There’s nothing like the feeling of reading a book that you simply just can’t put down. The thrill, adrenaline, and captivation are some of the major ingredients of what makes a book so difficult to put down; but one major aspect that is gradually making more of a prominent presence in the book and writing community is diverse representation. Below I’ve listed the books that I am personally so thankful that exist because I felt represented in them!
book cover = goodreads page
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
When I first picked this up back in the summer of 2016, I couldn’t contain my excitement about finally reading a book that centered around the same culture as mine that I even wrote this in my first Goodreads updates while reading:
“‘I once had a thousand desires, But in my one desire to know you, all else melted away.’ ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi The opening quote by one of my favorite poets♡ so excited to finally read a book from my heritage.”
Just the subtle mentions of certain types of foods, clothing, even down to the smells of the difference spices described and the architecture throughout, I really felt like I had visited that world before. Those little details alone made my reading experience that much more memorable and enjoyable for me and why I was so touched by it. Even when I met Renee a year later at BookCon, I couldn’t help but thank her over and over for writing this book. Her joy at hearing that this was the first book I saw myself represented in just made for such a happy experience and memory. Plus all our talk of the different foods and how we would’ve skipped Book Con to grab a kabob dinner was so much fun.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
When I tell y’all I literally cried when my friend was able to snag me an arc of this!! Tahereh was the first Persian author I had ever heard of and whom I have read their books so when I first heard that she was going to come out with a contemporary book about a Persian Muslim girl navigating highschool following 9/11, I knew that was something that would absolutely wreck me but I was super excited to read. AVLEOS is the closest that a book has come to some of my real life experiences and was the first time that I actually felt seen. Growing up, there weren’t a lot of people that were raised with the same culture and beliefs as I did, so often times it was very lonely not having anyone to relate to. In this book, I was able to find that validation and reassurance that I wasn’t alone in feeling the things I felt and experiencing those hardships (if you’d like to read my more in-depth review, you can hop on over here!). AVLEOS will always hold such a special place in my heart and I’m so glad that it’s out in the world for people that need the comfort that I sought for when I was younger.
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Where AVLEOS was a story that I could relate to my experiences growing up, Internment served as the book that related to the very real and very scary reality that a lot of Muslims are facing in the US’s political climate at the moment. It really provided such a great perspective of what it feels like to be punished and mistreated for what you believe in and learning to fight for your freedom and basic human rights. Although this book surrounds a fairly dark topic it served as the starting point of books, especially in the YA genre, heading in the positive direction of beginning to address real life topics in a way that a wider audience can understand and have access to (you can check out my full review here).
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Here comes my favorite book of 2019!!! WHTF is truly one of the most epic diverse fantasies I have read and it absolutely captured my heart (full fangirl review is here). Seeing a badass POC heroine as the main character, along with a POC cast was such a great and meaningful experience and I really think it drives home the importance of having fantasies surrounding diverse characters and cultures!
Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
This book was the first one where my South East Asian culture representation really came through for me. Although I am half-Filipino and Wicked Fox is centered around Korean characters and mythology, this book still hit home for me on some major topics. The themes of the importance of family and parents’ approval affecting your views of yourself really hit hard for me. Family plays such an important role in my life and often times I would (and still do) measure my self-worth off of my parents’ opinions or approval of me. If they were proud of me then I would be too, and if they were disappointed in me I would feel like the biggest failure and hate myself for it. But sometimes, you have to realize that your parents aren’t as perfect as you grew up thinking they were. They make mistakes just like we do and ultimately your opinion of yourself is what matters most because the only way you can truly be happy is if you’re happy with the person you are and that it comes from within. I’m so happy that I got to finally read this book this year and you can read my full review here!).
When coming up with the list of books that I really felt a true connection with, I realized that I only had one book representing my South East Asian culture and had primarily Middle Eastern-based books. So that was an eye-opener to me and helped me realize that I really need to branch out and get in touch with my Southeastern culture more! Yay for self-awareness haha! I hope that this article was interesting and helped share some insight as to how representation really impacts someone 🙂
Book Blogger @ Blissful Reveries
Sammira enjoys sharing her love of books, music, and other life adventures while trying to find her place in the big wide world. She debuted her blog 3 years ago when she wanted to turn her childhood dream of sharing her love of books with others into a reality, and hasn’t looked back since! Being a Filipino-Iranian born and raised in the US, her heritage and culture played a big role in who she grew up to be and which is why she’s a big believer in the importance of diverse books.
#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss is a way to boost diverse bloggers who are brilliant, have a lot to say and deserve to be heard loud and clear. What this is, is basically a guest post feature where every Sunday, one blogger from a minority will discuss things they are passionate about on my blog.