(This one is going to be a small discussion.)
2016 was the year of diversity in books. As in, last year was the year when absolutely every book community (Booktube, Bookstagram, Bookbloggers etc.) became wholeheartedly involved in reading and encouraging others to read more and more of diverse books. Of course, tons of diverse books existed before last year too, but last year was a huge step towards spreading the word about diverse books. And of course, that’s absolutely amazing.
Today I’m here with a small talk about the kind of diverse books I want. Writing this post, I realized how much easier it would be to explain this in a video or something, where I can talk about it. But writing and explaining my point is going to be difficult.
I just feel like all this awareness about diverse books is definitely incredible, but it is leading to books being written diversely just for the sake of diversity. Just for the purpose of making a book diverse, authors make a particular aspect of the book diverse and add diverse characters, which I’m slightly growing tired of. I feel like this kind of representation isn’t genuine enough, and I find it half-hearted and slightly weak in impact.
On the other hand, there are a lot of books written diversely, but which have the entire book centered around that diverse aspect. It’s like, the whole point of the book and the whole point of the characters is the diverse aspect, and there’s nothing else in the book. One example which comes to my mind is If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. The book was lacking in writing, storytelling and plot but it had excellent representation of a transgender MC, but that was all the book was about. Everything else was ridiculously mediocre, and had the book portrayed a straight MC, I most probably would have DNFed it. More and more books nowadays (especially YA) are being written diversely, but the diversity being the main emphasis of the whole book.
And though I agree that such books are extremely important, I just want to read differently now. I want to read books which are diverse, without it being the main point/focus of the book. I want to read books with diverse characters, where their diverse sexuality/culture/race/skin color/mental illness is portrayed as something which is already a part of the main character, and other things also happen to the MC. I want the diversity to be an inherent part of the book, whereas the actual story is different and continues on. There has to be equal stress on and efforts put into building an amazing story and crafting fleshed-out, real characters as much as on making the book authentically diverse.
So yes, diverse books are important. Authentic representation is important. But what I really, really want to read are books which are inherently diverse, with an equally strong plotline and cast of characters and equal emphasis on every other aspect of the book.