As diversity has become a bigger and bigger thing in the bookish community, I’ve noticed that one of a lot of people’s resolutions was to read more diversely. While it’s great to have that goal, it doesn’t mean or do anything if you do not follow through with it. I’ve made a list of tips on how to begin diversifying your reading life, and I hope they help!
1) Follow diverse bloggers, bookstagrammers, booktubers, and websites.
People who read diversely and have diverse identities themselves will often talk about and recommend diverse books. It’s important to support them, as well as the fact that there are some amazing blogs, Instagrams, YouTubes, and websites run by marginalized people. I recommend you check out:
And there are so many more. This is just a very, very short list of a few of my favorites.
2) Participate in diverse reading challenges.
For just this year alone, there are at least three diverse challenges I can name right off the bat that will definitely get you reading more diversely. They all look so fun, and I wish I could participate in all, but for this year I just chose one.
This is a challenge where you try and read 36 books for each of the 36 diverse prompts! It’s also the one I’m participating in. 😉 The goal isn’t to read 36 books for everyone, because not everyone reads that fast-it’s simply to read as many diverse books as you can!
This is a diverse books reviewing challenge with prizes! It looks absolutely amazing.
This one is about reading as many diverse books as you can! It also has 12 optional categories for each month.
All three of these challenges will diversify the books you read in 2017, so I highly encourage you to check them out.
3) Look further than Goodreads lists and find under-hyped diverse books.
Sometimes, the diverse books lists on Goodreads have problematic books on them. People still love them, but they hurt others, so I recommend putting a little effort into finding lists of diverse books made by “diverse” people. It’s truly not that difficult, and more than anything I don’t want anyone picking up a book expecting a respectful portrayal of themselves and getting something hurtful instead.
Yes, a lot of the popular diverse books are popular for a reason: They’re amazing! But some are not so great, and so I think this tip is important.
4) Support diverse authors.
Reading diversely at all is wonderful, but it’s also especially important to support authors that are disabled, people of color, LGBTQIAP+, or whatever marginalization they might belong to by reading and buying their books.
5) Support #ownvoices authors.
Similar to #4, I wanted to include this as well because it’s even more important to read #ownvoices diverse books.
Own Voices is: a hashtag/term coined by Corinne Duyvis, co-mod of Disability in Kidlit, for a book featuring a marginalized perspective authored by a person who shares that same marginalized characteristic.
Own Voices books will almost always have better representation. It’s important to support those books and those authors.
6) Read Goodreads reviews of books by people of the marginalizations in the book.
What this basically means is: Read ownvoices reviews. Get it?
Marginalized people will catch problematic and hurtful things in books so much more often than non-marginalized people. We need to respect their opinions and listen to them, so the book does not end up hurting more people. While you might see hundreds of 5 star reviews from white, cishet, able reviewers, there may be a few marginalized reviewers that were hurt by the book, and it’s important to recognize that and boost those reviews.
7) Notice, be aware of, (and I personally recommend avoid) problematic books.
I’m not saying you can’t read and enjoy problematic books. Throne of Glass used to be my favorite series ever. (Now it’s soooo not, but I’m just saying.) It’s just important to include a disclaimer or link to another’s review that discusses the problems so that more people do not get hurt. Your favorite book being problematic does not mean you are a terrible person. It’s simply something you need to recognize, admit, and move on.
Yes, I put that I recommend avoiding books that have been revealed to be problematic. No, you do not have to, and not doing so does not make you an awful person. But remember: If we don’t discuss the too-often problematic natures in books, they will never end, and problematic books that are published will keep hurting people in a never ending cycle.
8) Utilize Twitter and follow the people recommending diverse books on there.
Twitter is a fantastic place to find diverse recommendations and people clamoring for more diversity. You will find so many wonderful people to follow and learn from. In my time of being on Twitter (about 1 and 1/2 years), I’ve learned so, so much that does not only apply to the book community, but applies more to real life.
9) Be conscious of the books you buy and the books you choose to read.
I’m not saying you have to stop reading non-diverse books. No one is saying that, I promise you. I still read non-diverse books and enjoy them! I just enjoy reading diverse stories more. But it’s important to read a variety of stories from a variety of people, and if you notice that all the books you’re buying and authors you’re supporting are white, cishet, and able, you maybe should think about changing something.
Diverse books are not lesser simply because they’re diverse. You can find fantastic diverse stories. Why limit yourself?
10) If you cannot afford to buy new diverse books, use the library!
I understand that it’s difficult to buy books all the time, especially recently released ones that may still be full price. But there are so many more ways to get books, and probably the best one is the library!
Depending on where you live, your library might not be fully stocked with tons of diverse titles, but in most cases and places you can find something that’s on your TBR. For free. Why not take advantage of libraries?
11) Preorder diverse books or buy them upon release week if possible.
If it is possible for you to buy diverse books, it’s important to do so by preordering or buying them in the first week after release. From what I’ve learned, that‘s when sales really matter, and that’s when it’s easiest for a book to get on the bestseller lists. By supporting authors then, you’re making it more likely for them to be able to continue writing books and you’re letting publishers know that yes, diverse books do sell and do well, which will lead to more diverse books being published.
12) Request diverse books you’ve been wanting to read be added to your library as well as ones you’ve already read and loved, so others can enjoy them.
Again, use your library! You can request books. Why not do it with diverse ones? Make it easier and cheaper for you to read diverse books and for marginalized others to see themselves in books.
13) Write reviews for the diverse books you read, and when you love one, shout about it!
Writing reviews brings so much attention to books, so it’s especially important to do so for diverse ones so those books can get in the hands of the people who need them. When you love a diverse book, you should want to get everyone reading and talking about that book. Recommend it to everyone you know! Buy it for your family/friends as a present! I know I’ve convinced people to buy or read certain books before (because they’ve told me that), and you can do the same.
14) Follow a diverse aesthetic account on Twitter to get you excited about reading diversely!
Yes, this is kind of self-promotion, but I am 100% shameless about that fact.
I run the Twitter account @diversaesthetic with my lovely friend Sil, and it’s so much fun. We make aesthetics of diverse books we’ve read and post them to Twitter for our followers to enjoy. People have told us that it makes them add so many released and unreleased diverse books to their TBRs, so if you’re interested, check it out!
15) If applicable, start off by reading diverse books with main characters of your marginalization.
When you first read about a character in a book that you can point to and say, “Hey, that’s me” in regards to the certain marginalization/experience, it’s magical. Once you realize or feel that, you are most likely going to want to help everyone else feel that way, or at least that’s how I felt. This feeling can push you on your diverse reading journey, which is why I saved it for last.
I hope that I’ve convinced you to read more diversely in 2017, if that wasn’t a goal of yours already! Even though a lot of the books I already read are diverse, I’m still making it a goal of mine to further increase the percentage of diverse books I read. I also hope these tips help you read more diversely. Have fun with it! Reading diverse books is truly wonderful, and I hope it’s like that for you, too.
Do YOU want to read more diversely in 2017? What are you going to do to achieve that goal? Which diverse books are on the top of your TBR? Which diverse books do you want everyone to read? Are you going to follow any of the tips I mentioned in this post?
Thanks for reading!