Diversify that Shelf Readathon
So, this is a belated update to say I’m very excited to be participating in the Diversify that Shelf Readathon! From the creator’s own words, this is ‘a readathon with a focus on supporting diverse books, experiences, and authors of colour’ and is taking place from August 10-19th. You may have noticed that today is the 11th so it’s well under way, but it’s never too late to talk about some good books!
This Readathon was created by the amazing Perks of Being Noura, and you can see their announcement here.
Here are the challenges:
- Diverse middle grade
- Different culture than you
- By a Black author (any genre)
- South Asian inspired (any genre)
- Middle East inspired (any genre)
- Focuses on identity
- Diverse contemporary
- By a Latinx author (any genre)
- Non western setting
- East Asian inspired (any genre)
- POC on cover
- A friends favorite diverse read
- Own voice (culture, identity, etc)
- Diverse book with more than 300 pages
- Book by an AOC you’ve wanted to read for a while
- Pick a book by an AOC randomly
That’s a whopping sixteen challenges, so I won’t be getting to them all, but it certainly gives a good scope for choosing the reads I’m most excited for!
I’ve chosen 6 books that complete most of these.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Challenges: Focuses on identity, A friends favourite diverse read
Goodreads synopsis: The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’ rap group Clipping.
Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.
Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.
Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
Challenges: East Asian inspired, Diverse book with more than 300 pages, Book by an AOC you’ve wanted to read for a while
Goodreads synopsis: When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli
Challenges: By a Latinx author
Goodreads synopsis: I was born in Pachuca, the Beautiful Windy City, with four premature teeth and my body completely covered in a very fine coat of fuzz. But I’m grateful for that inauspicious start because ugliness, as my other uncle, Eurípides López Sánchez, was given to saying, is character forming.
Highway is a late-in-life world traveler, yarn spinner, collector, and legendary auctioneer. His most precious possessions are the teeth of the “notorious infamous” like Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf. Written in collaboration with the workers at a Jumex juice factory, Teeth is an elegant, witty, exhilarating romp through the industrial suburbs of Mexico City and Luiselli’s own literary influences.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Challenges: POC on cover, Pick a book by an AOC randomly
Goodreads synopsis: Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Challenges: By a Black author
Goodreads synopsis: Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society.
Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum — a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together?
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Challenges: South Asian inspired, Different culture than you, Non Western setting, Own voice
Goodreads synopsis: The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, a skyblue Plymouth with chrome tailfins is stranded on the highway amid a Marxist workers’ demonstration. Inside the car sit two-egg twins Rahel and Esthappen, and so begins their tale. . . .
Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family–their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist’s moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts).
When their English cousin, Sophie Mol, and her mother, Margaret Kochamma, arrive on a Christmas visit, Esthappen and Rahel learn that Things Can Change in a Day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river “graygreen.” With fish in it. With the sky and trees in it. And at night, the broken yellow moon in it.
The brilliantly plotted story uncoils with an agonizing sense of foreboding and inevitability. Yet nothing prepares you for what lies at the heart of it.
The God of Small Things takes on the Big Themes–Love. Madness. Hope. Infinite Joy. Here is a writer who dares to break the rules. To dislocate received rhythms and create the language she requires, a language that is at once classical and unprecedented. Arundhati Roy has given us a book that is anchored to anguish, but fueled by wit and magic.
So here are all my choices! I’ll be over the moon if I get to them all.
Are you participating in this readathon? Have you read any of these? Let me know!
Happy reading 😊📖