What Cats Do Book Tag

I was tagged for the What Cats Do Book Tag by Faith from Adventuring Girl and because I love cats and books, I decided to give it a go! Thank you, Faith for tagging me!

Rules

  1. Credit Kate
  2. Answer the questions
  3. And tag as many people as you like

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Purr – as cats do when they’re happy or relaxed, what is the book that makes you happy or relaxed?

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Sometimes the best thing is just to read some romantic, slightly cliché book and relax. I don’t do it often, but sometimes. Isla and the Happily Ever After is definitely one of those sappy books that makes me happy.

Sleep – what is a book that put you to sleep, or was just boring?

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SeQuence was just so boring… Sorry.

Twitch While Dreaming – have you ever dreamt of a book you read?

Not that I can remember. I did once dream about Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, which I haven’t read but I dreamt that the writer was about to give me a copy of her book and then she decided to give it so someone else :/

Seems to Play Nice…until the claws are out – which book had the biggest plot twist?

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Plot twists don’t get much bigger than the one in Red Queen!

Cuddles – which book character would you (want to) give a hug to?

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My answer to this question will forever and always be Oskar from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Please let me hug Oskar, okay, he needs it so much.

Catnip – what’s a book that made you have warm and fuzzy feels?

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The Color Project gave me a lot of fuzzy feels!

Cat Breeds – what are your favorite books?

Both Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Serpent King have a special place in my heart.

The Vet’s Office – least favorite book.

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I don’t really have one least favourite book but The Way Back Home gets pretty damn close.

Being in Places They Shouldn’t – least favorite cliche.

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I have very many pet peeves and 99% of them are related to love-stories. I don’t like love triangles and insta-love, but what I hate even more is the “sort of plain, insecure girl who desperately needs a boyfriend”. I hate that it undermines the whole idea of that you’re your own person and that don’t need anyone to feel complete. I hate that so so much. (I didn’t hate this book (at all), I just hated that aspect of it).

The Good Old Cardboard Box – most underrated book series.

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The Wolves of Mercy Falls is such an underrated Maggie Stiefvater series. I adored these books so much and I think I always will.

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What’s your least favourite cliché? Which character would you want to give a hug?

If you want to do this tag, go for it! I am not tagging anyone in particular but you’re open to do it as you please!

Blogger Newbie: Leanne (@ Bookish Revolution ) | 3 books that changed my life

I got an exciting guest post from Leanne over at Bookish Revolution! Let me just give her the word!

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Who Are You?: I’m Leanne, I’m relatively new to the world of book blogging. I’m an avid (but slow!) reader, and I’ll read pretty much anything except romance, which no matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to get into! I also love belly dancing, running and my cat Coconut.

What is your blog about and what are your plans with it?: My blog is about books, but I’m not doing many straightforward reviews. I prefer to look at how books have shaped my view of the world, or how they’ve helped me in some way. I also like to do a light-heartes post once in a while – like pictures of my cat with books!

Why did you start blogging?: I wanted to connect with people and discuss books with them – that’s pretty much it! I also want to improve my writing style and develop my own “voice”. I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I finish a blog post.

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Which books changed your life? Here are 3 of mine

This week I’ve been reflecting on my reading progress for the year. Not just in terms of the number of books I’ve read, but also the quality of those I’ve read and the level of diversity I’ve managed to achieve.

I’ve read some great books this year that have all resonated with me in different ways. That said, with the possible exception of Roxane Gay’s wonderful Difficult Women, which I talked about in an earlier blog post, nothing has jumped out at me yet as a book that I’ll remember for years to come. You know the sort I mean, the book you look at sitting on your shelves and immediately start reminiscing about the time you read it and how it made you feel.  It makes you want to capture that feeling again and again.

Now, I know we’re only in July, so there’s still a few more books left to read before the end of the year. I also recognise that the important books in your life tend to be few and far between, and that’s part of what makes them special – you’d probably be rather emotionally drained if every book you read left you pining so deeply for the experience of reading it again, and sometimes that’s really not what you need from a book anyway.

