Naz over at Read Diverse Books has challenged everyone to read more diversely. If you have read a book that fits into the category, share it! If you haven’t, go find a book that fits into the category with the goal of reading it. Here we go:
Find a Book Starring a Lesbian Character:
I’ve got this one in spades. Books with lesbians come to me easily — or perhaps I seek them out? — but mostly, I look for excellent stories, and I never shy away from those stories if the protagonist is a lesbian. In fact, in some instances, the leading lady being a lesbian is what drew me in!
Checking out the following:
- Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary by Monica Nolan
- Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Allison Bechdel
- The Normal State of Mind by Susmita Bhattacharya
- Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
- SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki
- Kill Marguerite and Other Stories by Megan Milks
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- Love Does Not Make Me Gentle or Kind by Chavisa Woods
- Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
- Could You Be With Her Now: Two Novellas by Jen Michalski
Find a Book with a Muslim Protagonist:
Okay, my reading is not as great in this area. There is one book that I have read probably half a dozen times and taught each semester for several years now: The Autobiography of Malcolm X with Alex Haley. This book surprises my students because Malcolm is a Muslim minister for the Nation of Islam, which is a different branch of Islam than what you would encounter in the Middle East. After Malcolm did his pilgrimage to Mecca, he disavowed the N.O.I. and went Orthodox.
Looking at Goodreads, I would like to check out Ms. Marvel, a new comic book series. I also want to read Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah, which I saw in Barnes & Noble.
Find a Book Set in Latin America:
This is another category with which I have more experience. I’ve also seen Junot Diaz twice; the dude has stood two feet away from me (he likes to wander auditoriums when he talks). And my god, does he swear a lot (I love it). The last time I saw him, he asked where the Latino/as in the audience were. Then he asked where his Africans were. Very few people raised their hands, and he said that wasn’t his fault, but the college’s (we were at the University of Notre Dame). Here is my list:
- Ayiti by Roxane Gay (Haiti)
- Unaccompanied Minors by Alden Jones (Costa Rica)
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Dominican Republic)
- Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War by Deb Olin Unferth (Nicaragua)
- Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros (Mexico)
- Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat (Haiti)
I have a number of books I’ve read by Latino/a authors who live in the U.S., such as Lolita Hernandez, Salvador Plascencia, and Desiree Zamorano. I’d like to read The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara (Mexico).
Find a Book About a Person with a Disability:
This is a tough one because I feel awkward reading a book about a person with a disability written by someone without a disability. I’ve noticed that most of the books with people who have disabilities I encounter are on the mental health spectrum as opposed to a physical disability, so I’ll keep my eyes open for more books with people who have disabilities.
- Half Life by Shelly Jackson (conjoined twins)
- American Genius by Lynn Tillman (mental illness)
- Bogeywoman by Jaimy Gordon (self-harm, anxiety)
- Sweethearts by Melanie Rae Thon (deaf)
- Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulemia by Marya Hornbacher (mental illness)
- Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher (mental illness)
- Annie’s Ghost by Steven Luxenberg (disabled legs and mental illness)
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (mentally disabled)
- Lily of the Valley: Chateau of Flowers by Margaret Rome (blind)
Find a Science Fiction or Fantasy Book with a POC Protagonist:
I don’t read a ton of sci-fi or fantasy, but when I do, it tends to have POC in it. Perhaps because I find that when an author who is a POC writes sci-fi or fantasy, he or she includes deeper messages of race and gender than a white writer may.
- Soul Resin by Charles W. Cannon
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
- Bald New World by Peter Tieryas
- The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez
I have Kindred by Octavia Butler on my list. She wrote so many sci-fi/fantasy novels with POC; she is ultra prolific.
Find a Book Set In or About An African Country:
- The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo (Nigeria)
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)
- Youth by J.M Coetzee (South Africa)
- How They Spend Their Sundays by Courtney McDermott (Lesotho)
- The Rabbi’s Cat and The Rabbi’s Cat 2 by Joann Sfar (Algeria)
- História, História: Two Years in the Cape Verde Islands by Eleanor Standford (Cape Verde)
Find a Book Written by an Indigenous/Native Author:
- Ledfeather by Stephen Graham Jones (Blackfeet)
- Demon Theory by Stephen Graham Jones
- It Came From Del Rio by Stephen Graham Jones
- The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones
- After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones
- The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie (grew up on Spokane reservation, but has heritage with several tribes)
Okay, so I’ve read a lot of Stephen Graham Jones. Technically, he would fit really well into sci-fi and fantasy starring a POC because he writes lots of mind-bending horror with time warps and craziness. I’ve read essays by Leslie Marmon Silko and Joy Harjo, and I would like to read Louise Erdrich soon. I’d also like to read Ojibwe authors, as I grew up on the Saginaw Chippewa reservation.
Find a Book Set in South Asia:
- Palestine by Joe Sacco (Israel-ish, depending on your viewpoint regarding what to call this territory)
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Iran)
- Love in a Dead Language by Lee A. Siegel (India)
- The Question of Bruno by Aleksander Hemon (Sarajevo)
- Currency by Zoe Zolbrod (Thailand)
- The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret (Isreal)
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (India)I incorrectly remembered which book this was! It is mostly set in the United States and focuses on Indian-American families. My mistake 🙂
- Of Marriageable Age by Sharon Maas (India, British Guyana)
- Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (India)
- Dragonfish by Vu Tran (Vietnam) This book is half set in Vietnam and half in Las Vegas.
Find a Book with a Biracial Protagonist:
- Sweethearts by Melanie Rae Thon (Crow/white)
- The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss (almost every person in the book is biracial)
- Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evens (black/white)
- Quicksand and Passing by Nella Larsen (black/white)
Find a Book About a Transgender Character or that is about Transgender Issues:
- Cloud 9 by Carol Churchill
- Woman’s World by Graham Rawle
- Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite
I also have Janet Mock’s memoir on my to-read list, of course!