Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity and Diverse Characters!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Be sure to check out everyone else's posts!

Over the last few years I've become increasingly aware of the need for diversity in books (and in pretty much everything) and the representation of diversity. There are so many reasons to be aware of minorities and topics which do not receive much representation in books and in society. I've found the We Need Diverse Books campaign really helpful in broadening my reading scope and just the other day I stumbled upon this list of books and resources about people of colour in books! 

I've divided the books into books I've read and books I want to read, as despite being aware, I haven't read that many. This is definitely something I want to change and I've found that especially over the last couple of months, I've become more aware of how much diversity there is in the books I'm reading and the books I want to read. These books mainly focus on the representation of mental health and representation of race. 

Books I've Read

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
This deals with mental health, depression and anxiety mainly. This book follows fourteen year old Audrey whilst she is recovering from some extreme anxiety after a bullying related incident. She suffers from social anxiety as well as general anxiety, to the point wearing sunglasses to avoid eye contact and finds it difficult to leave the house. The mental health elements are presented both realistically positively. Kinsella also reaffirms that Audrey's mental health condition should be taken seriously and emphasises that it is real. It's a really positive portrayal of a character dealing with their mental health and removes a lot of the stigma surrounding mental illness.

No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! by Nico Tanigawa
This is a manga. I actually watched the anime first but I've read the first volume. This follows Tomoko, an fifteen year old girl who, although it is never stated, suffers from severe social anxiety. She struggles to even say more than a sentence to other people and celebrates quite simple interactions, such as managing to say a simple goodbye to her teacher. It's quite dark and might be a little hard to read for some people, but I think it's a very realistic and sharp portrayal of severe social anxiety (coming from someone who has experienced severe social anxiety.)

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer 
Another book that portrays a character with a mental illness. This follows, nineteen year old Matthew who is dealing with schizophrenia. I think schizophrenia is definitely a mental health illness which is very misunderstood and misrepresented in the media and in society. Interestingly written from the perspective of Matthew, as if he is writing directly to the reader, this book deals with his experience of mental illness as well as family members responses and treatment from mental health centres.  


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 
Another book which deals with a character struggling with mental illness. This book follows Ester, whose life seems to be going well, but her mental health slowly deteriorates. It's a really haunting and realistic presentation of mental illness. I actually wrote about The Bell Jar and mental instability for my A-levels, so this book definitely had to make it onto this list. 

Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe 
This is a graphic novel following a group of questing mercenaries. There is a lot of diversity through this series. There's racial diversity and LGBT representation. Furthermore, all the main characters are female and have very different body types, so there's also body diversity thrown in too. Diversity all round! 

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki 
This book focuses on Nao, a Japanese teenager whose diary washes up on the shore of an island, just off the coast of Canada. Not only does this focus on a person of colour, but it depicts some of the darker and less ideal elements of Japan and Japanese culture (bullying, sexual harassment, prostitution etc.) It also incorporates elements of Buddhism and the life of a Buddhist monk, which is quite diverse.

Books I Really Want To Read!


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
I own this book and really need/want to reading it! This follows the lives of Ifemelu and Obinze, who fall in love as teenagers, but whilst Nigeria is under military dictatorship they flee and lead separate lives until they meet again years later. This sounds like it deals with issues surrounding race, nationality ,and identity and sounds very interesting!

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob
This book according to goodreads, spans from India in the 70s to New Mexico in the 80s to Seattle in the 90s, I really want to read more books with characters of colour in and this sounds great! 

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone 
Another book which deals with mental illness. This follows a girl dealing with Purely-Obsessional OCD and I've heard so many good things about this!

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
This one follows Alex who suffers from paranoia and schizophrenia, and has difficulty distinguishing between reality and delusions. Again, this is another book I've heard many good things about and it gets a lot of five star reviews on goodreads. 

Has anyone read these books? What did you think? 
I really want to read some more books with characters of colour! Any suggestions? 

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