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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Celebrate Diversity

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday!

For those who don’t know, the Top Ten Tuesday Tag is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is:

TEN BOOKS THAT CELEBRATE DIVERSITY/DIVERSE CHARACTERS

So without further ado, in no particular order, here are my top ten books:

10. ANYTHING BY URSALA K. LE GUIN

Everything this woman writes is amazing. Whether it be her epic fantasy series Earthsea or her science fiction novels such as The Left Hand of Darkness. Throughout her work, Le Guin does a lot of different things with race and gender that totally went over my head when I was a little kid reading The Earthsea Cycle. If you haven’t read any of her novels, I totally recommend them (I’ve been planning on doing a re-read myself). I also recommend reading the article she posted about the white-washed made for TV adaptation of Earth Sea that happened a few years back.

9. HUNTRESS – MALINDA LO

I stumbled upon this book accidentally. I was not disappointed. This book had everything I love: magic, adventures, and a little bit of romance. After I finished Huntress I happily found out it was a prequel to Ash a Cinderella retelling. What I really loved about this book was the blending of different mythologies to make something new and wholly unique. If you’re a fan of fantasy novels, then you should totally check this one out. Also worth noting is that Malinda Lo, co-founded the tumblr blog Diversity in YA with Cindy Pon, which you can check out here.

8. PERSEPOLIS – MARJANE SATRAPI

Did I mention that I love memoirs? Persepolis is the first memoir that I remember ever reading. I was in high school during the fascinating time where visual media (aka comics and graphic novels) were just starting to work their way into the Literature Curriculum. My english teacher (who I owe a lot too), jumped on the widely unpopular bandwagon and put this book into all of our hands.

Persepolis recounts Satrapi’s life growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. Goodreads sums it up better than I ever could:

It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up. Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom—Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.

Persepolis also was made into a successful animated movie, which I still have to watch.

7. CLARIEL – GARTH NIX

Clariel is the prequel to one of my favourite series: The Abhorsen Trilogy. Garth Nix has always been really subtle in his world building. During my reading of Clariel, I really noticed the intense level of gender equality in his Old Kingdom World, which was really really awesome. But that’s not the reason this book makes my list. The main character of this novel is Clariel, a young woman who just really wants to move back to her old home in the forest. Clariel is asexual. Clariel’s sexuality is never played as a punch line to a joke, it’s just part of her character.

6. THE INCONVENIENT INDIAN/ANYTHING BY THOMAS KING

The first book I ever read by Thomas King was The Truth About Stories, which was a collection of essays on the purpose and power of stories. I unfortunately missed a chance to go and see King give a related lecture, something I still regret to this day.

Last year I participated in Canada Reads and another one of his books: An Inconvenient Indian was one of the books listed.

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America.

King manages to pack this novel with a ton of information, but it never feels like he’s just throwing facts at you. I love how he manages to have a tongue in cheek sense of humour, but never discounts the tragedy or pain he’s discussing.

You should also check out his most recent novel: The Back of the Turtle

5. THE WRATH AND THE DAWN – RENEE AHDIEH

I haven’t actually gotten around to reading this novel yet. I’m sitting in a long line of holds at my local library (something I do often). Yet I include this book because I have heard nothing but good things about it. Wrath is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights. I’m not going to get into too many details here, because I don’t want to spoil anything for you (or myself).

4. MONKEY BEACH – EDEN ROBINSON

 

Before I say anything about Monkey Beach, I just want you to know that this is one of my favourite books of all time. It changed my views on the books I would read in school and on Canadian Fiction in general. I know, it’s a big sell.

Five hundred miles north of Vancouver is Kitamaat, an Indian reservation in the homeland of the Haislapeople. Growing up a tough, wild tomboy, swimming, fighting, and fishing in a remote village where the land slips into the green ocean on the edge of the world, Lisamarie has always been different.

Monkey Beach, is both funny and heart breaking. When Lisamarie’s brother’s ship is lost at sea, she takes a motorboat towards Monkey Beach, thinking he might be there. During the journey she recounts everything that led her to this moment.

I can’t even begin to say how much I love this book. Just read it.

3. NOUGHTS AND CROSSES – MALORIE BLACKMAN

Chelsey made me read this book in high school. I cried like a baby. My heart still hurts when I think about this book.

Part Romeo and Juliet, part cultural critique. If you don’t tear up just a little bit by the end of this book then well, you’re an alien (or you’re just stronger than I am). In Noughts and Crosses, the power dynamic is switched.  Sephy is a Cross, the darker skinned ruling class, while Callum is a Nought, the white underclass. The two young people fall in love and society rips them apart. Violently.

Noughts and Crosses is the first in a series. I wasn’t a fan of the other books, I found they became too melodramatic. But this book, is just perfectly balanced.

2. MS. MARVEL – G. WILLOW WILSON (AUTHOR), ADRIAN ALPHONA (ARTIST)

Ms. Marvel follows Pakistani-American Kamala Khan. Who after sneaking out to a party at the waterfront develops super powers. This series has gotten a lot of coverage (most of it good). I finally was able to pick up a copy and give it a read. So far, I’m really enjoying it. My friend May did some lovely reviews for the first few issues over at Fiction Love, which you should check out.

1. AN EMBER IN THE ASHES – SABAA TAHIR

Hands down one of the best novels I read this year. An Ember in the Ashes has a society based off of Ancient Rome, it has an awesome mythology to back it and fun characters. Check out my review for this novel here.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

American Gods – Neil Gaiman. In American Gods, Neil Gaiman explores many different mythologies and religions. But this book gets tossed around a lot for the non-caucasian main character Shadow.

Alive – Scott Sigler When I told Chelsey I was writing this post, she mentioned that I should add this novel to the list. We both received copies at BEA. When I looked into it online I found a lot of other reviewers saying to go into this book blind and not look for spoilers. When I finally got around to reading it, I could see why Chelsey recommended it. Seriously guys, this book is awesome.

So there you have it, my top ten picks for this week? What are yours? Happy reading!

Written by
Alexandra is always looking for the next book she can devour. She has a love hate relationship with teen fiction specifically when it comes to fantasy, post apocalyptic and failed shakespeare adaptations.

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