Monday, July 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Books that Celebrate Diversity

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc...).  I think this is a great topic even if it does reveal how poorly I do at reading diverse books! I've actually been trying to keep better track this year so that I can gradually diversify my reading in the future.

I tried to choose books that don't just have diverse characters but also generally have a message that there is value in everyone.

1) The Vorkosigan Series By Lois McMaster Bujold

This is Space Opera at its finest and the hero of the books is Miles Vorkosigan who was damaged while in the womb by an assassination attempt on his parents with a poison gas.  It stunts his growth and makes his bones so brittle they break at the slightest trauma. This is a particular challenge in the rather conservative society he lives in that prizes its mighty warriors.  But Miles is clever and has a forceful personality and determination and ... well... he's kind of obnoxious so he ends being a natural leader and has all kinds of adventures. 

2) Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

This may seem like an unlikely addition to this list but not only does this book have a diverse cast of characters - Mexicans, Irish immigrants, Native Americans and African Americans  - but the heart of the book as personified by Gus McCrae is also one of appreciation for all.  Gus made his living fighting Indians as a Texas Ranger but it is clear he regrets mightily the role he played in denigrating that culture.  He admires, respects and ridicules everyone alike.

3) Avatar The Last Airbender Graphic Novels by Gene Luen Yang

This is a bit of a cheat as it started life as a TV show but it has been continued in Graphic Novel form.  It also happens to be one of the best stories for kids that seamlessly encourages love for all while not seeming preachy.  The first in the continuing series (The Promise) addresses the challenges faced with bringing the four elemental (Fire, Earth, Air and Water) nations together.

4) Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

The prejudice against dragons and half dragons in the kingdom of Goredd feels a lot like racism in these two excellent YA fantasy novels.  Throughout, the book deals with feelings of isolation by those who don't feel like they belong. It also embraces the idea of atypical relationships.

5) The Sherlock Holmes Series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

We spend so much time admiring Sherlock Holmes' genius that it's easy to overlook that Holmes also has some damaging mental issues as well.

6) The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

This story is about a children's librarian who accidentally kidnaps one of her patrons who is trying to run away from his parents who want to send him to a camp to un-gay him.   They do not accept the bright and delightful child that he is.  I really loved this book though I have seen a lot of scathing reviews of it by parents who are appalled that it seems to condone kidnapping a your mileage may vary.  Regardless I thought it was an interesting contemplation of the role our parents play in our lives and what it means to be an individual.

7) Monster Blood Tattoo Series by D.M. Cornish

I can't really explain why I think this middle-grade book celebrates diversity because it's a huge spoiler but if you've read the series I think you'll get it.  If you haven't read the series, consider this a recommendation to do so  - It's great!

8) A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

This is a book that reminds people that we are not the only living things on this planet.  That we are actually part of a larger community that includes our ecosystem and all the creatures and plants that make it thrive.  

9) Inspector Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd

This is a unique historical mystery series whose protagonist is haunted by the ghost of a soldier that was under his command in WWI who he had to execute for desertion.  It is never entirely clear whether Rutledge is wrestling with PTSD or if he is actually being haunted but regardless, the other presence causes him emotional distress but also helps him at times to see things from a different viewpoint.

I think I will stop there.  Looking forward to making a list from other TTT participant's in order to broaden my horizons!


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