12 Diverse Books You Should Read ASAP

October 2, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Features


Diverse books are so important when it comes to representing different cultures, religions, socio-economic circumstances, people and walks of life – because that’s what real life is! Wouldn’t fiction be boring if you read about the same character all the time?

We’re massive supporters of diverse fiction at Happy Indulgence so we’re putting our heads together and recommending our favourite diverse reads! Your shelves will thank us (but not your wallet).

Multi-cultural Representation


The First Third by Will Kostakis – Jeann 

I love how this book portrays living in a Greek family, the love for a grandmother, and self discovery as Billy fulfills his grandma’s bucket list for his life. Cultural diversity comes naturally to Will Kostakis and the humour in the book was fantastic, but it doesn’t shy away from the tough and touching topics as well. Full review here.

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed – Aila

I started this book at 9 am in the evening and thought I could put it down before I went to sleep. Technically I was right since that’s what I did but… I ended up finishing the whole book in one sitting early in the morning. It’s a fairly fast read, but also delves into the heart of the situation quickly and without pretense. The main character Naila is a Pakistani American whose parents are extremely traditional – so traditional they cart her off to have an arranged marriage. Some people out there think those are long gone. That is not the case. In half of the book, we see her life as a POC in America, and in the latter half we see her life living in Pakistan, giving readers a thorough view of the two different worlds that the main character is in. Complete with gorgeous writing and a great message of inner strength, this one is not to be missed. Full review here.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore – Jenna

I love magical realism so it was a given that I was going to enjoy this book. But what made this novel even more magical for me was the diversity. This is a Romeo and Juliet inspired story and our two main characters come from different cultures. Lace is from a Hispanic family and Cluck is from a French family. I loved all of the cultural references in the book and I highly recommend it.



Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour – Jeann

There aren’t enough books about lesbians (and much less, about gay relationships that aren’t about coming out) and there aren’t enough books about starting a career and achieving your goals. That’s why Everything Leads to You is one of my favourite contemporaries of all time! It’s set in Hollywood and we hear about set designing from a girl who is comfortable with her sexuality. Everything felt so natural, from the romance that isn’t perfect at the start, to a wonderfully supportive friendship and also challenges and character development. So yeah, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. Full review here.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Aila

Do you know HOW MANY TIMES I’VE TEARED UP WHILE READING THIS BOOK? Pretty much almost every time I’ve read it… which is many, many times. I even used my Audible credits to get it in audiobook because 1) I adore this book to pieces and 2) LIN MANUEL MIRANDA NARRATES IT AND HIS VOICE JUST F I T S. And this is from someone who really can’t stand audiobooks! Ari and Dante are both Hispanic boys living in America, although their backgrounds are pretty different. The book takes you from their first meeting to their physical “break-up,” that is, when one of the boys move away. It’s as much of a romance as it is a novel of self-discovery, as both boys realize their inner wants. Also the tears are good tears, not the sad ones okay? Just making sure. Full review here.

Every Day by David Levithan – Jenna

This is one of my favourite books of all time and it’s 100% because of the LGBTQIA+ aspect of it. In this novel, A wakes up in a different person’s body each day and each of the characters are extremely diverse. There are straight characters, gay characters, lesbian characters and different characters along the whole spectrum. I LOVE THIS BOOK. Full review here.

Mental Illness


Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman – Jeann

This book is such a unique exploration of schizophrenia – merging the line between reality and fiction. How is life as a schizophrenia? I wouldn’t know, but this book certainly captures the sheer horror and confusion in an artistic, and impactful way. Caden dreams about an adventure of a ship that merges with his reality of being in a hospital. It’s such a beautiful artistic story, based on the experience of Neal Schusterman’s own son. And I haven’t read anything that portrays schizophrenia is such a heartfelt way. Full review here.

Play On by Michelle Smith – Aila

This book is much less well-known and is another short and sweet read. We’re in a southern town where baseball runs supreme, and looking at two characters starting to fall in love. However, there’s something about the town’s newcomer, Marisa, that Austin can’t pinpoint. It’s the fact that she suffers from depression, which is stunting the growth of their relationship. It takes a while for her to open up to Austin to that part of her, and yet his consideration and attempts to understand and support her are just so endearing and tugs on your heartstrings. The book really explores the repercussions of having a friend or significant other suffer from this illness, and how although having one may not be the easiest thing in the world, it’s extremely worth it.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten – Jenna

I recently read this novel and was blown away by it. I thought it was such a fantastic and accurate representation of OCD. This book explores the impact that OCD has on the characters and how debilitating the illness can be. I loved the characters and the story and this is one of my favourite books about mental illness. Full review here.

