The Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: The Devil Is In The Details

Image Description: a title page with the words Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: The Devil Is In The Details in rainbow coloured word-art with four red roses in each corner Image Description: a title page with the words Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017: The Devil Is In The Details in rainbow coloured word-art with four red roses in each corner

One of my biggest struggles with academia was that my essays were perfectly clear to me, the reasoning and structure of the article was obvious. It turns out, this is usually never the case, it usually always turns out to be that that my essays only make sense to me. So, my apologies if my previous instructions seemed confusing and difficult to follow.

I have a great love for the movie Nightmare Before Christmas and I also have a strong emotional connection to Jack Skellington: a being with the enthusiasm of a thousand passionate actors but the common sense of a wet cabbage. I’m so eager to begin a project, I forget the finer details required. This post will hopefully flesh out the Terms and Conditions in greater detail, however, please contact me if there is any need for further clarification.

How To Review

In order to meet the Minimum Standard of Review, participants need to include the following:
-A star rating from DNF (did not finish), 1 star, 2 stars, 3 stars, 4 stars and 5 stars.
-One aspect of the book the reader liked
-One aspect of the book the reader didn’t like or thought could be improved
-Answer the question of “Would you recommend this book to others?”

In order to meet the Maximum Standard of Review
-A star rating from DNF (did not finish), 1 star, 2 stars, 3 stars, 4 stars and 5 stars.
-Three aspects of the book the reader liked
-Three aspects of the book the reader didn’t like or thought could be improved
– Answer the question of “Would you recommend this book to others?”

Pictures and gifs can be used in place of words in a review. Participants can also make video reviews and just talk about the book (maximum video length 10 minutes or under), participants will have to provide a hyperlink to the video. Participants can also make audio recordings of their review (maximum audio track length of 10 minutes or under), participants will have to provide a hyperlink to the audio-recording. If participants have an alternative method of reviewing that I have not mentioned, please feel free to contact me and discuss this alternative method with me. My email is brkyle(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com

The participant then publishes the review either on their social media platform of choice or goodreads.com, they will then click on the little blue-frog icon below

The blue frog will lead to a separate page where participants will be able to add their link to their review.

Books

Any physical format is acceptable, any format of electronic books (for example: epub, pdf, mobi) is acceptable, the main objective here is to connect the potential reader with the author, so if the review is positive and you want to recommend the book to others, you need to leave a hyperlink that allows people to access the book.

When it comes to purchasing physical books, I tend to recommend purchasing via through Book Depository because they offer free delivery to Australia, but I understand that this might not work for everyone, especially for Indie Authors. Kim raised valid points about accessibility and as along as the potential reader can access the book, that’s what counts.

Due to the complexity surrounding Fanfiction, I will have to exclude Fanfiction as reading material for this giveaway (perhaps I will reconsider this for the next giveaway, but not for this one).

What kind of Disability theme/structure am I looking for in a book?

My personal approach to reading Diverse Books is to look at the genre of the book first, then I consider the Diversity element. I don’t want to read books just for the sake of Diversity, if I do that, I’m going to struggle and argue with myself (“I must finish this book, it has diverse characters in it!” “But it’s so boring!”). I like Diversity Books that have the main characters doing things other protagonists do. Disabled people are just like everyone else and the narrative should reflect that.

Kim also offered some good advice:
“I’d actually look at determining what is and isn’t disability fiction via protagonist: if it features a narrating protagonist disabled in some way, it counts. If if doesn’t and is therefore about The Abled Person’s experience, no. Of course, you’ll get stuff that isn’t written by folk with disabilities and is written awfully – *cough*Garth Nix*cough* but the job of a reviewer is to read that and mark it so others don’t, not to read only great representation.”

So, how I verify that I’m reading a book about Disability that meets that criteria?

Well I’m not sure if I can answer that in a definitive way. Unfortunately it’s difficult to determine what type of disability a book is about (Side Note To Authors: Mention the disability you’re writing about directly in the blurb, I’ve had to spend a considerable amount of time reading through reviews to determine which disability a book is about, I shouldn’t have to do that) let alone make sure a disabled person is the main protagonist.

To be honest, I think that the most I can do is make a list of books, list what type of Disability is featured and let people decide if they’re interested or not. I’ve done some researching and I found out that Corinne Duyvis (one of the founders of Disability in Kidlit) has a Goodreads account and a Bookshelf dedicated to books with Disabled Main Characters:

~Corinne Duyvis’s Bookshelf: Disabled Main Characters

So, I used this bookshelf, as well as some recommendations from other book blogs, to make these two Goodreads Bookshelves:

~B.R. Kyle’s Bookshelf: Disability

~B.R. Kyle’s Bookshelf: Mental Health

Now, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to verify all of the books on the Bookshelves via Disability in Kidlit’s reviews and honor roll and I also haven’t read a lot of them myself. There is also a lot of the books on the bookshelf that are classified as belonging to the Young Adult genre, which might not suit everyone, so I’ve tried to balance out the Young Adult novels with Adult Memoirs, but there’s not much else I can do.

