Bias in boosting diverse titles? // The complexities of being an advocate for diverse books

In case you’re new here… Hi! I love boosting and advocating for diverse books!!

They’re important, they reflect our beautifully diverse world, and they tell stories which FINALLY focus on having marginalized people be the forefront just as much as the typical, allocishet white characters.

And personally, I believe everyone should be an advocate for diverse books! If you’re NOT a supporter of diverse books, I highly recommend you take a step back and reevaluate your values and how you see the world because… yikes.

(Also, here’s your reminder that diverse books are not a trend, or a genre, or anything of that sort! They are HERE TO STAY and they deserve to be present across ALL genres (and audiences, though that’s another beast).

However, what I wanted to look at is WHAT KIND of diverse books are getting talked about! Because “diverse” is a very large umbrella term!! That encompasses: POC, Native, LGBTQ+, mental illness, disabled, ethnic, cultural and religious minorities… and within each of those, there are SO MANY different populations.

What I feel like often happens, is that certain “types”, for lack of a better word, of diverse books get more attention than others. People out here reading one popular coming out story of a gay white boy* and think that’s supporting LGBTQIA+ books, or even diverse books as a whole? Sure that’s great if you’re starting out, but your support should include so much more.

Reading books with bi, pan, trans, non-binary, asexual/aromantic characters! Including queer POC! Queer & disabled! Queer with mental illness! All the intersectional identities!

And that’s only talking about one portion of diverse books!

*I love Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Love, Simon with ALL MY HEART, it means so much to me, but that is NOT the epitome of LGBTQ+ books and that’s that 🤷🏽‍♀️

It just seems like, sometimes thatdiverse books about disabled characters, or books about mental illness are not talked about as often as books with POC or LGBTQ+ rep. I know that’s a hard claim to make, especially since a lot of our perception of what books are being talked about depends on who we’re following, and I do follow people who DO talk about disabled and mentally ill characters (thank you!!), maybe I just don’t follow enough of those people?

YET THAT’S THE THING. There are so many diverse books advocates out here and I love that and appreciate all of you guys so much, but I don’t think there should only be a handful of people who do talk about those minorities! Of course, if you aren’t part of those minorities, do not speak over them, but boosting books with good rep for all minorities is a good thing!! That is SUPPORT. Linking to discussions about those minorities is a good thing!! Etc. BE AN ALLY.

I just feel like books with disabled characters or mentally ill characters just need to be boosted as much as we boost books with POC or queer characters, you know? They’re just as important and it’s unfair to leave the boosting and support of those books only on the shoulders of those who are also disabled or mentally ill. We should be doing it as a community.

I feel like that’s also where bias sort of comes in. Bias is everywhere when it comes to books; as readers, our own experiences and identities just inevitably cause us to have biases, even when we try to stay as unbiased as possible? For me, as someone who identifies as a queer, Muslim POC, I recognize that I particularly look for LGBTQ+, POC and/or Muslim rep in books as well. That doesn’t mean I ignore all other types of diverse books, but just that I pay more attention to these ones?

But I should, and want to do better!

I want to support ALL diverse books. It’s totally valid to value the diverse books that represent your identities, but I think to put the effort in to boost all different types of diverse titles is equally important–what’s not part of your identity is 100% a part of someone else’s, and that’s just as important to respect and support.

And this goes for people who aren’t marginalized as well! We should all do our best to support ALL diverse books. ❤️

Also, in honour of Autism Acceptance Month / Autism Pride Month, I also wanted to remind y’all to support autistics!! This should be all year-round, but especially this month it means a lot to boost the voices of autistic readers/bloggers/people. 💕 It shouldn’t be all on them to talk about the many issues that autistics face, and we should do our part.

Writing this post really made me reflect on how I should be doing better in terms of advocating for all diverse books, and how certain minorities may get overlooked due to personal biases and general popularity in the community? But maybe I’m just imagining everything and this is just a me problem, which is totally fair lmao. I’m working on it!

