Diversity in books is important. It’s why We Need Diverse Books has blown up the way it has, spreading like wildfire. Readers have sorely noticed the lack of race, sexual orientation, culture, religion, persons of colour, disability (and more) being underrepresented and decided it was time for change. But like the saying goes, no press is bad press. Or is it?
We want more diverse books, and in hand with that, shelves that prove it; that burst with all kinds of stories to tell. But in truth, just like with any book, we have no way of controling how truthfully and authentically a book will be portrayed. We hope it’s written by someone who either has experience or background in that matter or by someone who’s well researched and informed. But having been a reader all my life, I’ve come to know that sometimes that isn’t always the case.
A point I’d like to bring up is what happens when we read a diverse title that unfortunately, for reasons, get’s things wrong? But more so, what if we don’t realise how off point it is? Not because of lack of smarts, but because of simply being uniformed. What sparked this thought was when I was adding a diverse title on Goodreads a few months back and I scrolled down to check out the reviews. In one review, someone with background on the subject had said how it was a cliche, offensive, stereotypical portrayal. But then there were also positive reviews, and 4-5 stars from a few friends who’d read the book. It was confusing. In the end, I ended up adding it, but it made me very cautious and wary of whether I’d even give it a go or not. Thinking about it now, I think I will. Not because I think the reviewer is wrong, but because I’d like to read it for myself and see what I think. It’s not a culture or religion I’m familiar with, so I plan to equip myself with a site that was recommended and to give that a read, too.
Diversity is good, in all shapes and forms. But it’s even more important to make sure it’s written authentically, with care and knowledge. And I suppose the only way we can make that happen is to say we want more diversity; that we demand it. The truth is, whatever the story, diverse or not, there will always be a book that sometimes doesn’t get things right or offends or infuriates or puts its foot in it and chokes on it or makes a mockery. So what can we do? Firstly, discuss and talk about the books that don’t get it right and why. If someone is interested in one of those books, at least it will make them aware and they'll know that maybe it isn't the best representation available. Secondly, it’s our job as readers to let the amazing, magical books shine; for them to get the spotlight they rightly deserve. And another thing: to be aware and welcoming of what we aren’t familiar of. Read and enjoy a book on a specific matter ? Don’t just stop at one, read another and another. Or if you have questions and want to know more, research. Become informed. So with that: bring forth; share; chat; recommend and celebrate the books that get it right. Not only do they deserve our voice, they need it.
Hi there! Dive Into Diversity participant? Don't forget to check out Rather Be Reading's awesome post! If you review a diverse book or write a diversity post throughout January, link up! Simple as that. If you haven't joined the challenge and would like to know more, check out this post. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment, tweet or email me. Happy reading!