if you’ve been on twitter or goodreads, you’ll know that a lot of popular books are, in reality, quite problematic, which means they either feature erasure of diverse elements (replacing a diverse character by a white straight cisgender mentally stable one*) , or insulting acts/words about a certain marginalized community.
*for example, riverdale’s tv show, erasing the asexual and aromantic identity of the main character.
here’s a sad fact: problematic books are everywhere, but not everyone is involved in the book community like you and i are. personally, most of my friends are readers, but not all of them know exactly what the book community is. even some people in this community still aren’t aware that some books are problematic.
that’s why you and i should raise awareness. and i’m here to tell you how:
as soon as you read a problematic book/reach a problematic scene in a book, signal it.
i don’t say you don’t have to like the book, you are free to like or hate any book, but please say that it’s problematic (if you could precise EXACTLY where the issue is, that would also be amazing). it’s okay to like a problematic book, but for god’s sake TELL US IT HAS ISSUES. state it in your review, and warn your reader friends (whether it’s on the internet or in real life). send an email to the publisher/author telling them that they’re hurting many people. a lot of kind authors end up deleting the line/scene that caused issue.
support marginalized people and diverse bloggers/book people.
in fact, they can easily spot an issue, + they are more likely to write a review about it (it hurt them, so they don’t want other people like them to get hurt). that way there’s more chance you’ll discover that a book is problematic.
another fact is that diverse book people are amazing and wonderful and you should really follow them (here’s a list of diverse book bloggers made by ava at bookishness and tea).
read and recommend more #ownvoices books.
#ownvoices books are books written by diverse author featuring the diverse factor(s) they have. believe me, those books are just so realistic and so wonderful. you’ll not regret reading them. society still scrutinize diverse artists, so by buying, reading and recommending marginalized people, you’re helping. a lot.
hand ARCs of diverse books to the marginalized category of bloggers.
this is a message not only to publishers, but also to bloggers. been sent a diverse/#ownvoices ARC lately? read it, then lend/give it to the diverse community concerned. as i said before, they are more likely to spot an issue. + you’ll make them super happy by letting them read about a character like them.
of course, there are many other ways to prevent of problematic books, but i think those are the least you could do. remember, problematic books hurt people, and by warning them, you’re not only helping divers readers, but also non-diverse ones, because they’ll already know what they’re going to find when they read those books, and they will not be fooled by wrong ideas.