We can’t be responsible to hold ALL the diverse books ever on our shoulders as individuals all alone, but if we all try our best to lift as many different diverse voices and books as we can together, then hopefully one day we’ll get to a point where diverse books are found everywhere, equally, and ALL diverse books get the attention they deserve.

I know this was a heavier, dense post, but I hope that all made sense? (Seriously what are words) There are just SO MANY stories out there and I just think it’s such a disservice to them to focus on some, and not all diverse books, especially in this time of publishing! This is not a criticism, only a reflection on myself and diverse books! I totally understand how hype allows certain books to become more popular and hyped over others, and that’s fair! But that shouldn’t mean we can’t promote other books just as much.

What are your thoughts?? I don’t mean to exclude anyone in this discussion! If you’re an advocate for diverse books, do you think certain books get more recognition than others? Are there any underrated diverse books you recommend? Am I imagining everything?

I hope you have a lovely Friday!! I’m going to go eat now and read some diverse books lol I’m hungry

(Hungry for the food or the diverse books we may never know)

(Both.)

Wherein I talk about how I’m a coward!! // Do you often venture outside your reading comfort zone?

HI, MY NAME IS ALINE AND MY TWO MOST FAVOURITE GENRES ARE CONTEMPORARY AND FANTASY.

Goodbye.

So far this year, I’ve picked up 13 fantasy books, and 15 contemporaries (and 1 historical)!! And although I didn’t track the genres I read last year, I can assure you MANY fell between contemporary or fantasy.

Which made me curious!! Because these are my favourite genres, and I… have almost exclusively been reading books solely within my favourite genres! But should I be reading books of other genres???

It’s not for any lack of interest that I don’t pick up other genres, after all; thrillers/mysteries, and sci-fi for example are genres I’ve tried and enjoyed before! (I just have not fallen in love with these genres, or perhaps tried them often enough to have the urge to pick them up more often.)

I know this isn’t a new dilemma. But it’s new *TO ME* okay. 😂 (Sort of. I’m actually *talking* about it this time rather than considering “do I read too much fantasy/contemporary?” lmao)

On the one hand, I believe we should read whatever makes us happy!! Comfort zone genres are… well, um COMFORTABLE. Even if every book holds a different story at an individual level within a genre, the familiarity with the genre just makes for a more easy read? (Maybe that’s just me and my cowardice speaking.) Not to mention that these comfort zone genres are genres I love! I enjoy them! I read for enjoyment! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sticking with what you know you love.

On the other hand, I also see the value in diversifying the genres we read! Becoming familiar with or at least delving into books of different genres more often will introduce you to different tropes perhaps, and styles of writing that you would not have known you liked if you hadn’t tried it! There are also just so many different types of stories out there, each with their own value, you know?

THIS IS WHY I CAN’T MAKE DECISIONS OR EVER ARGUE ANYTHING EVER.

Not to mention, reading outside of age groups!!

(Middle-Grade, Young-Adult, New-Adult, Adult.) I primarily read YA (as in, I’ve SOLELY read YA for the past several years lmao), and I’ve previously read Middle-Grade books and maybe a couple of Adult books? (Namely Victoria Schwab’s books.) But YA is my RIDE OR DIE OKAY.

I read YA because I enjoy the books that are written in this target age range, but I’m not opposed to reading MG or Adult (or New Adult)! I know MG is often less popular among YA/Adult readers because they’re for younger children but many are very good reads! I want to read more of them! Adult books, as well, interest me (although not so much the romance ones) but I just haven’t read enough of them to form a strong opinion.

I’m a lot less hesitant in picking up something that’s not YA than I am reading a genre I don’t often reach for?

Because regardless of the target age, if it’s in the same genres I like, there’s a good chance the types of narratives I enjoy will be repeated, but at a different maturity level. Like, I would be more comfortable reading an Adult fantasy, than I would be reading, say, historical fiction or horror in YA. Because the key elements that I love about the genre are still there, you know? Whereas genres like historical fiction, which I don’t typically read, are more unfamiliar to me.

