It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going!
So I know that this discussion was supposed to be about books outside of the comfort zone/other cultures, however, it somehow became about my finding books about characters I could relate to. Oh well.
Outside my comfort zone, honestly, I have to admit that I'm a bit hesitant to read contemporary books. Why? Because they aren't very diverse, and since I read a lot of YA I can only take so many cute blonde girls doing things. Seriously. When I was younger I used to get super excited when I would pick up a book and it would be about a character with some name like "Lashana" or "Maria" (and you know, other stereotypical and overused names. I don't even think I've even met a "Maria" in my life). Of course, I could only take so many contemporary (no matter how few and far between they were) about African American or Hispanic characters having to deal with racism. Especially when half the time I would originally think it was about double dutch or again something as stereotypical, blonde girls have all the fun in fiction too. Honestly, growing up I could probably count the times I've dealt with racism (and it was because the other person was a complete moron), I use to relate to those characters as much as I could relate to those blonde, blue eyed ones. However, every now and then, I would find diverse books that I loved. Sometimes they did deal with racism, which I learned I had to deal with. And, when I'm lucky I find some diversity in fantasy, which you wouldn't think would be that hard, but since it is...
First thing I'm sharing is the Young Wizard series by Diane Duane. I first started this series when I was thirteen and during that time while YA was becoming a big thing, there really weren't many Hispanic characters anywhere. Yet, here in this series (and a fantasy nonetheless!) we were given Kit and his sister Carmela, both characters were ones that I could relate to on some level. Which, was a nice change from dealing with a generic "Maria" whose life was a mess and had to deal with racism.
The next book I'm sharing is A Song For Bijou by Josh Farrar. I actually read this one not too long ago (about a year go). Part of the reason I love this one (other than the fact that it's as cute as the cover makes it out to be), is that the characters are as diverse as they should be. I hate reading things or watching things on TV, and the setting is NYC, but everyone is Caucasian... what?
What about you? How have you stepped out of your comfort zone? (Or found it?)