Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where they discuss certain topics, share their opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.
POV = point of view
Today’s Prompt: What do you think is the meaning of diverse? Who do you think is qualified to write a diverse book? How do you find diverse books to read? What are some diverse topics/POVs that you specifically look for when you’re finding books and why? How do you decide if a diverse topic/POV is done well?
This is such a relevant topic in today’s scene, and something I have been thinking about more and more lately. I didn’t used to reach out and search for diversity in books, but after having read some suggestions from friends, I definitely keep an eye out for them now. For me, the meaning of diverse (in books) is to have diverse characters where appropriate: people of various genders, race, sexual orientation, etc. as long as it makes sense in the story.
Another meaning of diverse is to have different kinds of authors represented in market. As an Asian person, I feel called to read books by other Asian authors, like Celeste Ng, the author of Little Fires Everywhere. Often, such authors will write from the perspective of their diverse upbringing, and it is always refreshing to see new perspectives and ideas being introduced into the book world.
With the proper research, almost anyone can write a diverse book. But of course, those most qualified are often the people write about their own backgrounds. I find that for historical fictions, and other research-heavy genres, good research is often enough to write a good diverse book. However, when it comes to specific perspectives based on the experiences of minority people (e.g. Punching the Air), I find that this is best left to those who actually have personal experience(s) with the issue.
A specific POV that I look for definitely includes Asian authors/stories. Whether it be a modern take on Asian society, or tales based on history/mythology, like Descendant of the Crane, these often speak to me in some visceral way that I just can’t explain. I find myself enjoying these kinds of books a lot lately. Does anyone else feel that connection with the values and culture portrayed in books related to your own culture? I know I do.
I think it can be hard to tell whether a diverse topic/POV is done when it is not your own background. However, at least a part of it is the plausibility of the situation you are reading about, and how it aligns with what you know from the news or friends. I personally try to do a tiny bit of research to see if what I am reading rings true or not to me, and whether I agree, to see if it is written well. When it’s about something I can personally relate to though, I think I have free rein on judging whether something felt right to me.
Before I ramble off into oblivion, I would just like to pull out one small pet peeve I have with “adding” diversity to books. Sometimes, it just feels so forced. Authors who try to sneak in a character here and there that’s clearly just meant to be the token diversity character, ugh. I don’t know how to explain it, but I think it kind of boils down to when a character’s only defining trait is their diversity. I look more for all characters to be treated more as equals, but have people’s natural diversity seep in, to really give the impression that you have a diverse character set, rather than what feels like ticking off a checklist.
Does anybody else feel that with some books? Maybe I’m being too sensitive and I can just pin it on poor writing execution. It may even be possible that the editors wanted more diversity included and so it was added in last minute – but I’m not familiar with that world enough to say for sure.
I feel like I could go on forever on this topic, but honestly diversity is an important issue to bring up, and there are just so many facets to cover. I am sure each of the questions in the prompt could easily be broken down into a full-blown discussion, which just goes to show what a big deal it is. Thanks to Rukky for suggesting it, I am really glad we got to address it here on this week’s Let’s Talk Bookish.
Please let me know if there’s anything that you agree or respectfully disagree with, I would love to hear all your opinions and perspectives on diversity! This, as always, was just my own personal opinion.
Be sure to go and follow Rukky and Dani’s respective blogs, as they graciously host this weekly meme. The topic list for April is now out as well, feel free to head on over to Rukky’s blog to check it out and/or make your own topic suggestions as well!