But it got me thinking about some of the books I’ve read that have had a big impact on me over the years, and some are probably ones you wouldn’t expect! Here are 3 books that, in very different ways, have changed my life.

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

To be honest, I can’t remember exactly when I first read Harper Lee’s classic. It wasn’t when I was at secondary school, although I certainly owned a copy at that point – I think I may have been at university before I finally managed to read it.

I could see immediately why it’s such a popular choice on the curriculum in American high schools, and I really hope it still is today. It addresses so many important themes – race relations, gender stereotypes, what it means to have courage and to follow your own moral compass. To have compassion for others who aren’t like you. Things that I think are more relevant today than they ever were.

To Kill A Mockingbird taught me that doing what you think is right isn’t always an easy option – but you should do it anyway. When I re-read this book a couple of years ago, I remember sitting on a bus and reading the end of a particular chapter – and having to close the book for a second so I could hug it. I never do that.

Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight – Linda Bacon

And now for something completely different!

I first read this book about 4 years ago, after having a conversation with a work colleague on the bus home. I’d been going to Slimming World for about a year by that point, and I’d never really considered any other viewpoint than the one espoused by pretty much everybody, from doctors to friends – being fat is unhealthy, and you’re only going to be happy if you can get thin and stay thin.

Oh, how the science in this book completely changed my perspective.

I’ve never been happy with my body. I come from a family where dieting is the norm, and being fat is just not something that is acceptable. This book helped me move away from the diet mentality – and consequently away from low self-esteem. Until I read this book, I hadn’t realized how much of my self-esteem was wrapped up in trying to attain a socially-acceptable body (or how much emotional energy I was expending trying to do it). I’m not only happier because of this book, I’m healthier – I don’t obsess about eating, but I’m still able to make food and exercise choices that help me maintain my well-being and a healthy lifestyle, as opposed to the constant weight cycling and “all-or-nothing” approach to healthy eating that I had before. It also got me into reading other books about the obsession with the obesity “crisis”, as well as size-acceptance movements and intuitive eating.

I have a lot to thank Linda Bacon for – I can’t imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn’t ditched the diets and started living my life.

Kindred – Octavia E. Butler

This is the first book by Octavia E. Butler that I read, and I hope to add more to the list!

I enjoyed this book so much – the plot had me gripped and the nuanced relationships between the characters had me hooked. But these aren’t the reasons it’s important to me.

Kindred made me look at diversity in books in a new light. I’ve felt for a long time that it’s important to read more than just white male authors, who generally don’t experience the barriers to publishing or exposure in the book community that other writers do.

This is hard for me to admit, but reading this book made me realize that I’d been making assumptions about black writers and writing that really weren’t true. Embarrassingly, I’d never heard of a science fiction book written by a black person, never mind a black woman, and this had never occurred to me as odd. I’m cringing as I write this, because it all seems completely ridiculous to me that I could ever have thought this way.

I’d never really considered that black writers who get publicity in the UK tend to be writing about particular subjects such as slavery, or the political situation in Nigeria, themes that you’d probably expect black writers to explore. There is nothing wrong with this – I’ve read some brilliant books on these topics. But I think it does lead to black writers getting pigeonholed, because the reading public is often only showcased a particular sort of writing. I think this can often be true for writers from other backgrounds too. I’m sure it’s not an accident that science fiction is overwhelmingly white, and male. Even though Kindred is widely dubbed a classic, and isn’t a new book, I’d never heard of it. I know it deals with slavery and race relations, but I’d never seen them approached in this way.

