Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Chuckles Chat #13 Diversity

Welcome to Chuckles Chat where great blogging minds unite to discuss the topics of the day mainly in the book and blogging world. I'll be sharing my thoughts on a topic and then inviting you all to share your thoughts. It's ok to disagree but PLEASE be respectful of each other's views! All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

This week I'm going to look at Diversity in books, a subject that is sure to get people talking. 

I do support diverse books. I think that kids all around the world need to have the chance to read books with MCs that they can relate to, MCs like them. I think there should be a wide range of books that have POC as MCs, LGBT characters who are not just background sidekicks, MCs with disabilities that are not magically cured, books set in a wide range of countries, heroes and heroines of different religions etc. People are diverse so I think they should expect that to be reflected in the books that they read. The more choice there is out there, the more people will want to read.

Now here is the part where I admit that I don't really read diverse books! Before everyone gets all horrified or shocked, there are very plain reasons for it. I am in my forties now and spent many years experimenting with book genres, especially when I first joined bookcrossing. I tried a lot of new things, discovering my book tastes and finding out what I liked and didn't like. I had book phases, one of which was reading asian fiction and non fiction, so I read plenty diversity there. ie The Kite Runner, Wild Swans, The White Tiger, Sold, Nabeel's Song. I enjoyed a lot of these reads but after a while I moved back into my comfort reads. Now I know what my favourites are and I no longer feel like experimenting. With so many coming out in these genres by Indie authors, I stick to what I love best-horror, urban fantasy, apocalypse, monsters and preppers.

When I pick up a book, I do it based on the genre and plot. I will read it if I like the sound of it regardless of whether or not there is diversity. If there is is diversity, fine, if not, also fine. I just want to read! I've been pleased recently to find a few zombie books not set in US or UK. One was set in South Africa which makes a nice change! I'd also like to see zombie books that feature characters who are blind or in a wheelchair as that would add a new element to the plots. Characters with various medical issues do pop up in some of my apocalypse books and skin colour diversity is pretty good in the zombie books I read. So I do read diversity when I see it, I just don't go searching for them.

I don't like some of the book blogs out there that seem to be almost accusing readers of being racists and bigots if they DON'T read diversity! I find that attitude wrong. I also see people worrying about what others will think of them if they don't read enough diverse books. Reading, for me, is about choice and I won't be told what to do or what to read by anybody. I refuse to feel bad or guilty or inadequate in some way because of what I choose to read or not read. Reading diversity is a choice like any other and people need to read what they are comfortable with and not be worried about the opinions of others. If you want to read diversity and go searching it out, that's great but those who don't should not feel bad about it.

I'm also not happy about the author shaming that goes on amongst some bloggers. Some authors write what they know or base characters on people they know, yet bloggers get rabid about white authors having white MCs. Well the way I see it, authors should write their characters however they want and not be shamed if they choose not to have diversity. The same bloggers would be the first to be critical if an author wrote something 'wrong' in writing diversity-I've seen that happen too. I've seen authors savaged for killing a POC in their books. JK Rowling is savaged for not having one of her three heroes as diverse despite a cast that does have diversity, more than most kids books had. It seems that authors get it in the neck no matter what they do

When it comes to diversity I'm happy to read almost any kind. If I use the zombie example again, I'm not bothered what country the books are set it. I'll try most if the plot sounds good. I'm not bothered by colour, race, religion or sexual orientation of my heroes and heroines. It's all ok by me. One thing that doesn't interest me in diversity is reading about gay sex but it doesn't occur in any of the genres I generally read so it's not really an issue for me. It's not something that personally interests me in a plot but there again, I don't greatly like a pile of sex of any kind in the books I read! Also I wouldn't be greatly interested in books that delve heavily into the religious beliefs of characters-that just isn't my thing. I do think that plots with gay sex and religious exploration should be available for anyone who wants to read about it though.

So overall my point here is that I support as much diversity as possible in books to give people the best choice possible, even if I don't always read it personally. The more choice out there, the happier readers will be and the more kids we encourage to read.

