Broadening Your Horizons
In light of #BLM I wanted to write a post. I'm a very white christian girl. Grew up privileged because of that. Even if we were poor I knew I started from a different place than others because of the colour of my skin. So I wanted to share with you a list of books that helped me see Others different from me as equals. These are often written by white authors - growing up as I did I don't think I even had access to many books written by authors that were not white - but they write the Other in a way that made me question my privileged world. It isn't for others to educate you on what their lives are like. It is your responsibility to educate yourselves. So I thought I would give you some books that are a gateway into learning more without shocking you with just have different other people's experiences are.
I think I was about ten when I read this book. I'd never read a book with a gay character. Vanyel is young and he is awkward in his own skin. This shows his journey of how he finds himself. Mercedes writes many characters but she has quite a few gay characters. They are often cast as wise and patient characters.
Unlike Disney where most of the queer or trans characters that are usually the villain Mercedes has enough gay characters that stereotypes are avoided and actively shunned.
There is nothing explicit in this series. After all I did read this as a child. The more to read into this world you come across asexual characters as well. I hadn't come across that at all in real life, let alone in literature when I read the by the sword books.
I didn't realise just how influential this book was until years later and reading an article on the book. Alanna dresses up as a boy in order to become a knight. I never really thought of her as transgender as she never plays herself as that. But the more you read the whole world of books you realise that even when her gender is brought to light she still dresses as a man.
Very rarely ever wearing or having anything overtly feminine. The article that I read on this book spoke about how she turned down the prince because he wanted her to give up her identity to become a princess when she had literally given up everything to be a knight. In the end she marries a man who accepts her for who she is.
Alanna isn't the only character that blurs that line between what is feminine and what isn't. None of her characters are afraid of their sexuality and Tamora doesn't make excuses or tries to explain her characters - they just are.
Ursula Le Guin made mistakes with her first books and when she realised this she went out of her way to fix that. Tehanu is her way to introduce a female character to her male dominated world. I like this book because it is also an island girl from a strict religious background.
Since I've read this book I've read a lot of books with a varied racial cast. Though some woefully fail to be accurate or even representative. The thing that makes me cringe is how many of my female characters of race marry white men. If you thought the white male who comes to save the savage race cliche is awful, then you can see how this is just an extension of it.
This isn't the perfect entry but it made me question things like the race of the characters in my books and how women are treated in books.
Before I go onto the last book on my list I thought I would put in a few honourable mentions. Shelly Laurenston loves to have a multi-cultural cast in her books. She doesn't really try to shake up people's worlds. The races just are. Raymond Feist for his books with different races but also a lot of different classes who manage to make their own way in the world. Marissa Meyer who has strong Asian characters who again just are instead of being exotic fantasy.
If you want to understand BDSM this is a much better book than 50 shades of grey. I should warn you that this book has explicit sex scenes. I must say I was an adult when I read this book.
Kushiel is a sex worker who likes pain. That is the most simplistic explanation for this book. I know next to nothing about the world of BDSM but when I heard of things like 50 shades of grey I knew that people would get upset.
This book made me wonder about a lot of things and it helped me understand a lot more. I can't really put it into words but the psychology of it all is much more complex.
You will never regret reading books about people different from you. Through reading books like this you will learn how to be more compassionate and empathetic. And that is never a bad thing.
Next on my list is to find books written by people are more diverse. I have quite a few on my TBR pile.