Top Ten Tuesday: Diverse Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme brought to you by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish (the button also belongs to them).  This week’s theme is Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.).

I LOVE this topic, as this has been an area I’ve been trying to work on in my own reading this year and it has been really interesting for me to grow as a person and a reader by reading more diverse books.

Here are some of my favorite discoveries:


1. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern– While the plotline of this gets a little whacky, this was an interesting and addictive story about a girl with cerebral palsy and a boy with serious anxiety issues.  I enjoyed seeing how these limitations affected their friendship and their lives as they move from high school to the “real world.”

2. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White– Gosh, I love Kiersten White for fun paranormal YA.  I liked that her story in the short story collection, My True Love Gave to Me, featured a Hispanic girl.  I was pleasantly surprised that the first novel of hers that I tried also had a main character who is dark-skinned (not that you can tell from that cover) and from an island colony of the country she is studying in.

3. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios– I absolutely adored and raced through this cute YA contemporary.  It features a character with a disability and a character of low socioeconomic status. Josh has lost his leg serving as a Marine in Afghanistan.  Skylar and her mom live in a trailer park and live paycheck to paycheck.  Money is a constant worry for Skylar and really limits what she can see for herself in her future.

4. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie– I read this as part of a challenge I’m working on this year, which involved reading a book by an author from Africa.  Adichie is Nigerian and this book is about a Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who comes to live in the United States and eventually writes a blog about race and the immigrant experience in America.  It also revolves quite a bit around the man Ifemelu left behind in Nigeria and their desire to rekindle their romance.  I really loved the social commentary on the black experience in America that figures heavily into this book.

5. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson– This beautiful memoir in verse is the story of Woodson’s childhood as she grows up black in the 1960s and 1970s, splitting time between the North and the South.  This is seriously such a good book and Woodson’s experience is shaped by both her race and religion (Jehovah’s Witness) and the major goings-on of the Civil Rights movement are strongly present in the background of this mostly personal tale.


6. Trade Me by Courtney Milan– This romance was a fun little New Adult about a second generation Chinese American girl who simultaneously attends college and takes on the burden of supporting her family economically.  Tina gets the chance to swap places with Blake, a white guy who is super rich because his dad is the founder of an Apple-like technology company.  Oh yeah, and he’s a guy with an eating disorder.  Of course Tina and Blake become involved romantically over the course of their agreement.  I also like how Milan so subtly dropped in a transsexual side character (who will be the lead in the next book in this series!) that I got confused later in the story when it was brought up.

7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie– I love Alexie’s work for his take on the contemporary Native American experience and particularly his ability to be funny and awkward and genuine all at the same time, but his YA novel is probably my favorite of his works.  This is the story of Junior, a tween/teen boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

8. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz–  This book is an absolutely beautiful, excellent coming of age story about two boys growing up in 1980s El Paso.  It gets the LGBT tag, but that enters spoiler territory, so I’ll just say this story is mostly about Ari and Dante’s friendship, their families (LOVE their parents), and how they grow into themselves.

9. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth–  Cameron comes of age in Montana in the early 90s, dealing with coming to terms with her sexuality and the death of her parents.  Her conservative, religious aunt finds out that Cameron has been experimenting with girls and sends her off to a de-gaying school in the wilderness.

10. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling– I picked this one because Rowling portrays Pagford’s poor in such an honest, frank way that was deeply affecting for me.  I had so much compassion for Krystal and the horrible home life she faced and her limited life choices.  She’s cast as the town troublemaker by everyone else in town, but Rowling shows Krystal is a more complex (and tragic) person than the town would believe.

What are some of your favorite diverse books?  Do you try to make a point of reading diversely?  I’d love to see your lists so I can try out even more diverse books!

15 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Diverse Books

  1. Wonderful list! I loved Brown Girl Dreaming, Ari & Dante and Say what You WIll. I’ve been meaning to read I’ll Meet You There, and Trade Me is going on my tbr now. Thanks for sharing your faves- love this topic!

  2. I have to agree with you on “The Casual Vacancy” and this specific character, even though i sadly found that in some aspects this specific character also made some very … unwise choices that i just did not understand.
    But still, Rowling wrote it very well on how someone can be cast aside simply because of being poor or living on the wrong side of town.

    I am really interested in reading “Miseducation” after seeing it here, it sounds like a very interesting book and a different spin on finding out that a family member experiences with their sexuality.

    Great list 🙂

    • I really think Krystal’s questionable decisions stemmed from hopelessness and desperation and seeing no way out of the Fields or her home life. She doesn’t see or know how or feel able to make better choices and has really no one on her side who can help her with this, especially since Barry died.

  3. Great list! I’ve only read I’ll Meet You There, but a few others are high on my TBR – The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Aristotle and Dante…, and Illusions of Fate in particular. 🙂

  4. So many books I need to read! I’m trying to decide if I’m doing better on reading diversely because I’m putting forth more effort or because the publishing industry is getting more inclusive.

    • Interesting to think about… I think for me it’s a little bit of both? When I put this list together I realized it is mostly YA and some of these were some majorly hyped, award-winning books. The genres I tend to read in adult are chick lit/romance and I couldn’t think of many obvious examples of a “diverse” characters from those… I don’t know how much of this is that I tend to select my own adult reads and haven’t striven for diversity as much in my comfort genres vs. I tend to pick up YA that is hyped in the blogosphere where diversity is a hot topic. But the Read Harder challenge is definitely responsible for me picking up some of the books on this list… so definitely trying to be conscious of what I’m reading makes a difference, too.

      • My “comfort” reads are rarely diverse, but I think that’s logical. I do think it’s innately challenging to read diverse characters – it takes a little more effort to put yourself in their situation and when I’m reading purely for comfort that’s not what I’m going to gravitate too.

        I do think that diversity in publishing is getting better, but it’s probably largely due to the attention on the topic over the last couple years. We definitely need to keep making the effort to look for diverse books.

  5. I’ve been meaning to read I’ll Meet you There ever since it came out. They have it at the library now but I also added it to my OTSPSS wishlist (which I’m still debating on doing…) so I don’t know if I want to borrow it or possibly own it. I also want to read Brown Girl Dreaming, but when I’m in the right mood for it since I know it’ll be great.

  6. Pingback: 2015 End of Year Survey | Don't Take My Books Away

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