Do you seek out diversity in books or maybe stumble across it? Do you want to read more diversity or are you not bothered? Is there much diversity in the genres you read? What kind of diversity do you favour and what diversity are you not interested in reading? What are your views on badly written diversity? Do you have links to share for websites promoting diversity books?

20 comments:

  1. yes I agree this is a very hot topic now. Not only bloggers and readers are feeling the pressure but writers.
    As an immigrant and I guess POC? [I'm white but not Anglo/Saxon white more like "very, very very light Spaniard olive skinned" but I was raised in South America and then we moved to the US so not sure what I'm anymore lol oh my identity crisis LOL] I feel somehow guilty of not reading MORE diversity. Though I probably read more than others JUST because I happen to like Magical Realism [which has a lot of South American literature] and I can read in Spanish so I read books originally written in Spanish but I feel I can relate to what you say in the sense that I read what I'm in the mood for and not always stop to think is there diversity here? Are different races or sexual orientations or disability? No I just read. Is that bad? Not necessarily but maybe not quite good either.

    So, generally, my attitude toward anything in life is pretty much like yours "I won't be told what to do" and "I refuse to feel bad or guilty or inadequate in some way because of what I choose"

    BUT I do feel I have some responsibility about the choices I make, meaning every choice I make [not only what I'm going to read and review] has an impact in my global community that humankind is.

    I did recently learn that part of what makes some people feel marginalized is when some like me who looks white and it's straight and body able doesn't notice or doesn't care or raise her voice when other people are not being represented. And I also had to acknowledge that this is definitely a market widely dominated by the majority [being that US/UK white, straight, body able etc]

    SO I see now their point that we, as global society, have to make more of an effort to include and support other perspectives.

    And I do feel certain level of responsibility as a book blogger and reviewer because even though my audience is small I do promote books and some people do sometimes read what I recommend

    So maybe the way to go about it is to give for exposure to Own_voices, support global literature, authors not only from other races and sexual orientations but other nationalities and cultures. So I trying.

    Great Post! Loved it !

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    1. My blog is small with a small following so I don't worry much about my impact on the global reading or blogging community (or lack of it!). All I really want to do is talk about great books, promote the Indie books I read and chat to book lovers! I don't worry about social responsibility and that kind of thing to be honest. I just read and blog for fun!

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    2. I think promoting indie books is great! I don't do that :) because for each 20 indie books I read I like maybe one or 2 So I'm glad other bloggers do it. :)

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    3. That can be the problem with Indie books...you have to wade through a few bad ones to get to the good ones. For some reason I'm addicted to these books and don't mind if I hit some really bad ones along the way. It's funny that I have the patience for Indie books yet I'm sooo impatient on slow plots! *grins*

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  2. Another great topic. I believe whole-heartedly that there should be diverse characters in the book world. There are in real life so why should books be any different. I love seeing more diversity in literature but like you, I read what I want to read. I just bought "The Hate U Give" because it was getting tons of praise and I was interested in the subject matter - not JUST because it was diverse. Also, I agree that people write what they know so author's shouldn't be criticized, unless they do something stupid and don't research things enough if they aren't familiar with the subject matter.

    Diversity just doesn't play out in horror much. Honestly, even in horror movies, the running joke is always that the Black person dies first - why is that? And sadly it does seem to hold true a lot of time. My boss and I were just talking about that the other day - he is afraid of ghosts and says that proves he should be :)

    I have a diverse family and have never felt criticized for what I read and hope I never am.

    You have such great discussion topics!

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    1. As long as the choice is there, everyone can pick and choose what interests them the most and everyone is happy. That's the way I want to see things anyway. Kids need to be inspired by MCs they can relate to in every way. More choice more readers! Diversity in zombie books is ok...POC feature in US military squads or as CIA analysts and stuff which is good, but I agree that some horror is lacking in diversity.

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  3. I think there are huge differences between seeking out diversity, being open to diversity, and shying away from diversity. Personally, I think readers are doing themselves a disservice if they're not at least open to it, but we all have our soft/hard limits. Racial, sexual, and gender diversity are all perfectly acceptable for me, and I like when I discover a story with a new angle or viewpoint. However, like yourself, I'm not interested stories of faith/religion and will consciously avoid them.

