Blogger Newbie: Amy (@GoldenBooksGirl) | The Reasons I Love Reading

Today Amy from Golden Books Girl is doing a guest post on my blog so I hope you’ll enjoy it! If you’re interested in doing a guest post yourself, I am looking for new posters so check out this post.

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Tell us something about yourself: Who Are You?:

I’m Amy, I’m a teenage book blogger, and my life revolves around books, dogs, TV/film, photography, music and food.

What is your blog about and what are your plans with it?:

My plan for my blog is to talk about books that I love as many ways as I can, whether that be reviews, blog tours, guest posts from other bookworms or participating in memes. I’ve also recently started doing interviews with authors, which I really hope to make a regular feature as I love preparing questions and hearing the answers.

Why did you start blogging?:

The short answer is I’m not entirely sure. The long answer is basically that it was a combination of being inspired by all the amazing bloggers I’ve read for years, and just really wanting to give it a go. I’m so proud of how far my blog has gone in the past couple of months, and I’m so excited to see what’s still to come.

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The Reasons I Love Reading

It`s an escape

I have some pretty significant health issues and spend a fair portion of time in hospitals so and reading is very simply a way to leave this world for a bit and go somewhere else and be a different person. A book is also a lot more transportable than other methods of storytelling (such as film or TV) as I can and usually do take books everywhere I go, but lugging a TV/DVD player would take a good bit more effort, so it`s also the most practical method of escapism. A good book can make even the worst day a little bit brighter, and this is probably the main reason that I love to read.

The community of book lovers I`ve met

I haven`t been blogging for that long compared to a lot of people, but the online community of book lovers I`ve met is definitely one of my new favourite things about reading. Getting to share my views with like-minded people is a lot of fun, and sometimes inspires me to read books I`d never usually think of reading, or opens my eyes to parts of a book I may not have picked up on. Now I can`t imagine not blogging/interacting with others alongside my reading!

I can learn new things

Most books contain at least one fact or piece of information I didn’t know about in as much detail or hadn`t even heard of, and I love that reading lets me learn while I`m having fun. Often, at school or while watching a quiz show on TV (my favourite is Pointless, in case you`re interested) I`m able to answer a question that no one else knows the answer to. Can you guess what I say when someone asks me how I knew that? I read it in a book.

It helps me understand other people

As I touched on in my first point, reading is special in that for a while, we`re immersed in someone else`s world. Perhaps the most interesting thing about reading is that it allows us to experience things we never will. Taking a recent week as an example, I read and loved stories far from my own existence and empathised with each and every character; I was a gay boy afraid to come out, a person who swapped bodies every day, I was two Indian-American teens falling in love, I was in the nineties and the forties, I was in a mysterious, magical world where a plucky heroine solved the mystery of children disappearing from all over the country and I was at a boarding school. There have been a bunch of studies which suggest readers are more empathetic than people who don`t read, and with very few exceptions I think this is true.

I don`t know who I`d be without it

Since I was three years old, I`ve been able to read. That`s 80% of my whole life where I`ve been a reader. My life is basically defined by the books I`m reading, as they can affect my mood and the choices I make about how I want to spend a day. My brain is linked to the words I`m reading in a way I can`t explain (I`m not being metaphorical here, by the way. I don`t see images in my head, I only ever really think in sentences), and I never want that to change.

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Is your life also defined by books (I know mine is)? I loved reading this post and I am really happy to feature Amy’s guest post! Thank you Amy! If you also enjoyed this go follow her on twitter or subscribe to her blog! What are your reasons for loving reading?

Blogger Newbie: Angela (@ Books of A Shy Girl) | Diversity & #Ownvoices

Today, I’m happy to invite Angela from Books of a Shy Girl to talk on my blog! I hope you enjoy her post!

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Tell us something about yourself: Who Are You?: Hi, everyone!
I am Angela, a Chinese girl who was born and has always lived in Italy. I’m a high school student who studies languages and I’m a bibliophile.
Since I was small, I liked reading. It is now my main passion and, since I wanted to share my opinion about books I had read, I decided to create a book blog: Books of a Shy Girl.
I know I’m not very good at reviewing since I started my blog a few months ago, but this is really important for me.
In fact, it took me almost a month to just decide the name and I chose it because I’m a very shy person.
My dream is to travel all around the world, learning new languages. visiting places that have a long history behind them and knowing new things about a folk.
I’m curious about everything and will probably annoy you with how many questions I have.
Other things I love are photography. listening to music, Mythology and milkshakes!

