Something awesome is going on right now, it’s the “We need diverse books” campaign. It is as simple and as difficult as the name makes it out to be.
The idea is that for 3 days we focus on diversity in books, starting today on May 1, with a call to arms why WE think it’s important to have diversity in books, speaking from personal points of view and connecting with other people to form a front to battle books that only tell part of a story.
What do we mean with diversity?
Diversity are books that don’t tick all of these boxes:
– Gender Conforming
– American (/UK)
That is an interesting list, right? Some of these are cultural problems but many are because for a long time publishing houses were ruled by men (and some women) who do tick all these boxes. These were things that people liked to be, what people aspired to be, but also the only things the heads of the publishing houses knew. But the field is changing, more diverse people are getting into publishing, but the books seem to lag behind. And when I say lag behind, I mean that the majority of books tick all the above boxes (Sci-fi worlds not included, though many of those are still sci-fi worlds based on American society, so I’d still count the last tick too).
There is so much wrong with that that it’s hard to explain how much exactly. I’d try, but I’ve been ill this week and I’m not lucid enough to actually attempt it. I’m just gonna leave it at: I’m guessing only 1 to 2 % of Americans tick all those boxes but over 70% of the books published do. And we’re not talking about Europe, where publishers rather translate American (or British) books than take a chance on books from their own country, because the translated book has already proved their worth.
This is what I WILL be doing. I’m taking this list and show you some books that you can pick up that are awesome and untick at least some of the boxes. Some won’t tick as many as other and not all of them will be in English. I’m Dutch, many of the books I grew up with were from different countries in Europe and also from the US. If I go into the book store now I see a lot less European authors and more and more US authors, especially in the kids/YA section. I think this is a huge loss, so I’ll try to include as many non-native-English speaking books as I can find and I will mention if they’re also in English available.
Some of these are authors and some are specific books, but all are awesome!
Alex A. Akira, Native American author who writes with many Japanese influences. (Books are all m/m romance)
Home by Toni Morrison. Strong book about a black war veteran returning home to racist America after the Korean war.
Manefeen by Kjersti Scheen. A book about a girl with anorexia, beautifully written from the moment where the girl falls for the disorder to where she starts to heal. (also ticks non-American, as Kjersti is Norse)
NIETS was alles wat hij zei by Nic Balthazar. Book about a kid with autism, they made a movie out of it (Ben X) but it shows the character and the illness in a totally different light (which to me ruined the story). [no English translation that I can find, there are French and German versions] (Also ticks non-American as Nic is from Belgium)
Het Wereldje Van Beer Ligthart by Jaap ter Haar, available in English as The World Of Ben Lightheart (if you can still find it ). It’s dated (from the 70s) but I remember this book making a huge impression on me when I read it as a kid.
Letting go of the Past by Kia Zi Shiru. Yes, my book. It’s the story of how trauma and depression do not only influence of one person but of everyone around them too. (also qualifies for non-straight as the main character is gay) (this is a freebie on most places where you can grab a copy)
Mom I Need to be a Girl by Just Evelyn. I picked this story about a transgender kid up years ago and still remember it to this day. I remember
Trumpet by Jackie Kay. The story of a jazz trumpeter who after his death is revealed to be born female. This is the aftermath experienced by his wife, his son and many around them.
De Dagen van de Bluegrass Liefde by Edward van de Vendel. People who know me know I always talk about this book as one of my inspirations for writing, which it is. Sadly enough this bittersweet love story of two young men is not available in English, though it is in German.
NON Gender Conforming
Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I don’t know about the rest of the books in the series but I LOVED how they gender stereotypically they swapped the roles of the Prince and Cinderella here.
Magical Roads by Kia Zi Shiru. Yes, I’m adding another one of my own. The opening story of Magical Roads is a sweet non-gender conforming story of a boy choosing his own future. (this is a freebie on most places where you can grab a copy)
NON American (/UK)
If you can try to get your hands on Dutch or other language copies (most are also translated to German) of books by Jacques Vriens(Children’s author), Carry Slee(Teen author) or Annie M.G. Smidt (Children’s author, certainly available in English and many other languages).
I hope you might have had some ideas for new books to pick up. These are all authors or books that I really love and also love to share.
Do you have authors or books to add to this list, or maybe comments? Add them below!