unapologetic reader #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Over the past year, as I reviewed more books on this blog and mostly new releases, I was a bit afraid that I’m crowing this space because what I read/requested were mostly lesbian themed books. But spoiler alert: that’s what I am and I want to see myself reflected in the stories I read. And while not everything on my TBR is flavoured in that way, it does make up a sizeable chunk of it and I’m not even sorry for it.

In fact, it makes me want to review and talk about them even more. Not only the lesbian themed ones but those on the more diverse end of the spectrum. This may not be an original idea of mine *cough* Kirsti’s diverse books project *cough* but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been living/seeking out diverse books on my own in the past. When I log into Netgalley, my first look over the past year was always in the LGBTQIA section. Always. Because that’s where my biggest interests lie. And while I’m not as interested in reading books about gay men (because obviously) I do have a couple on my TBR pile.

Of course that’s not all there is in terms of diversity. I’m always happy to see people of colour and also with disabilities or other issues. We’re not all middle class white chicks in heterosexual love triangles is all I’m saying.

The gist of this is, I’m done feeling sorry for my book reviews that nobody looks at because that’s the case with almost all of my book posts, be that classics or new releases or whatever else I find myself blogging about and that’s okay. I’m done apologising (mostly to myself) for loading up this blog with those kind of posts because damn it, I’m happy to be a booster of such books. If nobody talks about them, how else is the word getting out?!

I’m not going to pledge myself to anything because I have enough of that stuff going around here already. Also, I’m reading those books out of my deepest self interest. There is lots to be learned from reading about different points of view, different backgrounds and just diversity in general. That’s why it is so important. The other day, when I was watching the trailers before the third Hobbit movie started, I got annoyed when I saw male dominated movie preview after male dominated movie preview. Do we really need more of those? Mainstream movie releases are amongst the least diverse mediums out there, at least in my perception.

Marvel finally released a female-centric TV show but it still takes until 2018 for there to be a female-lead movie release. Why?

I may have strayed from my original point here a bit but in the end, it’s all connected and it doesn’t matter if we talk books, TV or movies. They could all be more diverse.

Back to the books for the end though. Over the past year, my lesbian flavoured book requests in Netgalley have led me to some surprises, both good and bad. There is a lot of garbage out there but that’s the case for every genre. I do have the feeling though, that there is way more m/m fiction than f/f one out there. And there is hardly anything about intersex, transgender etc. available. Not only do I want more of those, I also want better books in general. I know that is very difficult to achieve. And while I know how difficult I find it to write outside of my own experiences zone, I want more popular authors to throw ‘us’ a bone.

I saw the Hunger Games books on a diverse YA book list on Goodreads and was dumbfounded because aside from some ethnic diversity among the secondary characters, those books are pretty vanilla when it comes to diversity. The main cast and crew is pasty white and heterosexual. We need more than a background character being the sassy gay friend or token person of colour. Put those in your main cast! Make a love triangle out of two boys and one girl or vice versa! Throw in disabilities and ethnicity et voilá. I’m about to get stuck in an endless loop of repeating myself so I’ll stop here. Drop by Kirsti’s blog and Youtube channel and be advised there will be book reviews about books you never heard of. I’m done being apologetic about it. I’m here, I’m queer and so are the books that I read and want to hear more about.

 

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  • I wouldn’t feel bad at all. Sometimes I worry that I post “too much” about Christianity, but I AM a Christian and I do want to discuss the variety of issues related to that. If someone told me to be a quieter Christian, I’d be really annoyed. So, why should anyone ask that relating to sexual orientation/insert any other label here? It’s totally logical that you would want to mentally ingest stories that are relate-able to you.

    I only recently heard about the organization We Need Diverse Books but I’m taking a diversity reading challenge in 2015 (originally saw on BlogHer). It includes things like author of color, person of color on the cover, coming out story, main character with a disability, and more (I think there are 12 statements). As a straight/cisgendered/white person it sometimes is easy to forget that not everyone relates to things like I do. I’m hoping this challenge helps me make more conscious choices, and I’m sure will open up a lot of books the mainstream media doesn’t push as much!

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I only came across We Need Diverse Books recently as well but it makes me so happy it exists. My reading list could benefit from some more people of colour, I have to admit that. (And I’m not going to pledge to a certain number because I could cheat my way through that too easily and everything else is a bit too complicated right now. I already have my hands full with other reading stuff.) That doesn’t mean though that I’m not happy to see my friends partake in this.

      I don’t know, it was just a feeling over the past year that I was maybe flaunting this in everyone’s face whether they wanted it or not but I came to the conclusion that’s a good thing.

      • While I don’t read a high number by people of color, it’s definitely higher than by/about people of disabilities and LGBT. I have been abstaining from putting any goals/limits on reading for a while and just reading random things that seem appealing. This challenge was really easy (like I said, I think only 12 books) and still general enough that it didn’t feel like school assigned readings, LOL.

  • Fun fact? Katniss Everdeen is described as having “dark hair, olive skin, and grey eyes” (the general theory is that she’s either biracial or Native American) and it’s pretty clear in the books that she’s asexual. It’s just that people gloss over that in favour of a love triangle, and Hollywood did their usual whitewashing routine. Yay…

    It’s kind of like how a crapton of people got all up in arms about the fact that Rue was black, when Collins explicitly states that she was black. It’s just that they’d all glossed over that one sentence and imagined her as white.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Stupid brain. I read the books forever ago (it feels like that at least) and I totally spaced on Katniss. I hate that Hollywood whitewashed her (even though I love JLaw). I could have done very well without the love triangle but that’s just me.