Today kicks off Armchair BEA – the book blogger / reader event for those of us unable to be in Chicago this year. Today is a two part post – an Introduction and then discussing Diversity in the books you and I read. At the bottom of the post – I’ll have linked out the agenda for the upcoming days: be sure to check that out for opportunities to find other bloggers, join twitter parties, follow the event on Instagram, read blogs from people on the ground at the event, and even win prizes!
Introduction and Diversity
I’m Gaele – the owner/operator here at I am. Indeed. This site will have been active and operating for 4 years in a couple of months – and I can’t believe how things have changed and grown! I’ve added another reviewer to mix things up a bit, and my time is split now between reading for review and focusing on editing and formatting, with a book in progress now with several on the way. I love the opportunity to work with authors and help them to produce the best story presented in the best way possible.This is the 3rd year that I’ve participated in Armchair BEA – and I’m actually volunteering this year (this event is ALL volunteer – so consider that option) in a ‘behind the scenes’ role with the giveaway team.
Favorite books and genres – believe it or not, a favorite BOOK for me is a super hard decision. Right now the series that I keep coming back to and recommending are The Wicked Quills of London series by Eva Leigh (a historical series): the Little Beach Street Bakery series by Jenny Colgan (chick lit): and The Cassandra Bick Chronicles series by Tracey Sinclair (the best Urban Fantasy you’ve never heard of): as well as The Vintage Cinema Club & Cupcakes and Confetti (a new start to a series) from Jane Linfoot (also Chick Lit). I’m rather obsessed with historical romance and British Chick Lit of late, although I do genre-hop often, and read most everything.
Lastly, bookshelves. Oh let’s talk bookshelves. I’ve got books everywhere (almost literally) but I do try to organize them by Author / Series order. The only one that isn’t like that is my signed books box and my TBR pile. Yes, I said BOX because these are ‘special’ to me, and living in an apartment with limited storage space, boxes (or a storage box) work best for my signed stuff.
Diversity in Literature
I’m a HUGE believer in the idea that reading fiction will enhance your perspectives: when a character is very different from your own experiences, and can share some cultural, religious or even regional differences, you are learning about the world in ways that you wouldn’t get in a textbook. From learning facts to imagining a person in the midst of an historical event, an author that brings their own unique family story to the event and how it is portrayed is giving readers a gift of enlightenment.
It’s starting to become a ‘thing’ in children’s books. No, everyone is not the same, and people, lives, religions and families are all different. What saddens me is that it doesn’t always translate to adult fiction in ways that aren’t ‘threatening’ to a casual reader. More important to me is research – and this holds with ALL the books I read. Small moments that don’t fit are huge problems for readers. Stereotyping characters without giving them the respect they deserve as whole beings with agendas, histories, issues and loves is a HUGE no no.
Authors will write because that is what they do –whether or not that book comes into public view is really up to the reading public at large. Are you bold in your choices – will you read a story with a character that looks different from you or worships differently (or not at all). What about that character who perhaps has a viewpoint you can’t agree with – are YOU bold enough to let them share their tale? That’s diversity. Seeking out books that challenge YOUR view of the world, then reading them with an open mind, allowing the author to tell you a story.
Remember, no two readers ever read the same book: all of your life up to the day you reach page one will influence your experience and your receiving the story the author has shared. It never means you are wrong, it only means you haven’t been told a story in the right way. The Indie Community has a TON of new authors – look at small press houses, check out groups and bloggers who read and promote those titles.
Now – a wonderful author who does the whole “reach out and pull up” thing is Junot Diaz – follow him on Facebook (I do) for recommendations, articles and titles
Some of the authors I’ve read who challenge perspective and broaden horizons….
This is, in no way, a complete list – but a great starter pack for authors that you could check out.