Diverse Nonfiction Book Recommendations

diverse nonfiction book recommendations

Hi everyone! Today I have a post that’s a bit different for me. I don’t read that much nonfiction, I mainly read YA fantasy and Sci-fi, YA Contemporary, Romance and Mystery. Nonetheless, from time to time, I’ll pick up a nonfiction book and more times than not, I’ll love it. So, I was thinking the other day that maybe some of you also like to read nonfiction from time to time and if that nonfiction is diverse that’s even better and that’s why I decided to share with you some of my favorite diverse nonfiction books.

Without further ado, here they are:

In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park & Maryanne Vollers

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be “completely free,” she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for years, prompting the author to go public with her story in the hope of finding her sister. 

Why I recommend it?: I think this is a perfect book for YA readers that want to try nonfiction, especially for readers who like hard hitting contemporaries, because it tells the story of a girl that goes through many heartbreaking things and it focuses on a relatevely small period of time, not like other nonfiction books that tell the story of someone’s entire life. This book is hard to read, because the whole time you know this actually happend to a girl, you know it happens to a lot of girls all over the world. This is heartbreaking, horrific and honest. I’ll admit that the writing isn’t the best and that made it a bit harder to connect to the story, but I still found it an impactful and touching book.

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock 

redefining realness

In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Those twenty-three hundred words were life-altering for the People.com editor, turning her into an influential and outspoken public figure and a desperately needed voice for an often voiceless community. In these pages, she offers a bold and inspiring perspective on being young, multicultural, economically challenged, and transgender in America.

Why I recommend it?: This book is incredibly thought-provoking, because Mock doesn’t hold back, she is achingly honest and that makes her story and what she has to say so compelling.  Mock talks about being biracial, trans and poor, she talks about poverty and prostitution, about her priviliges for “passing” as a cis woman, about what’s consider to be the ‘right’ kind of trans women and why that needs to end.  This book is insighful and moving, as well as beautifully written and I feel like everyone should pick it up. (Full review)

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay 

hunger

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

Why I recommend it?: This book unlike the two that I have already mentioned, it’s made up of essays, so there’s no linear story. There are extremely personal essays, including a incredibly heartbreaking essay about rape (huge trigger warning!), but then there’s also essays about various subjects like how harmful tv shows about losing weight can be. Still, this is mainly a book about Roxane Gay’s relationship with her body, with her weight, with food and it’s personal, raw and honest. This is a very hard book to read, but it is so powerful because it’s talks about her experience as a fat women in a world not built for her in a way that makes you empathize, that makes you see things as common as chairs in a new way because you see them through her eyes.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy

In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:

“I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”

Why I recommend it?: Out of all these books, this is the less heartbreaking and the one that has the most humor, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a very important and touching book. This book focuses on living with a mental illness, on how that looks like in the day to day and on the good and bad that comes with it, and it handles those topics in such a brilliant way. At some points while I was reading, I couldn’t believe someone had the words necessary to explain certain feelings and experiences, that’s how good Jenny Lawson is at translating her experience with depression into words. I would recommend this book to anyone, but particulary, to people that struggle with mental illnesses, I found this to be – as strange as that may seem- a very reassuring book.

Do you have any diverse nonfiction books to recommend? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? is any of them on your tbr? 

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9 Books with Trans Main Characters

9 books with trans main characters

9 Books Monday is a feature here on the blog, where I talk about 9 books that have positive representation for a minority/marginalized group. In the past, I have done posts about 9 book with: bisexual female main characterslatinx mcblack mcmuslim mc, lesbian mc and asian mc.

This time I’m doing 9 books with Trans Main Characters:

4 Books I Read and Loved

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore : This is a beautifully written magical realism book, where one of the main charcters of the story, Samir, is a bacha posh: a child assigned female at birth selected to live as a boy until puberty. But it turns out Sam is not “living as a boy,” he is a boy. Beside the trans rep, there’s also pakistani rep and latinx rep (#ownvoices).

Coffee Boy by Austin ChantThis is an #ownvoices novella about a trans boy who has a crush on a campaign strategist, who happens to be a bisexual man, and who he meets while working in an internship for a politician. The story is cute and fun and it has steamy and explicit content.    

