I usually regard book conferences with a bit of envy; after all, what bookworm wouldn’t want to spend days surrounded by books, authors, and fellow bookworms who all share the same passion for reading? I haven’t had the opportunity to attend one, but maybe one day. This week BEA (BookExpo America) is being held in Chicago and my Twitter feed is exploding with excitement.
For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to attend, we have the opportunity to join Armchair BEA, an online convention which coincides with BEA, providing a way to for those unable to attend to still enjoy interacting with other bloggers. This is my first time participating and I’m super excited to dive in. Today we’re making introductions and discussing diversity, let’s get started.
Introduction Questions – Group 1:
My name is Alicia, pronounced A-lee-sya, just in case you were wondering. I’ve been blogging for about two years. Deciding to start a book blog has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As I mentioned in the intro paragraphs, this is my first time participating in Armchair BEA.
Introduction Questions – Group 2:
Do you have a favorite book? If you cannot choose a favorite book of all time, pick your favorite book today – just this second. Remember that favorites are allowed to change if something affects you deeply enough.
The dreaded favorite book question! I have many favorites, but I tend to fall back on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice because it’s the book I’ve reread the most and I may own an absurd number of editions.
Do you have a favorite genre and why?
My favorite genre is fantasy. I think it very much embodies everything I love about books. It’s imaginative and escapist, it has the ability to teach real life lessons in a magical setting, combining make-believe and truth in a very exiting package.
How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason? Or not at all? (#ABEAshelfie)
I love rearranging my bookshelves, I find it so therapeutic. I’ve tried all kind of different ways to organize my books: by genre, author, spine color, rating. Currently I’ve separated my books into the following categories: classics, books I like but don’t love, completed series, ongoing series, standalones, and a to-be-read shelf.
It’s difficult to include all of my shelving in one picture, so this is the best I can do…
If you could choose three characters to have lunch with, who would they be and why?
If I could choose three characters to have lunch with, I’d immediately choose Elizabeth Bennet. We basically have the same sense of humor, so I’m sure we’d get along. It is so hard to choose only two other characters for this question, but I’m going to go with Yael from Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin and Richard Campbell Gansey III from the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Both would provide really interesting conversation topics.
There are so many different facets to diversity and you can approach the topic from different angles including race, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities, but the most important thing to me is to hear from individuals in each of these categories. I feel that the best way to approach this topic is how it affects me personally. As a Mexican-American, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Latinos are highly underrepresented in all forms of media, despite comprising 17% of the US population. Growing up, I don’t remember seeing a lot of Latinos in starring roles on film or television and I certainly was never assigned to read a book in school by a Latino writer. With this lack of representation comes these skewed ideas about Latinos. We’re often cast in stereotypical roles. We’re landscapers, maids, pregnant teen girls, criminals, illegal immigrants. For Latinas, we’re often represented as voluptuous, loud, and feisty. We’re confined to a very small (and mostly negative) box and because there is so little representation in the media, this has adverse effects on how other people perceive us.
Over the past year I’ve been seeking out more Latino authors because I’m simply starved for protagonists who look like me, who have a similar background to my own. I read all these stories featuring white protagonists and wonder why can’t a Latina be the protagonist, why can’t the Mexican-American girl save the day? When are we allowed to be the chosen one? I’m happy to report that over the past year, I’ve come across more and more Latino authors. I’m still finding it difficult to find fantasy books (my favorite genre) which feature Latino protagonists, but I’m hopeful.
Bloggers have a great impact on readers. We’re vital when it comes to book promotion and publishers know this and take note. I believe if we as bloggers push for more diversity, if we promote POC authors, for example, publishers will take notice. It’s also an opportunity to expose readers to authors and stories they may not normally reach for, to help broaden their world view and make them more sensitive to the experiences of someone who may be different from them but whose voice deserves to be heard nonetheless.
A few Latino authors and books I’d recommend:
- Anna-Marie McLemore – The Weight of Feathers
- Francisco X. Stork – The Memory of Light
- Guadalupe Garcia McCall – Summer of the Mariposas
- Jenny Torres Sanches – Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia
What are your thoughts on diversity? What do you think bloggers should do to promote diversity? Can you recommend any Latino authors? Are you participating in Armchair BEA? Leave me a link to your introduction & diversity post, so I can visit!