What is your blog about and what are your plans with it?: My blog is about books. I focus mainly on Young Adult, but I accept other genres if someone wants a review from me.
I’m trying to be more active on social medias and in the book blogging world, participating in book blitzes and blog tours.

Why did you start blogging?: As I’ve said before, I’ve started book blogging because I wanted to share my opinion about books I had read.
Before creating Books of a Shy Girl, I read other book blogs about whether reading a book or not.
Their amazing posts made me want to say my own thoughts about a book and, after a lot of time, I decided to finally create my blog.

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As I’ve already said, I am a Chinese girl in Italy.
I’ve been bullied and I am a victim of racism. I think in all countries there are those people who don’t want foreign people to live in the same land as theirs, or don’t like the difference in body and culture.
I was and always will be hurt by their mean words.
I was probably traumatized when I was a child as I am not anymore that outspoken and extrovert little girl I once was. Now, I’m a really shy high school girl who is too self-conscious of herself. I don’t like crowded places and I prefer staying at home reading a book and watching TV or helping my parents at work, rather than going out on Saturday nights.
This is probably why I don’t have many friends. But better few than many fake friends, right?
However, there’s a good thing that racism has brought with it. My love for foreign countries, my love for learning new things about different cultures, my love for speaking other languages. In fact, I consider myself a Cosmopolitan person, this is, if you search the meaning of the world in the dictionary, you will found the following meanings:
– free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments; at home all over the world.
– belonging to all the world; not limited to just one part of the world.
I am a “citizen of the world”, I prefer explaining when someone asks who a Cosmopolitan person is.
I don’t divide the population in Chinese, Italian, Russian, homosexuals, people of color. I see only humans, people who have feelings, who cry, who laugh, who hurt, who smile.
In the last few months, I have been highly active on Twitter and I started following #ownvoices and #DiverseBookBloggers people.
These people are not ashamed of who they are or of their heritage. People such as @theshenners who promote LGBTQ+ and Diverse books.
It’s thanks to her and other people that I decided to read more #ownvoices books, because in the world there are more than 7.5 billion people. That’s a lot!
And every one of us is different than the other.
We need more books that represent us, with our thousands of facets, our own fears, our own diversity.
Read more, be kinder, spotlight diverse books!
#WeNeedDiverseBooks!

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I loved reading this post and I am really happy to feature Angela’s guest post! If you also enjoyed this go follow her on twitter, facebook, instagram, goodreads or google+ or contact her via email (booksofashygirl@gmail.com)!What are your thoughts on this topic?

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Discussion: How Diverse Do I Actually Read & How To Read More Diverse?

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!

Some Stats

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.

POC: 53.2%

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.

LGBT+: 44.9%

I also read a lot of LGBT+ books with characters ranging from gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, non-binary, intersexual and asexual.

 

Disability: 33.8%

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.

 

Minority: 14.4%

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: 0.05%

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.

Overall: 73.8%

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. Make it more of a priority: it’s just a small decision but it changes your entire way of reading!
  7. Have fun! That is, of course, the most important 😀

I hope you thought this was interesting! Did you read a lot of diverse books? Is diversity important to you as a reader? Any recommendations?

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?

My New Rating Scale for Diversity in Books

The importance of diversity in books has been talked about many times and it is often seen as something “extra” in a book, while it should (according to me and many others) be considered as normal. When a book is not diverse, it should be the exception, instead of the rule. Therefore I have thought of something to rate every book I read, to see how diverse I actually read.

I will rate all the books I read on 5 different criteria, and each book can gain a maximum of 1 point per criteria. Half points can be given if the book for example only partly takes place in a non-western setting or a character is not openly LGTB+.

The 5 criteria are:

  • There is at least one POC (person of colour) / non-Caucasian (meaning: not white) character. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • Everything, Everything (has a black MC) would be given 1 point, as would Winter (The Lunar Chronicles; has a black MC) and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (has an Asian MC).
    • City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments) would not be given a point.
  • There is at least one LGTBQIAP (lesbian/gay/trans/bi/queer/intersex/ace/pan) character. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (has a gay character) would be given 1 point, as would Radio Silence (has an ace character).
    • A Court of Thorns and Roses would not be given a point.
  • There is at least one character with a disability/disorder/disease, this can be either mental or physical. Examples of mental disabilities/disorders are OCD, anxiety, amnesia, PTSD, examples of physical disabilities/diseases are paralysis, missing limbs, skin diseases, cancer. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • The Fault in Our Stars (MC has cancer) would be given 1 point, as would The One Memory of Flora Banks (MC has amnesia).
    • Shadow and Bone (the Grisha Trilogy) would not be given a point.
  • There is at least one character from an ethnic, cultural or religious minority. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • Examples are hard to find, but Everything is Illuminated would be given 1 point.
    • Since You’ve Been Gone would not be given a point.
  • The story takes place in a non-western setting. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • The Wrath & The Dawn would be given 1 point,
    • Fantasy settings that are based on western societies such as in The Hunger Games would not be given any points.

