Discussing Diversity in Reviews

May 6, 2015 Reviews 11

I think a lot about diversity. With #WeNeedDiverseBooks and tons of twitter accounts I follow just to be aware of diverse books, I want to read the most diverse books out there.

And after a twitter comment made by Justina Ireland (@tehawesomersace):

I realize that I don’t have a separate spot in my reviews for diversity! I think about representation and diversity while reading, I make sure to point out that “hey, this book has a cool character in it!” at the beginning but I don’t take time to actually have a separate section to discuss the diversity or if this character was represented properly.

And I think this is a problem. I think about diversity, so why don’t I take a few sentences to describe it? (The reasons for this are unbeknownst to me but I am working to improve that!) Henceforth, I will be writing a few sentences about diversity in each of my reviews. It’s a small thing, but I feel that it’s Very Important.

(Also, I saw that Ashleigh @ The YA Kitten has a diversity rating scale at the start of every review, I love it!)

What do you think? Do you make a point to write about diversity in your reviews? Is it something you think about but don’t write it in your reviews, or it just comes naturally to you? Do you look out for diversity? Let me know!

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11 Responses to “Discussing Diversity in Reviews”

  1. Shannon

    It’s definitely something that comes to mind while reading for me. With reviewing, I’m not sure if I would mention it unless there’s either major problems or something is very diverse. I think in that case a rating scale works wonderfully for those books that fall in the middle.

  2. Natalie @ Flowers in my Books

    This is actually a really good point. When I’m reading a book I always point out (in my mind) the diversity of the characters etc but how often do I include that in my reviews? (not often enough). I think it is important, especially for people who are looking for more diverse books to read, and also just to get it out there. The next time I review a book (who knows when that’ll be) I’ll try my best to include a little segment on the diversity.
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  3. Julie S. @ Chapter Break

    I really haven’t discussed diversity in any of my reviews – like you I just focus on characters in general, plot, how I liked it, etc. I’m not sure it applies much to the kind of books I read – which tend to not be so diverse as they are creature heavy, but it might be a good thing to remember to mention when a particular book does include more diversity.
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  4. Beth

    This is a quite an interesting – but controversial – point. I like diversity in my YA fiction. I think it definitely has a place and an important role to play. However, I have to admit that it’s not my main concern when I read a novel. Mostly I’m looking for something enjoyable, well written, with a fantabulous plot and memorable characters. I’m not particularly concerned about those characters’ ethnicities, as long as they are well written and readable. But still, I think reviews could be expanded on by discussing diversity – it’s just an area that I’m always forgetting!
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    • Shelly

      I appreciate your point of view, sometimes a book is good because of the plot and action, and it doesn’t matter who the character is. But I also think it’s important to see some diversity, even in side-characters, just to make the book feel more realistic. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Krysta

    I don’t have a separate section in all my reviews for diversity notes, but when I do read a book with diverse characters, I try to mention it. There are a lot of great books out there with characters of color or characters with disabilities, etc., but you might not know that a fantasy, for example, features a character in a wheelchair, because the book isn’t “about” him or her–that is, the plot doesn’t revolve around other characters learning to “accept” the character so lists of diverse books might not include it. Librarians, teachers, and parents might be looking for these books, however.

    That being said, it might be difficult to include a diversity note in every review. For example, if the characters are never described, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re supposed to assume their white or straight or whatever the default assumption usually is. Maybe the characters aren’t described so readers can project themselves onto the characters and see themselves in them.

    • Shelly

      I definitely agree with it might not be easy to spot diversity (because of lack of descriptions sometimes) and that writing it in reviews can be challenging but I think it’s important to see when it’s not there. I read a lot of contemporary YA and unfortunately, a lot of books I read have only white physically-abled heterosexual characters which doesn’t seem realistic, at least for me. I think that’s why at least trying to include diversity in reviews is important. Thanks for sharing your take on the topic!

  6. Lola

    I think there are very many different things you could mention in a review with a scale or ratign and that what we do mention in a review is based on the person. I also think it’s unrealistic to think there is something everyone should include in their review. Some people might want to know how hot a book is when it comes to romance, but for me it’s not really relevant as I like both sweet and hot books. So while I might mention it if it comes up, I also might not as for me it’s not relevant.
    On the other hand I find world building very important in books so I always mention how the world building was done and if I liked it. When it comes to diversity I don’t really care that much if a book is diverse or not. If the blurb appeals to me I read it and the diversity rarely plays a big part in my decision, so I might mention the characetr is asian if I think about that when writing my review, but then again I might not as it doesn’t influence my enjoyment of a book a lot.
    Then there’s also the issue of how to rate diversity, as for me as someone from europe, reading about americans could be considered diverse. Same goes with heat ratings, someone who reads a lot of hot books, might find a book mild while someone who only reads clean romances find it too hot for her tastes. It’s hard to be objective about topics as that as they are influenced by the person observing them. Great topic!
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