Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week, they post a new Top Ten topic and other bloggers respond with their own lists. I take part in this meme when I have something to say for the topic and I remember what day it is.

I am getting really bad at posting these on Tuesday…

I have to admit something: I am not a diverse reader. Or at least, I am not a purposefully diverse reader. I’ve never gone out and searched for books that feature diversity. I buy books because of the plots they have, not necessarily who the characters are, but that unfortunately leaves me with a bookshelf dominated by straight, white protagonists.

I want to read books that have diverse characters but that are about something more than just what makes the character diverse. I wish there were more diversity-focused fantasy books. Basically, I am a white girl wishing she reading more diversely, so if you have recommendations, please send them my way.

1. Every Day by David Levithan

cover every day

I loved the simplicity with this book discussed the nature of sexuality and gender identity. The main character, A, wakes up in a different body every day, with the powers that be making no distinction between genders. As a character essentially removed from the idea of gender, A’s falling in love with a normal girl effortlessly challenges the idea that “gay” love is any different from “straight” love.

2. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

cover the summer of chasing mermaids

Featuring an ethnic protagonist whose culture heavily influences her personality, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids separates itself from the contemporary pack with a plainspoken discussion of gender identity, trauma and healing, socioeconomic divides, and the meaning of voice.

3. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

cover beauty queens

This book has everything. In terms of books I’ve read, this book “wins” diversity for me. It has a separate plot that stands on its own but perfectly showcases (and celebrates) diversity of all stripes.

4. Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught

cover freaks like us

Featuring a schizophrenic protagonist, this novel humanizes mental illness while telling a sweet and compelling story.

5. Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig

cover atlanta burns

This book celebrates diversity in a slightly different way: by focusing on hate crimes. Atlanta, the badass protagonist, takes a stand against racial supremacy and homophobia (as well as animal cruelty) in this gritty and humorous read.

6. Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

cover black dove white raven

I haven’t read this book yet, but my sister told me to put it on the list. Historical fiction set in Ethiopia with Europe on the brink of WWII, the story focuses on the racial tensions of blacks and whites mingling during Mussolini’s occupation.

7. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

cover five flavors of dumb

With a deaf protagonist taking over management of a high school band, this book tackles the social perceptions of disabled people from page one. A hilarious story that proves stories don’t have to have the perfect ending you would expect, Five Flavors of Dumb holds a special place in my heart.

8. More Than This by Patrick Ness

cover more than this

A hauntingly unique exploration of death and reality, More Than This has a gay protagonist and back-up characters that bring racial and body image issues into the touching plot.

9. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater

Fantasy stories set in an urban world, The Raven Cycle brings together the pampered son of the uber rich with the scholarship student, the recovering abuse victim from a broken home, and feisty, ragtag girl protagonist who refuses to comply with society’s rules for young women. Later books deal with LGBT themes and issues of social classes.

10. For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Companion fantasy/dystopian novels, both of these books deal with societies with heavily entrenched class systems and characters trying to bridge the gaps created by them. They also explore mental illness, focusing on a fictional sickness called Reduction that bears similarities to autism.

What do you think? Have you read any of these books? Do you want to read them now?

Seeing these books that I enjoyed, do you have any others that you think I’d like? Please comment!

5 thoughts on “Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity

  1. […] By far the most interesting part of the story was the discussion of racism and sexism. Zacharias was a slave boy raised by the former Sorcerer Royal as a son. He was freed when he was a young teenager and got the best training and upbringing money could buy, but white English society still viewed him as an outsider and a usurper. Continuing to break barriers, Zacharias takes in Prunella as his apprentice. In this society, women born with magical ability are trained to suppress it, so Zacharias bringing a woman into the most prestigious group of magicians in Britain is unheard of. (It’s kind of an Obama/Clinton situation, to be honest.) While the sexism and racism presented in this book are set hundreds of years ago, the discussion of these social issues remains applicable to society today. These subplots added well-needed depth and originality to the plot. I wish I had read this book sooner, because it would have easily made the top of my TTT list about diversity. […]


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