As I said, I loved this book, but it also raised some questions about diversifying my reading that made me feel uncomfortable. I’m glad about that. It made me realise that, if I was going to make sure that diversifying my reading didn’t turn into a tokenistic gesture, I needed to make an effort to find authors from black and minority ethnic backgrounds other than those established enough to be getting a lot of publicity, or those writing in mainstream genres that tend to have big marketing budgets. It’ll need a bit more effort, but I think it’ll be worth it. There are so many books by a diverse range of writers out there that we don’t get to hear about because of the barrier such writers face, and I’d like to help remedy that if it’s possible.

So, there you have my 3 life-changing books – which books are important to you?

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If you enjoyed this post, make sure to follow Leanne on her blog, twitter, litsy (@LeanneAslin) and/or instagram! Which book(s) changed your life?

Book Haul!

You all seemed to be quite excited about the idea of posting a book haul so here we are. Not all of the books have arrived yet but that doesn’t stop me from writing this post. This post will have 3 sections: books I bought, books I won and ARCs. The links refer to the goodreads pages!

Books I bought

 

You might not recognize it, but this is the alternative cover for The Serpent King. I’m not a huge fan of the original cover, I think it has to do with the color (I’m also not a fan of the other Jeff Zentner’s other book’s cover), but I fell in love with this pretty edition! I love this book but I did not own a copy before.

I preordered All The Crooked Saints! It is my first ever preorder and I can’t wait! This is the new book by Maggie Stiefvater and so far I’ve loved all her books (and I think I also read almost all her books, so…)

Illuminae I got in my local bookstore and I still can’t grasp how pretty it is in real life. This is a sci-fi story and I don’t really know much about it except that there’s an AI in the story which is pretty cool.

Let’s Get Lost I also got from my local bookstore and I’ve actually had for a month or so, I just love the cover and I read the first chapter and loved it. I’m saving this one for my trip to Hungary for the summer because it’s a road trip book and what’s better to read on a road trip, than a book about road trips?

I finally bought A Darker Shade of Magic after long deliberation because I actually love the other cover so much more but it was more expensive and oh well, this one is pretty as well!

Crooked Kingdom!! Must I say more?

Books I won

 

I won both Something Beautiful and Chasing Eveline from Armchair BookExpo (both ebooks), which was an online book expo running simultaneously to the real book expo in New York. I already read Something Beautiful, which is about mental health and fluid sexuality. I wasn’t even planning on reading it right away but I started with the first chapter and I couldn’t stop! Chasing Eveline is apparently a book about music, romance, and awkwardness, which sounds really good!

I won This Savage Song from Austine’s (from NovelKnight) giveaway and it was a surprise book, so I didn’t know what it was, but I was incredibly happy with This Savage Song because I’ve been wanting to read it for so long!

ARCs I got

I got Fallen Flame via Netgalley and don’t you just love the cover?? It’s so pretty!

City of Strife and City of Betrayal (the sequel that doesn’t have a cover yet) I got from Claudie Arseneault and you might remember her from her guest post months ago for the Bad Book Project. I am currently reading the first book!

The Butterfly on Fire I got via a review request and though I don’t like the cover, the story really sounds intriguing.

This list does not include the books I might or might not buy on book depository later because there’s a sale and I have very little self-control 😛

Are you planning on reading any of these books (or perhaps, you’ve already read them)? What books did you get lately? Did I buy good ones?

Discussion: Book Shelf organization, ways to organize and spice it up! + QUIZ

A couple of months ago, I decided to change my bookshelf organization to organized on colour. AND I LOVE IT. My shelves look so pretty and I love the colouring. Though, there are some disadvantages of this method. So I wanted to shortly discuss different ways to organize your bookshelves, how to spice up your shelves, and in the end you can do a quiz (I’m proud of that because I never did a quiz before).

