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Armchair Book Expo, Day 3 | Talking about Diversity

Hello, fellow Armchair BEA participants and readers. Today’s BEA topic is one that, in my sideline observation, saturates the market, which is diversity. Here’s what the Armchair organizers asked…

Delving Into Diversity: Book Expo sparked quite the controversy a couple years ago regarding diversity in books and authors. Where are we now? OR, let's take a different direction and explore the diversity of the format of a book. Do we judge a book by its cover and/or content (e.g.,, audio, digital, graphic, etc.)? Or, combine the two topics and discuss diversity found in alternative content (e.g., representation in graphic novels). Get creative and maybe even controversial! - Armchair BEA team

Before I go on, I will warn I have a different conclusion of this subject than the masses. No matter where you fall, we can each have our own opinions, and thank goodness we do. I tend to often fall in the minority, and that's ok with me. With that said, let’s press on.
So many readers advocate for diversity in books as does our culture in general (beyond books or entertainment). In my world (which I realize is very small), diversity is in so many of the trends or stories I see. It saturates my Twitter feed. It populates my blog feeds. It rules publishing house's promotional market. True, I realize some markets aren’t as “into” the diverse theme, and I don’t think in any way shape or form that makes their stories (messages) or them invaluable.  

Because I put all of this (Armchair Book Expo) together on a whim and didn’t give myself much of a lead time, I’m being lazy, following my answer to one specific question, some of the below text borrows from what I said last year about this very topic.

Do we judge a book by its cover and/or content (e.g., audio, digital, graphic, etc.)? Yes. I judge a book by its cover frequently. The next question is, what do I judge it by? Like anything, cover design is subjective. While I thing covers like Lois Lane: Fall Out, Everything, Everything or Anna and the French Kiss are perfect (for their genre and the story they want to tell). It's the cover that draws me in (and the characters who keep me flipping those pages!), so while I may read a book with a cover I don't care for, it may take my all the longer to discover it. 

To be honest, I’m not one who goes all out for culture’s version of the “diversity” term coupled with books. I have issues with some of the social issues running the gambit today, and because of that, I have some convictions about what diversity is, and means.  

As an example, most Twitter chatter uses the term “diversity” to discuss books that feature an ethnicity that isn’t perhaps discovered as frequently in fiction. It never matters to me what the race of the character is. What matters is whether or not the book sounds like a good read. Does the tagline draw me in? Does the plot sound unique? Have I heard good things about this author's writing?

For me, it isn’t so much about finding something that’s “diverse” as it is finding the stories that best suit the reader. The books that connect with us as readers are diverse because they inspire in us an emotional reaction whether happy or sad.  

Every book and story means something different to every reader, and I think the fact that we all walk away with something completely different is wonderful. Is there greater diversity than this?

QUESTIONS: What does diversity mean to you? Do you think of it when you view book covers? Do you feel like there is enough of it in literature today? Comment with your thoughts on this subject.

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland 
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  1. I do look at the covers in terms of diversity. Armchair Book Expo: May Inclusive Reading Report.

    1. I'm such a cover snob! I know I shouldn't be, but well, it's one of my book nerd curses. ;) Thanks so much for visiting!

  2. I LOVE this: "Every book and story means something different to every reader, and I think the fact that we all walk away with something completely different is wonderful. Is there greater diversity than this?"

    1. Thanks, Erica! I appreciate you stopping by and being a reader. :)

  3. I agree with you. To me it's about the story, no matter what the setting or characters. Reading for me is about connecting with the characters and experiencing their story. I'm not going to read something that I'm uncomfortable with just for the sake of "diversity" (ie: LGBQT, suicide) but I'm also not going to shy away from stories from a different world view. One of the best YA books I've read is Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye about an American Arab girl who moves to Palestine and strikes up a friendship with a boy initially not knowing that he is Jewish. It has such a hopeful and positive tone without ignoring the issues prevalent in those cultures.

    Focusing solely on diversity seems to me like it would have the risks of affirmative action. The demographics of the targeted audience should be taken into account, otherwise sales would drop because they are not meeting the desires of the readers who are actually purchasing the books. I think a good marketing strategy is crucial when selling a book that is going to be different/diverse, and that might mean investing more money. If the story and writing can support the efforts, then I think that's awesome. But to publish a greater amount of books considered diverse at the sake of other better books that are more mainstream/traditional would be wrong.

    Overall, I think the publishers have to determine if this shout for diversity is a trend being advocated by a small but loud minority, or if there is a real desire on the part of the majority for it. The sales will reflect it.

    1. "I'm not going to read something that I'm uncomfortable with just for the sake of "diversity" (ie: LGBQT, suicide) but I'm also not going to shy away from stories from a different world view."

      Well said, Heidi! I agree. I won't read something for the sake of "diversity" if it's simply for that alone or if the story contains an in-your-face topic I morally disagree with.

      I think it's a fine line because while I appreciate stories that take me outside my comfort zone (yet aren't written "just because" they can deal with X or X topic, or to PUSH that diverse agenda), I don't appreciate this trend being shoved in my face.

      Love your comment and appreciate you sharing! :)


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