At the age of 16, the Vignes twin sisters ran away from their southern black community. Over the years, they became estranged. One finds herself back in that same small town they’d once tried to escape while the other passes for white and lives on the other side of the country. In this historical fiction novel, African American writer Brit Butler explores the complications of one’s racial identity and how deeply our pasts influence our futures.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Yadirel’s traditional Latinx family have always had issues accepting his gender. So, when he accidentally summons a ghost, he’ll use that opportunity to prove himself as a brujo and a man. Author Aiden Thomas draws from his own experiences as a trans man in this young adult paranormal tale about acceptance, love, and finding your place in this world.

There There by Tommy Orange

There There follows various members of a prominent Native American community in Oakland, California as they prepare for the Big Oakland Powwow. Writer Tommy Orange’s wondrous and heartbreaking debut novel breaks down existing stereotypes about Native Americans and begs readers to come with an open mind and heart. Though not an easy read, it certainly is an important one in shining a light on voices that have too long been silenced.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

The year is 2025 and the world is quickly and violently descending into anarchy. Though most humans are in hiding, nomads, or dead, including her family, a young woman will plant the seeds for humanity’s salvation. Octavia E. Butler was an innovator in the genre of science fiction and her impacts echo throughout the field today. Anyone who’s interested in science fiction should read Butler’s work at least once.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Two opposing gangs have a tight grip over the streets of 1920s Shanghai, but when bodies start mysteriously piling up, they’ll find there’s something far deadlier lurking in the shadows. This diverse and depraved Romeo and Juliet retelling is sexy, shocking, and entrancing. Chinese-born, New Zealand Author Chloe Gong’s debut novel serves only as an indication of greatness to come.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

A mixed-race gay teen who’s always struggled with is identity begins to embrace his uniqueness in university when he discovers the art of Drag. This vibrant bildungsroman told entirely in verse is the brain-child of acclaimed poet and performer Dean Atta.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Upon receiving a cry for help from her newly-wed cousin who’s convinced her husband is trying to kill her, a young woman will head to a distant house in the Mexican countryside to investigate. True to its name, Mexican Gothic is a gothic horror novel by Mexican-Canadian novelist Silvia Moreno-Garcia. An isolated mansion, uncanny occurrences, and mystery await.

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Using the fantastical stories from his mother’s childhood in Vietnam, a young boy attempts to share a secret with his family that could potentially change everything. With stunning artwork that amazes with every page turn, this graphic novel is the perfect mix of fairy tales and the real world. Author and cartoonist Trung Le Nguyen leaves everything on the table in this poignant coming of age tale.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

After a drunken night in Vegas, high achiever Grace Porter wakes up with a wife whose name she doesn’t know and a life in shambles. From the very first page it’s easy to see how deeply debut novelist Morgan Rogers cares for her characters in this truly refreshing and relatable story.


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