What makes our world so great is the variety of people, places and cultures that inspire us. But with so much variety, why is there not more diversity in the books we read? I will admit, things are changing in the book world – new exciting voices are being published that represent a variety of ethnicities, religious backgrounds, sizes and gender identities. However, we are not there yet, and this is not entirely the fault of the publishers. If readers push for more diverse books, things might start changing more quickly. We all need to open our minds and step outside of what we see as the norm. Think of all the characters you will meet, places you can visit and life experiences you can learn about just by reading. For me, this expansion of my reading world has become more important. Here are eight diverse books I’ve read this year that I think are worth your time.
The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
I rarely come across a book like this. A beautiful, authentic and emotional tale paralleling the lives of two girls separated by hundreds of years. The author enchanted with her storytelling all the while deeply affecting me with the frankness and, at times, grittiness of the situations the characters are thrust into. This book is truly a gift to readers.
Dietland by Sarai Walker
Dealing with body shaming, the mistreatment of women and how far activism should go, Dietland is about the awakening of Plum Kettle. This one isn’t necessarily new, but with the TV show (amazing by the way) and the re-issuing of the paperback, it is definitely a book to one-click on Amazon.
When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
In this witty, heartfelt and fresh take on a love story, the author gives her readers honesty and raw emotion through the relationship Katie and Cassidy develop. This is not just a story about two women falling in love. It is about a community and finding one’s true self.
Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
This book is a coming-of-age story unlike any I have read. The book deals with political issues, violence and the complexity of relationships. Contreras’s debut will transport you to a Colombia where war and violence takes a toll on everything and everyone.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
As the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, the bar is set pretty high for any other books coming after this one. This eloquent and heartfelt novel deals with identity and acceptance while pushing the conventional picture of what an American family should look like. If you read one book this summer or fall, A Place for Us should be it.
The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara
New York City in the 1980s and 90s. Do I need to say more? This book follows gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene. Gritty and raw, this book will bring you into a world like no other. If you like Pose, this will definitely be a book for you.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Though technically a young adult book, Thomas gives her readers a story both adults and teens should read. The author tackles very weighty and timely issues dealing with race, gun violence, police/community relations and consequences both good as well as bad when it comes to standing up for what you believe in.
Love, Hate and Other Drugs by Samira Ahmed
In this debut novel, Ahmed gives her readers a look into what it is like growing up as an Indian-American Muslim in today’s world. With heart, wit and commentary on the current climate of fear placed on certain backgrounds, this story will affect you and make you think. Even though this book is a young adult read, it would definitely benefit adults to read it as well.
For more about diversity in literature, check out my post, Variety is The Spice of Life.