However, I am a lot more likely to pick up a book outside my comfort zone if it’s by an author I already know and love! Which makes sense, obviously. Most authors have a certain “niche” or genre that they stick to, and right now I can’t think of any genre jumps, but I very eagerly picked up Victoria Schwab’s adult duology of Vicious and Vengeful after I read and loved her Shades of Magic (also adult) series and Monsters of Verity series (YA)! I’m also currently planning on picking up Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake (MG) seeing how I loved the author’s YA books How to Make a Wish and Girl Made of Stars. (Also Dezzy really loved this book and so I must <3)

Basically: Do I want to read outside my comfort zones regarding genres more often? In theory, for sure! In reality, I am far more likely to continue to stick to my current favourite genres unless a book comes highly recommended or it’s by an author I’ve enjoyed before … which is not *great* (so if you have recs; throw em at me!!) I’m also far more likely to venture outside of YA than I am to read very different genres (or outside of YA AND in an unfamiliar genre)!! Especially with YA authors like V.E Schwab, and soon Leigh Bardugo* releasing books outside of the YA realm.

At the same time, I don’t want to impose any restrictions or requirements for my reading! I want to be able to read what makes me HAPPY.

SO BASICALLY I’M UNDECIDED.

*SCREAMING ABOUT NINTH HOUSE AHHH

What are some books you’ve read that fell outside of your comfort zone that you absolutely adored OR detested? Do you prefer trying to venture in the scary world of the unknown or do you typically stick to your favourites? Recommend me some books outside of fantasy and contemporary that you loved, if you have any! (Especially if they’re diverse; POC, LGBTQ+, disabled, mental illness… 👀)

TL;DR I NEED TO BE MORE BRAVE, we should read what we want, genres are a scam (jk jk) and I will never read all the books I want to anyway (facts but irrelevant lmao)!!

Is there a lack of romance tropes with marginalized protagonists? // We need more diverse books!!

Romance tropes, to the say the least, are slightly* very overdone.

(I mean… That’s why they’re called tropes??)

There’s the love triangle (cringe), forbidden romance, hate-to-love, friends-to-lovers… all the good stuff that you swoon over in books!

And as entertaining as those are, I feel like there’s also the issue of people being tired of these tropes? That, as much as there are books where we really enjoy these tropes, people don’t always want them as much. *cough* Love triangles *cough*

We might say it’s because they’re all the same, they’re overdone, and unoriginal or unrealistic and sure, I get that! I’ve even said it myself.

Yet as easy it is to write off love triangles or forbidden romance as being “dead” or “overdone”, SO MANY YA books containing those tropes feature the same kind of characters; allo cishet, able-bodied, white protagonists, and THAT’s my issue, more than how much tropes appear in books.

Which is what this post is all about!! I’m focusing on the appearance of queer POC protagonists in particular, but this absolutely applies to any marginalized population as well.

*VERY, in case you couldn’t detect the sarcasm ahaha

FIRST – THE TROPES.


In case you needed a little reminder of your favouritetropes!!

  • Love triangles: Usually featuring one girl and two guys who are in love with her! Extra Stereotypical Points if one guy is super sweet and caring and the other is the broody bad-boy (If you haven’t read one of these YOU ARE LYING)
  • Friends-to-lovers: Um what else do I say here… but often very cute! Though what I often dislike is when it’s like “they’ve been friends for years” and so when the book start the character is like already in love with their love interest even though we’ve hardly seen any reason WHY or any development?? like off I understand how people who’ve been friends forever can fall in love, that’s super cute but in a book it so often feels like lazy writing??
  • Insta-love: STAY AWAY STAY AWAY STAY AWAY
  • Hate-to-love/enemies-to-lovers: The angst! The tension! The best!
  • Forbidden romance: Similar to the star-crossed lovers, but not necessarily the same? But you know the drill, there’s always something that’s preventing this couple from getting together! But it can be sooooo good
  • Star-crossed lovers: (too much) angst!! Passionate kissing scenes and Romeo & Juliet number 3546 😅
  • Best friend’s brother (lmao): hm ok 🤔😅 Haven’t read as many of these? Not super interested in it either tbh
  • The ‘innocent’ girl and the ‘bad’ boy: welp what a classic am I right??
  • The nerdy boy and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl: I just find Manic Pixie Dream Girls (super weird/quirky/super exotic or unfamiliar to the nerdy boy) very bland? I think in attempting to BE ‘different’ from other girls they all become the same oops
  • Soulmates: Usually becomes the same as insta-love but hey, maybe that’s the cynic in me?? (Says me, while being a huge romantic)
  • Fake boyfriend/girlfriend: THE CUTEST I LOVE