I will do a complete example of the book that is probably the most widely read: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which would get 0 points (sadly). Another example is Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles), this would be given 3 points (POC: Cinder & her family are Asian, disability: cyborg arm (I would consider this a disability because it is considered a disability in the books), non-western setting: Eastern Commonwealth which is based on China).

I have made myself an Excel file of all the books I have read and will update this throughout the year so I can see how diverse the books are that I read and to keep actively busy with diversity in books, because only now that I am filling it in I realize how little diversity there is in many of the books I read.

I will from now on add a diversity rating to every review and will add the info as described above to the review policy tab in my header with so I can refer to it and people know what I am talking about.

Do you think this is a good system? Have I made any mistakes in the way I assigned the points? How do you keep track of how diverse the books you read are? Do you keep track?

The Bad Book Project #2 | Writing Diverse Characters (by Hannah)

This is the second post in a series called The Bad Book Project in which I (Lia) attempt to prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. The first post in this series is here. I now give the word to Hannah!


Hey!  My Name is Hannah, and I have a blog called The Book Thief Without Words. I’m 17 years old, live in Canada and love everything fictional. I have been writing actively for about six years, but I’ve always loved to come up stories. As of yet, I’ve written two novels and countless short stories. Currently I’m working on two projects: Dried Roses and Petra Pan. Dried Roses is about Rosanna: a psychologist and Leila: a teacher. Leila seeks the help of Rosanna without realizing that they knew each other as kids and that Rosanna has a big part in her troubled past. They eventually become friends, and then gradually fall in love. My other project Petra Pan is a genderbent peter pan retelling about Petra Pan a muslim bisexual who falls in love with Wendy Darling’s descendant:Darla who’s a bi-racial lesbian.

For the past three years or so, I’ve become more conscious about the characters I write. As you can see, I try to incorporate diverse characters into everything I write.It’s really important to me, and I think that all books need diverse elements. This post will be explaining a little about diverse characters, and how to write them.

The #weneeddiversebooks movement has become a booming one ever since it began in 2014. Diversity is so important whether it be in the form of race,sexuality,religion or mental illnesses. Our world is a very diverse one, and it’s unrealistic and harmful to have books that feature white,straight,neuro-typical characters all the time. It doesn’t matter what type of story you’re writing,if you’re writing about humans there needs to be diversity. I know that if you’re not part of the minority that you’re writing about, you may be scared that you’ll offend people, but if you research properly and talk to people of that minority and  get an authentic feel of the character you’re writing about, it isn’t very hard. Diversity shouldn’t be a quota that you have to fill,it should come naturally.Don’t just write the gay best friend, or the sassy black woman because that’s really harmful and stereotypical. Marginalized groups can have the same type of stories that non-marginalized do and shouldn’t be reduced to a stereotype.

Tips on writing diverse characters

1.Don’t write stories that aren’t yours to tell.

While writing diverse characters is very important, it’s also important you don’t speak over the marginalized. So while you can write a book about say an african american, you can’t write a book that talks about say police brutality in the perspective of that character. You’re not black, you don’t need how it feels to live through that, and you’re speaking over others. There are millions of stories that you can tell, so leave the struggles and difficulties to those who have experienced it.Obviously I can’t stop you from writing those stories, but think about it before you do.

2. Do Research.

It is soo soo important to do research. You want your book to be authentic, so research is inevitable. Research can be reading books with similar representation,asking about people’s experiences or just looking up stuff online. Research is especially important when you’re writing about mental illness.It’s really important that you don’t stereotype or generalize because such  representation is kind of worthless.

3. Don’t let your genre limit you.

A lot of people seem to be under the impression that diversity is limited to the real world. There is no excuse for not having diversity in your fantasy or sci-fi. If there’s dragons, and robots I think you can include some diversity. Diversity should encompass all genres, and not just be related to the real world.

4.Include all types of diversity.

Don’t just have  one lesbian or one black character. It’s really unrealistic and feels as though you’re filling a quota. Write stories about people who don’t get representation. If you’re part of a minority that doesn’t have a lot of representation, write the story you want to read. I’m a biromantic asexual, but there’s no rep for me so I wrote my own story.

