Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Armchair BEA: Introductions and Diversity in Books


What name do you prefer to use?

How long have you been a book blogger?
I've been at this blog since 2012. I did post about books before, but it wasn't on a blog meant specifically for books. That blog is dead and gone now, which is for the best, really.

Have you participated in ABEA before?
Yep! This is year two for me.

What is your favourite genre and why?
Fantasy, probably. My go to answer for "why" used to be that I'm an escapist... this is true, but I don't really think that's ALL of it. After all, a lot of fantastic fantasy novels explore real world issues through a different lens.

Which day of ABEA are you looking forward to most?
I'm pretty excited about tomorrow, because I'm on the international team this year and that's the day of the Twitter chat.

How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason?
My shelves are mostly arranged using the ancient art of "just try to make everything fit on the shelves." Otherwise, by... mood, I suppose? And yes, those are two IKEA bookshelves stacked on top of each other. My father was kind enough to attach them to the wall so that I could stack them without worrying about them falling.

Which books are you most excited for on your TBR? What are you most intimidated by?
I'm probably most excited about either The Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo or Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. My go-to answer for "most intimidated by" used to be The Silmarillion, but I've read that now... hmm. Maybe The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin?


I feel like it's possible that the answer is always going to be "there is not enough diversity anywhere at all." That said, it's A LOT better than it was when I started reading YA, looking back.

I'm mainly a YA fantasy reader, as mentioned above, which has had a bit of an issue with diversity. Popular high fantasy especially ended up trapped in this "kind of medieval-ly England where everyone is white men, written by authors who are also white men" rut, which I think it might be just starting to get out of. It's getting there. Crawling in the general direction, at least. And I think YA is on the forefront of that.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of work to do, but YA is where I see a lot of it getting done. (It is possible that this is because YA is where I spend my time. Possibly I have sampling errors. Watch out for sampling errors, kids.)

Types of diversity I am seeing, that I would like to continue to see more of:
  1. Characters diverse in ethnicity, race, and/or cultural background. Especially written by AUTHORS of diverse ethnicity, race, and/or cultural background. (We definitely need more of that.)
  2. Non-neurotypical characters. I can count on one hand the positive representations of non-neurotypical characters in fantasy novels. We just don't see a lot of characters that are struggling with learning disabilities or mental health issues in fantasy.
  3. On that thought, characters struggling with disabilities in general.
  4. LGBT+ characters. This is getting more common, which is great. I'm glad strides are being made, but I'd really like to see more. Especially transgender characters, and characters that fall into the "+" part of LGBT+. 
  5. Diversity of place. I read a lot of high fantasy, but also a lot of fantasy that is set in our world. And, by "our world," I mean America and/or London. Because that seems to be where most of them are set. I had a moment of horror when I was working on some stuff with the international team and realised that I couldn't name a single YA fantasy novel off the too of my head that took place in China.
Generally, the representation I see it pretty decent, but every so often I'll come across something that makes me cringe. Not going to go into too much detail now, because I'm trying to remain! upbeat! and! optimistic! (It's a thing I'm trying out...) But trust me, terrible representation definitely exists. It does more harm than good. Terrible representation isn't really representation at all, in a way. Since it isn't really all that representative.

Overall, I'm glad that SOME progress is being made, and I'm hoping to see a lot more. There's a real push for it, and hopefully that continues to have an impact.


  1. I've also noticed a shift in YA towards being more inclusive. It's a good place to start, I think. Meaghan @

    1. It is a good start! I'm hoping for a lot more in the future, but you have to start somewhere, right?

  2. Hello Kelly! I'm super excited about Crooked Kingdom as well. I've actually already preordered it because of said excitement. Fantasy is my favorite genre as well, and I also agree that it does deal with real life issues, it just may throw in a dragon or two. I have such a hard time finding diversity within the fantasy genre but I've come across a few and am hopeful we'll see an improvement soon. Hope you enjoy the rest of ABEA!
    My Armchair BEA Intro & Diveristy Post

    1. Dragons make everything better. I'm working on a list of some of the really excellent diverse YA fantasy novels I've read (a list that is still too short, but growing...) maybe I'll post it eventually? Hopefully we get even more diversity of all types, it makes the genre so much richer!

    2. That's awesome, I'd love to take a look at a list like this!

  3. Love your bookshelf and your old-fashioned way to organize it. That's the best way. :)

    Have a fun week.

    Nice blog.

    Silver's Reviews

    1. It works... for now. I'm going to have to re-orgainse eventually, what with so many series coming to a close this year ans whatnot...