Recently, the hashtag #DiverseBookBloggers has been uniting book bloggers across Twitter who want to see not only more diversity in books, but in those who read and review books. The hashtag was started by Naz, a Texan book blogger who identifies as a male Latino. Read the story of how and why Naz started #DiverseBookBloggers.

Since most of the book blogging world consists of straight white women, I was sure that I didn’t count as diverse. Later, book blogger Darkowaa from African Book Addict tagged me on Twitter as an “awesome” diverse book blogger, and I wondered how that label held up. Yes, I only review books written by folks who identify as women. No, I don’t really limit what people send me (though I don’t take Young Adult lit; I am not the reviewer for this genre). Yes, I prefer to review books by women of color and who fall on the LGBT spectrum.

Yet, when I have submissions open, it’s almost always straight white women who are self-published. These authors’ requests flooded my inbox. I thought I could include diversity by accepting people who were too “edgy” or marginalized to be published through traditional means, but I soon learned that “self-published” can mean anything — from an author who wanted full control of her book, to those who have grown impatient with editing, submitting, and revising and put the book out into the world far too soon (editors do serve a purpose).

I promptly closed my submissions and started asking authors or publishers for books that sounded bold or diverse. Or, I would seek out books by marginalized authors from my library. I started Grab the Lapels because I wasn’t reviewing diverse books when I worked for magazines. If a book by an author who identifies as male grabs my interest, I publish that review on another fantastic blog — the blogger is great about letting me review what I want, so long as it’s from a small press.


What does Naz from Read Diverse Books blog consider “diverse”? Do I live up to the label? Here’s what he says:

What do we mean by “diverse”? Who qualifies as #DiverseBookBloggers?

#DiverseBookBloggers are not white, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied bloggers who write predominantly about authors of that same description.

They ideally blog about #ownvoices authors and advocate diverse reading habits for all. This includes white bloggers who write about diverse literature regularly.

They find themselves in the LGBTQ+ spectrum or are people with disabilities and blog about books that represent them when possible

The hashtag more generally includes any person who is LGBT, a person of color, or a person with a disability who also is a book blogger. But diverse reading is preferred.

Well…I’m pretty sure I don’t fit. I’m a straight, married, able-bodied (though a bit lazy and totally out of shape), middle class women. However, an examination of my Goodreads “read” pile for 2016 shows that 12 out of 27 books I’ve read are from diverse voices! I include books from victims, people of color, those on the LGBT spectrum, non-Christian religious, and authors who are not from the United States. Here are some of those books:

The Rabbi’s Cat and The Rabbi’s Cat 2

  • Graphic novels by French author Joann Sfar
  • Explore Judaism and Islam in Africa
  • Comments on colonialism
  • Translated from French
  • Wicked funny

The Rabbis Cat 2 - Gator go Boom (Optimized).png

Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary and Bogeywoman and Blue is the Warmest Color

  • Star lesbians as the main character
  • Have strong women as secondary characters who help the main character
  • Explore coming out as lesbians

best lois lenzBogeywoman Covermaroh book cover

Powerful Days and Between the World and Me

  • Examine racial tension in the United States between black and white communities
  • Give anecdotal evidence of how violence against black bodies happens insidiously.


Missoula and PHD to PhD

  • Both books examine sexual assault and what it’s like (as a result, both books can be very upsetting).
  • Describe how sexual assault victims are not taken serious because of the context of the assault, such as the victim was drinking, a prostitute, a drug addict, or friends with the perpetrator.
  • Explore how victims are ignored or not believed when facing their perpetrators due to their gender or race.

missoulaPo Ho on Dope

Explosion and A Decent Ride and The Normal State of Mind

  • These books are by individuals from countries that are not the United States (Russia, Scotland, and India, respectively).
  • Examine contexts that affect the characters, such Soviet Russia and the lack of human rights, the drug and HIV epidemic aftermath in Scotland, and the rights of women in India
  • Each book taught me something new about a country and culture I did not learn from reading books by authors born in American.
  • Note that Zabrisky and Welsh both live in the U.S. at this point in time.

zabrisky explosiondecentTNSOMfinal

I want to thank Naz for starting the conversation about diverse bloggers! I made the comment on his site that I often try to avoid book bloggers who only seek out characters with whom they can relate. To me, “relate” is another way of saying “just like me.” If you are a blogger and you feel that you sympathize or empathize with a character, make sure you aren’t accidentally saying “relate” — empathy and sympathy shows growth in a reader and helps your audience know that you are open to and accepting of new ideas and different cultures.


  1. I suppose it depends on whether diverse must describe both the books and the blogger themselves, or if it can be either or both. Your book selection certainly fits the description, and so does the purpose of the blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That word ‘diverse’ has so many meanings, doesn’t it? It’s a handy ‘catchall’ term, but it’s loaded, too, in a way. I give you credit for embracing the wide variety of books, bloggers and authors out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love reading all these posts about #DiverseBookBloggers and people reflecting on how they identify and read and blog! You’re totally a diverse book blogger, you’re an ally promoting diverse reading and #ownvoices! Also, we have badges for that in the directory! Sorry, I’m advertising this thing everywhere today 🙂 Allies are so crucial to promoting diversity though, I hope you all know we appreciate that!
    I love the cover for The Normal State of Mind, it looks amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad you wrote this, because I was wondering the same thing – is it the blogger or the books the blogger reviews that have to fit the criteria? I obviously do not fit the criteria, and although, some of the books I read would be considered diverse, many probably wouldn’t. I like a bit of everything. But, I do love what they (and you!) are doing with #DiverseBookBloggers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still don’t know that I TOTALLY count. I just get curious about what other people are doing and go toward those books. I actually really like the way your blog covers Canadian lit, Naomi, because I get an idea of what will be there when I show up. When people get to Grab the Lapels, all they know is that the author will identify as a woman. I go from cheesy romance to journalism to experimental fiction to a big fat novel. There are tons of diverse authors in Canada. I believe it was you who pointed readers to Casey The Canadian Lesbrarian. We’ve since followed each other and chatted about books! We both found Blue is the Warmest Color to be problematic.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a wonderful write-up. Sorry about the confusion.
    You definitely count as a diverse book blogger! We want to be inclusive, but not too inclusive, so allies will need to blog about diverse books regularly (certainly more than once a month) to fall into the bracket. It’s a fine line, but I hope you can understand that we don’t want everyone calling themselves a diverse book blogger if they’re really not.
    Keep reading like you do now! 😀 And be sure to use the hashtag for your reviews of books by women of color and LGBT fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such an interesting (and important) conversation. One of my favourite things about reading is the chance to get into the head and mind of people completely different from myself. But it can take work to find those diverse authors sometimes. Thanks for the reminder to put the effort in.

    Liked by 1 person

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