Sadly, I’m running out of post ideas and burning out.
So I hope you can forgive me if this post isn’t very good and I’m less active these days. I scrapped a bunch of post ideas before I finally settled on recommending a few diverse books I’ve read this year. This is only a small selection of diverse books worth reading, and I could really do better at reading and promoting diverse books (we all could). But I hope you’ll find some books to pick up here! Ownvoices books are so important, and you should read them instead of books by problematic authors. 🙃
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar- This was an unexpected fave that I flew through in a day! I’ll admit that its plot isn’t mind-blowing, and the romance definitely isn’t hate to love (I feel like the synopsis is a bit misleading). But I loved the ownvoices QPOC rep and the main character’s relationship with her sister so much. Instant attraction romances usually aren’t my jam, but Nishat and Flavia were so cute that the absence of slow-burn didn’t affect my enjoyment too much.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender- This book is very much a love letter to trans teens, and dare I say it has a good love triangle?? I genuinely had no clue who I wanted Felix to end up with, and I think that’s the sign of a good one.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson- I highly recommend reading this via the audiobook! Liz Lighty is such an easy protagonist to root for, and this book is the definition of Black queer joy. 🥺
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski- If you’re tired of soft sapphic romances, you’ve got to pick this up! Sid and Nirrim have the spicy, angsty dynamic that I feel like f/f romances are rarely allowed to have. Though I know some people struggled with the plot, I think its sequel has the potential to be incredible.
I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee- I associate this book with You Should See Me in a Crown, because they’re both such joyful books that you’re guaranteed to fly through! This stars a fat bi girl named Skye Shin who competes to be a k-pop idol. Even though Skye faces a lot of fatphobia throughout the book, her confidence in herself never wavers, and it’s so amazing to see.
The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth- If I were to describe this book in two words, it’d be “lesbian romcom.” I love that it’s not a questioning or coming out story—the main characters are both lesbians and their sexualities aren’t a big deal. Also, though the romance is great, I feel like the heart of this book is the protagonist’s personal journey. It’s disappointing that her love interest is plus size yet the cover doesn’t portray that though.
Fence: Rivals by C.S. Pacat- This is the third Fence graphic novel, so definitely don’t read it if you haven’t read the previous ones! However, if you like sports anime, but actually gay, you’ve got to read Fence! The story reminds me so much of the volleyball anime Haikyuu. Not only because it follows an unpolished himbo who has to team up with a cold prodigy, but also because of the way the training montages and matches are portrayed!
The Burning God by R.F. Kuang- I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that the ending didn’t really gut me. 😭 But this was an incredible finale that cemented my love for The Poppy War trilogy. This series portrays war unflinchingly, which is why I recommend being in the right head space when you read it, and it’s guaranteed to make you question your morals. The fact that it’s heavily inspired by real-life historical events makes it more impactful. And Fang Runin is such a flawed protagonist, but her humanity makes me (and a lot of other people) love her more.
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen- This book definitely has some problematic aspects, like the way it handled mental health and a toxic best friend. However, it was fun to sit back and just enjoy the drama in it. I also love how Asian it is—it has an almost all-Asian cast and the majority of it takes place in Taipei! I enjoyed reading about Ever finding herself and reconciling what she wants vs. what her parents want for her.
Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali- I find it hard to see how anyone could dislike this book because it’s so powerful. Even though it portrays the microaggressions that Muslims face everyday, it’s unapologetically happy at the same time. Also it’s so surreal that I got to recommend it on the Today Show. *cries forever*
Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee- This retelling of Anna Karenina is very reminiscent of Gossip Girl as it follows the drama that a bunch of rich kids get up to. It’s told in third person omniscient, and the voice of the narrator is so entertaining!
The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews- You’re seriously missing out if you love the found family trope and haven’t read this. It follows two autistic brothers, Sam and Avery, and [clenches fist] their relationship is so complex I love it. I guarantee this story will give you Feelings. 🥺