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Discussion: Reading Diversely

Hey all, Dani here.

This Friday is another discussion post, and considering that June has become a celebration of Pride and the LGBTQIAP+ community, and that we as the online book community seem to be striving towards being more aware of the diversity of the authors and/or characters in the books we read, it feels like this is a timely discussion.

Now I guess I should preface this post by saying that my opinions are just that: my opinions. They aren’t meant to offend anyone, and if you disagree then that’s fine, and I would love to hear your opinion in the comments. But let’s try to keep all comment conversation civil. Okay? All right. Cool.

Let’s start off with the definition of diversity (according to dictionary.com)

– the state or fact of being diversedifference; unlikeness:diversity of opinion.
– variety; multiformity.
– the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc. 
– a point of difference.

I love having a variety of characters in the books I read. Even in fantasy worlds it is nice to be shown that the world isn’t wholly plain Jane vanilla. Reflecting the multi-ethnic culture of our world is just really cool. And I have noticed that it seems like the publishing industry is starting to give a bit more focus to POC stories, which is awesome.

But I’ve noticed some chatter in the book community on what really makes for reading diversely. Some say that it’s just reading with diverse contents of the story. Others insist that you can’t have an accurate diverse story unless the author is also diverse.

Honestly, I think my position on the matter is that so long as the due diligence is given on portraying characters realistically, that should be good enough. Because if we try to limit authors to only writing within their own culture, race, sexual preference, etc, then I think the stories would be less interesting. Yes, there are some authors who add in a diverse range of characters just for the sake of diversity, or those who add in POCs that act basically like a white character, which is harmful to creating an acceptable diverse culture.

And I admit that my knowledge of the cultures of the world isn’t deep or vast, but I’ve picked up enough from all my reading over the years to feel basically comfortable with whatever I happen to be reading.

This year I have read so many amazing fantasy novels that are based on the cultures of China, Japan, and other Asiatic cultures, and I have so enjoyed each and every one of them. I’ve also loved reading books with cultures inspired by Latinx regions and African regions. They are all so utterly fascinating to me.

It does not matter to me what the characters look like, or who they are romantically interested in or sexually interested in. I just want characters that feel real to me, characters who are richly layered and complex, characters who have flaws and weaknesses, and characters who find their strengths and rise above the obstacles thrown their way.

I think I’m going to try and write up some recommendations posts for the various culturally diverse books I’ve read; I already have another Pride recommendation list coming.

What do you guys think? What makes a book diverse to you: the author, the characters, both? I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

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2 thoughts on “Discussion: Reading Diversely”

  1. I agree that author’s shouldn’t be restricted to writing about only their own race! First off, (and I know this is a gross oversimplification) if that is the case you wouldn’t get a group of interracial friends, unless that author has all the races in them, which is just complicated and silly. If you can write a character accurately then you can write whoever you want! And I agree, when reading I don’t care about race or culture or sexual preference, as long as they feel real I will love them ❤ Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why authors have beta readers (and nowadays sensitivity readers too), right? Talking to people of different cultures and beliefs and experiences is a way we can all learn and grow and understand.

      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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