None of the Above by I.W. Gregario – Jeann

I don’t really know much about being intersex, but I feel like I have a better understanding of the sensitivities of the condition after reading this book. This book presents a really sensitive, confronting and confusing look at gender identity and how harmful it is for an intersex person, but also the support structures that should be put in place around this. It’s also incredibly diverse, covering feminism and sexuality as well! This book proves that an author can write outside of their own experiences by interviewing people who identify with the group and extensive research, which the author discussed at a recent event covered by Book Munchies. Full review here.

Disability/Different walks of life



How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cuzzo – Aila

In this book, we’re looking at it from the point of view of the bully, not the bullied… Although who knows the whole story? Nikki has experienced a lot of backlash after a girl at her party became viral and almost committed suicide, and it takes a lot of lessons to finally get her to like herself again. Along the way, she meets a boy in a wheelchair who can’t move his lower body. Pax was the most adorable of the adorbs, and one of my favorite parts about his character was the fact that he used to be one of the popular guys who made fun of people without a thought… All in all this book really showed the discoveries of humility, self-forgiveness, and endless possibilities despite the mistakes we make. Full review here.

The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard – Jenna

The Stars at Oktober Bend is an Aussie YA novel that I read at the beginning of this year and it’s one that has stuck with me since. The main character in this novel was involved in a terrible incident that left her with speech problems. She has trouble expressing herself through words, so she does it through poetry and writing instead. Alice is such a strong main character, despite everything that she has to go through. There wasn’t a lot that I didn’t love about this book. Jeann’s Review | Jenna’s Review

For more diverse recommendations, check out the video below from our Youtube channel!

Have you read any of these books? What are your diverse recommendations? 

The following two tabs change content below.
Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

Tags: , ,

41 responses to “12 Diverse Books You Should Read ASAP

  1. Ahh I've only read two of these, but I LOVED them so much! Play On is an all-time fave of mine, and Everything Leads to You was so adorable and lovely. But almost all of these are on my to-read list! I'm really hoping to get to Written in the Stars before the end of the year, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe feels like it's been on my radar forever but I just haven't read it yet. And oh, Challenger Deep and None of the Above; I want to read those two as well. Gah, and The Weight of Feathers! I read and absolutely loved When the Moon Was Ours so I'm super excited to get to Anna-Marie's debut. Great post, ladies! 🙂
    My recent post October New Release Giveaway Hop!

  2. I have read NONE of these books. And that makes me sad! Wait. Except Aristotle and Dante. And Challenger Deep. I have read that!

    I've been meaning to read None of the Above, along with The Weight of Feathers! And Play On! Which I have, and I'm sad that it's so underrated! And I have also heard about The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B and that's something I want to get to as well. Basically, I need to read all of these it seems. Though I think this is the first time I've heard of some of these books, especially those by Aussie authors!
    My recent post Top Ten Tuesday #94

  3. I really need to pick up Challenger Deep! I won a HC loooong ago when it first came out and I've just been putting it aside for a while. I adore Shusterman's Unwind series, so I'm pretty sure this one will be something I'll love as well.

  4. I've read the four LGBTQIA+ novels on this list (None of the Above is LGBTQIA+, by the way! I is for intersex :)), and loved them all, but I haven't read any of the others *gasp* Although I have heard really great things about the others, though, and I'm keen to give them a try! Supporting diverse books is so important, although one day I hope that we don't need to distinguish them as diverse because there are so many out there that they are as common as books with white, cishet, able bodied, and neurotypical characters. That's the dream!

