diversity can start with you

bookworm things

I recently read a blog post posing the question “Does Diversity Sell?” to readers. It is a question I have stopped asking myself, largely because I acknowledge the fact that I am biased. I know for a fact that I want diversity to sell, so I am obviously going to say yes, it does. Because I feel like it should, and I want to fight for it.

But that is not how the real world works. A small group of people, or one reader, is not going to make a difference. Yes, we are a voice, and it doesn’t mean we give up – we keep speaking up and encouraging diversity, and asking for it, and writing our stories.

But we can also take existing stories and just – pose this question – “what if this character were of colour?” or “what if this character didn’t just act like me, but looked like me too?” or “what if the reason this character acted like that were because of [insert headcanon]?”.

I will admit, it has taken me a while to reach this point. I, an Indian girl, once started writing a story in which no one looked like me because I didn’t think anyone would read it otherwise. There have been so few stories with characters that looks like me, or like my friends, that I went with the flow. I know differently now.

So when I read a book, I let my imagination run wild. I let myself see characters as I see the world – full of different skin colours and voices. It has reflected in the fancasts I sometimes indulge in for the books I’ve read.

It is why I have enjoyed the way a lot of tumblr has embraced the idea of ‘poc Harry Potter’ and ‘poc Hermione Granger’. Why I have embraced the headcanon that Blue Sargant is a character of colour.

It is why I knowingly and purposefully imagine the characters in books I am reading to look like me and my friends unless specifically stated otherwise.

I don’t know if diversity sells. I would like to think it does. I want it to. So I’m stepping up and sharing my diverse headcanons for not-so-diverse books to the world to tell them that our stories are not so different.

You just have to make an effort to tell the stories, to let us see ourselves in your stories.

You just have to open your mind to all sorts of interpretations.

I may be going about this in a way that others may not agree with, but the thing is, I am looking for myself in the stories I enjoy. If this is what it takes, I am forcing myself into the stories I enjoy. And I am going to show that to the world.

What would you do to see more diversity in stories? How would you want to see more diversity in existing stories as well?

2016-04-12 11:46


review; lark ascending


lark ascending

Lark Ascending
by Meagan Spooner

Lark thought returning home to face her city was the hardest thing she’d ever do. She was wrong.

No longer the girl who ran for her life, Lark’s ready for the Institute. She never dreamed she’d find a rebellion, a Renewable, and those she used to love embroiled in the fight of their lives. She’s mastered her magic, but she still doesn’t know if she can master the darkness stirring inside her.

Nothing is simple anymore, and finding her place in this war—and discovering the terrible secrets behind her ruined world—might cost her everything she has left.

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review; vision in white

IMG_1240Vision In White
by Nora Roberts

Wedding photographer Mackensie “Mac” Elliot is most at home behind the camera, but her focus is shattered moments before an important wedding rehearsal when she bumps into the bride-to-be’s brother…an encounter that has them both seeing stars.

A stable, safe English teacher, Carter Maguire is definitely not Mac’s type. But a casual fling might be just what she needs to take her mind off bridezillas. Of course, casual flings can turn into something more when you least expect it. And Mac will have to turn to her three best friends-and business partners-to see her way to her own happy ending.

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blind date with a book

bookworm things

Every time I see photos online of brown paper wrapped books with vague descriptions, I tell myself that if I ever come across a shop that’s selling books in that way, I’m going to pick one up. I honestly thought the likelihood of that happening would be zero. But for the first time ever, I did in fact come across a shelf of these books in a small bookstore in Sydney.

Obviously, I stopped and tried to figure out what the books were based on the descriptions.

blind date book

To my amusement, my husband and I both noticed the one book that appealed to me – and he talked me into buying it.

This week, I just took part in my first ever “blind date with a book”.

blind date with a book

The description on the brown paper was very me – “sci-fi”, and “fantasy”, and “a modern classic” – all things that appeal to me. All genres and types of books that I generally adore. But for the life of me, I could not put together what book was under that paper. Believe you me, I tried.

I really, really tried.

blind date book2

My “blind date book” turned out to be Cloud Atlas, which I have never read. I will admit to never having seen the movie either – and until this moment, had no desire to. But now? Now I am more than a little intrigued about the story.

cloud atlas

The entire experience got me thinking that it can be so weird how we choose books to read. I know a lot of times I pick up books based on their covers. I know we’re told never to judge a book by it’s cover, but the prettier the cover, the more likely I will check out the synopsis. But in this case, all I had going for me were a bunch of seemingly disjointed and disconnected phrases and words.

