Recommending Some Diverse Books I’ve Read This Year!

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. πŸ™ƒ

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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. πŸ₯Ί

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.

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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.

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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. πŸ₯Ί

What’s a diverse book you love? Have you read any of these books? Tips for avoiding blogging burnout?

53 thoughts on “Recommending Some Diverse Books I’ve Read This Year!

  1. Love these recs!! β™₯ Someone has to harass me into finally reading The Poppy War because I have it on my shelves but have been too scared to pick it up!! Need to read it in time for The Burning God to come out 😭 I’ll Be the One looks so adorable, as does You Should See Me in a Crown!! So so many amazing books to read before the end of the year (:

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    1. thank you!! ahh, the poppy war is a hard-hitting trilogy, but if you can handle the dark content, it’s so worth the read! i hope you can get to and that you enjoy both ❀ they're both super happy books, and i highly recommend them if you just want to breeze through something

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  2. You should see me in a crown was so good!
    I cannot wait for The burning god to release! Also there are so many books on here that I really need to read!
    Great list!


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  3. I listened to the audiobook of You Should See Me in a Crown too! The narrator was so great and I loved the overall story πŸ™‚ It was nice to see a Black queer main character going through normal high school things without the focus being on all the negative stuff

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  4. Always love all your posts and all the recs Caitlin! I have literally all of these on my tbr and have only read The Boy Who Steals Houses off this list. Which I ADORE!! But am so excited to read all of them. Also good that you mention You Should See Me In A Crown on audiobook because that was my plan and a book I’m hoping to listen to soon. I’ve also been wanting to get my hands on the Fence graphic novels as my life has been lacking them welp. Literally so excited about all of these. Love From A to Z is going to be marvellous. When I get my hands on all The Poppy War books, my life shall be ruined. Looking forward to THAT experience. Anna K and Loveboat Taipei are going to make me want to pull my hair out but I’m ready hehe.

    Lovely post as always! Hope you’re doing okay xx

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    1. glad you enjoyed the boy who steals houses!! yes the audiobook is definitely the way to go with you should see me in a crown—i’m sure you’ll enjoy it! and ahhh i hope you enjoy fence, love from a to z and all the other books you want to read ❀ prepare the tissues for the poppy war :))

      thank you, and idk if i am but it could be worse i guess :")

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  5. Thank you so much for this! I keep seeing people recommend The Poppy War so I REALLY need to read it! Felix Ever After and You Should See Me in a Crown seem great too! I personally loved King and the Dragonflies! It is a FANTASTIC book!

    For blogging burnout, I’d say maybe taking a break could help?

    Great post!

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    1. thank you!! ahh, i think i’m slowly coming off the burnout and i hate taking hiatuses, but i’ll definitely take a break if i really need it!

      yesss, the poppy war is so good! felix ever after and you should see me in a crown really are, and thank you so much for letting me know that you loved that! i haven’t heard much about king and the dragonflies but the reviews i’ve seen have all been positive, so maybe i’ll pick it up!

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  6. Love these recommendations and a lot of these are on my tbr. I’m especially excited to get to Felix Ever After, The Henna Wars and You Should See Me In A Crown. I’m glad you said that it’s a good audiobook too because it’s available on Scribd but only as an audiobook! I never really listen to audiobooks but so many books on my tbr are available only as audiobooks so I might as well try them?
    Love From A To Z was so good!! I liked that it covered important topics whilst also being really happy and lighthearted – was just what I needed and that’s so so exciting about the Today show! Honestly so cool. Loveboat Taipei I did enjoy. I think i
    I gave it three stars in the end though (especially because I didn’t get the winning ship in the triangle) but I loved the Asian rep.

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    1. i’m so glad, i hope you enjoy them!! tbh, i think i’ve come to accept that audiobooks aren’t for me, but they can definitely work for you if you don’t try and fail to multitask while listening to them like me :”) yess, that’s the perfect was to describe love from a to z, and thanks so much!! i gave loveboat taipei 3 stars too, but it’s a good rating for me. i had some problems with it, but overall i’d still recommend it, and haha, i was on the winning side :”)

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  7. I loved Felix Ever After so much as well! I was also shocked that I actually enjoyed the love triangle … usually I don’t like this trope at all, but here it was so well done 🧑 I still have to read I’ll Be the One, the cover honestly gives off such positive vibes! πŸ₯° I recently enjoyed 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, I honestly love Sandhya Menon’s contemporary books so much πŸ’—

