When my Mom first had her seizure-while-driving that took away her driver’s license for 6 months, I essentially stopped reading under the shift of the chaos. I had read over 30 books the first three months of the year and then only 3 or 4 books over the course of April, May and June combined. I was so mad at myself for this! You know how people feel guilty if they don’t exercise? Well…I feel the same way if I haven’t been reading. And it’s even worse when the only good reason is, “I’m driving a lot! Life is crazy!”
Well, a friend gave me some McKay’s cash recently. Let me tell you a little about McKay’s…or what I like to call…Heaven. It’s the biggest used book store I’ve ever seen. (They have more than books but I have zero cares about any of that stuff.) The first “McKay’s” opened in Knoxville in 1985 and it was my Dad’s FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD. (Sidenote: The origin story for the store actually started in North Carolina as Edward McKay’s but the brand/family split the store early and so “McKay’s” was actually born in Knoxville and then in 2017 McKay’s bought the original N.C. stores and combined it all once again.) There are photos from the original Knoxville store on their website and seeing them triggered some intense flashbacks! I hadn’t been to a McKays since Dad died so being given this McKays cash was a very special treat.
When I went to McKay’s with the cash about a month ago, I had a few items I new I wanted to look for. When we downsized we decided to keep our book collection to a minimum and I started looking for hardcover copies of my favorite books so I’d have nice copies of them. I had that list to start, but I had a ton of McKay cash and had no idea where to begin once I checked for my favorites.
So! I pulled up my phone and googled, “Diverse YA books, 2017.” I was just hoping for a concise list I could work my way through and I was not disappointed. This was the first list I saw but the only ones the store had, I had already read. (Which, for the record, made me feel really good about my efforts to diversify my reading.) Then I stumbled upon this article which had 31 suggestions and while I had read a lot of them too, there were many I had not and I found several in YA section to buy. If those two lists seem overwhelming, here are the ones from the two lists I have now read (some I bought that day, some I had read previously) and that I recommend.
Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer (I just read Cinder, waiting to find book 2)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (this one is actually from a list I mention later in this post)
The funny thing is, I didn’t read anything about WHAT they were about in terms of “diversity.” Some were diverse with sexuality, others diverse with race or culture or class. I didn’t care. I set out a few years ago to try to read more diverse stories because if they look too much like my own, they won’t open my eyes to anything new. And let me tell you: I haven’t looked back. If someone took the time to curate a “diverse” list of YA books then the chances are almost PERFECT I’m going to like it. I haven’t been burned yet.
When I went back yesterday to check for more books, I decided to do the same googling but set the year 2016 so my chances would be better of getting cheaper books. I found this list and it gave me enough options to spend the rest of my McKay cash. I’ll report back later on what books I would add to the above list.
Since this technique has proven so successful at Used Book Store Heaven, I think I’ll try to do it at my library next time I’m at a loss as to what to read. I keep a running list in my bullet journal of books that I’ve heard about that I want to read, but there’s something kinda of exciting about simply getting a book because it’s on a list you trust…a book you know nothing about other than someone called it “diverse.” I’ve enjoyed this adventurous style of choosing my reading material and so I thought I’d share it with you so you could maybe give it a try too! Take my list above and just see if your library has any of the books on the list and take the Diverse YA Fiction gamble!