Redefining Realness by Janet MockThis is a non fiction book about the life of Janet Mock, a biracial trans woman that has worked as a writer, jornalist and TV host. The book starts when Mock is a child living in poverty and continues through her adolescence including a very detailed account of her transition and all the heartbreaking obstacules she faced, and ends when she is a successful writer. This books tells the honest and captivating story of an incredible woman.

Not your Villain by C.B. Lee This is the second book in a series but I’m pretty sure you could read it without reading the first one, since a lot of what happens in the first book is included in the beginning of this book. In Not Your Villain, the main character is Bells, a superhero that can shapeshift which helps him in his life as a trans guy. But then he became the country’s most-wanted villain after discovering a cover-up by the League of Heroes. This book is full of adventure and  fun and it has a diverse cast of characters.

5 Books on my TBR 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo:  This book is about Amanda, a trans girl that just moved to a new town, starting at a new high school after a bad experience at her last one because of bullying and transphobia. In the new school everything is great, she is dating an amazing guy and has a ton of friends, but she isn’t sure if she should tell people about being trans or not. This books has a trans main character, a trans writer and a trans model on the cover.  Recently I read a short story by this author and loved it, so I ‘m hoping to read this book soon.

Dreadnought by April Daniels: This book is about Danny, she is trans, lesbian girl, who suddenly gets powers when Dreadnought (a superhero) dies in front of her. She immerses into this superhero world where she finds allies and enemies. This makes me think about Not Your Sidelick & Not Your Villain, which I love, and that makes me excited to read it. Also, I have heard nothing but great things about this one.

I Was Born for This by Alice Osmand: This has a main character that is a biracial (Indian and Italian) gay trans guy and he’s part of a famous boy band. The story unfolds when he unexpectedly mets a fangirl and they both end up having to face things in their lives. The other main character  is a Persian Muslim Hijabi who’s questioning her sexuality and I have heard there’s also really diverse side characters. I’m really excited to read this one, especially since I haven’t read any of Osmand’s books.

trans 2

Peter Darling by Austin Chant: This is a Peter Pan retelling. In this book, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up and he had to resign himself to life as Wendy Darling. 10 years have passed and now Peter’s back in Neverland, everyone is grown up and he’s falling in love with Captain Hook.  It’s a short story, #ownvoices in terms of trans rep, and since reading Coffee Boy I have been meaning to read another book by this author.

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein: I discovered this book recently, the author describes it as a biography of sorts and it’s about a trans woman that has suffered multiple traumas and that has a job helping others by cleaning up the fetid houses of the mentally ill, the hopeless and the murdered. That sounds so cool that I can’t wait to read it.

Books Releasing Soon  

I think it’s important to mention that I usually have a thrid category in my 9 Books Monday, where I pick books that are being realesed soon. Nonetheless, I couldn’t find books with trans main characters releasing in what’s left of 2018. I found out about Undertow, the second book to Darkling by Brooklyn Ray, which has a trans character as the love interest, and someone also told me that Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare has a trans character that has some chapters told from his point of view, but that’s it. It’s such a shame that there’s still so few realeses with trans main characters and I hope that by reading and promoting the ones that are already out, we get to have many more books with trans rep in the future. 

Have you read any of these books? did you enjoy them? Are you planning on reading any of them? Do you have recommendations for books with trans main characters? 

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January 2017 Wrap Up – Dumbledore’s Army Readathon & #DiverseAThon

monthly-wrap-up-1

This month I participated in two readathon revolving around diversity. I did ok in one of them, but completely failed in the other. At the end, I read seven books in January, six of them for the readathons and another one for a buddy read. The reviews for all of these books will be posted in the next few of weeks.

1. Dumbledore’s Army Readathon

At the beginning of the month I participated in the #DAReadathon and I had so much fun chatting with people on twitter about the books I was reading. There were 7 promps, so that means participants were supposted to read 7 books. I didn’t accomplish that goal, I read 5 books and started the 6th. This readathon took place in my last days of uni break and I thought that I was gonna have a lot of time to read, but I ended up going on several trips and that took a lot of my reading time. Nonetheless, I felt I did a good job.

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock  (4,3 stars)

A beautifully written memoir of a trans woman of color. This book is captivating, honest and touching. Here’s my review.

