Discussions Only We Know
The most backlash I've ever gotten from a blog post was when I did a Top Ten Tuesday post which I titled Top Ten Books That Don't Celebrate Diversity. In truth that's not an accurate title for the post, and as my angry commenter pointed out, I probably should have titled the post differently. Yet I stand by the contents of the post itself. The gist of which is that I read a diverse range of characters and genres based on my own personal tastes. I don't read books for the sake of diversity. I read what I want to read when I want to read it. And that's without knowledge of an author's or character's race or culture. It isn't that I'm anti-diversity. Diversity (in race, religion, culture/nationalities) is just not one of the things I consider or seek out when choosing which books to read.
The only other time I've written about diversity here on the blog was when Armchair BEA made it the agenda for the year 2015. In my Introductions post for that year I answered the question "what does diversity mean to me." That post is not unlike the Top Ten Tuesday post where I discuss that I don't choose the books that I read based off the author's gender, age, race, or other cultural background. I often don't even know the nationalities or races of the authors of the books that I read. I read for topics that I enjoy. Simple as that.
See in some ways I can intellectually understand what minorities may be feeling when they never see their race or cultural background discussed in the books that they enjoy reading. In truth, without reading the Christian genre itself I find the Christian characters displayed in the books that I enjoy reading as either flat or stereotypical. In my experience, these characters are usually downright crazy, hypocritical, extremists, or non-existent. This is in total opposition to the majority of Christians that I know personally. Do the extremists, hypocritical, and crazy Christians exists...well of course, but that's not the majority of people that I know. So in some ways, I can see how it could be disheartening to read book after book and yet never see a reflection of your culture or race or whatever it might be that you're looking for.
However, here's something for you to ponder: Although I've read about characters that I relate to, story plots that have been similar to my own experiences, or characters that remind me of someone I know, I have never and I mean never read a book where the character or the story jumped out at me and I thought "this is me and this is my life." Maybe that happens to some people. But considering the total volume of books that I've read over the course of my life, I'd have to say that this isn't the norm. So if that's what you're looking for when you want to read about "diversity"--if you're looking to read a story that is about you--well then you're probably going to have to be the one to write that book.
And that leads me to my next point. In the day and age we live in where anyone, and I do mean anyone, can self-publish a book, what excuse is there if you don't see any books that reflect you or your culture or nationality or your life experiences? I have said over and over in my real life and even here on the blog that you must be the change you wish to see. If there isn't a book published that reflects you, then you must be the one to write it. If traditional publishing companies aren't looking to publish your book because your story is about a minority or they feel like the story won't have mass appeal because it has no connection to their target market, well then find another means of publishing your book. Don't let the word "no" stop you. No one is saying that this process will be easy. Perhaps you're thinking that you're not a writer, or you don't know how to self-publish a book? Well I'm sure every self-published author thought the same thing when they first started out. My point is, there is no excuse. Be the change. Write the book you want to read. Don't just sit there and complain because the book or character or world you want to read doesn't exist. Create it.
In the meantime, leave me in peace to read what I want instead of trying to make me feel bad because I'm not reading about you.
What do you guys think? Do you read the books you read so that you can claim that your reading life is "diverse?" Or do you just read what subjects appeal to you? Do you read for fun or because someone has pressured you into it? Have you ever read a book that you thought reflected not only you but also your life experiences? Or do you see yourself and your experiences lacking in the genres that you enjoy reading? Have you ever considered writing your story? Let me know!