Adult Fiction · Children's & Middle Grade · Fantasy · Nonfiction · Queer · Sci-Fi · YA

2016 Book Diversity

As I did in 2015 and 2014, I kept track of diversity in my reading this year. Basically I count books with female authors, books with female protagonists, and books related to queer/race/disability issues (protagonist, author, or prominent theme). (For recommendations, see my Goodreads page or my yearly book survey!)

Mostly I do this because it encourages me to actually notice and read these books. It’s all too easy to think “Oh, that’s not a book for me” or “I haven’t heard anything about that book, it’s probably not very good” and never even notice that I’ve had the thought, but keeping this list makes me go “Ooh, I can count that!” and more consciously seek out those books.

Beyond that, I wasn’t sure what to do with the count until I realized I could turn it into a percentage of the books I read during the year, and thus have a meaningful way to compare years if I didn’t read the exact same number of books. The count is below, with percentages progressing from earliest to most recent.

300 total

  • 92 by female authors (28% -> 32% -> 31%)
  • 76 with female protagonists (20% -> 22% -> 25%)
  • 69 LGBT+ books (author, protagonist, or prominent theme) (6% -> 15% -> 23%)
  • 70 books addressing race (author, protagonist, or prominent theme) (13% -> 15% -> 23%)
  • 27 books addressing disability (author, protagonist, or prominent theme) (1% -> 4% -> 9%)

It’s nice to see the numbers consistently going up (although “female authors” hovers around the same number). The number of queer books is always lower than I expect, though. The main thing I’ve noticed this year is that I want queer genre fiction, not contemporary YA or middle grade. Those are great too and I’m glad they exist, but sometimes it feels impossible to find sci-fi or fantasy, and that’s what I prefer to read. I have lists of titles that’ve been languishing for a while though, and I’m going to try making dents in those lists this year. There’s the same problem with disability-related books, but even more pronounced across all the genres, and there’s a lot of “disabled person as inspiration” exploitation literature floating around.

So, this has helped me think about which areas to focus on more in 2017. I highly recommend the exercise to anyone diversifying their reading, because seeing those hard numbers and percentages really shows you what you’re doing!

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6 thoughts on “2016 Book Diversity

  1. Ohhh my god YES I know what you mean about wanting more LGBTQ+ genre fiction! I want more diversity in genre fiction in general, really. Like… give me trans astronauts! POC knights! Disabled detectives!

    Also, I agree that the “disabled person as inspiration” trope is really exploitative and unfortunately all too common. Again, it’s something I notice popping up throughout diverse lit. Some of it, especially when it isn’t #OwnVoices, can just seem so… condescending towards the group actually being written about? Because they kind of frame the whole thing so that it turns the minority group into a sob story for the majority group? I don’t even know if I explained that very well, but I’ve definitely noticed it and it’s definitely troubling.

    Like

    1. Yep, I know what you mean. It’s written for able-bodied people to feel uplifted, and often even if it’s well-meaning, able-bodied people can’t imagine that a disability doesn’t define a person. It’s definitely the form of diversity that’s been hardest for me to find, and I’ve realized I knew absolutely nothing that was realistic until a year or two ago.

      I think the best thing I’ve seen recently is Doctor Strange, where his injury and disability are a big part of the movie, but he’s not held up as an inspiration, his injury isn’t the main thing about his character, and it has nothing to do with his magical powers. He doesn’t draw power from being disabled, and he doesn’t have to struggle through it to do magic, it’s just a factor that affects his life path before he ends up Sorcerer Supreme.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. (Also I found this list yesterday and saw a lot on there I want to read — it’s just YA, but all LGBT+ sci-fi/fantasy: https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/not-entirely-human-a-top-ten-list-of-gay-ya-by-rob-bittner/.

      Maybe I should work up a post on the queer scifi/fantasy that’s been on my list for ages… There’s more adult fiction there because that’s what I read when I was younger, lol. I’m regressing.)

      Liked by 1 person

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