You all know how much I value diversity in a book and if you didn’t know that yet: hi, you must be new here. I’m Lia and I am an advocate of diversity in books. Nice to meet you.
Over the past half year, I’ve set myself the goal to read more diversely and keep track of how diverse I read. Half a year has passed and now I think it’s time to check my progress!
I’ve been keeping track using a 5-star system, rating each book based on POC, LGBT+, disability, minority and non-western setting. Each book could get a score of 0 or 1 (sometimes 0.5) on each of the criteria. Let’s take a look at how often I gave the books I read a star (or point) for each criterion! I added some examples of books I read this half of the year with representation.
It turns out that in over 50% of the books I’ve read a character, main or (major) side, is of colour! Most of these were side characters.
I also read a lot of LGBT+ books with characters ranging from gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, non-binary, intersexual and asexual.
Disabilities were a little rarer, mostly these were characters suffering from mental disorders and characters with minor disabilities such as a limb. Some examples of disabilities/disorders I’ve read about: anxiety, deafness, blindness, ASD, muteness, eating disorders, depression.
Minorities turn out to be a very vague term. I used this mainly for books that contained a character with a semi-rare decent or religion. Examples are Native American or other indigenous people and Jewish or other religious people.
Non-western was the hardest for me, I read mostly books that are set in the US/Europe because most of the books I read are written by American or European authors. I read no books that were set in non-Western countries but I gave some half-stars for books set in a non-Western fantasy world.
If we combine all the ratings, I found that almost 3 out of 4 books I read contain some sort of diversity. Not all of them to the same degree, but I am really happy with this number. On average, the books I read got 1.5 stars, which is decent.
My rating system
After half a year I’ve grown to realize that it isn’t as simple as a rating, because sometimes a book is really diverse in the way that it really talks about one “thing” extensively. For example, None of the Above, which is about a girl who finds out she’s intersex. I would say this book is very diverse because it is about intersexuality and how she deals with this, with the prejudices and discrimination that comes with it and everything surrounding this issue. However, if you would rate this with my scale, it would only get 1 star. And it deserves more. There are so many books like that, that deserve more than the 1 or 2 stars they would get with my system.
So I’ve decided to not include a rating like this in every review anymore (not that I was very consistent anyway). I will keep track of it and I will usually discuss the diversity of the book if applicable, but I won’t rate it anymore from now on.
How you can read more diverse
- Be aware of the topic: Great, you’re on the right track already! If you’re reading this post, you’re clearly interested in diversity and reading more diversely.
- Keep track: This really helped me, after each book I read, I thought about the diverse representation and jotted it down somewhere (or just made a mental note).
- Keep an open mind: If you’re open to reading about topics that are further from your comfort zone, you might get surprised with what you find! I wasn’t used to reading about diverse characters before because I didn’t explore other characters than characters that were alike me.
- Set yourself goals: or just note type of characters or settings you want to read about. If you set yourself the goal to read at least (idk) 10 diverse books over the summer, you get more motivated to do so. Diversity bingos or something alike are a great resource.
- Go out and look for diverse books: there are plenty of lists people made about diverse books you might want to read. I made one myself, you can check it out here, you can also just look up all the books I mentioned/showed above!
- Make it more of a priority: it’s just a small decision but it changes your entire way of reading!
- Have fun! That is, of course, the most important 😀