Diversity and Inclusivity Challenge: June 2022

diversity inclusivity reading challenge

This year I’m embarking on a personal Diversity and Inclusivity Challenge. This involves trying to ensure at least half of all the books I read each month feature either diversity or an inclusive, accepting world. I’ve defined diversity as involving books focused on one group (non-white because too many books have already featured enough white only characters) or featuring a varied and diverse cast. Inclusivity here refers to worlds that accept the differences between people/creatures with no or very little disparaging remarks. So, how did I do in June?

I read 7 books, 5 of which were a diverse or inclusive read. Or at least had diversity in their supporting characters. I feel like I’m making stretches, but I do like how they’re there and no one makes any kind of deal about it.


The Diverse Books

the splendid city karen heuler

The Splendid City by Karen Heuler is one I debated on where to place it. I mean, the main characters are a witch and a cat who used to be human, but it appeared most of the characters were white. Or, well, who knows? It’s set in Liberty, which is the new name for the country Texas became when it decided to leave the USA. This was kind of a crazy book, but the head witch of the witch’s coven is black and no one seems to mind.

for the throne hannah whitten

For the Throne by Hannah Whitten doesn’t jump out at me as a diverse read considering most of the characters appear to be white, but I did like the inclusion of a princess in this one who appears to be Asian-inspired. She was quite a lot of fun and probably my favorite part of this book.

last call at the nightingale katharine schellman

Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman surprised me with all the diversity of all kinds. Set in the 1920s, I expected a largely white cast, but got so much more than that. There are black and Chinese characters, and even the Irish aren’t viewed in a hugely favorable light. Then there’s the underground LGBTQ community, and a bisexual lead character. This book doesn’t shy away from including diversity, but, because of the times, there were social lines that were drawn and the LGBTQ characters had to stay deeply out of sight.

The Inclusive Books

Not this time.

The Diverse AND Inclusive Books

an island summer jenny hale

An Island Summer by Jenny Hale is a sweet women’s fiction/romance set in the Outer Banks. While there was no noticeable diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, or sexuality I could see, there is a very sweet old man living with dementia who played a keyed role. His abilities and disabilities were detailed and I loved how the people around him came together to support him. This was such a fun, quick read, and it really dropped me into the lives of the characters and I fell in love with them as much as they fell in love with each other.

the ballad of perilous jones alex jennings

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings is set in New Orleans and an alternate New Orleans called Nola. Most of the characters are black, but there’s also a casual mention of people of various races. Nola was portrayed as largely diverse, though all of the main characters appeared to be black. I couldn’t be sure if the other mentioned persons were just tourists or residents of either city, but I liked their inclusion and how the characters took note of them, but who or what they were didn’t factor into anything.

revolution david dorrogh

Revolution by David Dorrough is my current read. A slice of life style book, it revolves around a middle-aged couple and the people around them as they go about their lives in and around Los Angeles. As a born and raised Southern Californian who grew up going to many of the locations mentioned so far, I’ve been having so much fun reading this. While the main couple happen to be middle-aged white people, this book does an amazing job of representing the diversity in all forms in and around LA. There are gay couples, people of color, wealthy people, homeless people, and a good number of deluded people who are commonplace in LA. The diversity and inclusivity as these people regularly gather has been really great to read.

Everything Else

Upgrade by Blake Crouch read like an action thriller movie, so the characters felt incredibly thin. What they looked like, how they lived, I have no idea. But I don’t recall any overt mentions of diversity, so I feel safer saying it’s possible there wasn’t any, but that’s okay because, if this is made into a movie, well, a lot of license can be taken with the characters.

Inconclusive

None this time.

Thanks for reading!

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13 thoughts on “Diversity and Inclusivity Challenge: June 2022

    1. Absolutely! I see so many characters who are disabled or chronically ill in YA books, but, since I don’t read YA, I don’t get to come across it nearly as much as I like to. I think this might have been the first, possible second, this year. But I’ll be sure to keep my eyes out for more.

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      1. I can recommend my own mainstream trilogy, with an ME/CFS main character. The first novel was published in 2015, and the second is almost ready for publication. Let me know if you would like an electronic ARC – I appreciate reviews, but don’t nag, as many in one of my target audiences have little energy. I’d need an email address and a format (mobi or epub) to send.

        I suggest people check it out on Amazon (under my full name), read some of the Look Inside sample, and a couple of the reviews – to see if it’s their kind of fiction.

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  1. I love that you do this, Kat. Your beautiful Empathy shines through whatever you do. Thank you for setting this beautiful example. ❤️

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    1. Aw, thank you so much, Brooke! It’s been so wonderful to see how much diversity there is in fiction, and I hope it’ll one day reflect in society. People who are unlike ourselves are so beautiful and wonderful!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’d love the song, ‘Colours of the wind’ from Pocahontas. ☺️ One of the lines is, ‘You think the only people who are people, are people who look and think like you. But If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.’ An utterly beautiful song that speaks to my entire soul! xx 🥰

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      2. Oh my goodness, Brooke, I just heard this song with my daughter last week, and remembered just how much I love it and how beautiful it is. Though it makes me sad we’ve moved away from songs that encourage people to look outwards and try to understand others and into songs like Let It Go, which feels so much more self-focused. But I think it’s definitely time to revisit Pocahontas. Such a beautiful movie!

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  2. I have finished my first book and have been researching agents and their preferences. My mother’s death and my very clear memories from when we moved south from Ohio are the inspirations for this fiction middle grades book that includes a little magical realism. Am I doomed as a beginning author in today’s path of encouraging more diversity in books? The characters are based on my family members and classmates which in the 70s meant all white.

    I am almost ready to retire, and I am a 58 year old school teacher who has always loved the joys of my diverse students. I currently teach in a school that has 38% Hispanic students,They are honestly my hardest working students.I recently read Esmeralda Rising and loved it! In past school employments, I taught in very diverse classrooms of Asian, Black, and Caucasian students. I would love to write a book one day with more diverse characters, but I am passionate about the book I just finished. What are you thoughts?

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    1. No, I absolutely don’t think you’re doomed. There’s an audience for any story and, just because I prefer to focus on diversity, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for yours. It is important to take the time period into consideration, like there’s a novel I recently finished where every character is white because it’s set in medieval Germany. Not every story has or even needs diversity. Besides, there are plenty of diverse reads that just completely miss the mark and even the population it’s supposed to target isn’t a fan of it.

      Personally, I think the idea that authors can and should write what they know and love is very important. This book sounds like it’s very near and dear to you and I believe it’ll find its audience. Readers just love to read and they love to find something to connect to, whether or not it has diversity. I wish you all the very best of luck in getting and agent and getting published!

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      1. Glad I could help! Diversity really covers a lot of areas, and I’ve been finding a lot of hidden diversity lately, so your book could very well have some that no one thinks of, but does actually exist.

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