Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Books that Feature #OwnVoices Characters

It makes me happy to no end that we are seeing more and more diverse books hit bestsellers lists like The New York Times, and even happier to see the success of own voices authors. If you're not familiar with the term, when a book is referred to as own voices it means that the characters of a book represent the author's own identity, and it's super important to be encouraging the publication of these books. We want to see the world represented accurately across all fiction, of course, but whilst doing so we also need to be lifting up authors who are writing about their own experiences.

1. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
You're going to be seeing a bit of Patrick Ness on this list, but I can't help it. I love his books and people need to be reading them. The protagonist of Rest of Us has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) which Ness has experienced.

2. More Than This by Patrick Ness
This Ness book was every existential dread I have wrapped into one and it's quite honestly brilliant. I also believe it's his first book to have an explicitly gay protagonist (the Chaos Walking trilogy I believe had gay side characters but it was mainly implied).

3. Release by Patrick Ness
This is the last Ness book, I promise! But it might be my favourite. Release also features a gay protagonist (and additional non-own voices diversity: his best friend is Korean and sexually fluid/doesn't use labels). It's beautiful and magical and such an honestly written book.

4. Pantomime by Laura Lam
I have only read the first book in the Micah Gray trilogy but I'm looking forward to the rest! It's set in a fantasy world and features a intersex protagonist who is genderfluid. Micah is also bisexual, as is the author.

5. False Hearts by Laura Lam
Another book by Lam for #ownvoices bisexual rep! The story wasn't really for me but I did appreciate the attitudes to sexuality present within the future world Lam created. The protagonist is also black and was once a conjoined twin.

6. Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This book is simple but so beautiful and close to my heart. Saenz is Mexican-American and gay, and the two protagonists of this book are Ari, who is Mexian-American, and Dante, who is biracial. Both characters are queer, although labels are never used.

7. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
I adore how Silvera utterly normalises M/M romances in his books. History didn't end up being for me, but it does feautre several gay characters (including the protagonist) and also a bisexual character. Also the protagonist deals with OCD and possible delusional disorder.

8. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Next to Release, this is one of my favourite reads of the year. It destroyed me in the best way possible and I can't wait to read it again. Silvera is gay and Latino, and two protagonists are a boy who is Puerto Rican and gay (presumably - I don't think lables were used) and a boy who is Cuban and bisexual.

9. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This stunning debut needs to be on everyone's list. Thomas's book feautures a black protagonist who witnesses the murder of her friend at the hands of a police officer. It seriously deals with racism and police brutality and is a book I recommend to everyone.

10. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Upside is really cute book set in the same world as Albertalli's Simon vs., but it's a perfect standalone. The protagonist is Jewish and is fat, and it was amazing to read that this didn't at all impact Molly's self worth and wasn't something she tried to change.

11. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Noteworthy stars a Chinese girl at an artsy school who cross dresses in order to get onto an all-boys a cappella team. The protagonist is also bisexual and deals with home struggles of being poor and having a parent with a disability. But! I will note that this book can be upsetting to trans people becuase it doesn't fully address the issues of what the protagonist is doing.

12. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
I have to admit it was during reading this book that I realised romance centric books aren't for me (or at least not when there aren't a lot of other things going on). But that's okay, because if romance is your thing then I sure as hell am going to recommend it to you! It's got a cute summery vibe and the protagonists are Indian-American, as is the author.

13. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
This was such a wild ride of a book and I didn't expect it to be so much fun! The protagonist is a bisexual male (Lee is a bi female), and his love interest is black and queer (labels not used) and has epilepsy. Also it's implied the protagonist's sister is asexual.

14. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
It was a while ago that I read this book and it wasn't totally for me. But it was still good and if I can promote #ownvoices books you bet I will! The protagonist is biracial (white/chinese) like Heilig and her father is implied to be bipolar, which Heilig also is. Also her best friend is Persian, and as someone who knows Farsi/Persian I can tell you that the words used were accurate!

15. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
This duology is so epic and badass and has a cast of characters of different races, backgrounds and sexualities. The leader of the group, Kaz, has a physical disability and uses a walking stick, as does Bardugo. But it doesn't in the least stop him from being an incredible and powerful character that others feel threatened by.

Have you read any of these #OwnVoices books? What are some that you'd recommend to me?

This post was inspired by the prompt 'Ten Books That Feature Characters _________' on Top 10 Tuesday, which is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


  1. Yes, I'm thrilled by how many #ownvoices books are being published these days as well. The Hate U Give was a wonderful story. So glad to see it on your list.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday Post.

    1. It's amazing how the community is working so hard to promote #ownvoices books and how many are getting published! I would not be able to miss THUG off this list - if I could put it on every list I would!

  2. Great list! Of these I've only actually read Six of Crows (loved!) but I definitely want to read more of them.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/top-ten-tuesday-126/

    1. Thanks! Six of Crows is fabulous, but I'd highly recommend the others if you have the chance to read them. My favourites are Release, Aristotle and Dante, and They Both Die at the End!

  3. Great list!! I need to read all of these books soon!

    Here’s my Top Ten Tuesday!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

    1. Thank you Ronyell - I hope you get to read them too!

  4. Great topic. I LOVED The Gentleman's Guide, When Dimple Met Rishi, and History is All You Left Me! That book made me cry so much! Adam Silvera's characters are always so real, flawed, and human. I really enjoyed Becky Albertalli's first book, so I know I'll probably like the Upside of Unrequited too!
    I truthfully would like to read all of these other books! I'm in the middle of The Grisha Trilogy and have read Leigh Bardugo's Wonder Woman, which was awesome. I would highly recommend What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard, an own voices novel about a girl dealing with anorexia and her recovery process. It's triggering, but a really fantastic book for readers to experience. I learned a lot from it.
    Fabulous post!

    My Top Ten Tuesday: https://bookslikewolves.wixsite.com/blog/single-post/2017/09/26/Ten-Characters-That-Are-Most-Likely-To-Have-A-Blog-IRL

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed all these books! The only Silvera book I've read and fully enjoyed was They Both Die at the End, but I agree that his characters are so movingly real. Upside was definitely sweet, and I'm so excited for Silvera and Albertalli's book they've co-written - it's bound to be adorable and tragic! Leigh Bardugo's books are incredible, but I've yet to read Wonder Woman. I'll definitely check out What I Lost - I've never read a book with a character dealing with anorexia before, although if it's quite sensitive I might save it for a day when I'm emotionally prepared.
      Thanks Sophie!