Ways of organizing

  • On Colour: on colour is right now my favourite, it looks very aesthetically pleasing. It’s one of those things that always make me jealous of other people’s shelves, how the colours look.
  • On Alphabetical Order: this is the way that bookstores and libraries use and is quite useful, but if you’re like me and always forget the writer’s name just when you need to find the book, this might not be the best method for you.
  • Randomly: this is obviously the easiest way, if you don’t care about how your shelves look and you just care about the books in it, this is the way for you.
  • Hardcovers and Paperbacks separated: this always looks so pleasing because hardcovers have usually the same spine length, it gives your shelves such an organized feel. I barely own any hardcovers so for me, it’s not the way to go.
  • On Genre: I used this method for the longest time, that is, until I realized almost half my books were the same genre. Then there’s not really a point to it. If you read a lot of different genres, this might be a good way to organize for you.
  • On Language: if you read in multiple languages, you can consider giving them separate shelves. I own several Dutch books, but the majority is English, so I kind of gave up on giving them separate shelves, it would just look odd.
  • On Size: with this, I mean especially on height, don’t you just think it looks stunning if all your books align?
  • On Categories: All your favourites on one shelf, for example, or all the books you have yet to read. This can give a nice overview!

 

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These are not my shelves (if only…) but they’re really pretty!

 

Fun ways to spice up your shelves

  • Fairy lights: aren’t they just the prettiest thing?
  • Turn around your book if you’ve read it: I saw this once in pictures, someone turned around all the book they read, and kept all the books they hadn’t yet read with their spine forward. If you ask me, it kind of defeats the whole idea of being able to look at all your favourite books, but oh well.
  • Wrapping your books: I saw this picture once of a bookshelf with all the books wrapped in white paper, and it looked so stunning! You’ll miss looking at your favourite covers, but it does give a very pleasing look. You can also consider doing this for ugly books or study books alone.
  • Put books with their cover forward in your shelf: I never did this because I am always having too little space for my books, but it does look really pretty. You can also put them horizontally, which is something I often do because I can put more books in the same space.
  • Push all your books forward, so they stand on the edge of your shelves: I think this always looks really nice, because your books are all aligned and you have better light on your books.

The Quiz

Click here to open the quiz! (opens in new tab)

What is your favourite way of organizing? How do you spice up your shelves? Or don’t you care about shelf aesthetics?

The Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag (2017 edition)

When I saw this tag floating around the blogosphere again (over here and over here), I was immediately thrown back into the beginning days of my blog (look at me pretending to be all experienced, it was last year). It was one of the first tags I did, I think, I don’t really remember, but anyway, I’m going to do it again!

Last year I apparently read 35 books from January to mid-July. Now I’ve read 55 and it’s not even halfway June yet. I guess you could say I stepped up my reading game haha. This will only make it harder to choose books, there were so many good ones already.

Q1: The best book you’ve read so far in 2017

I think I’m going to go with The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, because it’s one of those books that you love while reading it, but even after it’s finished you find yourself thinking about it a lot. I have the same with Six of Crows and The Raven Cycle, but I think The Serpent King will be one of my absolute favourites for years to come. It made me so happy and then broke my heart and mended it and I NEED A REREAD ALREADY.

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Q2: Your favourite sequel of the year

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. 100% yes, I will love the raven boys forever and oh my god her writing is perfection. The ending was a bit “meh” though, but still, I love it to bits.

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Q3: A new release that you haven’t read but really want to

Story of my life, though. Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor is at the top of my list. I need it. I crave it. But I need to buy the pretty blue and yellow edition and I can’t find it 😦

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Q4: Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS. I am so jealous of people who got an ARC. Can it be October already??

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Q5: Your biggest disappointment

I hated The Way Back Home by Allan Stratton so much, but I’m not sure that’s my biggest disappointment. I can’t think of anything else though, so The Way Back Home it is.

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Q6: Biggest surprise of the year

In The Hope of Memories by Olivia Rivers (REVIEW). The premise doesn’t sound that interesting, but it’s so good. I will keep repeating how much I love this book until you’ve all read it and loved it though haha. It’s about Hope who dies and then sends her friends on a scavenger hunt through New York.

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Q7: Favourite new to you or debut author

Leigh Bardugo. No doubt.