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez (4,4 stars)

This book  portraits depression through the stories of two main characters that experience this mental illness in very different ways and that it’s definitely the thing that makes this book incredibly important, as well as unique. Something else that I really like about it is all the Emily Dickinson poems and references; they add so much to the story. Here’s the full review.

Delicious Temptation by Sabrina Sol (3 stars)

The main characters of this book are latinxs and the story revolves around traditional latinx food and desserts. Even if that sounds amazing, the characters end up being really two dimentional and that means that, if we take the traditional food and random spanish phrases, it was hard to tell they are latinxs at all. Here’s the full review.

two-books

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (3 stars)

I was expecting this book to be funnier and I was expecting it to be more about Mindy’s job in The Office and about her writing. Even if this books talks about those things, it also spends way to much time in Mindy’s childhood and teen years, and I didn’t find that part entertaining at all.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (4 stars)

This book is intense and nerve wracking; as a reader you spend the entire time worried about the characters. The plot isn’t entirely unique, but the setting makes it feel refreshing and intresting. The main characters are captivating and the villains are intriguing. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

2.#DiverseAThon

I completely failed at DiverseAThon, I was hoping to read 3 book and ended up only reading one. Also, I didn’t have time to participate in the twitter chats.  But the one book I read was really good, so at the end, it wasn’t so bad.

not-your-sidekick

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (4 stars)

A cute book with a biracial, bisexual main character, a trans character, an interesting post-apocalyptic world, amazing conversations about gender and sexual orientation,  villains that are not so evil and heroes that are not so good. If that sounds like sometime you would like, I totally recommend it.

3. Buddy Read as part of Read with Marines 

A booktuber I think you may know called Marines hosts really casual  buddy reads and for January she choose a book I was really excited to read and that’s why I decided to join in.

my-brilliant-friend

 

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (4,2 stars)

An amazing book about a complicated friendship, that deals with a variety of topics from poverty and the connection it has with education to war enemies living in the same neighborhood after the war ends. A complex story, with a lot characters, written in a beautiful yet simple way. Here’s the full review.

Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? What did you read this month? 

Book Review: Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

8c467-redifining2brealness

Title: Redefining Realness: My path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More.

Author: Janet Mock

Published by: Atria Books

Publication date: February 4th 2014

Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction, #ownvoices

Pages: 263

Goodreads| Amazon 

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock is  insighful and moving, as well as beautifully written. Mock has crafted a captivating story- her story-  about growing up as a poor biracial trans girl. Her life is full of intersections and she talks about them and about their role in her identity with passion and frankness. She talks about having an African American father and a Native Hawaiian mother, but being raised as a black girl because that was how people were going to perceive her. She also talks about poverty and prostitution and how they are often linked, especially, for trans girl. Furthermore, she addresses ‘passing’ and she recognised her privilige because she looks like a beautiful cis woman. But at the same time, she talks about the need to stop beliving cis people are more valuable or legitimate and that trans people who can ‘pass’ as cis are more valuable and legitimate. She recognizes her privilege throughout the book, because she is beautiful, heteronormative, able-bodied, educated women. She recognizes her privilege because she is percibed as the right kind of trans women, and because of it, she makes this book even more important.

Her story is the heart of the book and the writing style in which it’s delivered is beautiful. The only problem in the writing comes when she is not telling her story. There’s parts of this book where Mock switches to a more academic language, she tries to give information about the lives of  trans people in the United States; she tries to give context to her expirience by showing the bigger picture and by showing how she has a lot of priviliges that other trans people don’t have. Even if I find that information very valuable, I also think the switch between the beautiful and honest writing style in which she tells her story to this more academic language is so drastic and abrupt that it takes the reader out of the story and it breaks the connection. Nonetheless, the parts where she uses academic language are so few and so short that they didn’t affect that much my enjoyment of the story.

This book is incredibly thought-provoking and the reason is that Mock doesn’t hold back, she is achingly honest and that makes her story and what she has to say so compelling. Redefining Realness would help people that don’t know a lot about the issues trans people have to face, but also that don’t understand the idea of intersectionality. This book would be a good introductory read for them, as well as a wonderful story for everyone else.

Rating: 4,3 stars

Have you read this book? Did you like it? If you haven’t, do you plan to read it?