Diverse Books Tag: Have You Read Any of These? If Not, You Should!

Diverse Books Tag

Thank you to Naz for creating the Diverse Books Tag and to Silicon for tagging me!

Here’s what I came up with:

(1) A Book Starring a Lesbian Character

That Certain SomethingThat Certain Something by Clare Ashton is a romantic comedy featuring Pia and Cate. One is a disaster-prone idealist, while the other is an elegant pragmatist. They fall for each quickly, perhaps too quickly for those of us who cringe at “insta-love,” but love isn’t the highest priority for the practical half of the pair–at least, not immediately.

To find other books starring lesbian characters, check out Lambda Literary.


(2) A Book with a Muslim Character

As I wrote in Courting Samira: An Honest Portrayal of Muslim Women:

Courting Samira“Amal Awad’s debut novel, Courting Samira, centers on a Jane Austen-style love-triangle set in a contemporary Arab-Australian community where business-like arranged marriages are still the norm… It caught my eye immediately, as I share my first name with the author and one of my daughters shares her first name with the protagonist… Overall, I appreciated Courting Samira for its nuanced look at what it means to be a modern Muslim woman in the Western world, a polite rebuke to the stereotypical depiction of Muslims that we often see in the media.”

For other books starring Muslim characters, check out Nuzaifa’s list at Word Contessa.


(3) A Book Set in Latin America

How I became a nunCésar Aira’s How I Became a Nun, set in Rosario, Argentina, focuses on a six-year-old child, who generally refers to herself as a girl while the adults refer to her as a boy. Though light on plot, this novella is a compelling foray into the mind of an imaginative, precocious child.

For more books set in Latin America, check out the recommendations at Vamos A Leer (Teaching Latin America Through Literacy).


(4) A Book About a Person With a Disability

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork features a seventeen-year-old with an MarceloAsperger’s-like condition whose father forces him into the “real world” by making him work in a law firm’s mailroom.

Though certain aspects of the legal framework in this YA book didn’t quite hold up, as I wrote in Marcelo in the Real World: A Book Law Students Should Read, “the book is worth reading for those interested in entering the legal profession.  It is a reminder about the human side of the law, particularly of the people who have been injured and who need legal representation.  These are real people with real problems…”


(5) A Science Fiction or Fantasy Book with a PoC protagonist

This isn’t a genre I’ve read much lately. Thanks to this book tag, I’ve added The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo to my TBR list.

The ghost brideVia Goodreads: “Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at what price?”


(6) A Book set in (or about) any country in Africa:

Half of a yellow SunA book I’ve added to my TBR list is Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Via Goodreads: “With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s.”


(7) A book written by an Indigenous or Native Author

Chickadee CoverLouise Erdrich’s Chickadee (the Birchbark Series) is a middle grade novel that features Chickadee and Makoons, identical twins who were born prematurely during the 1800s.

At the end of Louise Erdrich’s Chickadee: “Small Things Have Great Power, I wrote: “As I discussed [] in Correcting a Kindergarten Deficit (As Requested By An Almost-First Grader), one of my daughters has already decried her lack of exposure to Native American culture. Erdrich’s novels are one way to fill this void. The Birchbark House Series is destined for their bookshelves.”

(8) A Book Set in South Asia

Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje is the first book Mr. AMB, then my college sweetheart, ever gave me. It was probably his first exposure to Sri Lanka, where my mother is from.

Tea Leaves ThumbnailFor children, I recommend Tea Leaves by Frederick Lipp (author) and Lester Coloma (illustrator). As I said in The Best Stories Are The Ones You Know Yourself: “[This] beautifully illustrated story features Shanti, a nine-year-old child from Sri Lanka’s mountainous tea region. She lives on an island, but has never seen the sea… Tea Leaves offers my daughters a glimpse into a part of their background. Shanti lives in a different region from where our relatives live, but she is a fictional friend my daughters associate with their heritage.”

(9) A Book With a Biracial Protagonist

Mexican White Boy Thumbnail CoverHere are two books with biracial protagonists: Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña and Re Jane by Patricia Park.

In What it Means to be Biracial, I wrote: “Mexican WhiteBoy explores [] structural barriers for ethnic minorities with an emphasis on the experiences of Danny and Uno, two boys caught between two identities.” Danny is half Mexican and half white, and Uno is Mexican and African American.

Patricia Park’s Re Jane is a contemporary Korean American Re Janeretelling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. While I struggled with the unsettling parallels to Bronte’s Victorian novel, I appreciated Park’s portrayal of biracial identity. As I wrote in The Challenges of Modernizing a Classic Novel, “What is wonderful about the book is its portrayal of bi-racial identity, of being “Asian-ish,” of not quite belonging anywhere. These are feelings I can identify with as a multi-racial person of predominantly South Asian and Irish American ancestry.”


(10) A Book Starring a Transgender Protagonist or About Transgender Issues

A middle grade novel I plan to read soon (thanks to a recommendation from my sister) is George by Alex Gino.

Via Goodreads:

George“When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.”

I would also put Emma Donoghue’s Frog Music into this category because it involves transgender-related issues.

Frog MusicJeanne “Jenny” Bonnet, a 27-year-old frog catcher, dressed like a man at a time when women were not supposed to do that. It was actually against the law.

In Emma Donoghue’s Frog Music: Portraying 19th Century Gender Norms That Still Exist Today, I discuss the evolution of anti-cross dressing laws in the United States and the ways in which the underlying gender expectations that fueled those pernicious laws remain part of our society.


Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them?


  1. What a fantastic list! I’ve read a few of the books on your list (Half of a Yellow Sun and Anil’s Ghost) and have several others that I want to read. I’ve been meaning to read Louise Erdrich for years! Might save the prompts and see what I can come up with based on my own reading and make sure to fill in holes where I can. I think the only book I’ve read about a transgender character is Middlesex (loved it) but I definitely have George on my list.

    Noticed you have three little girls. Same. 🙂

  2. George is getting so much love in these lists. I guess I should add it to my TBR finally.

    Half of a Yellow Sun should be on everyone’s TBR!
    Marcelo In The Real World is great! 😀

    Gosh, all these lists the tag is creating are wonderful. I’m so thrilled to see all these amazing book recommendations.
    Thank you for participating.

  3. I’ve read Ghost Bride and really enjoyed it! If you enjoy history and/or cultural anthropology, you’ll love it even more. Plus, the author is super nice and down to earth which makes me like this book even more 😉.

    1. I’m looking forward to Ghost Bride! I love hearing that the author is nice. It feels good to support nice people by reading their books. 🙂

  4. I’ve only read Frog Music (as you know) and The Ghost Bride. I’m curious to hear how you like that one. I had a few problems with that novel (why use footnotes in fiction?), but the writing, especially the writing about food, was wonderful.

    1. I’m looking forward to Ghost Bride. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about footnotes in fiction, but I LOVE reading footnotes in nonfiction. I often like the footnotes more than the text!

  5. Thanks for this great list of recommendations! I’m especially intrigued by George. I look forward to your review when you’ve read it–although I may have found it myself by then!

  6. Such great books you chose, more for my tbr! I definitely need to read Courting Samira, it’s so hard finding books with Muslim women protgonists that are own voices and neither excoticizing nor geared towards a narrow-minded Western audience.

    1. I read Courting Samira a couple of years ago, but I remember really enjoying it. It’s especially good for people who like Jane Austen (as I do).

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