Tuesday 21 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books That Celebrate Diverse Characters'.

These are often my favourite kinds of books because of the very fact that they contain a character that is different to what I have seen before!

1) 'The Rosie Project'; Graeme Simsion.

For those that have read this book, it's pretty clear why I picked this one. The main character, Don Tillman, is most certainly neurotypical. Yes he has Asperger's Syndrome but he is also unknowingly kind, extraordinarily clever, a fantastic chef and cocktail extraordinaire. This is a fun and light-hearted read that I would certainly recommend to those that are looking for a less serious way to think about what makes us 'normal'.

2) 'The Shock Of The Fall'; Nathan Filer.

This book instantly grabbed my attention because a fair amount of the characters are neurotypical in some way. It focuses on our unreliable narrator, Matt, who suffers from Schizophrenia and as a result is constantly haunted by the ghost of his dead brother Simon, who suffered from Down Syndrome. Of course I could go on to talk about his overly paranoid Mother too but I think you're getting the picture. It was clear while reading this that Filer had real experience when it came to working with Mental Health patients, and it's an enjoyable read.

3) 'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe'; Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Realising that this is the only LGBT focused book on the list was slightly depressing, but nevertheless it was also one of the best books I had ever read. The story of how these two characters meet, become friends, save each other's lives and fall in love was wonderfully heart-warming and also contained all the elements of a good coming-of-age story. For those who haven't delved into LGBT fiction yet, or even those who read only LGBT fiction but haven't tried this one, I thoroughly recommend you get to it ASAP!

4) 'Good Kings, Bad Kings'; Susan Nussbaum.

This book had a little bit of everything in it, and provoked such strong feelings in me that I couldn't not include it. Some characters are physically disabled or suffer from a debilitating Mental Illness. Some of them are LGBT and long to show the world that they are not so different. And then of course this book covers all sorts of ethnic and cultural minorities too. There are so many different voices and all of them have something very important to say. Seriously, read it to see what I mean!

5) 'The Invention Of Wings'; Sue Monk Kidd.

This will always remain to be one of the best Historical Fiction books that I have read, and it's focus on the plight of Ethnic minorities and women during a time when both parties most certainly did not have a say in anything was nothing short of inspiring. I liked that every character was human whether they were of colour or not, and it wasn't instantly a story about Good Vs. Evil. 

6) 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'; Stephen Chbosky.

This is one of the first reads I ever got into on the subject of Mental Health. It focuses on a young boy named Charlie, who is a seemingly typical teenager going through the highs and lows of High School. As the story progresses however, it becomes increasingly clear that all is not completely well in both Charlie's life and his head. Though this was a little bit of a slow starter, it certainly did a great job of celebrating all kinds of Diversity and Patrick, the guy not afraid to flaunt his homosexuality, will always remain my book best friend.

7) 'Noughts & Crosses'; Malorie Blackman.

There are actually four books in Blackman's gorgeous series about the evil consequences that both Racism and Terrorism can have, and the effect that it has on family and friendship alike. This first book very much focuses on a forbidden love story that flips the script by having white people suffer and people of colour be in a position of power. The whole idea of it was very clever, as it really highlighted that such prejudice only damages lives. I wouldn't recommend if you're one for happy endings though as there are very few to be found here.

8) 'Sunbolt'; Intisar Khanani.

I read this book quite recently, and though it isn't really about diversity, one of the first things I noticed was the PoC heroine. That's right! She isn't white! Until I read this book, I didn't realise just how many female-led stories that I had read where the lady in question was. It felt so refreshing, and that is why I had to include it here on this list!

9) 'To Kill A Mockingbird'; Harper Lee.

Oh come on, this book had to be on here. There is such a rich cast of characters and though the book focuses mostly on the impact of racism in Deep South America during the Great Depression. Not only is it an interesting (and slightly terrifying) slice of life in those days, but there are even diverse characters that are buried under the surface and require a great deal of looking (Boo Radley anyone?). Maycomb is a town that runs almost solely on gossip and prejudice, and characters that play the victim are often the villains while those made out to be villains are nearly always victims. 

10) 'Smiler's Fair'; Rebecca Levene.

Another book that doesn't necessarily involve Diversity as a theme, but I decided to include because of the richly diverse character list. There are of course multiple viewpoints to be found here, but my favourite was Eric's strand of the story, involving his life as a male prostitute and his love for another man, Lahiru. It was one of the sweetest, saddest story-lines of the book and I desperately await Book 2 when I can hopefully see more of these two? Fingers crossed!

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