And still, my interest was snagged.

blind date with cloud atlas

A large part of me wants to do this again. Somehow, someway, I want to choose to read a book, not based on the cover or the synopsis, but simply from a vague and disjointed description. To be quite honest, I have a few ideas on how to go on about this, but I’d need to find more like-minded people. Having to track down bookstores or libraries that carry out this practice is tedious, and I’m sure the online book blogging community would appreciate a way to participate in such a thing.

Or at least, I know I’d love to participate in such a thing.

I’ve been discussing my ideas with a friend – and if I can iron out a few details and smooth out a few snags, this may become a monthly feature. What do you think? Should we attempt online blind dating with books? Would anybody be interested in taking a chance on books with me? Let me know, please, because I’m definitely up for it!

2016-04-12 11:46

review; shatter me


Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

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review; star gazing


Star Gazing
by Linda Gillard

Blind since birth, widowed in her twenties, now lonely in her forties, Marianne Fraser lives in Edinburgh in elegant, angry anonymity with her sister, Louisa, a successful novelist. Marianne’s passionate nature finds solace and expression in music, a love she finds she shares with Keir, a man she encounters on her doorstep one winter’s night. Keir makes no concession to her condition. He is abrupt to the point of rudeness, yet oddly kind. But can Marianne trust her feelings for this reclusive stranger who wants to take a blind woman to his island home on Skye, to “show” her the stars?

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bookworm things

Mary over at Books And Cookies on tumblr made a post that I thought was pretty cool and thought provoking. She was asking booklrs about the most badass bookworm things they had done. Some talked about managing to get authors to do book signings, or befriending them. Others talked about making book fandom related craftwork.

I put together a shortlist of things that I am proud of, as a bookworm. They might not necessarily be the most “badass” things a bookworm could do, but they definitely qualify as an extreme example of bookworms.

Presenting, in no particular order, my list of “badass” bookworm things I have done.

  • Reading my cousins’ literature text for them because I was bored. (Note: I was in the year below them and at this time I wasn’t even studying english lit yet.)
  • Getting caught reading under my desk in class and getting into trouble for it, and being moved to the front of the class. Tbh, I read a lot in class when I should have been paying attention…
  • Literally walking around my middle and high schools with my nose buried in a book – up and down staircases too! – and managing to only trip when I didn’t have a book. (My friends were so amused?? Lol.)
  • Reading 3 books in one day because I just could. not. stop.
  • Reading my younger sister’s literature text for her because she was never as fond of literature as I was – and helping her score an A!
  • Slowly converting the people around me into readers – including family members that used to tease me for being a bookworm!
  • Idk if this classifies as a “badass” thing but I’m super proud of it looking back now but my cousins used to tease me that being called a bookworm wasn’t enough because I didn’t just read books, I devoured them, so they started calling me a book anaconda. At the time, I’ll admit, I used to get annoyed because they weren’t being flattering about it at all. But now? Hell yeah, I’m a book anaconda!

What are some of the things you have done that you think represent #bookwormsarebadass?

2016-04-12 11:46

(mini) blog ahead

The first time I heard about Blog Ahead was last year, just before it started in October. I was intrigued, and wanted to challenge myself, so I participated by adapting a YA Lit Meme to suit my purposes.

I surprised myself by completing it. I’m not going to lie, I honestly thought I would give up half-way through the challenge and abandon the meme – but I didn’t. I persevered, I created edits and found quotes that resonated with me, and I didn’t just complete Blog Ahead 2015, I also completed my first ever Meme. Though, admittedly, it took me a long while to make that last edit. I’m lazy sometimes, and I’m a very big procrastinator.

But I completed it, and now, I’m putting myself in that position again. This time, instead of creating a month’s worth of posts, the challenge is to create at least 15 new scheduled posts between May 1 and May 15. Not only does this challenge me to come up with content for this new blog, I’m giving myself a whole other challenge – I am not allowing myself to use any of the content I’ve already posted on my tumblr book blog, whether or not I plan to slowly transfer them here.

All new content, that’s the challenge.

Blog AheadWish me luck!
– Ara

review; the ugly duchess


The Ugly Duchess
by Eloisa James

How can she dare to imagine he loves her when all London calls her The Ugly Duchess?

Theodora Saxby is the last woman anyone expects the gorgeous James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, to marry. But after a romantic proposal before the prince himself, even practical Theo finds herself convinced of her soon-to-be duke’s passion.

Still, the tabloids give the marriage six months. Theo would have given it a lifetime – until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry.

Society was shocked by their wedding … and is scandalized by their separation’

Now James faces the battle of his life, convincing Theo that he loves the duckling who blossomed into the swan.

And Theo will quickly find that, for a man with the soul of a pirate, All’s Fair in Love—and War.

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review; the fault in our stars


The Fault In Our Stars
by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

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