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 October?
I read 8 books, of which 7 were a diverse or inclusive read. I feel oddly pleased that the books I started and ended this month with ended up being indie books I would not normally read.
The Diverse Books
The Prophet Paradox by Danny Tuttle is the book I started the month with. One of the main character is a black woman who has found herself stuck in a secluded, unknown Egyptian monastery that predates Christianity, so I believe there are a number of Egyptian men surrounding her. This book also includes travel to exotic locations, so there are Latino, Indian, and even Dominican characters. The diversity was incredible and definitely made possible thanks to all the travel the characters did, but all the accents were frustrating and often difficult to read, so they sometimes made the characters feel like caricatures.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune turned out to be yet another over-hyped book when it came out that I ended up feeling lukewarm about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s charming and lovely and soft, but I feel like it was supposed to teach me something. But what can it teach when I already see the world the way Linus was learning how to see it? On the bright side, because all the children are magical creatures, there’s delightful diversity. No two were the same in the slightest, making for quite an interesting group that could only be a family.
Re-Birth by Cristoph A.T. is mostly all about world building. When a 24 year old young woman on Earth unexpectedly has her life ended, she ends up being reborn as a baby on a completely different world. Most of her previous memories are intact, so following her through her young childhood in this new world is great to help orient readers. It’s quite a different world, one where polyamorours are normal for both men and women, who can form a connection with individuals of either sex. It was both fascinating and strange the way it all worked, but I liked how open minded this world is about romantic relationships.
The Fountain by John A. Heldt is the book I’m finishing the month with. A cross between family saga and historical fiction, it’s not exactly up my alley, but I was intrigued by the story and the time period a trio of elderly siblings end up traveling back to. I’m not even a quarter of the way in yet, so most of my time has been spent with three elderly siblings where one has just become a widower, one has been wheelchair-bound since adolescence, and one has terminal cancer, but there’s a glimmer of hope when they learn of a fountain of youth that can take people forward or back in time and make them younger and healthier. I don’t usually enjoy novels with elderly characters considering that’s still quite a number of years away for me, but I love these siblings.
The Diverse AND Inclusive Books
Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade follows Spoiler Alert and All the Feels, though the timelines intersect quite a bit. This one features two plus sized actors who spend years struggling with their attraction to each other while filming with a small crew on an isolated island. It was delightful to watch all of them form something of a family, though the showrunners were sorry excuses for humans for so many reasons. Maria, though, was incredible, and her background is even more incredible, and all the love she and her family oozed was so incredible.
The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson is set in a small town called Bell River not far from D.C. With the whole town revolving around a deceased author, it made for quite an interesting setting. But I liked how diverse it was, with mostly black and white characters and even an Asian one thrown in. They were a delightful group, and I loved that they didn’t treat each other any differently and that a biracial family was included. But I also loved that the author never let the reader forget the main character is black. I just wish she hadn’t gotten off on all the things she ended up doing so easily!
A Pinch of Distrust by D.T. Bella is a surprisingly fun fantasy mystery that perfectly blended the two. Set in a world with small fairies and human-like Rychillans, it follows a fairy who was maimed months earlier who is getting irritated the Rychillan investigator on his case isn’t doing anything and a Rychillan mechanic who barely manages to avert a vehicular catastrophe. I loved how these two parts came together, but I really loved how the fairies and Rychillans were able to work together despite all their differences.
None this time.
ShegoraTH by Dima Tsyptsiura is a collection of short stories and poetry with science fiction and fantasy elements. Some of them are a bit whimsical, some of them remind me of fairy tales, and some of them just boggled my mind. This was written over a period of several years, from childhood to adulthood, by a Ukrainian author, and each piece shows startling positivity despite the state of the author’s country. However, I really have no idea how to classify this one.
Thanks for reading!
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