Let’s Talk Bookish – Diversity in Books

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!


15 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish – Diversity in Books”

    1. Right?? I hope it’s not the editors forcing them to do that. Either way it just reaaaaally undermines the whole point of including diversity in the first place. It drives me a bit insane!


  1. I agree completely I hate when its so obvious an author adds a “token” diverse character just so they can say they’re ~including everyone~. I feel like its even worse when they don’t do it in the first book, but there’s a diverse character in the second book – and it just feels so forced.

    I read Ready Player Two recently and there was a trans character and I feel like the author just added them in to be diverse and it felt so forced. (I really liked the character, they were written well, it just didn’t feel like something the author would have included normally…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess exposure is exposure, it’s better to have a diverse character forced in rather than no diversity at all??? Hard to say. But I definitely don’t enjoy a book as much when they shoehorn someone in like that. Or at least it makes me feel odd, since I appreciate the attempt – but just wish so much that it was better executed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, same!!
    I agree- diversity is beginning to feel like the authors are just doing it because they HAVE to. The “diverse” characters are often only there because they’re diverse.
    Oh, I understand you. As an Indian girl, it’s just amazing to see stories where Indians are in the limelight, or books written by Indian authors which are relatable. It’s not just you XD
    G R E A T post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! Relatability is a big thing for sure. That being said, do you have any good Indian-related novels to suggest? I’d love to read some, especially if you can verify them to be an authentic or relevant experience!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I, in fact, do!
        I’d recommend reading The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. Gun Island too, by Amitav Ghosh! It’s one of my all time favourites, but it’s loooooong, so be warned.
        If you’re talking in YA fiction written by American authors with Indian diversity, then I can name only one- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. There’s this character of Indian descent- she’s a part of the main few, but she’s not the protagonist.
        Warning- The Bridge Home made me cry, and I am the person who didn’t shed a tear in TFIOS. [I found the book average, honestly]
        Oh, and also- there’s a series called The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare. There are a couple of Indian, really-really-really side characters that have like 0.2 seconds of pagetime… but yeah. They’re Indian XD
        That’s all! I hope you like reading these books.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Okay thanks so much!! I’ll be sure to check it out and let you know (somehow) what I thought of it. I also didn’t like TFIOS much, so I feel you there!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said. It’s that age old question of whether it’s true that “any publicity is good publicity”, and I tend to think not!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, and when people start to just accept it as fact because that’s “how they always are” then it really does become something harmful and should be addressed. I agree that these one-dimensional characters can be a very slippery slope

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Fives @ Down The Rabbit Hole Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s