Friday, March 17, 2017

Book Blogger Hop No. 88: Reading Diverse or Own Voices Books

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
hosted by Billy @

For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.

This Week's Question

Do you read a lot of diverse or
own voices books?
Why or why not?

(Submitted  by Kitty @ 

My Answer

I must sheepishly confess that I haven't read that many diverse books.... This is something I really need to work on! 

I do remember reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, years ago, and this would supposedly count as a diverse book. However, this novel has been criticized as being racist. I've been thinking about this recently, and I have to say one thing about it: the main focus in the narrative is placed on Atticus Finch, the white lawyer who defends Tom Robinson, an African-American man accused of raping a white woman. From what I remember, the reader knows very little about Tom's life, except for the fact that he's accused of a crime that he did not commit. Atticus is portrayed as  not only a very skillful lawyer, but also as a very decent human being who tries to do the right thing in the face of blatant racial prejudice. But again, it's all about him and what a great, progressive lawyer he is. The novel also focuses on his children, Jean Louise, nicknamed "Scout", and Jeremy Atticus, nickamed "Jem", and how the trial affects them.

On the other hand, there's another African-American character included in the book -- Calpurnia, nicknamed "Cal". She is the Finch family housekeeper, and a mother figure for the Finch children, especially Scout.

It looks like I need to re-read this book, in order to assess it in light of the criticisms leveled against it. Of course, I would review it afterward, but not on this blog. I would do so on my other blog, MindSpirit Book Journeys, which is dedicated to classics, literary fiction, and nonfiction.

I recently read a nonfiction book by Martin Luther King, Jr., titled Why We Can't Wait. I've reviewed it on both of my blogs. You can read my review HERE.

I meant to add that I want to read Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. My blogger friend Brian, who blogs at Babbling Books, referred to it in his comment below, so I've come back to add this book to my post.

Hurston was a member of the Harlem Renaissance group of African-American writers. They were active from about 1918 to the mid-1930s. Although they were based in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, they influenced many African and Caribbean writers living in Paris, France.

Novels featuring other ethnic groups would also be interesting to me. I also recall reading, years ago, romance novels in which the hero was a Native American, and the female protagonist was white. This was way before I had even ONE blog, so of course none of those reviews appear on either of my two blogs. I could look up new Native American romances to read, which I could then review here at A Night's Dream of Books.

I need to read more books about Hispanic characters, as well. Back in August of last year, I read and reviewed a YA novel titled Future Shock, by Elizabeth Briggs. The female protagonist, Elena Martinez, is a Mexican-descent young woman who is the strong leader of a group of teens sent into the future. Thus, the book has a definite feminist viewpoint. It also includes a lesbian character, but no gay sex scenes, so I had no problem reading the story. (I explain further below.) You can find my review of this novel HERE.

I definitely want to read more diverse books, but I must honestly say that, for me, there are exceptions as to the books I will be willing to read. Books about disabled or handicapped people, for example, can be very depressing reads. I'm a very sensitive person, so I'm not sure I could handle such books, unless, of course, the tone of the narrative was upbeat and optimistic. As for books dealing with LGBTQ characters, I can read them as long as there are no explicit sex scenes depicted between such characters. For instance, I would not be interested in reading a romance novel in which the lovers were either male or female homosexuals. I have nothing against LGBTQ people. I'm just not interested in romance novels depicting such couples, for the same reason that gay or trans people would not be interested in reading romance novels about heterosexual couples.

I did read one novel recently that included a trans female. This novel is titled Just For Christmas, by Scarlett Bailey. I LOVED this book! There were no explicit sex scenes AT ALL, whether of gay or straight couples. The trans female did get to meet a man toward the end of the novel, but again, nothing graphic was depicted. She was a great character, too! You can find my review HERE.

So I guess I need to make another New Year's resolution, this time in March: Read More Diverse Books! I think I need to compile a list, and decide which blog I'll be reviewing each book on. The list provided by Goodreads, at the link below, is a great place to start!

Online Links

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  1. Another super post Maria.

    I also need to read more diverse books. Part of the problem is that there is so much to read and time is so limited.

    As you know I recently read Chinua Achebe's Things Fall apart. I thought that it was excellent. If you have not read it I think that you would like Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. That book also had strong feminist themes.

    Cixin Liu is a Chinese author. I have not read it but his science fiction work The Three Body Problem takes place during The Cultural Revolution in China has gotten great reviews. Hopefully I will give it a try soon.

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Hey, Brian!

      Thanks so much for the compliment! :)

      Yes, unfortunately, there's not much time to read all the books all of us bookworms would LOVE to read.... But we really must make an effort to read more diverse books anyway.

      I greatly enjoyed your review of Achebe's novel, and have added it to my Goodreads shelves. Maybe I'll be able to read it sometime this year.

      You know, as I was writing the post, I had Hurston's book in mind. Somehow, I forgot to include it in the post, though, so thanks for mentioning this novel in your comment. I've gone back and added it to the post.

      You might notice that I've also tweaked the post quite a bit, adding a reference to the Harlem Renaissance, as well as a few other things. I also mentioned your blog, as I'm really glad you reminded me about "Their Eyes Were Watching God"! :)

      I have not heard of "The Three Body Problem" before, but it sounds very interesting! I've never read any books by Chinese authors, either, so this is something I must remedy, as well. Thanks for letting me know about this book!

      Thanks for the WONDERFUL, informative comment!! Hope you have a great weekend, as well!! :) :) :)

    2. Thanks for the mention Maria. I also have not read anything by Chinese authors.

      I understand that The Three Body Problem is being turned into a film. Hopefully I will get to the book before the movie comes out.

