The Truth about Diverse Books I Read in 2016


Hello, fellow book junkies! See that collage of books up there? Those are the diverse books I read in 2016. As I reflect on this topic, two key things come to mind:

#1 What exactly is a diverse book?
My friend Naz @ Read Diverse Books explores this topic well in his post here, where he defines diverse books as those which “represent the variety of voices traditionally marginalized and underrepresented in the (Western) publishing industry.” Elsewhere on the ‘net I ran across a definition of diverse books as including books written by authors from minority backgrounds.

#2 I must read more diverse books!
During the course of the past year, I thought I had read many more diverse books, but as I reviewed the list, I was surprised that only 12% of them qualified as books written by minority authors and/or representing marginalized voices. I love fiction that explores new cultures and alternate ways of perceiving the world. Expanding awareness is one of my favorite things, so toward that end, I will make a concerted effort to read more diverse books in 2017.

Without further adieu, here are the diverse books I read in 2016.

Books written by authors from minority backgrounds:

Angelfall by Susan Ee (Korean-American author)

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (African-American woman and the queen of modern poetry)

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (Filipina/Indian-American author, Indian mythology)

Legend & Prodigy by Marie Lu (Chinese-American author)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Afghan author, story set partly in Afghanistan)

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Mexican-Canadian author, story set in Mexico)

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (Scottish/Korean-American author, Middle Eastern setting)

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older (Latino author, Afro-Latina main character)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Indigenous American author)

Books representing marginalized or underrepresented voices:

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (fat main character)

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson (transgender main character)

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Asperger’s main character)

Timekeeper by Tara Sim (gay main character)

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (main character born with facial deformity)

I am especially interested in reading more books that feature bisexual female characters. If you have any to recommend, I’d love to hear about them.

–Eve Messenger

34 thoughts on “The Truth about Diverse Books I Read in 2016

  1. Love this post Eve! I have been reflecting on this matter a lot as I wrap up a year of reading. I have come to two very true conclusions:
    1. I need to familiarize myself with more diverse titles.
    2. I need to actually read them.

    I hope 2017 will be the year I actually do this 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey! I think it’s great you want to read more diversely! I think that’s something we can all work on. I have SO many recommendations for diverse reads if you really want to hear them all, haha. It would probably take like at least 20 comments to communicate them all but I’ll just list a couple of my favorite from this year:
    •The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (illegal immigration explored, Jamaican and Korean second generation immigrants as MC)
    • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (interracial family and racism in the mid-western United States in the 1980s)
    • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Non-Western story setting, discussion of slave trade in Ghana and the United States)
    • Wolf Children by Mamoro Hasoda (non-Western story setting, Japanese author)
    •Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown (F|F romance, exploration of being gay in a small town Christian setting)
    •Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo—I honestly cannot recommend this one more. It literally has everything. It is life and love and diversity at it’s best. (POC MCs, physical and mental disabilities, prejudice, addiction and PTSD as well as LGBTQIA+ representation)
    I hope this comment wasn’t super annoying to you and it helped you find some good diverse books to read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. I LOVE these recommendations–they were the OPPOSITE of annoying, haha. I’ve read Six of Crows. Everything about it was so, so good. If I were a fan of caper stories it would probably be one of my all time favorite reads. Georgia Peaches is coming up soon on my TBR and I’m looking forward to reading it! I have GOT to get around to reading a Nicola Yoon book. I’ll def plan to start with The Sun is Also a Star.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so glad you enjoyed them!! I can’t say enough good things about SoC. And I loved Crooked Kingdom but for different reasons. I personally liked TSIAAS WAY more than Everything Everything. Everything Everything was OK, but Sun was the most enjoyable contemporary romance I think I’ve read all year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You MUST tell me after you finish it!! Omgosh I would literally die and ascend to heaven if it was made into a movie. I’ve been calling it the “diverse rom-com we all need in our life right now”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely love Naz’s blog and what it stands for! He has definitely inspired me to reevaluate what I am reading and makes some changes in 2017. I know you are a YA lover, but I recently read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Denise-Benn and loved them both! In the YA realm, I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz and thought it was a wonderful book about the struggles of self discovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Naz is wonderful. I adore that guy. Aristotle and Dante is coming up soon on my TBR; now I’m even more excited to read it. Yep, YA is my first love, but I’m always open to great books in any genre. I’m def curious about The Underground Railroad–thanks for the recommendation!

      Liked by 1 person

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