*Subjective

Because although when we think of these tropes there are tons of books that come to mind, there is still a LARGE lack of marginalized people being represented in those same tropes we claim as being dead or unoriginal. Let me ask you: how many books have you come across with a love triangle featuring a POC, or a disabled, or marginalized character versus one with your typical white, allocishet Katniss-Gale-Peeta? I’m not saying they don’t exist, but the gap in numbers is quite large, I bet.

I’m not trying to attack books or anyone who reads and enjoys books with your “typical” types of characters (there are tons I love to death myself!), but as an advocate for diverse books and as a POC myself, this is something I’ve noticed and I wanted to speak about, from my own experience!

To be frank, it’s not that hard to answer this question in my mind. It’s a big fat YES. Now, I’m not in any way trying to diminish all the books out there who DO feature tropes with marginalized protagonists!! But I’m trying to say there should be MORE.

All my life, I’ve grown up seeing straight and white as the default. When I used to imagine writing my own books, I imagined the main characters as white because it never occurred to me that there could ever be books with characters who looked like me? And that reality is incredibly depressing.

Now, having found mainstream books that feature characters like me, or of other non-white identities, is so empowering and wonderful and I just don’t want it to stop where it is. When it comes to romance tropes, there is just SO MUCH POTENTIAL for all that could be done for diverse books! Yes, these tropes are common. Yes, we’ve seen them many times before. But not with everyone. And I want this so badly, you have no idea!! Love triangle featuring Asian characters? SIGN ME UP. A queer hate-to-love romance? MINE. Disabled characters becoming friends-to-lovers? YES PLEASE.

Literally take any trope and I will be overjoyed because marginalized identities are so often removed from the narrative concerning tropes. When we say they’re overdone, it almost never applies to minorities and almost solely refers to the “typical” YA character. And that’s an issue!

Take love triangles, for example. Hugely overdone, super common, yada yada yada. Off the top of your head can probably list a ton (Hunger Games, TMI, TID, The Selection, Red Queen…) but how many feature marginalized characters?

………..

Exactly.

I want to step into a bookstore and see more books like When Dimple Met Rishi or My So-Called Bollywood Life. I want to see books like The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali. Books like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Books like Let’s Talk About Love. Books like Starfish and Summer Bird Blue. I want to see love triangles, forbidden romances, fake dating, hate-to love with brown characters, black characters, disabled characters, Asian characters, queer & POC characters! I want to see stories with intersectional representation.

The world is just made of so many more different, amazing people other than straight white kids, and it’s doing everyone such a huge disservice not to represent that in our selection of books.

(And I limited this post to simply romance tropes because of Valentine’s Day, but this applies to every trope out there! I want to see brown girls or boys as the Chosen One, queer protagonists the secret heir to the kingdom, see disabled characters part of a prophecy to save the world.)

I WANT IT ALL. And I’m not sorry for that.

Are tropes over?? What are your thoughts? What are some of your favourite romances featuring marginalized characters?! Let’s spread some diverse books love! 💕

(also hi here’s your belated reminder for Valentine’s Day that being single is OKAY and you don’t have to be in love or in a relationship to be happy because you only need books you are an amazing individual who will reach success and great things with or without being in love!! okay bye I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day!!)