As part of my reading goal to read more diverse books this year, I gave myself the challenge of DiverseAThon. So, how did I do, what did I read, and what did I think?
Out of the seven books I chose for the challenge, I actually only made it through three. It’s been a pretty busy and complicated week for me, so I’m still pretty chuffed I made it through three books!
But the great thing about DiverseAThon is it’s not really about how much you read, but only that you read diversely. With other projects I’m currently working on, this gave me a great opportunity to cram in some LGBTQ+ books, and all of them were completely different.
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
A classic of lesbian and feminist fiction, Orlando is known as Woolf’s gift to her lover, Vita Sackville-West. I’ve wanted to read Woolf for a long time; I had this deep feeling she would be a writer I would love and admire and I wasn’t disappointed. Orlando is a wonderfully lyrical and comedic book that blends the satirical with the poignant in its exploration of gender politics, sexuality and literature.
Orlando is a young Lord in Elizabethan England who is caught up in the beauty and magic of poetry. But as the centuries roll by, as he finds and loses love, and as he changes from man to woman, Orlando finds new meaning in life and literature.
Orlando is a fascinating character, and the blurring of time and gender and understanding for him/her is one that is still beautifully clear in my mind. Woolf’s stream of consciousness writing may not be for everyone, but I adored it and will be eagerly scanning shelves for the rest of her work.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Another classic! And this was not what I expected at all. I’ve been picking up a lot of books lately where I don’t really know much about them as a way of expanding my reading horizons further. The style and structure of The Color Purple instantly took my by pleasant surprise.
Celie is raped and abused by her Pa. She is given to a new man as his wife and he beats her regularly for not being the woman he truly loves. And when she shows up – the wild and wicked Shug – Celie can’t help but fall for her too. Desperate to find comfort and love, Celie pines for Shug and her sister Nettie, who has run away to serve as a missionary in the heart of Africa.
What is so remarkably well done about this book is that there are a lot of dark themes – abuse, racism, rape, the treatment of women, the oppression of native peoples in Africa – and yet it has a warmth, tenderness and humour that lifts it from being a really tough and depressing read. Celie is such an innocent character, you cannot help but be swept along by her story, and that of her sister.
You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour
Finally, a contemporary YA that makes being gay normal and a light-hearted end to the week.
Mark is in love with Ryan. Kate is in love with Violet. But their love never seems to go the way it is supposed to, with Ryan looking for other guys to date and Kate missing out on meeting Violet again and again. When Mark and Kate bump into each other during Pride Week, they find a friendship that they didn’t realise they needed.
This was not my usual reading material, but still enjoyable to read. It’s fun and incredibly sweet and manages to sum up pretty much everything about being a teenager. Being a co-written book, I found myself preferring Levithan’s chapters over LaCour’s, but overall it is just a lovely book. And anything that normalises LGBTQ+ people is a step in the right direction.
That was my reading this week! Did you take part in DiverseAThon? Have you read any of these books? Let’s have a chat in the comments 🙂
And, if you’d like more bookishness from me, I have a Bookstagram that I post to almost as regularly as I do here (which I will be getting better at, promise!), so head on over to @openlitbooks