Read on till the end of this post for a giveaway! (:
Beyond the Borders
It's time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going!So, I think most people who's been on this blog before will know that I'm really passionate about diversity in books! I admit, the books I read aren't often very culturally diverse, but on that front I really liked these two books:
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan isn't out until October, but I read the e-galley and it was a-ma-zing. The MC, Leila, is an Iranian-American girl (and a lesbian), and I loved learning about what her family was like, and reading about all the get-togethers they'd have with other Persian families. It was super interesting how much I, as a Chinese person, related to her experience. Sara Farizan's debut novel, If You Could Be Mine, is actually set in Iran, and about the romantic relationship between two Iranian girls. Though I haven't read that one, I feel like I probably should, seeing how much I enjoyed Farizan's second book!
Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz features two Mexican-American boys who often talk about how they feel about being Mexican-American, how they hardly know what it means to be Mexican-American at all. It was all very thought-provoking.
(Oh, and the Skyscraper Throne trilogy by Tom Pollock has an amazing character called Pen who is Pakistani and Muslim, and she's the MC in the second book and she falls for a girl and it's really wonderful! The book also explores her relationship with her religion as well. This series is not included in the giveaway below because – wait for it – the third book comes out on 7 August and I'm going to do a giveaway for the first two books in July! You're gonna wanna look out for that!)
Like I said, I'm Chinese myself. (I come from Hong Kong. Every time I read a book I'm stepping outside my own country, practically.) And I have to admit that I actually look at a lot of 'culturally diverse' books (especially fantasy books inspired by Asian cultures) and feel wary about reading them if they're written by authors who are white, or not of the race that the book focuses on. I just... Cultural appropriation, you know? *sags* I know that not all of those authors will go wrong like that, but... I'm just less confident about those books. This is why I really should check out more Asian-American authors though! I haven't read any books by Jenny Han, or Marie Lu, or Cindy Pon, or Ellen Oh... But I will someday. *glances at ever-growing TBR pile* Malinda Lo, though! *beams* Huntress by Malinda Lo was delightful. Chinese-inspired fantasy! Lesbians!
As you can probably tell, I read a lot of LGBTQ books, being one of those letters myself (well, two, really, since I love identifying as queer but will probably use the word bisexual most of the time if I'm not talking to other queer people). I have to admit I fail to pay enough attention to the letter T and I do apologise for that! This is something I'm keen to rectify, as I know trans people often get left out of the conversation and books with trans characters are not as common as books with gay/lesbian characters, and are also less often talked about. But I was really pleased that Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, which showcased the stories of quite a few gay male characters, included a trans gay boy among the cast. (Oh, and one of the other gay boys was Korean-American, which was also lovely to see!) Laura Lam's Micah Grey series is one of my favourites, a wonderful fantasy series featuring an intersex genderfluid bisexual MC.
And yeah, this year I've been really lucky to finally read some great books with bisexual MCs (apart from the aforementioned series by Laura Lam, I've read Far From You by Tess Sharpe, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, Adaptation by Malinda Lo, Coda by Emma Trevayne). Oh, and the MC in Far From You is disabled as well, which is something that is also important, of course! There are definitely a lot more books with disabled characters these days, which is great, though we always need more. I've read a few others this year already, but none that was as good as Far From You.
I feel like with me and my search for diverse books, though I do always love learning more about other people's experiences, it stems more from a desire to finally be able to step into my own damn shoes in a fictional setting. I read as many books as I could find with gay MCs when I was growing up, because there were still very few books about lesbians and even fewer books about bisexual teenagers, and so gay MCs were the closest I could get to something that seemed to resemble my own voice. In the giveaway below I've included the one book with a gay MC that I read while growing up that has left the deepest impression upon me: Sprout by Dale Peck. I don't know what it is about that book, but it just really resonated with me at that point in my life, and it seemed a lot like hope to me, this book about a boy with bright green hair and a penchant for writing and for other boys, whose voice was just so unique and beautiful, and it made me feel like I would not have to be silent forever about who I was.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth wins the "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE" award. I loved reading about Cameron, a gay girl growing up in 1980s-1990s rural America, and all the difficulties that came with them. I have been much luckier in my life than her, but reading her story still felt like coming home, in a way.
There are two more books I included in the giveaway below that I haven't talked about here, so I'll just briefly mention them. Tides by Betsy Cornwell features two elderly women in a long-term relationship with each other, and A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke? Well... that would be spoilers. But suffice to say, it's fantastic queer UKYA.
So yeah, I feel like my blog is one long conversation about diversity, and I hope it feels like that to you, my dear blog readers, too! I am definitely committed to the conversation about diversity going, and I am determined to read more culturally/racially diverse books! (And of course, next month I'm participating in Mental Health Awareness Month. I'm looking forward to reading more books that explore the lives of characters with mental illnesses.)
And now, time for a giveaway...
And with all the talk of diverse books above, here's an LGBTQ book giveaway! Yay! You can win one of the many books I've babbled on about in this post!
- There will be ONE winner.
- The winner must choose a paperback copy of ONE of the books listed below.
- The winner will be notified by e-mail. If they don't respond within 48 hours, I will pick another winner.
- The contest runs until midnight BST on 12 June.
- The giveaway is open internationally (as long as the Book Depository ships to you).
- Entrants must be 13 or over.
- I am not responsible for any items lost or damaged in the mail.
Here are the books you can choose from if you win:
a Rafflecopter giveaway