Q8: Your new fictional crush

I don’t really have fictional crushes but I do really like Kaz (Six of Crows duology), Nikolai (Shadow and Bone Trilogy), and Adam (The Raven Cycle). (I would never steal them from their lovers though (Well, I guess stealing Nikolai wouldn’t hurt??))

Q9: New favourite character

How am I supposed to choose??? I really don’t know…

Q10: A book that made you cry

I don’t want to repeat myself but ehm The Serpent King 🙂

Tears. So many tears.

Q11: A book that made you happy

The Color Project by Sierra Abrams, this book made me intensely happy (well for most of it).

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Q12: Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year

Apparently, that is The Circle, which is the only book-to-movie adaptation I’ve seen??? I don’t watch many movies… Unless… does Beauty and the Beast count? Then it’s Beauty and the Beast.

Q13: Favourite book post you’ve done this year

If I’m going to have to believe you guys, it’s my May wrap-up. Uhm. Okay? That was not my favourite by far. I think my favourite would be either my TBR discussion or my discussion about 13 Reasons Why.

Q14: The most beautiful book you’ve bought/received this year

I just bought Illuminae and oh my it’s pretty! Even prettier than I thought it would be. I also really like Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, which I won and We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson.

Q15: What are some books you need to read by the end of the year

Well, I would read my entire TBR and that seems like a fun challenge. My TBR is only about 40 books long and that seems doable? I mean, I’ve already read 55 books and we’re not even halfway. The only problem is that I am constantly adding books, so there won’t be an end to it.

Did you do this tag? What was your favourite read of 2017 so far? Do you agree with any of my choices? Also, would you like to see a book haul from all the books I’ve bought/gotten/won lately?

Do you have a favourite post you’ve written this year? Let me know! I’d love to read it (if I haven’t already)

Discussion: Why I don’t read books written in my native language

As you might know, English is not my native language. In fact, I have lived in the Netherlands (almost) my entire life and grew up speaking Dutch. I wanted to explain why I am not reading (more) books written by Dutch authors. Just to clarify, I do read books in Dutch, occasionally, but those are translated works, usually translated from English.

When I was young I read only in Dutch, of which I think mainly were books written by Dutch authors. There were plenty of great Dutch authors who wrote wonderful children’s books. Even in my early teen years, there was quite a large amount of books I could choose from, but as I grew older, I had grown to dislike them. Series I loved by authors as Carrie Slee and Francine Oomen (two big writers at that time) were starting to annoy me. They repeated the same things, with annoyingly irresponsible main characters, supposedly relatable moments and topics I was no longer interested in. It felt like at that time, all the books in the teen-genre (YA was not yet a thing back then) were about loverboys, teen pregnancies, and related topics. I was not interested in those topics anymore. However, there was not much else to choose from at my library.

In my high school Dutch class, I also had to read Dutch books (obviously) and of the 12 I read, I enjoyed maybe 3. I felt the same way about these adult books as I felt about the teen books. They repeated the same tropes and annoying characters. I felt like every single Dutch adult literary book was about a middle-aged man with drugs/alcohol/women/criminal issues. And I hated those characters so much. Of course, I am not saying that every book was about those topics, but that was what it felt like.

After being “forced” to read all those horrible books and after having failed to find any enjoyable teen book written in my native language, I just sort of gave up on it altogether. I discovered bookish tumblr and found so many enjoyable books written in English. In that same period, my library started having a YA section! Oh, how happy I was to discover this new genre, with interesting books about other topics! I quit reading books by authors I read before all-together. Trust me, I tried reading several books by Dutch writers later on, but I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

I read translated books, because those were the only ones my library had to offer and my English was quite honestly bad at best. I had never been good at English and I was pretty close to failing my English exams. Therefore I started practicing, at any opportunity I got. Over the years I have gotten better and better, due to the fact that I almost exclusively read in English and watch a lot of English tv shows, and now I am pretty much fluent. So for me, there is not really a point to reading books in Dutch anymore, when English is just as easy. 

