Armchair BEA Beyond the Borders – Ways to Add Diversity To Your Reading

May 29, 2014 Blogger Events 33


Today’s Armchair BEA topic has to do with all the different types of diversity in books, from varied genres to books written in different countries, from books by authors of color to books with LGBT characters. The recent outpouring of support for the We Need Diverse Books campaign suggests many bloggers feel strongly about diversifying our reading. As many bloggers have pointed out before me, one of the most amazing things about books is their ability to inspire empathy for even those very different from ourselves. Here are some of the strategies and resources which have helped me diversify my reading.

Perhaps because the books we consider diverse are those which are uncommon, I find that I have to make an effort to read books that fall into many of these categories. For that reason, I find sites that recommend books outside of my usual reading rut very helpful. Here are a few of my favorites:

Diverse Book Recommendations

  • LGBT books – Cayce at Fighting Dreamer is always reviewing something fantastic in this genre
  • Translated Fiction – the International Reads goodreads group is my go-to source for translated fiction
  • Genre diversity – bloggers who read eclectically or bloggers who focus on genres you don’t often read
  • Banned Books – ALA has several helpful lists of banned books
  • Ethnic diversity – Bookriot has done a ton of posts on the topic lately, including these suggestions for diverse YA. You’ll also come up with a bunch of blogger recommendations if you just google “we need diverse books”
  • Mental Illness – Amanda at Opinions of a Wolf has an awesome list of books which portray characters with a mental illness favorably

Another thing that helps me remember to diversify my reading is participating in challenges where that is the goal. Here are some of the ones I’ve joined this year:

Diverse Book Reading Challenges

My last suggestion is to track what you’re reading  so that you’re aware of how diverse (or not ) your reading currently is. So far, the best tool I’ve found for doing this is this fantastic spreadsheet from Fyrefly’s Book Blog. And that’s it! Now you’re all set to add some diversity to your reading 🙂

33 Responses to “Armchair BEA Beyond the Borders – Ways to Add Diversity To Your Reading”

    • DoingDewey

      It’s a great challenge and for a genre I’m surprised isn’t discussed in the context of diverse reading more often. It’s definitely an area I could improve on in my reading 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Some of the categories definitely push me more out of my comfort zone than others and it can be great for getting me to read books I wouldn’t otherwise as I try to fill categories 🙂

  1. Andi @ Estella's Revenge

    I LOVE that you mentioned the International Reads book group! I was one of the original BookTubers who helped start that group, and I’m thrilled that it can be a resource for others. It certainly has been for me!
    Andi @ Estella’s Revenge recently posted…Armchair BEA Giveaway!My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Andi, you’re so cool! I think it’s awesome that you’ve been blogging for so long and are involved in so many events and groups 🙂

  2. Elizabeth Bevins

    I will read anything. I don’t stick to one genre or author. So I have discovered some amazing books. Maus is a fantastic Graphic Novel. The Color Purple is stunning literature. The Color of Water is a great memoir. I highly recommend those. Thanks for sharing some of your favorites.

  3. Karen

    I’d forgotten about the international readers group- thanks for the nudge. Another resource for books in translation is the Winston’s dad blog -
    This is run by Stu who reads more books in translation than anyone else on this planet I’m sure. I always have a look at his site for ideas.

  4. Nikki

    EEP! thanks for all the links–THEY WILL BE SO HELPFULLLL. I love diverse books since I’m not exactly white either so this is definitely going to be awesome!
    Nikki recently posted…Armchair BEA: Day FourMy Profile

  5. Kathryn@Book Date

    I don’t necessarily set out to read with diversity, but from time to time it happens. I am doing a reading challenge this year called The Eclectic Reading Challenge and I have found that helpful.
    Kathryn@Book Date recently posted…Middle Grade ReadingMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      It’s true! I can very easily get distracted by all the shiny ARCs and not make sure I’m reading diversely if I don’t track what I’m reading.

  6. Laurie C

    I keep track of what I’ve read on LibraryThing, but I’m not good about putting dates or consistent tags in, so it’s not great for chronology or tracking diversity. I’ve started spreadsheet records two years in a row in January now (using Fyrefly’s that you recommend) and haven’t managed to keep them up beyond a few weeks. Maybe 2015 will be the year! I’m reading an ARC of Angels Make Their Hope Here by Breena Clarke, an African-American author, right now, and have been really drawn into the story and the characters.
    Laurie C recently posted…Armchair BEA Day 5: Two More Free SYNC Downloads This Week @SYNC_YA_Lit #armchairBEAMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I use Goodreads in addition to my spreadsheet so I do end up with dates saved even when I fall behind on the spreadsheet. Otherwise I’d never keep it up!

  7. Anya

    I find myself continuously going back and forth on this issue of tracking my reading and trying to make it more diverse. So often I don’t pay any attention to who the author is or what they look like, but if the book description falls into a diversity category, I’m almost always more intrigued because it is different and I like different these days. I think I’ll always feel that I need to make more of an effort though, especially since a lot of what I read is based on what shows up in the mail!
    Anya recently posted…Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo {5 Stars}My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      That makes sense! I think I’m also more likely to pick up a book in a diverse category, but I’ve only recently started requesting specific books instead of just sorting through invitations. Since books in diverse categories seem to be less likely to just show up than I would like, I’m hoping that requesting specific books will help me read more diversely.

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