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    1. yes, the love triangle in felix was so well-done—i think it’s a great example of marginalized creators putting their own spin on “”overdone”” tropes. the cover of I’ll Be the One is amazing and represents the book so well! ahh, i honestly think that sandhya menon’s books are too cheesy for me, but i totally understand and am so glad that you love them πŸ₯Ίβ€

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  8. I’ve been wanting to read Fence for soooo long now!! I have it on my tbr since forever πŸ˜‚ Thank you for this rec list, Caitlin! I hope you’ll be able to get your blogging mojo back someday. I’m so sorry I don’t know the best ways to avoid burning out other than taking a break πŸ™‡

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  9. Ahh, there are so many good books on this list and some that I want to read really-really badly. I adored Felix Ever After – actually, I think the wonderful experience the audiobook was helped with that, but the book itself was great. I thought that The Henna Wars and You Should See Me in a Crown were really solid reads, I loved how joyful the latter was and the relationship between the sisters in THW was fantastic. Love From A to Z is one of my all time favorite contemporaries – I was so happy when I saw you recommending it on The Today Show!! (Congrats for that again, btw!) Great post, Caitlin! πŸ™‚

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  10. It makes me so happy that I’ve read and loved so many books from your list!! πŸ˜€ And I really wanna read I’ll Be The One (I was approved for it on FRENCH NetGalley, so I’m about to have a wild ride), The Burning God (but before that,,, The Dragon Republic) and Love From A To Z ❀ This was a lovely post, Caitlin, and I hope you're doing well!! Don't stress too much over it ❀ ❀

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    1. it makes me so happy too!! ahh, is it in french? πŸ˜…πŸ˜… either way, i hope you enjoy it! haha, prepare the tissues for the dragon republic and the burning god… and love from a to z is amazing, i’m pretty sure you’ll at least llike it ❀ thank you so much, marta :)) i wouldn't say i'm doing *well*, but i'm doing good enough! i hope you're well too ❀

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      1. I had to give up the French copy because I was liking the story but couldn’t focus )): Guess I should start with easier books!! I read it in English and loved it, tho ❀ I'm gonna start TDR either tonight or tomorrow, and I'm ready to cry! Thank you so much for your well wishes! I'm thankfully well, tho that's probably because my classes haven't started yet :/ If you ever need anything (can't offer any studying help, but can give a motivational boost) let me know ❀

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      2. I’m ASHAMED to admit I haven’t finished TDR yet 😭😭 It’s been almost one month )): I’ve been enjoying it so far! Not as impactful as I thought it’d be, but that’s probably because I’ve been reading it slowly – but I still have around 360 pages to go, so plenty of space to hurt me!!


  11. excuse me being EXTREMELY late to this post, but i finished the henna wars and i liked it os much!!! like you said, the whole cultural appropriation talk isn’t as much of the story as i wanted to and i felt like there was potential for more there, but at the same time, i liked the romance and night so much i could kinda overlook it, hahah. her relationship with her sister was amazing and i also really liked the way the author talked about her parents trying to understand night better. it was frustrating that so many of the racist characters basically had to consequences at the end of the book, but i do understand that is unfortunately realistic :/

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    1. well i’m extremely late to replying to you so we can call it even :(( i’m so glad you enjoyed the henna wars!! yes, i think the cultural appropriation could’ve been explored SO much more. flavia made some… sorta valid points about CA? and i wish they had been debunked more, so that readers would know why it’s wrong :// yep, it’s sad that they didn’t face a lot of consequences, but i honestly felt like they did? this is just my opinion, and i get why you’d disagree but i think that when nishat called chyna out in public those were consequences already? i’m sure she could’ve faced more, but yeah, i thought it was realistic given the circumstances 😭

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      1. oh yeah, i thought she was going to be punished by like a teacher or a principal, which is what i meant as “consequences”. unfortunately, the adults didn’t really take that much part into the story, but like you said, it was realistic circumstances ):


  12. AH so so many good recommendations here ahhh! I need to read The Henna Wars, Felix Ever After and The falling in love montage, they sound SO GOOD. I recently read Anna K. and yes, I so agree that this was so entertaining, I’m always here for all the drama ahaha πŸ™‚

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  13. yes! yes! yes!! love this list!! i need the poppy war in my life!! i’ve been hearing so much wonderful stuff about it and i NEED to pick it up!! totally agree with you on the henna wars: the enemies-to-lovers romance on the blurb was kinda misleading, because well, that’s honestly not what it was, but i LOVED the bonds between the family – especially priti and nishat!! thanks for this lovely post, caitlin! ❀❀


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