    3. You're very welcome, Brian! I haven't read any books by Chinese authors, either. I think that "The Three-Body Problem" would be a great place to start! And how interesting that there will be a movie soon, too! Thanks again for the rec!! :) :) :)

  2. Hey Maria!

    While I don't necessarily go out of my way to pick diverse books, I DO surround myself by a great bookish community to make sure I am getting recommendations from various people. I'd definitely recommend subscribing to podcasts and book tuber channels to help get some wonderful recommendations :)

    Feel free to check out my blogger hop here:

    1. Hey, Erica!

      Well, I haven't either, to be honest, but I do feel that I should more actively seek out such books. It's good to read about the experiences of people from other cultures and ethnic groups, for instance.

      It's great that you belong to a bookish community that provides recs from different kinds of people!

      If I had more time, I'd subscribe to podcasts and YouTube channels, but alas, I don't.... I think the list provided by Goodreads, at the link above, is a good place to start, when looking for diverse books. Hope you check it out!

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!! :)

  3. ENJOY your reading weekend.

    Good answer as always.

    Happy Hopping!!

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog Hop Answer

    1. Hi, Elizabeth!

      Thanks so much for always complimenting my BBH posts!! You're so sweet!! <3 <3 <3

      Hope you're enjoying your Sunday!! Happy Hopping to you, as well!!

      Thanks for the nice comment!! <3 :)

  4. Awesome post! I really need to read To Kill a Mockingbird again.

    Here’s my Book Blogger Hop!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

    1. Hi, Ronyell!

      Thank you for he compliment!!

      Yes, you do need to re-read "To Kill A Mockingbird"! It will definitely yield more insights. I plan on doing so myself.

      Thanks for the nice comment!! <3 :)

  5. Great answer and good luck with your diverse reading plans!

    1. Hi, Nicki!

      Thanks for the compliment!! <3 :)

      Yeah, I'm going to need the good luck, as there are SO many TERRIFIC books -- diverse as well as "non-diverse" -- waiting for me to read! Lol.

      Thanks for the nice comment!! <3 :)

  6. Hi, Maria. I am working on reading more diversely, although it's easy to get waylaid by all those other books I want to read. I think Brian said it best. I enjoy reading a wide variety of books, including those with a similar voice to my own and those completely outside my world experience. I love reading about other cultures and countries, and about different lifestyles. I think it's so important to do so in today's day and age. We need to hear as many different voices as we can--you never know which of those voices will resonate with someone who is feeling alone and invisible. Or the recognition that may arise.

    I hope you have a wonderful week, Maria! Thank you for your thoughtful response to this week's question.

    1. Hi, Wendy!

      Yeah, I'm in the SAME boat, lol. There are SO MANY books that I want to read.....

      You're SO right that it's important, in this day and age (sadly, the "Age of Trump") to read books about different cultures, countries, and lifestyles. I LOVE the way you put it, too: "We need to hear as many different voices as we can--you never know which of those voices will resonate with someone who is feeling alone and invisible. Or the recognition that may arise." VERY well stated, Wendy! It's so sad that there are people who do, indeed, feel "alone and invisible". But that's precisely the case. So, reading about such people will serve to broaden our horizons to become aware that there are other, different viewpoints out there. I TOTALLY agree!

      You're very welcome for my post! And thanks to YOU for the TERRIFIC comment!! Hope you have a wonderful week, too!! HUGS!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

  7. My mom is an elementary school special education teacher, so I like finding good middle grade books with protagonists who have special needs to recommend to her. As a black American, if I read stories that reflect my own experience, it's considered reading diversely. I think that's interesting.

    Happy reading.
    eli @ the (book) supplier
    <a href="”>My Blog Hop Answer</a>

    1. Hi, Eli!

      You know, I might try to read such books. As long as they present differently-abled people in optimistic ways, I can read them.

      I also want to read more books about people from other ethnic groups, as well as those who are LBGTQ (with the exception noted in my post).

      How totally INCREDIBLE and sad that, if you read books about people from your own ethnic group, you are then told that you are "reading diversely". This is indeed interesting, but for the wrong reasons. It means that the experiences of African-Americans, or of black human beings from other countries, are not considered important enough to be part of the mainstream. So that's why I say it's sad.

      Happy reading to you, too!! :) :) :)

  8. I try to, but I have to say I can definitely improve on my own voices books.

    1. Hi, Verushka!

      Same here! I need to do really work on this, as I feel it's especially important in "The Age of Trump". Lol.

      Thanks for commenting!! <3 <3 :) :)

  9. This is such an interesting topic! I've read some diverse books, but I'm sure I need to read more. I've been trying to push myself out of my reading comfort zone lately, and it's been very good for me. As always, your thoughts are so well-written and organized, and your whole post is extremely informative; I'm grateful for the links that you included. I think that's a great New Year's resolution, and I look forward to hearing what books you choose! Big hugs to you, sweet friend! <3 <3 <3


    1. Hi, Michele!

      Oh, I had not seen this comment..... Sorry for the delay in replying! :(

      Yes, this is a very interesting topic!! And I totally agree -- it is very important to push oneself out of one's reading comfort zone. The only exceptions to this for me are the following genres: horror, thrillers (this depends, though), and erotica. But diverse books? Bring them on! I need to read more of them for sure!

      I'm so glad that you found the links helpful! And it's great that you like my "New Year's resolution" too! :)

      Thank you so much for complimenting my writing, and for leaving such a lovely comment!! You are SO sweet!!!!

      BIG HUGS BACK!!!! MUAH!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)


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