My book recs posts, to me, are more than recommending books that I adore and hope to share with you. Recommending books is also a way for me to highlight truly great books that have meaningful stories to tell, an opportunity for me to help diversify your reading, and to celebrate books by authors of marginalized identities.
One of my regrets is that I didn’t commit myself to reading diversely earlier. Thinking about it now, I only started consciously choosing diverse books after I wrote my discussion post, My Problem With The World ‘Diverse’. From that discussion post alone, I found and met so many people who had an amazing passion and commitment to diversity. The rest is history!
Something I discovered along the way was this thing called #OwnVoices. In a nutshell, from Corinne Duyvis’s tweet: ‘#ownvoices, to recommend kidlit about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group.‘ Reading OwnVoices has opened up an entirely new world of reading – the world is brighter, more beautiful, and more profound.
For my last book recommendation of 2016, I want to highlight four fantastic #ownvoices books I read this year and were published in 2016.
1. MEMORY OF LIGHT BY FRANCISCO X. STORK
This book easily made my all time favourites list. I am so glad I read this book. It illuminated the darkest corners of my mind.
- A beautiful and poignant story about Vicky, following an attempt to take her own life, the recovery thereafter, and her ongoing struggle with depression.
- Features an incredible cast of characters, mostly Hispanic, and the wonderful and quietly powerful Dr Desai, who is Indian.
- Has a raw and honest exploration of mental illness, that intertwines with family pressures, grief, and school expectations.
- Memory of Light is based on the author’s experiences with depression. (Be sure to read the Author’s Note!)
Find The Memory of Light on Goodreads.
2. NOT YOUR SIDEKICK BY C.B. LEE
If you haven’t heard how much I love this book, I’m going to tell you all again! I adored this book, and the bonus was that it is #ownvoices!
- A wonderful story all about superheroes – even though the protagonist doesn’t have superpowers – and what it means to be great.
- It has amazing, positive, and diverse representation! (I felt represented in this book!) All the characters are utterly loveable and memorable.
- Has swoony crushes, gorgeous friendships, explores identity and heroism versus villainism.
- Jess, the protagonist, is bi and Chinese/Viet, just like the wonderful author! Her voice shines brightly through the narrative and has so much authenticity.
3. LABYRINTH LOST BY ZORAIDA CORDOVA
I read this book for Latinx Heritage Month, and I am so glad I did! This was my first book with a Latinx protagonist (it won’t be my last!) and I enjoyed it so, so much.
- An exciting and magical blend of fantasy and adventure; it tells of Alejandra, who is a bruja, and her quest to Los Lagos to save her family.
- The story features a matriarchy of Latina witches and dark magic, and explores family, belonging, and identity.
- It has healthy bisexual representation and excellent cultural representation!
- The mythos from Labyrinth Lost is based on Latinx culture, Mexican holidays, and the author’s own experiences growing up!
4. INTO WHITE BY RANDI PINK
Halfway into this book, I knew it would be in my top four OwnVoices books of this year. I rushed to finish it yesterday, just so I could recommend it to you all! (I’ll be writing a two-part review for this next year!)
- A heartfelt and funny story about a black teen who hates her blackness and prays to be white – only for her wish to be granted.
- This book is more than what it presents at face-value; underneath its light narrative is thoughtful and subtle discourse on how people of colour internalized this hate for who we are, the invisible but visceral hurt we feel, and how Toya overcomes this.
- Explores family, siblinghood, friendship, self-love as a form of resistance, and a celebration of inner beauty and black beauty.
- The story is based on the author’s own experiences – the results are raw and powerful.
Find Into White on Goodreads.
If you haven’t tried reading an #ownvoices book yet, I wholeheartedly recommend it! I love the voices in #ownvoices books – they always shine bright and strong and there’s a palpable sense of pure authenticity too. The books I’ve recommended are amazing starts, and if you’re looking for more, keep an eye on my Diversity 🌈 page, which I am constantly updating.
I hope you guys have enjoyed my Book Recs posts this year! I love, love, love writing them, so I will continue recommending more books in 2017!
- What were some of your favourite OwnVoices books of 2016 – or ever?
- If you have read an OwnVoices book before, what did you like about it?
- How did it feel to read a book that had a character that had the same identity as you?
Friends, thank you as always for visiting! If you have any thoughts, comments, or book recommendations, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!