10 Books to Diversify Your Reading

This is so overdue! I spoke awhile ago about consciously changing my reading habits to ensure that it was more diverse.  At the end of that post I promised a reading list and then, you know, life happens. Here are some #ownvoices #weneeddiversebooks that I have enjoyed.  There are a ton of others.  I am concentrating on YA realistic fiction that has been fairly recently published in this list just be clear.  There is a whole diverse fantasy world that I NEED to get into to.

All American Boys cover

All American Boys
By Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: September 29, 2015

This was one of the most powerful books that I have read in the last year.  If a book could personify zeitgeist this book has managed it.  This book is both well written and important as hell. I kind of want to buy a thousand copies and leave them around everywhere for people.

If I Ever get out of here

If I Ever Get Out of Here
By Eric Gansworth

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: July 30, 2013

This is the story of a Native American boy living on a reservation near Buffalo (ah, home sweet home) during the winter of 1977.  It is a very moving story about friendship and identity. Excellent use of music as well.

The Spider King's daughter cover

The Spider King's Daughter
by Chidbundu Onuzo

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: March 15th, 2012

Could someone please read this book so that I have someone to talk to about it?  Abike, one of the main characters, is manipulative and cold as hell and I am 100% on her side. I also love the cover.

Listen, Slowly cover

Listen, Slowly
By Thanhhà Lại

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: February 17, 2015

In this book a twelve year old girl discovers that the two worlds that she has been living in don't have to be separate and that she can be fully herself in both.

What Can't wait cover

What Can't Wait
By Ashley Hope Pérez

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: March 28th 2011

My love for this book is well documented.  Marisa's story is painful, real, and full of hope. See my review .

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If I was your girl cover

If I was Your Girl
By Meredith Russo

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: May 3rd 2016

This book isn't perfect.  It doesn't need to be.  It asks the question: What do you do when the world doesn't seem to want you to exist? You be who you are, Amanda! *sob

A Time to Dance cover

A Time to Dance
By Padma Venkatraman
 
Goodreads Amazon 
Series: no
Release date: May 1, 2014

A novel is verse, which isn't usually my thing, but this book managed to overcome that.  I love how it explores the idea of figuring out who you are when the thing that you have defined yourself with disappears.

Same sun here cover

Same Sun Here
By Neela Vaswani and Silas House

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Release date: February 14th 2012

This is one of my favorite MG reads ever. It touches on family, friendship, activism, and the things that unite us.

Into White cover

Into White
by Randi Pink

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: September 13th 2016

I am putting this book on the list because the premise is so brilliant.  I had very mixed feelings about it but I think it is a starting point for a kind of book that is needed. See my full review here.

To All the Boys I've loved before cover

To All the Boys I've Love Before
By Jenny Han

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Release date: April 15th 2014

Because  fluffy happiness and butterflies. 

 

As I said before there are a TON of people more qualified to speak on this subject than me.  But this is an issue that we all need to see and do whatever small part we can to address.  We are all missing out on some amazing books because they aren't being published.  

I would like to do some internetting and see if I can come up with a list of links to specific articles/posts of all those people that I mentioned that know more about this than I do.

What book would you add to this list? 

Book Review: What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez

What can(t) wait cover

What Can't Wait
By Ashley Hope Pérez
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Release date: March 28th 2011

What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez was not an easy read.  There were parts that broke my heart.  Seventeen-year old Marisa is the daughter of Mexican immigrants living in Houston.  This is a novel of figuring out how to balance the expectations that others have for you against the expectations and hopes that you have for yourself.  This was definitely a windows book for me.  I grew up in an environment that prioritized education.  I now teach in an environment that, while incredibly diverse, is also incredibly privileged.  Marisa has choices to make that are outside of any of my experiences.  Even now as an adult I know that I would struggle if I was put in her position.

It important that I see girls like Marisa in YA because it reminds me that my experience isn’t the only one.  And it is even important for someone who is living a life like Marisa to read this because we all need to see ourselves reflected in order to truly understand who we are.  We all need mirrors. I really liked Marisa.  She is smart, hard wording, loyal, and more than a little rough around the edges.  I was pulling for her. I think that she would be a positive reflection.

Marisa has a lot of pressure put on her from her family.   To them loyalty, staying together, and supporting one another are the most important things in life.  Her interest in school and desire to become an engineer puzzled and frustrated them.  “How can you spend time studying/go away to college when we need your help here.”  So Marisa gives them money from her after school job, watches her niece, studies for her calculus class, all the while she tries to have something left over for herself. 

Let’s take a moment here to hear it for the girls of math.  So often in YA math (if it is even acknowledged) is the bogyman that will take down our plucky heroine when least expected.  Or it is something that comes so effortlessly to her that she never has to study.  Marisa has to study calculus in order to learn it (this is a step that is often forgotten).  She has to work hard. Sometimes she has to prioritize. 

Ms. Ford reminded me of why I became a teacher.  She has incredibly high expectations for Marisa but she is also compassionate.  She isn’t a miracle worker.  She can’t change Marisa’s life.  But she gives her the support that she can.  Marisa doesn’t make magical progress.  It is uneven.  Sometimes she loses hope or focus. Sometimes she reevaluates what is important to her.   Sometimes, she has to compromise.

This is realistic fiction at its best.  I like that her friends and family have lives outside of her. I like that even when I was angry at her family I feel as if I have met Marisa.  Like she is a real person who lives in Texas that I know and that I am Facebook friends with.  Actually, I would really like to be Facebook friends with her because I REALLY want life updates from her.  I want to know how things turn out.  I want to know that she is okay.  I may be more invested in her than is healthy.  Don’t judge.

Ultimately, this book left me with a feeling of hope.  Read it.  You definitely won’t regret it.


From Goodreads:
Marissa has smarts and plenty of promise, but she's marooned in a broken-down Houston neighborhood--and in a Mexican immigrant family where making ends meet matters much more than making it to college. When her home life becomes unbearable, Marissa seeks comfort elsewhere--and suddenly neither her best friend or boyfriend can get through to her. 

What Can't Wait tells the story of one girl's survival in a world in which family trumps individual success and independence, and self-reliance the only key that can unlock the door to the future.