What is being a “diverse reader?”

As I was on surfing through Goodreads, I came across a bookshelf that was labeled “Diverse books.”I actually began to wonder, what is considered to be a diverse book and is it different depending on the person?

Knowing a diverse book is somewhat obvious. LGBT, person of color, ethnicity, and disability. However, for the most part, that’s our extended knowledge of classifying diverse book. But that’s not necessary a bad thing because well, despite the recent trend of increasing published diverse books, there’s still never enough of these types of books.

But, is being a diverse reader based on the book’s actual self, or is it depending on the person?

I was talking to my friend about the topic and she made a good point on one thing. See, she’s African American and also a reader. She solely reads books containing African Americans and usually doesn’t take the time to branch out of those books. She was telling me if she read an author who was Caucasian, would that be considered her reading a diverse book?

It’s really weird but I can’t help but think about that. I mean, she’s reading a book out of her comfort zone, and she’s reading a book that the characters are not her race. But is that really being more diverse?

Also, she mention to me that if I read a book about African American characters, would I still be a diverse reader, even though it’s not much different to me and that I can easily identify with them.

The definition of “diverse”: Showing a great deal of variety; very different.

She’s reading a book that’s very different TO HER. But in the book world, we define diverse books containing people of color.

We also need to think of the author themselves. I will admit, a lot of the authors I read are Caucasian woman; my favorite of all time falls into the category. Now I’m not saying reading a Caucasian male book is becoming more diverse. I’m half African American and half Caucasian, and it bothers me how I NEVER read a book by an African American author. I heard of some black authors, I shelf a lot of their books on my Goodreads, but I never actually took out of my time into reading their books.

I’ve even read a good chunk amount Asian authors (Justina Chen, Jenny Han, Stephanie Tromly) and Native Americans (Sheman Alexie) but absolutely none of my race.

That really saddens me.

BUT is not reading books by African Americans making me MORE of a diverse reader because I’m black? Or does that only apply if the characters IN the book is black since I can easily identify with them, and they wouldn’t be quite as different. I mean the writing doesn’t necessary change based on the author’s race.

This what my friend was talking about. BUT I think might still be considered as a diverse reader if I read about African American characters.

The first reason is that, when I read a book and the character’s skin color isn’t revealed yet, I identify them being Caucasian. I wish I didn’t do this but it’s an instinct. I’ve unfortunately conform to picturing the typical book character, and my goal is to diminish that image. Although I am half African American, I’m still “identifying” with the Caucasian because that’s what I assume the main character to be.

The second reason is that African Americans are still a minority. There’s only  about 13 percent of African Americans in the US…were not even the top minority (Hispanics taking that lead). Reading any books about the minority, no matter what race are you, should be considered as a diverse book.

Despite these reasons, what about other people from other countries? Would them reading a Caucasian book be considered as a diverse book? Asians is the top race of the world, but if a person from Japan reads a book containing Caucasian characters, are they diverse reader?

In the beginning of all this, I was a little bit confused. And now, I’m even more confused.

What do you guys think about the topic of diverse books? Based on book or based on reader or both?




5 thoughts on “What is being a “diverse reader?”

  1. Thoughtful post. For me it’s about trying to learn more about other experiences. That can be the things people usually mean when they say “diverse books,” or it could be dependent on my perspective. For example, reading about someone from a different country, even if they share my race, gender, orientation etc, still helps widen my perspective, because I’ve never lived anywhere but the US. I think it can mean a lot of things to different people, and making us think intentionally about it is part of it too. Even if it does make it confusing sometimes.

    1. Thank you!

      Great point! I too would classify a book that takes place in a different country to be “diverse.”

      Yes, it can get really confusing:)

  2. I think EVERYONE should try to include diverser authors in their reading history. And certainly this means more than just adding a few black authors if you’re a white reader. I’m hispanic and I try to read authors from all over the world. To me, a “diverse” reader is one who is open to reading and experiencing the perspectives from different kinds of people. That means I read books about gay hispanic men in Texas, a Lesbian woman in Nigeria, a family in Afghanistan, or a Japanese immigrant making a life in America.

    That’s my personal take on what it means to be a diverse reader. But definitely we should all strive to go out of our comfort zone every once in a while.

    1. Those are all great points! 🙂 I really enjoyed reading perspectives from different people because I get to learn either a piece of history, culture, or difficulties. Everyone’s story can be heard.

  3. Great post, and definitely a question to think about. I’ve never even thought about what it would mean to read diversely for someone who already belongs to a “diverse” group. In fact, the idea that we tend to stereotype non-white or LGBT as diverse might in itself be a bit problematic, since it’s diverse only if you are not of those groups yourself. As you mentioned in your post, it’s not necessarily diverse to read about someone like yourself.

    I think when we look at diversity, we also have to look at whether the characters in the book are diverse. We often get stuck in the box of whether the author is diverse or not, but you can have an author who is a POC or LGBT, for example, who still writes about characters who are straight, white, etc. I’m sure that opens up all kinds of issues and “own voices” kinds of topics, but to me, reading diversely is about broadening your choices and reading from multiple different perspectives.

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