Armchair BEA: Introduction & Diversity

armchairbeaI 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…

booksshelves

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.

Diversity:

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:

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!

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21 thoughts on “Armchair BEA: Introduction & Diversity

  1. Hooray for Pride & Prejudice, and Elizabeth. I went as her for Halloween one year. The next year I used the same costume but painted my face as a zombie. 🙂
    Welcome to ABEA. Enjoy the week!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d love to attend BEA someday! That sounds like it would be a dream. :). I’m not taking part in Armchair BEA, but I will be checking out the posts. 🙂

    Very well put. Inclusion (without being reduced to stereotypes) is probably one of the biggest factors for me. Of the authors you mentioned, I’ve only read Stork (still need to read his newest), but I plan on reading the others you have listed as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I came very close to going to BEA this year, as it was only about an eight hour trip from where I live, but I was mainly going because Cassie Clare would be there and when I found out that she would only be there for an hour and you had to have a freakin wristband to even get your book signed, I decided it wasn’t worth it. There were a lot of other authors attending that I’d want to see, but they’ve visited my hometown before and I’m banking on them visiting again.

    I feel you on the lack of women of color in books. (Well, the most I CAN sympathize, being I’m not a woman of color, lol.) The only book I’ve read that features a Hispanic character was Joyride by Anna Banks and it was terrible. I at least had fun ripping it to shreds in a review. XD

    And I HAVE to say it! Why do girls swoon over P&P? It’s obvious the best classic novels are Little Women and Wuthering Heights. =P

    Brittany @ http://www.spacebetweenthespines.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, that stinks, I’m so sorry. Clare is such a popular author, I imagine it must be crazy hard trying to get an autograph. You’re very lucky that you get authors visiting your hometown, I hope they pay another visit soon. Haha. I’ve never read Joyride, but it’s such a bummer when you pick up a diverse book and you end up not liking it. I enjoyed both Little Women and Wuthering Heights, but no one compares to my Elizabeth Bennet! 😀

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  4. Pride and Prejudice remains one of my favourite classics, and one of my biggest surprises as a reader… I didn’t expect to like it nearly as much as I do.

    I’m glad you’re finally starting to see a little more representation (it’s LONG overdue)!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are Mexican-American! Hooray! No wonder you agreed to my Mexican Fantasy pledge 😀 But yeah, it would be cool to have a Mexican heroine who is not held by the stereotypical standards. I mean, I’m Mexican and I am not voluptuous (sad thing tho).
    Pride and Prejudice is such a good novel, my favorite classic as well. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have book envy over all of your beautiful hardcovers! The majority of my books are paperbacks. 😦

    I think Gansey and Yael would make wonderful lunch partners with Elizabeth Bennett. It would definitely lead to some interesting topics.

    As for Latino authors to recommend, the one that sticks in my head is Julia Alvarez. The frist book I read by her was actually in Spanish (though there is an English translation as well) called “En el Tiempo de las Mariposas.” It does deal with some deep topics as it is based on the true story of the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic during Trujillo’s dictatorship.

    I hope you have a fabulous rest of the week!
    Amanda

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a serious hardcover buying problem. I just can’t wait for paperback releases and sometimes they aren’t always available right away through Book Depository. Julia Alvarez in on my TBR, I was thinking of picking up How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, but since you mentioned In the Time of the Butterflies, I might have to pick that one up instead, or both! Thanks, Amanda!

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  7. And this whole time I’ve been pronouncing your name wrong. 😉 Kidding. Well, come on now, scoot on over so I can have a seat on this lovely teal, cushiony, chair too. We fit, yes? Unfortunately I’m too busy to participate in this awesome event. Perhaps another time. Have fun A-lee-sya! And, yes, we need more diversity. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t sweat it, the majority of people who read my name pronounce it wrong. It gives me loads of chances to exert my authority, intimidating many. There is totally room on this chair. No? Maybe next time then. Yes, I approve of your pronunciation, you may keep you head (the English version of my name is actually Alice, so get it, Alice, as in Alice in Wonderland…I’m going to stop now).

      Liked by 1 person

      • No way? Alice, huh. Well, I suppose that would be a good English version. 😉 My sons are doing an Alice in Wonderland play this Tuesday. They are driving me nuts with all the songs. I can’t get it out of my head. Oh no…not you too Alicia. Are you guys conspiring together?

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Armchair BEA 2016: Wrap-Up Post | A Kernel of Nonsense

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