Diversity beyond the prize lists

As I posted a few months back, I’m trying to improve author diversity in my reading lists. I’ve done pretty well as far as “worthy” books – the ones people review in prestigious publications or recommend to their book clubs – but one thing holding me back is in what I call my “in between” books.

Between all the great, worthy, moving, incredible reads, I like to read something lighter and fluffier. For example, last year before I read 14 Jim Butcher novels. Early this year I read 12 Suzanne Brockmann thriller/romance novels (which I would recommend if you like that kind of book – she’s very good). Nora Roberts, Linda Jackson, Karen Robard, Lee Childs – they’re fun, let me switch off for a bit and just enjoy a crazy adventure. But all those authors are white American. It’s been pretty easy to find amazing books by authors from all over the world and all walks of life, but if I really want to improve my overall diversity, I need to find equivalents for the books I read in two hours then hunt desperately at the library for the sequels.

Enter Beverly Jenkins. I just finished Edge of Dawn, about a woman whose father has been killed in a house fire. On her way home from burying him, she gets drawn into a terrifying international plot surrounding a diamond entrusted to her father before she was even born. Can she outwit, outlast and outplay the bad guys, while still finding time to fall in love, make witty quips, fire a rocket launcher from a car and meet long lost relatives who shoot first and ask questions later? Of course she can – that’s what kind of book this is 🙂

I’ll definitely pick up more by Jenkins – and check out some of the other recommendations I found under “If you like Barbara Jenkins you’ll love…” lists. Her characters are really fun, with the kind of details and personality tics that draw me to Nora Roberts, and at 350 pages it’s the perfect length for a palate cleanser between Worthy Books.

If anyone has other recommendations in this vein let me know in the comments. I’ve found lots of lists out of the US of things like “African American Romance Writers” or “Asian American Mystery Writers” but haven’t had as much luck finding things from outside the US. That might be because of how the market works, but I’d be interested in hearing recommendations from Canada, the UK etc. Or, if they’re available in translation, anywhere in the world. Next week I’m going to start hunting for the home-grown mystery novels being written in Nigeria and Japan and India (etc.).

Year to date:
Read 48 books
32 by women (66%)
12 by people of colour (25%)


1 Comment

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One response to “Diversity beyond the prize lists

  1. maamej

    At risk of this sounding like a self-promotion, I’ve just reviewed a crime novel by an African-Australian writer, Malla Nunn, as part of Kinna’s Africa Reading Challenge (which is how I found your blog). Her books are set in South Africa, where she grew up, & they’re definitely the kind where you hang out for the next one she’s written – I think there are 4 in the series by now.

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