So that’s it. Please don’t be afraid to write diverse books. Trust me it’s not hard, and honestly makes the story 100x more authentic and enjoyable.  Good luck and I hope you have fun creating diverse characters!


I would like to thank Hannah for writing this excellent post! It is really helpful and I am now going to try to incorporate all her tips in my characters 🙂 Next week’s post will be from Trisha from Autumn of 2003 and it will be about writing a strong secondary cast!

Diversity in real life & in books

I grew up in a relatively progressive country, in which being openly gay is pretty much accepted. You’ve probably heard of the gay-parade, which is held in Amsterdam every year. During this festival we celebrate being openly gay. Of course there are those trolls that ruin everything for the rest. Like a week ago, there were these flyers distributed (also in Amsterdam) about how gay people were awful people and that homosexuality was forbidden by many religions, and that it therefore should not be accepted. But then again there were many people that felt offended and went to the police to report it. And (pretty much) the whole country had their backs.

I believe that our generation is so much opener and accepting than other generations have been. For me, if someone where to say to me they were gay (or whatever), I would be say something like ‘okay, cool’. I know a few people that are openly gay and I see no reason to think any different about them than I did before I knew it. Why would it matter? Some people fall in love with guys, some with girls, some with both, and some with no-one.

Having a different skin tone is a whole different problem entirely. Of course it is only reasonable that you feel more comfortable at people who are alike you and therefore have the same skin-tone. But there’s a difference between basic psychology and racism. Racism is so far build in to our minds as something that is okay, that we don’t even know that it is happening most of the time. I believe everybody has slightly racist tendencies, but that doesn’t mean we have to act on those tendencies. Be better than that!

Pretty much every country has their “Trump-like” politician that is against immigration and says that all immigrants are bad and should go back to their own country. So of course there is also one in the Netherlands. Luckily he isn’t much of an influence at all at this point. Geert Wilders, who has remarkably also a very fake hair colour, is leader of the Party of Freedom (Partij Voor de Vrijheid, or PVV), but it shouldn’t be called that because that is rubbish. We live in a very multi-cultural society, and there are many second and third (or more) generation immigrants here that are actually considered being Dutch, but Wilders of course doesn’t think like that. All people who are Muslim should go to their own country, he would say. But their own country is the Netherlands. They grew up here, they went to school, they speak the language. And still there are so many people sent back to countries they never been to, where they know nobody, and sometimes when there is war.

Being accepted in society is not simple, it’s a process. A process that takes years, or even decades. But being represented in books that people read, accept and like, is a small step in the right direction. That’s why I wanted to talk about why I think diversity in books is so important.

Many books take place in a sort of “utopian” world, if you can call it like that. The perfect world where everybody is “normal”. Of course I wouldn’t consider that a perfect world, but it seems to be like that in a lot of books. There are differences between characters, but often small differences and not in race, sexuality, etc. And you know, most people, statistically speaking, can identify with such a world. But that doesn’t make it the real world.

There are also people that don’t identify with such a world and the characters in them. Connecting to the character is very important and for some individuals, connecting to the prototypical YA-character is pretty much impossible. We are not all blue-eyed stunning lean girls or boys that are funny, smart, sassy and can fight like hell, after all. People differ in body-type, skin-tone, sexual orientation, background, religion, and I could go on for a while. And it is so important to also have characters that are different, that people can connect to. When you grow up it is so important to know that you are not weird or not-normal because you are different from the rest. Being excluded is one of the worst things in life, even in something as simple as a book.

Not only is it about identifying with the characters, it also adds something to the book. Having diverse characters opens up the story to other problems, like handling your sexuality or your difference in skin-tone. These types of problems are part of our every day life, why not in books as well? Another thing is, that when you read you approach everything from someone else’s perspective, and having a different pov also changes how you see the world. It might make you think, what if I were in such a situation?

I think that having minorities of the society represented in books, would make us one step closer to equality. People often “hate” other people simply because they are afraid or don’t understand (their religion for example). Getting to know those people in real life might be hard, but stepping in their metaphorical shoes by reading a story or a book from their point of view, might make it easier for people to understand and appreciate each other.


This is probably one of the most serious posts I’ve ever written. I wrote this post as a part of the #TowardsEquality project, which is an initiative of Tanya Sahay from Scribbled Dreams. Read more about the project here and here. I hope I have not offended anyone with something I said. What is your opinion on equality and diversity?