The Canadian in me struggled not to change this title to something nicer. But I’m kind of not in the mood to be nice about this. I have seen countless posts on Twitter about why people don’t want to read diverse, and so I thought I would break down those excuses and, quite honestly, vent. I don’t often vent on the blog but there’s a time for everything. PS I know I’m saying “you” a lot here, and it’s more of an open letter ‘you’ not a ‘you the reader blaming you’ if that makes sense. Okay? Okay.
Excuse #1: I just want to read whatever I want. I don’t want to be told what to read.
No one is holding a gun to your head and telling you to read diversely. Just like anytime anyone does a book review, people are suggesting you take a look at something. And the simple fact is that diverse books and marginalized authors are often not advertised as widely. Why is a suggestion that someone look into incorporating more diversity into their reading is met with such hostility?
I especially hate this excuse because it suggests that there aren’t any interesting or engaging diverse books. As if reading a book that includes diversity would be this painful activity that could never be enjoyed. It’s as if every book with diversity is lumped into one category of ‘don’t want to read.’
I make a concentrated effort to read diverse books because I know there are amazing books with diversity. And I want to support those books and their authors and I want to learn about people from other backgrounds. And if you don’t want to, just say that straight-up. Don’t bother with the excuse.
Excuse #2: I only read what I’m interested in. If I’m interested then I’ll read it, I’m not just going to read it because it’s diverse.
This frustrates me because when has anyone ever said ‘this book is diverse, that’s the only reason you should read it?’ I cannot think of a single book with diversity where that’s its only selling point. And of course, people should only read what they’re interested in. The point here is that if you like fantasy, consider reading a fantasy title with diversity. They EXIST. In every genre, there is a title with diversity.
Often the tone of excuses like this, I feel, is to hold hands up and explain away not bothering with titles with diversity. There are so many amazing books with diversity and you can’t find a few that interest you? What? Seriously? Bullshit.
And if you don’t want to read the book yourself you can still promote it. For example, “If I Was Your Girl” features a transgender protagonist which is fantastic. But it’s contemporary (which I rarely read) and the summary didn’t interest me. So I didn’t read it. But what I did do was retweet about it so more people can see it including people that would be interested in the plot. Because it helps support voices which are not as often heard. (EDIT: I’ve now read If I Was Your Girl and I did like it. I actually read a lot of contemporaries now which I got into from seeking out #ownvoices novels.)
Excuse #3: I don’t think we should separate books into diverse or not diverse, I just read whatever.
Things like this make me implode. In an ideal world, all books would have some sort of accurate representation of diversity that reflects our real world. Such that separating them wouldn’t even be necessary. But that’s not how it is. Many of the books that are widely advertised and published don’t have diversity and accurate rep. So we separate books like this so people can find those diverse titles that might otherwise get lost in the cracks.
Not to mention this reminds me uncomfortably of when people say they don’t see race or sexuality or ability or literally anything that reminds them that you’ve had a different life experience. Which is a whole nother ball game.
Um… The point is..?
The point of this whole rant essentially is that I’m so tired of hearing excuses to not read diverse or to avoid reading diversely. It’s so painful to constantly see reading books by marginalized authors or featuring marginalized characters regarded as some sort of chore or punishment.
So please, please no more excuses. If you’re a reader, you either want to take the time to find titles with diversity to read and/or support or you don’t care about diversity. If in all the books you read in a year you can’t find a single interesting diverse book you want to read, then you aren’t looking hard enough, and you don’t care about diversity. It’s that simple.
What sorts of excuses have you heard for not reading diversely? Or is there an excuse you feel is legitimate?
(I know this has been a strongly opinionated post but I’ve never had a dismissive/negative argument on this blog and don’t plan to. I can have a kind discussion even when I disagree so don’t feel afraid to voice your opinion even if it contradicts mine)