Of course, I believe that there are great Dutch books out there, but since I’ve grown to dislike them so much in my youth, I don’t feel the urge to try anymore. You could say every book I read has a three-stare star rating to begin with, and stars can be retracted and added when pleased. The Dutch books, however, would start off with a zero-star rating, which would make it much harder to please me. It would be very hard to make me excited about a Dutch book and I would just assume it wasn’t good, just because my expectations are so low.

Does anyone else have this problem? That a genre or just books in your native language in general, have been ruined for you? Do you read in your native language? Or outside your native language?

P.S. I also strongly dislike every Dutch movie/tv series before having even watched it, this might be related???

Discussion: Diverse Things I’d like to see more in books

Diversity is really important to me, and to many others as well and I feel like there is a rise in a number of diverse books coming out. This rise is, I believe, quite a direct result of the increased attention in the bookish community. Diverse bloggers and readers speak up about their opinions and publishers are picking up on that.

I believe that pretty much every single person is diverse in a way. Maybe not in skin-tone or sexuality, but if you look closely enough, something about you stands out of the crowd, even if that is a small thing.

What I see from my perspective as a reader is that a lot of the diverse books are either diverse in sexuality-representation or POC (people of colour)- representation. There are, however, a lot of other ways in which a book can be diverse still forgotten. And I want to discuss a few of things I’d like to see represented more (or just random ideas).

  • Blind and deaf people in general, but one thing I’d love to see is a deaf and a blind person becoming friends. It seems so impossible, but that’s just why I’d like to see it. Wouldn’t it be super interesting to see how they could communicate?
  • Multiple Personality Disorder. I’d love to read about this thing because it’s so intriguing and it would make an awesome book. Imagine, a person having different roles in the same book and how they all come together. It would make an awesome mystery book, but it could work wonderfully in contemporary as well.
  • Contemporary set in a non-western society. Since I’ve started keeping track of how diverse I read, I’ve noticed how few books I read that are set not in the US or Europe. I’d love to read more about different cultures and it doesn’t even have to be all about the culture, a “normal” book set in Israël (or wherever) would be awesome as well.
  • Aro-ace (aromantic, asexual) representation. This is for personal reasons very important to me (I consider myself aro-ace). I know they are out here somewhere, but I haven’t read a single book yet with (good) representation. I also feel like if there is representation, aroace or aro or ace characters are the cold uncaring characters that are the side-kick to the story.
  • A book about a gender-less society. Doesn’t that sound amazing? I just want it to be like sci-fi or dystopian and there are no gender roles and all that, it would be so interesting!
  • Bi girls, but more importantly boys. I feel like bisexual boys are out here in the world but they don’t speak up? For some reason, bi girls are way more accepted in society than bi boys. I’d love to read about a character dealing with this. And also pansexuals! I’d love to read more about those.
  • Different religions. I am not religious, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to read about idk a Jewish ninja? A Muslim scientist? A Christian witch?
  • Genderless/non-binary/transgender characters. I mean, I love how there’s a series about a transgender superhero (Dreadnought) but I need more! I love badass non-binary characters that are like “f*** gender roles, who cares, I’m just me”. (If you love those characters too I recommend reading In The Hope of Memories by Olivia Rivers, Sam is just awesome! Also read this if you don’t love those characters though 😛 )
  • Disabled characters that are not “fixed”. I feel like very often characters who are disabled are either fixed or written out of the story? Like, what is that? Disabled people can still live a good life, okay?

So overall, I do really like the increase in the importance of diverse books but there are so many things not yet covered with the books that are out and popular right now. I think there is a lot of potential in diversity, potential that is not yet uncovered with these books. I would love to see more diversity in both contemporary but especially fantasy, science fiction and dystopian. There is a lot that diversity can add to a story and it is a pity if the writer doesn’t use it.

What would you like to see more in books? Any recommendations perhaps?