The importance of sharing diverse novels

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This world is huge.
Massive.

There are so many cultures of people represented on this speck in the sky and all of them have their traditions and heritages and lifestyle. They also struggle. They all struggle. And struggle for some reason brings us a host of stories. There’s this famous quote that writers all around the world know which is “write what you know.”

People are extremely fascinated by the know. What do you know? What can you share?

And for a long time, the knowers wrote novels about their strife. Jane Austen wrote about the complications of love and being an ambitious woman in the 19th century. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the jazz era and partying and sometimes how those parties were a little too decadent. Hemingway wrote…well, he pretty much “suffered” all his life if you’ve ever read anything by him.

People draw from their realities. It may not be the whole truth, but it’s enough truth to give you an idea of how that experience really was.

This is where diverse books comes in. You’ve got this whole world of experience and suffering and stories. You’ve got writers writing what they know. So why aren’t readers interested?

Recently I met someone who was interested in knowing how I found diverse books. I tried to recall the very moment that it happened but I think in my reality I’ve been looking for diverse reads since I was a kid. I’ve always had an eye out for these books and always tried to get my hands on them. I’ve always wanted a way to connect to my two halves and I sometimes feel that will be a search I’ll be doing my entire life.

So I tried to think about how other people find diverse reads and I was kind of clueless. Granted I could go pretty negatively into this thought, but I like to believe that people don’t read diverse reads because it’s just not available to them. They don’t know how to find it and they don’t know what to look for.

You go to Barnes and Noble and the novels on the shelves right when you walk in are representing the “best sellers” but not the “not a best seller, but it’s important so please check it out.” If it isn’t coming from a hometown Book Club or making the New York Times Best Seller List, then perhaps you may not see it. And this isn’t anyone’s fault at all!

What I’m glad to see is that this is slowly changing and it’s a great thing to behold. I’m starting to see some great novels I’ve read show up on the bestseller lists and on the shelves right when you walk into a bookstore. But our work isn’t done. What we need are for people to seek out diverse reads and advocate for them to the masses. We need to share these reads and not only preach about how important it is to read but how it affected you. Did it shed some light on a topic you knew little about? If so then I think you can say it’s doing its job.

One of the many hobbies readers like to do is share what they’ve read. “OMG I just finished reading this great book…” We love to share the stories we loved. Whether it’s a hard-hitting thriller or a soft and cuddly romance story, I always tell myself that someone took the time to write this “truth” and you are taking the time to read it and share it so why not do the same for a diverse novel?

And I know that I’m preaching to the choir here because we all read diverse books, but it’s time for us to share them. Scribble your name out of a copy of Beloved and leave it on a park bench. Tell someone how a diverse read changed the way you understood African culture and the slave trade. Share with your parents how you recently read a book about gender identity. Join a book club focused on diverse reads. All these efforts can help to shed a little bit more light to diversity in books and really help to teach everyone a little bit more about the other cultures out there.

There’s so many stories; so many interesting and compelling stories of battling the odds and finding love and setting your own path. As a reader, I want to share these stories with people. During a time in our country’s history where we’re seeing some pretty harsh things on the news and hearing pretty harsh words everywhere you go, you need this kind of representation to show people that we are just the same as everyone else. That we have stories too and we’re here to share them.

Are you ready to listen?

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