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Bookish Pet Peeve #4: Representation in a Book

Representation and diversity in books has become a major focus point these days. Growing up, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that books generally featured a certain stereotypical character. With the amount of diversity and acceptance that is taking place in our society, it is important that this change in direction is reflected in the books we read. Representation and diversity are things that I never really considered when reading a book but I must say that picking up novels that feature a diverse cast of characters has been a wonderful experience, and I am all for having more books that do this.

But what happens when representation isn’t done right in a book?

Many times, I see authors trying to jump on the bandwagon to make characters more diverse and reach different minority groups. It’s great … but sometimes, it can feel quite gimmicky. This is especially true when the author hasn’t taken time to flesh out the character and really understand the demographic that they are trying to portray through this character. Instead of having this character stand out from the mold, the author has inadvertently put them in a box full of stereotypes.

And it sucks.

Now, I’m not someone who can claim to know what it is like to be part of every single minority group out there. I am a part of some, yes, but that doesn’t make me an expert on them all. But I want to learn about the struggles of different marginalized groups and one of the ways I like to do that is by reading about the way different characters face their difficulties. This means that the onus really goes on the author to accurately portray the characters. They need to do their research and really look beyond how people are perceived by the general public to try to enlighten readers.

Because, really, what’s the point of having characters that are from diverse backgrounds if you aren’t going to represent them properly?

I have read some great books that do justice to characters that are unique and different from the stereotypical MCs. But there have been just as many bad books that have tried to gain support from various minority communities by including characters that are diverse in their books, only to have them be stereotyped.

I hope that, over time, more authors will make the conscientious switch to having a more diverse cast of characters in their books and do them justice by actually portraying them accurately and not just do it to gain a larger following.

But let’s talk about your experiences: have you come across many diverse reads?

Do you make it a habit to read more diverse books than non-diverse?

Have you ever come across a novel that promises diversity but only serves to be gimmicky?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

0 thoughts on “Bookish Pet Peeve #4: Representation in a Book

  1. I usually don’t realise how diverse a book is or is not until I start reading it. But I absolutely love it if it is diverse because I get to know so much more about other cultures and their practices and they are much more relatable as compared to white MCs!

  2. This is such a great post, Vee! In the past I haven’t sought out diverse titles but that is starting to change a bit. I always notice when a book is diverse and love when it is done well because I feel transported and have the opportunity to learn about different cultures.

    When diversity is done poorly though it sticks out like a sore thumb and definitely negatively affects my reading experience. I hope that more and more authors seek out reps for characters that aren’t own voices prior to publication.

  3. For me I’ve never seen a bisexual character done right. I’ve not found a huge amount of bi characters anyway, but the ones I have read it’s either been a phase or they’ve just been referred to as gay through the rest of the novel or series. There are plenty of great Gay and Lesbian books, but the ‘B’ tends to get neglected a lot.

  4. I don’t actively go out searching for diverse reads, I mean if a book interests me and happens to also include some diversity great, if not then it’s ok. I think whenever you read a book about diversity it’s important to take it with a pinch of salt, it’s only one representation of that minority and the minority group won’t all be the same or go through the same experiences.

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