So far this year, I'm counting 32% of the books I've read as by or about diverse authors, of varying races, sexualities, abilities. Here are some recent highlights:
1. No House to Call My Home: Love, Family and Other Transgressions by Ryan Berg: Berg worked as a resident assistant and then caseworker in two different NYC-based group homes for LGBTQ youth in the early 2000s, and this is his account of those years. He tells the story of eight of the youth he worked with in particular, highlighting their highs and their lows and the very unique challenges they faced as individuals and as children. Not uplifting by a long shot, but an important read for anyone with an interest in social equality and a conversation that goes beyond marriage rights. (On sale August 2015)
2. Loving Day by Mat Johnson: Johson's novel explores the very unique position of being bi-racial in America. What is it like to identify as black when your skin looks white? What is it like to grow up thinking you are white when in reality your father is half-black? These are questions that are difficult, if not impossible, to answer, but Johnson's novel explores them without apology.
3. Kindred by Octavia Butler: The premise of Butler's novel is a little tricky (and not ever fully explained): a woman living in 1979 California is inexplicably transported back to a pre-Civil War era plantation in Maryland. This sci-fi premise is used to explore race and race relations in America in both the 1970s and before the Civil War, with interracial couples highlighted in both times.
4. Re Jane by Patricia Park: Park has reimagined the classic story of Jane Eyre in the early 21st century, in which Jane Re is a Korean-American immigrant struggling to find her place in the world. The story merges and diverges with the classic novel's storyline to explore not only the importance of remaining true to one's self in a search for love, but to highlight the cultural differences and difficulties for Korean-American immigrants in early 2000s Queens.
5. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley: Talley's YA novel tells the story of two sisters--and their close friends--who are among the first black students to attend public schools in Virginia following desegregation. The book is a starkly personal account of what it was like for black students in the years immediately following desegregation--and a compelling story of two young girls on opposite sides of the racial depend finding an unlikely friendship (or perhaps something more) with each other.
6. Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal by Wendy S. Walters: Walters collection of short pieces spans fiction and non-fiction to explore place and culture in America today--and it is, perhaps, impossible to explore place in the United States without also exploring race. (On sale August 2015)
And some I haven't read yet, but have been recently recommended:
7. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: Coates slim volume is an open letter to his son about being a black man in America today. I haven't read it yet, but I've heard only good things.
8. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizen: On a recent visit to my local bookstore, one of the booksellers was reading this book. Naturally I asked about it: it's a queer YA book, and she recommended it, and that was all I needed to add it to my list.
9. The Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward: I'm embarrassed to admit that I've had this on my shelf since BEA last year (or maybe the year prior?), but haven't read it yet. After seeing it mentioned side-by-side with Between the World and Me in this New Yorker criticism of the two, though, I'm planning on reading them back-to-back in the coming weeks.
10. Citizen by Claudia Rankine: I'm adding this as an eleventh book for Top Ten Tuesday because I can't imagine a list of diverse books without it--and I haven't read it yet. It comes highly recommended by bloggers and readers whose opinions I know and trust, and I need to make time for it ASAP.
What would you add to the list?---
This post is part of the weekly Top Ten Tuesday meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.