Please check out the links and see if those books work for you, but it’s okay if they don’t or you already have your own book list organised. I’ve spent the majority of today and yesterday working a list of books about disability that have been given the Disability in Kidlit Seal of Approval (if people would like to make suggestions, please do so in the comments section below):

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Category: Disability and Own voices
Disability in Kidlit Review

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
Category: Disability (amputee) and POC main character
Disability in Kidlit Review

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Category: Disability and Own voices
Disability in Kidlit Review

On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
Category: Disability and Own voices
Disability in Kidlit Review

Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Category: Disability (Chronic pain and mobility issues) and GSM
Disability in Kidlit Review

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Category: Disability (cancer) and mental illness
Disability in Kidlit Review

What I Couldn’t Tell You by Faye Bird
Category: Disability (selective mutism)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Category: Disability (cerebral palsy),
Disability in Kidlit Review

The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell
Category: Disability (One MC is recovering from Polio)
Disability in Kidlit

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez
Category: Mental Health (Depression and Suicide)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank
Category: Disability and Mental health
Disability in Kidlit Review

Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane
Category: Disability (Autistic MC)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
Category: Disability and Mental health (OCD)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Five Flavors of Dumb by Anthony John
Category: Disability (Deaf MC)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Blind Spot by Laura Ellen
Category: Disability (Blindness) and Own Voices
Finding Yourself in a Book: Why I Wrote Blind Spot by Laura Ellen

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
Category: Disability (Autistic MC)
Disability in Kidlit Review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Category: Disability and mental health (OCD and Social Anxiety)
Disability in Kidlit Review

When We Collided by Emery Lord
Category: Disability and Mental health (Bi-polar)
Disability in Kidlit Review

Autism Goes to School by Sharon A. Mitchell
Category: Disability (Autistic characters)
L.C. Reviews: Autism Goes to School (YouTube video)

Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017 – Disability Booklist (PDF)

Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017 – Disability Booklist (Word Document)

I know that’s probably considered a short list, but I figured it was a good starting point, these are meant to be guidelines and I don’t want to overwhelm people. I also don’t want to start going into “English teacher territory” of telling people what they should and shouldn’t read, however, these are reviews written by disabled people, with disabled people talking about books written about their specific disability, and I think their judgement of what constitutes as acceptable representation is the standard the publishing industry needs to aiming for.

The To-Be-Read Pile: Unfinished Business

let's get down to business

Before I begin my post, I’d like to recommend reading this post first:
Paper Fury: Why It’s Perfectly Acceptable to Have an Enormous TBR Pile
Now, on with the post!

As I’ve stated repeatedly, I’ve gotten myself into a reading slump, I kinda figured I’d take the “first step to recovering from a problem is admitting you have one” tactic, but it’s hasn’t been doing much for me (it turns out you actually need to come up with a solution as well, who’d have thought?). The problem is that when I first started out blogging, I didn’t want my blog to be about the latest releases (mostly because I’m a poor uni student and I work in retail on a low-income wage). However, why I try to avoid books that have achieved mainstream success, even I have to concede, to a degree, that Fifty Shades of Grey is influential on the Publishing Industry, for example the book sales of Fifty Shades of Grey have resulted in a 400% increase in the sales of sex-toys, however in 2012 the Authors specializing in BDSM or Erotic Romance only received a 20% increase in book sales, Publishers found that it was difficult to entice their shoppers into buying and reading any other erotica. The fact that people are more comfortable going down to their local Sexyland store and buying a flogger, then say going down to the local bookstore and buying a book (regardless of genre) is a little concerning (people are aware you can order erotic books online right?).

However, by ignoring the newest releases, I’ve realised that I’ve been missing out on some great stuff. Like the two authors I’ll be focusing on this year, V.E. Schwab and Patrick Ness. I wouldn’t have heard about these authors unless I was actively looking through Book Blogs that review new releases, and while these posts might be great opportunities for Book Discussions, they are in fact terrible for my TBR pile, which is enormously overwhelming, there’s just so many books I haven’t read and I’ll be going back to University soon (hopefully this will be my last year but I’ll have to wait and see). Then I feel guilty about not reading, previously I found it difficult to imagine a time when I would have been actively avoiding reading, but that is precisely what happened last year. I had very little energy or motivation and was rather apathetic about the whole thing. Which would start the shame spiral up again. However, this isn’t healthy and I need to try to change this. I know this may seem weird, or even come across as me whining about a first world problem, but Reading has always been my constant and when you have a problem with something so integral to who you are as a person, it’s a difficult process for me to comprehend (not wanting to read? Madness!). However, I’m managing to get my arse into gear. So I’ve decided to just focus on specific series I may have started and want to finish and new series I want to finish.

Skullduggery Pleasant series
The Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy – I figured I should finish this series, which I love, before I start on Demon Road (which also has a book two coming out).

Cinder
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – I haven’t started this, but I’ve had Cinder on my Kobo eReader for ages. I don’t think it helped that I kept confusing this author with Melissa Marr (the author who writes the Wicked Lovely series, another series I haven’t finished).

Red Rising
The Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown – Although I have a problem with the Stuffed In The Fridge narrative catalyst, I am loving Red Rising thus far, I seriously regret not reading this book sooner. I’m aiming to read both Red Rising and Golden Son by the end of January.

The Raven Boys
The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater – I have been meaning to read this for ages, I actually have a bad habit of buying the book then giving it to someone else as a birthday/Christmas present, but I have it in eBook format now so no more excuses.

Throne of Glass
The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas – Yeah IDK why I haven’t read this already, it sounds good and has plenty of good reviews *shrugs*

Shadow and Bone
The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo – Like with Throne of Glass, I’ve had this on my eBook Reader for a while, just haven’t had time/motivation to read it, however Six of Crows sounds very interesting but I need to read the Grisha first.

So, what series are you planning on finishing this year? Are you focusing on any specific authors? Let me know in the comments section 🙂