A book is a cozy escape from the real world that we all need once in a while. And something we don’t talk much about representation in literature. We’re all about cuddling up with some hot cocoa and a captivating read.
And yet, so many bookstores still only stock books by white dudes, leaving no room for the marginalized writers that have so much to say. It’s time to diversify your reading list with these talented authors. Down with the patriarchy – the future is female and multiracial.
This is a mind-blowing story of white privilege, transactional relationships, and how good intentions sometimes just aren’t enough. An African-American babysitter takes care of a white feminist blogger’s child. It’s all dandy until someone accuses the babysitter of kidnapping the child she cares for by a racist. You will dive into the world of micro-aggressions and loaded actions and learn a lot from it. It’s not always comfortable to read, but there’s a perfect amount of humor to lighten things up.
Here, we meet two Black families with completely different backgrounds. What brings them together? A surprise high school pregnancy with heavy Romeo and Juliet vibes. Although the plot centers on the new generation ( the daughter of that pregnant high school teen) it’s a multigenerational tale layered with complex perspectives and struggles. You’ll get invested in these characters quickly, with themes of perseverance, strength, and sheer survival.
Lalami’s book has won awards, and as soon as you turn the first page you’ll see why. The plot revolves around the death of an immigrant from Morocco, and how his family is affected. Along with his jazz musician daughter and a wife who just wants to go back to their home country, we also meet other characters who are connected in unusual ways, beyond the supposed divides of race and religion. There’s crime, there’s romance, and some profound comments about America.
We fell in love with the free verse poetry in Elizabeth Acevedo’s novel about two half-sisters. One lives a life full of privilege in NYC while the other faces more struggles, living in the Dominican Republic though she wants to become a doctor. These girls don’t know about each other until their father dies. Their perspectives are different but intertwine around themes of masculinity and very different socio-economic realities.
2020 gave us some pretty great books, but Sandra Cisneros really is the OG of feminist POC before it was trendy, back in 1991. Told in poetry, this is the tale of a Latina girl named Esperanza, who lives in an impoverished area filled with misogyny and patriarchal culture. The chapters are addictive little vignettes, told through a unique coming of age lens.
Filled with short stories as reworked mythologies, this is one of our favorites out of the entire list. The concept is to take outdated, misogynistic, and racist aspects from ancient myths all over the world, and change them into a celebration of inclusivity and rich cultural differences. The theme is romance, but we’ve never seen this take on it before.
Tackling the complicated aspects of Chinese culture across its generations, this short story collection tells the tale of Chinese millennials living all over the world. It’s a look at the culture of familial duty that’s so prevalent in the East, mixed with modern aspects of Westernized Asian kids. We hear these voices through a gay coming of age tale, through a synchronized diving duo at the Olympics and Beijing, as well as a look at the privilege of rich Chinese second-generation youth.
We love a novel that combines magic, history, and drama. “Conjure Women” does all of the above. It’s a completely unique read that gives a voice to the Black experience in the Civil war, along with pre-war and post-war events. A mother and daughter are at the center of the story. The mom is a midwife (and healer, with some crazy powers) and her daughter is set to take the reins of the family biz but isn’t as excited about it. The research is just as impressive as the narration.
This book about a Muslim family is not what you’d expect. As a tragedy occurs for a working-class British Pakistan family, a man is forced to go from happily married to an overwhelmed widower and single dad. As he and his kids move through the Western world and face individual struggles, the family is broken down before it can be glued back together – this time, more resilient than ever before.