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    1. I agree that people have their limits. In general terms I'm open to most stuff in the books I read but too much sex or religion puts me off! Still, these books should be out there for people who like the subjects. New views or angles can be exciting in a genre you like.

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  4. It seems like it’s impossible for authors to “win” the whole diversity thing. If all their characters are white, they get shamed for having no diversity. If a white author writes non-white characters, they get shamed for writing “out of their lane.” It must be frustrating for authors.

    I think we should support marginalized authors, and I’m attempting to get better at it. The synopsis is still king with me, though. If a book sounds interesting, I’ll read it, no matter who the author is. I’ve been trying to get better at finding marginalized authors who write the kinds of things that interest me.

    Interesting post!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I do feel sorry for some authors-hard to know what to do! Patricia Briggs is great at writing diverse characters. Going looking for more diversity in a genre we like I certainly do understand and support. If I had more time I might look for more!

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  5. I like reading diversity but I don't seek it out in that sense either, to read it just BECAUSE it's diverse. Like you said, if it's diverse that is good, but I pick books based on what I like to read first and foremost. And there's nothing wrong with that. Everyone's personal reading choices are just that, and can't be "wrong" because they're personal. And I do think authors get it both ways now, with social media anybody can take a torch to anybody these days.

    So I do support diversity and think it's important (I think you articulated why very well in your first paragraph) but I also read the kinds of books I like- and if they have diversity so much the better!

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    1. One area I want to see diversity, as I mentioned in the post, is zombies. I get excited to imagine all the disabilities that would make it tough to escape zombies. I'd love to see more of that...not sure where to start looking for it though!

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  6. Great topic! Personally I really love reading books with diversity, but that's my preference. I like that it mixes things up and we get another perspective. I don't really seek diverse books specifically but I am drawn to them. That being said, I am most definitely a mood reader. I read whatever I am in the mood for, and that changes occasionally so this may not always be the case for me. It's sad that people are being shamed for what they read and write.

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    1. Yeah nobody should be shamed over what they read. It's great that so many people read diversity but they mustn't shame those who don't do the same. Reading should be fun, that's the main thing. I see lots of diversity blogs and books as I browse online so lots of people are getting involved which is good. More publicity means more choice.

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  7. I love diversity! I can't say I actively seek it out in my books though, but I end up reading a lot of #DiverseReads anyway simply by seeking out stories that interest me. I feel I am a pretty flexible reader; I enjoy anything that has a strong plot and great characters. Sometimes I look around and feel that some bloggers/readers have lost sight of that, and they seem more concerned with finding ways to attack an author rather than reading to enjoy the book.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Totally agree with your comments Mogsy. I think the attacking authors thing is a worrying trend and it's not just over diversity. Just enjoy the books, people!

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  8. Interesting thoughts! I do feel a bit uncomfortable with how pushy some bloggers can be about it; like, guys, making reading these books a chore is not gonna get people reading them...

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    1. Totally true! I can't plough through anything I'm not personally wanting to read. I think a lot of people these days are worried about others perceptions of them and it influences what they read, watch and do. Not me though. I pretty much do what I want and not worry about it!

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  9. I have mostly the same stance. I choose what to read based on whether it sounds like a good story and good characters. I don't read books simply because they have diversity. I am more swayed sometimes by disability because it's something important to me, but even there, I have a whole list of SFF disability books on my blog, and I don't plan to read all of them because many simply don't interest me. I do think though that certain types of diversity actually can make a story sound more interesting, like how you mentioned you'd like more zombies stories about blind characters or wheelchair users. Or like this one series I'm reading in which the MC is a super Catholic gay vampire, so he's all torn about conflicting things. And books in other countries are fun to me. But again, those are things that sound interesting to me, not like an obligation.

    I also agree that authors are having a rough go of things because it's like no matter what they do, it's wrong. That's why I try to cut authors some slack as long as they're not writing things that are actively disrespectful.

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    1. I think I'll start trying to locate some diversity in zombies and if the plot sounds good I'll grab it. I think your disability list is a great resource to help people track down what they are looking for. I'm sure I have more books with characters who have illnesses and things in the genre but I can't remember what they are. I'll add them as I find them!

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