Monthly Recommendations March 2017: Own Voices

Goodreads Group - Kayla Rayne - Trina

This month's topic is Own Voices. You can read this post or this article from the creator Corrine Duyvis of the phrase/hashtag to get some more details. But short version- it's books with characters who represent some type of minority group, written by an author who actually belongs to that minority group.

So a book written by an autistic person by a neuro-typical person would be diverse, but not Own Voices. A book written by an autistic person written by an autistic person would be both diverse and Own Voices.

This definition of diversity from the We Need Diverse Books website is the one I am working with- so I will be including things like abuse survivors/etc as a "social model of disability." 

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.

OK, now that we've gotten all that on the table...on to the recommendations!

Some of these are sorry, but they're all good reads.

Y'all, this book is soooo good. Like, will probably end up on my best of the year even though it's only March. It's a story that I think almost anyone would be able to relate to.  But for the context of today's topic: Brit Bennett is African-American, so that would be the minority aspect. 

I think the reason I loved this is the contemporary aspect of it. Too often when I've been given or heard about books about African-Americans, it was in a historical context. Which is important- but black people are not a only a part of our past. They are our neighbors and co-workers and more than just headlines in our current culture. That was refreshing- reading about people who were living in different communities but the same world, if that makes sense.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt 
This book is a huge insight into poverty. Yes, it's decades ago and it's set in Ireland but the realities of desperation and poverty are universal and this will forever be worth reading.

Girl Meets God
This one is kind of cheating. The author has a Jewish father, and that lineage is based on maternity rather than paternity. However, that in itself is really interesting and examines the idea of belonging, community, family in the context of her religious journey.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

This is a story about a teenager who lives on a Native American reservation, and eventually decides to attend the "white" school off the reservation. Native American stories do not get nearly enough attention, and I appreciated this one.
Bastard out of Carolina
This is a super tough book to read, because it deals with sexual abuse. I actually listened to it through Audible, and the afterword from the author really shaped the way I looked at the story. She speaks about how she herself survived abuse and poverty, but wanted to show how families handle these and still manage to find joy in music, etc during these hard times. Highly recommend.

The Bell Jar
This seems to be one of the first books regarding mental health in the mainstream. It is a semi-autobiographical novel that parallels Plath's own experience with writing and depression. It's a little dark and twisty and beautiful.

Furiously Happy

This is also about mental health, but from a current time. Lawson is honest yet hopeful, and always always hilarious. Love her and pretty much everything she creates.

The Story of My Life

I found this randomly in my local used bookstore, and while the writing itself is amaeture the story is compelling. It follows a young girl who lived under siege and was dismembered as a child. Eventually she gets help and immigrates to the US. It's a up-close view of terror and immigration, and while it's an older story it's more relevant than ever. 

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1 comment

  1. A few of these are already on my TBR list, but I really love the idea of looking for books of own voices. I feel like that gives you avery personal, accurate story to read.