Hey everyone! I’m back today with a discussion post! If you haven’t read my previous discussion post on hyped up books, you can read it here. Now, onto the discussion!
We live in a very diverse world and as book readers, we all want the worlds we read about to be somewhat similar to ours. We read to escape, but what should naturally carry over to the stories we read are different cultures, religions, and ethnicity.
But that doesn’t happen. Let me tell you why diversity is important in literature.
As I said above, our world is a diverse place with people of all color and beliefs and backgrounds. You probably live next to a person of color if you aren’t a person of color yourself. It’s only natural, so why is this representation such a rare thing in literature (or any outlet of entertainment, for that matter?)
I’ve been asking myself this question for such a long time because it has really bothered me for the longest time. Only recently I’ve noticed how whitewashed a lot of the entertainment we consume is (I’m not even going to delve into Ghost in the Shell or Netflix’s upcoming Death Note because this would become an entirely different post).
Once I noticed the predominant lack of diversity in books overall, the more I thought about the subject and why diversity is important. It’s not only important to represent diversity in books because that’s how it is in the real world, but also to give strength and the must-needed representation of non-whites and the roles they play, as well as the challenges they face as people of color.
Not only is race and religion and culture important to represent in literature, but sexuality is, as well as mental illness, are very important as well. In an ever-changing world, with more and more people finally being accepted for who they are, this should be represented in the books we read. I’m happy to say that I haven’t seen any issues with LGBTQ+ representation in YA books lately because there have been a plethora of them being published, which I am thankful for.
But – in the Fantasy genre primarily – there is a lack of LGBTQ+ representation. I don’t know why this is the case, but LGBTQ+ themes seem to stick within the Contemporary genre. I have come across a few fantasy books where there are LGBTQ+ themes in them, but not nearly enough.
Now, let’s move onto mental illness. I think that mental illness (as well as physical disabilities) is the least represented of them all. This is also the one with the highest risk of messing up for authors because if they don’t do the proper research and don’t understand the illness or disability, they could be doing more harm than good.
To conclude this discussion, I’d like to say that no matter what form of diversity you may be referring to, there’s always a need for it. It shouldn’t have to be talked about, it should just be, but we all know that diversity in literature (and entertainment as a whole) won’t come on it’s own, we have to encourage and support it.
With that, I’ll leave some book recommendations for each section (race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, and mental illness/physical disabilities), as well as links to their Goodreads pages so you’ll be able to add them to your TBR easily if you’re interested. I haven’t read all of these books that I’ll be listing, but I have heard some amazing things about them!
(Side Note: I will add a * beside the book if I’ve read it)
(Side-Side Note: I will add ** beside the book if I own it but haven’t read it yet)
- When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.|Race/Ethnicity|
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. |Race/Ethnicity|LGBTQ+|*
- History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. |LGBTQ+|Mental Illness|**
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. |Race/Ethnicity|**
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. |LGBTQ+|Mental Illness|*
- Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. |LGBTQ+|
- I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. |LGBTQ+|**
- Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. |Mental Illness|
- Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde.|Race/Ethnicity|LGBTQ+|Mental Illness (sort of)|
And, of course, there are a lot more books out there with wonderful representation, as well as many coming out soon, which I’m very excited for!