Reading diversely is a concept you have probably come across a lot over recent years, and that’s a good thing. Reading diverse books is extremely important and something we are very passionate about. So if you want to read more diverse books, but you’re not quite sure how or where to start, or if you are currently reading diverse books but want tips on finding more books and being consistent, keep reading.
But first, what are diverse books?
Diverse books are books written by marginalized authors, and they often feature stories about characters that are also marginalized. Marginalized writers usually include but are not limited to writers of color, queer writers, disabled writers, gender-diverse writers, and all writers at intersections of identity, etc. Diverse books are not limited to specific genres, culture and identity do not have to be at the center of the storyline, and diverse stories aren’t always meant to represent or reflect real life. Diverse books aren’t always written to teach or educate – they are also written to entertain or provide an escape. Whatever your reason is for reading, there is a diverse book out there for you!
Why should you make an effort to read diverse books?
Reading diverse books is a win-win for everyone! It serves as a “mirror” for marginalized readers who crave seeing someone “like them” in literature. It also serves as a “window” for readers by giving them a completely different perspective from their own. Reading diverse books also makes readers more empathetic. It breaks down stereotypes and increases cultural awareness and sensitivity. It also provides safe and endless opportunities to challenge your own biases and prejudices and help you understand more about the different types of systemic oppression that affect marginalized people. Diverse books might also surprise you in a positive way! They can also show you how much you have in common and how well you connect with characters different from you and who you might believe you would never get along with in real life.
Reading diversely is not as difficult as you might think and the benefits definitely outweigh the costs. So check out our 5 tips to help you read more diversely and keep reading diverse stories consistently!
1. TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR SHELVES
So many readers shared ways they plan to be more intentional in their reading lives via email and in this post over on our Instagram account. One common sentiment is readers finding diverse books already on their shelves. So the first step to reading more diversely, is taking inventory of books you already own. You just might find some diverse books that you can add to your TBR.
2. START WITH BOOKS YOU ALREADY LOVE
If you already a fan of specific genres and troupes, start reading diverse books in these categories. If you love to read romance, fantasy, literary fiction, thrillers, or sci-fi – there are many books written by marginalized authors in these genres, and the same can be said for ALL genres!
Not sure where you can find these books?
- Google is your best friend. If you search for “thriller books by Black authors” or “romance books by Latinx authors” or even “fantasy books by people of color” – you will find a solid number of book lists that can help you narrow the field.
- Book Riot has amazing book lists so check them out!
- We Need Diverse Books is an organization devoted to promoting diversity within publishing! They have an incredible list of diverse books that you can find here.
3. PRIORITIZE AND READ OWN VOICES BOOKS
If you are not familiar with the bookish lingo “own voices books” – it means books where authors have written main characters that share the same identity as them. Reading “own voices books” is extremely important but this is only a starting point. There is no one book that is definite about any particular identity or culture – it does not represent all experiences or perspectives of that identity! There will be many other identities and experiences that are associated with those identities or cultures that will be very different from each other.
Not sure where you can find own voices books?
- Again, Google is your best friend so use that search function.
- You can search #OwnVoices on social media to find books. I also recommend searching #OwnVoicesReviews to get a reader’s perspective who also identifies as the same identity being written about.
4. JOIN A BOOK CLUB THAT READS DIVERSE BOOKS
If you join a book club that reads diverse books, it is usually organized by readers who are passionate advocates of reading diversely. Book clubs are not only a great way to discover and actually read a new book, but it facilitates discussion which provides a broader collective reading experience. There is an opportunity to learn more, pick up on nuances you missed when reading and you just might walk away with a brand new perspective.
5. KEEP A LIST OF DIVERSE BOOKS YOU WANT TO READ
Once you start looking for diverse books to read, you will soon discover there are so many books out there. Eventually, you will be forced to keep track of the books you want to read. So we highly recommend keeping a list of all the diverse books you find interesting and then decide what books belong on your TBR.
How can you keep track of the diverse books you want to read?
- We shared an article in The Journal about 5 Ways To Track Your Reading. This can be helpful in deciding how you track your diverse books too!
- Follow bloggers and influencers who advocate for and read diverse books.
- Buy books written by diverse authors.
- Request diverse books from your local library.
- Recommend diverse books for your book club.
- Gift diverse books.
- Attend events with diverse authors and panelists.
- Share diverse books and engage with diverse readers and authors on social media.
- Write online reviews for diverse books.
- Talk about and share diverse books within and outside of the book community.
Reading is a personal experience and we are firm believers that there are no fast and hard rules. Feel free to mix it up, tweak some of our tips, and find what works for you!