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 July?
I read 7 books, 6 of which were a diverse or inclusive read. Sometimes I feel like I’m stretching it when it comes to diversity, but, if I think of the ADDRESSING Model I learned about as a graduate student in psychology, there’s definitely a ton of ways to think of diversity.
The Diverse Books
The Book of Gothel by Mary McMyne doesn’t appear to be diverse on the surface considering the characters are white European since this is set in medieval Germany, but there’s an interesting battle of Paganism and Christianity playing out across the story and in the characters’ lives. Some of the characters were clearly one or the other, and it was a factor in the main romance story line. There is even a Jewish community in this world, though it wasn’t a big player throughout the story. While there wasn’t any diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, ability of disability, or sexuality, there is religious diversity and it played out across the story and across relationships.
The Inclusive Books
Not this time.
The Diverse AND Inclusive Books
Revolution by David Dorrough was a little on the long side, especially considering it’s a slice of life type of story. But it follows a diverse cast who live in and around Los Angeles. It was fun to get to see Southern California through their eyes and follow their strange and sometimes normal lives over the course of a year. There are white, Asian, Black, and Hispanic characters who all mingle and call each other friend or acquaintance.
Primeval Fire by C.T. Rwizi is an African-inspired fantasy. This is the third book in the trilogy and both follows old characters and introduces new ones. Most of the characters are African, but this book really opened the world to include white and possibly Asian parts of the world, so one location two of the characters visited was much more mixed. There are also non-human characters who are machines that so closely resemble humans that it’s difficult to tell them apart.
Six Feet Deep Dish by Mindy Quigley is set in a resort town in Wisconsin where the wealthy go to vacation, so I wasn’t expecting a ton of diversity, but there is some. Delilah is the main character, and she’s set on opening her pizza restaurant, but a suspicious death halts her plans. On her staff is a Puerto Rican young man who sends money back to his family, and her co-operator is lesbian. The detective Delilah works with also appears to be mixed. But my favorite part was this involves a few elderly ladies who lament being overlooked, and they end up playing interesting roles.
The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie by Rachel Linden is about a thirty-two-year-old woman, Lolly, who gets a chance to briefly live a life she could have had. She and most of the characters I can recall are white (I believe one or two of them might have been Hispanic, but they were very minor characters). The main character spends the entire book longing for an ex-boyfriend, though I liked that her best friend has goats. There is, though, an elderly aunt who has traveled the world and lived an amazing life. She plays a big role in Lolly’s life, so I really enjoyed both her character and their relationship, so there’s definitely diversity in terms of age.
The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri is the book I’m ending the month with. This is the second in an Indian-inspired fantasy trilogy, and definitely transports me to exotic locations. I love how lush and well-described the world is, and all the little details do wonders for transporting the reader. Beyond that, there’s a lovely sapphic romance, though the two women are separated by distance and responsibilities. Their longing for each other, though, is clear on every page.
The Other Guest by Helen Cooper is set in Italy and Derby with no real diversity. It’s focused on one woman untangling the suspicious death of her niece and the slow disintegration of the niece’s family as they attempt to keep up appearances at their Italian resort for the beautiful. There’s also another story line set in Derby, but it felt more tangentially related than actually intertwined. The focus was on the death, and it felt like the characters were all kind of secondary.
None this time.
Thanks for reading!
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