This month, the book community will embark on our second round of #DiverseAThon (January 22-29, 2017). For those who aren’t familiar, this movement started in the fall of 2016 (by BookTubers Christina Marie, Joce of SquibblesReads, Monica of shemightbemonica, and Whitney of WhittyNovels) as a reaction to a video claiming that diversity in books didn’t matter. What resulted is a week-long readathon celebrating diversity in books.
When participating the first time around, I didn’t anticipate the impact it would have on me. It became one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had. It was a week filled with growth, not just through books, but through listening and introspection.
In addition to the videos posted on YouTube (search “Diverseathon”), there were daily Twitter conversations led by the organizers that encouraged discussions around diversity. This was my favorite part. As someone who is biracial, I had somehow convinced myself that I wasn’t a part of my own culture because I was raised in a white household. Connecting with people of color who shared a similar experience to my own filled me with a sense of belonging I hadn’t felt before. Furthermore, finding books with main characters I could identify with showed me that my experiences are not singular.
This readathon is so important because it helps readers find stories that they are represented in. Finding main characters who are biracial, bisexual, asexual, trans, disabled, etc. has the power to change lives. I mean, just look at the community-sourced google spreadsheet that was created. Within days, this spreadsheet grew to over 300 book recommendations from people all over the bookish internet. Don’t you wish this was around when you were growing up?
As we prepare for another round of #DiverseAThon, I am looking forward to the connections that will be made, both through books and community. For more information or to join the conversation, check out the #DiverseAThon twitter: @diverseathon.
This blog was originally written as a guest post for Book Riot.
Here are the four books I hope to get to during this month's #DiverseAThon:
1. In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey To Freedom by Yeonmi Park
Park's journey of how she fled North Korea with her mother at the age of 13 in order to escape slave marriages and other harsh realities of the country. Being a non-fiction/memoir account, I think it is so important to learn firsthand about the hardships people face and experiences they endure in a country many of us only hear about in second-hand accounts.
2. The Border of Paradise by Esme Weijun Wang
Esme Wang is an essayist, mental health advocate/speaker, and overall beautiful human being. I have followed her work online for the past year now, and continue to be extremely moved by it. As a PoC and person living with mental illness, Esme's debut novel about a Taiwanese man and the effects his mental illness has on his life seemed like a perfect fit for this week.
3. Human Acts by Han Kang
Last year, I read Kang's The Vegetarian, and completely fell in love with her unwavering examination of mental health's intersection with Korean culture. As a translated work, Human Acts fits squarely into the own voices category for a story about a tragic event taking place in South Korea.
4. A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
I've talked briefly before about how I don't know a lot about the non-white part of my heritage. I didn't grow up around Pakistani family nor with much exposure to the culture, so I am looking forward to reading this novel that takes place in Pakistan, written by a Pakistani author.
What do you plan on reading during #DiverseAThon? Looking forward to chatting with you all this week <3