  5. I'm always looking for beautifully diverse reads, whether it be to explore other cultures, countries, sexuality or socioeconomic factors, the latter I think Aussie reads are brilliant at portraying. One book that isn't out yet and Em may get violent for mentioning it, but Emily from Loony Literate, her Alice in Wonderland retelling called Wanderland is wonderfully diverse. Her characters embody Asian heritage and her protagonist is in a wheelchair. It's so wonderfully positive and Emily's written the narrative so beautifully. She wasn't helpless but abled and it was so wonderful to read how positive her experiences are. For me, that's what diversity is all about. Representing our communities without making people feel different or excluded. I loved Aristotle and Dante, along with The Hero but I'll definitely have to check a few of these out. Great recommendations ladies <3
    My recent post Girl In Pieces

  6. Read Diverse Books

    This is a truly eclectic and diverse list of books. Wonderful job setting it up, Jenna and Jeann!
    I'm happy to see The Weight of Feathers on here because Anna-Marie McLemore's second book is out today! I hear that When The Moon Was Ours is even better, more magical, and amazing. I hope she continues writing and blessing us with her stories.
    My recent post Bibliography Spotlight: Lisa M. Bradley

    • Yes yes yes! I just finished When The Moon Was Ours an hour ago and I absolutely loved it. The diversity is amazing and I love that it's based on Anna-Marie McLemore's personal story. I probably still liked The Weight of Feathers a little bit more, purely because I liked the setting and the romance more, but her new novel is amazing too.

  7. Puput

    I love love love Everything Leads to You and Ari & Dante! Both are so adorable are heartwarming <3 but I agree with you, Everything Leads to You is so refreshing because it doesn't deal with discovering sexuality. Also, I love Emi's job SO MUCH 😛 Written in the Stars deals with a very interesting topic but to me the characterization felt a bit flat and I'm honestly confused of the message the author was sending other than to bring awareness to the practice of arranged marriage. Did she meant to encourage people to 'defy' their culture? Or merely to follow their hearts? Regardless, this is an important issue that needs to be acknowledged widely 🙂 great recs! <3
    My recent post Review: Vassa in the Night // My First 1-Star Rating in A Long Time

  8. pavedwithbooks

    Thank you for the recs! I have heard of many of these titles but yet to get around to them. I've been particularly curious about Written in the Stars, so it's good to hear you enjoyed it!
    My recent post [Rewind] September 2016

  9. Brooklyn

    I love this post! So important and a couple of my favourite books are featured. Yet I haven't gotten to Every Day quite yet which is surprising seeing as I love David Levithan, I'll have to make time for it sometime soon!

  10. FABULOUS recommendations, ladies! I haven't read all of them, but I OWN all but 2 of them 😉 Challenger Deep and Play On, and None of the Above are three that I'd recommend to EVERYONE. Seriously, so many of these are on my must read list! Definitely need to read some of these ASAP. And the ones in your video are ones I want to read too- especially The Freedom Swimmer and The Road to Winter! And I loved some of the ones you mentioned (even though TGFE was a little problematic with the representation, I cannot help but love it) and To All the Boys was amazing (so excited for a third!) GAH I also need My SIster Rosa (it comes out here soon!) and I agree with The Rest of Us Just Live Here. OHH I also need to read Of Metal and Wishes and The Summer of Chasing Mermaids. OH and the Starbound series, I need to read that! (I am literally commenting as you speak, if you couldn't tell hahha). OH yes to Wrath! I ADORE that series- I made my mom check it out of the library 😉 I need to read Ari & Dante too. What have I been doing with my life? And Ink and Bone, I need to read that one too. Seriously, my TBR has just exploded on me. Thanks for the amazing recommendations!!
    My recent post Monthly Minutes at Midnight: September 2016

  11. YESSS those are some of my favourite books ever! I have heard so much about The Weight of Feathers from both Jenna and Aila and Aila even got it for my birthday lol. Diverse books are the best!

  12. deathbytsundoku

    A wonderful list! I have read one book in each category, which makes me feel pretty well read for this list! My favorite of the books I've read is Aristotle and Dante, just because I wasn't expecting it to be what it was. I am *still* working to write my blog post for this many weeks after finishing the book. I'm struggling to put my feelings into words.
    I will be reading many of these now that they are on my TBR. Thanks again!
    My recent post How We Can Support Intellectual Freedom

    • Yippeee, great work for covering different types of diversity in your reading! I loved A&D so much, it's one of my all time favourite books ever. Enjoy!

  13. fullybookedreviews

    I absolutely adored Will Kostakis' latest novel – The Sidekicks, which came out earlier this year. It's also diverse in terms of LGBT representation. Will definitely be checking out his other work, as well as the books on this list I have yet to read! Ari and Dante is one of my all-time favourites. <3

    • I'm really looking forward to reading The Sidekicks, because I know Jenna loved that one! I love how there's multiple forms of diversity in it. And seeing how much I loved The First Third, I bet I'll really enjoy it too. I love Ari & Dante so much!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge