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T10T: Own-Voice Books for Under-Represented Cultures

March 27, 2018

TTT-Big2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s prompt was actually to choose 10 books that take place in other countries, but you guys know how I like switching things up! I decided to make this a mixture of cultural rep based on religion, ethnicity, heritage, and so on. As always, click the titles for Goodreads links. 🙂

Disclaimer: I haven’t read all of these books, on top of the fact that I’m a white woman; therefore, I cannot personally vouch for the representation in any of these books. If I have misspoken on anything I said in this post, please let me know and I will fix it, as I always am prepared to learn! <3


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1. Children of Blood and Bone — Tomi Adeyemi
I’ve actually already read half of this, but had to put it down due to a fantasy slump. That said, this book is phenomenal, and weaves so many heavy metaphors with beautiful cultural significance.
Representation: Nigerian

2. From Twinkle, With Love — Sandhya Menon
I know most (if not all) of you have already heard of or read Sandhya’s 2017 release, When Dimple Met Rishi, but she also has this beauty coming out in May! The plot sounds so fun, and I just got approved for an ARC, so expect a review soon!
Representation: Indian
Releases May 22nd, 2018

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3. Blanca & Roja — Anna-Marie McLemore
If you didn’t already know, Wild Beauty was one of my faves of 2017, so I cannot wait for this release! It’s not only beautiful own-voice Latinx rep, but it’s also queer, so… double bonus? <3
Representation: Latinx
Releases October 9th, 2018

4. Love, Hate & Other Filters — Samira Ahmed
This is not just an own-voice story with a Muslim MC, it actually specifically discusses Islamophobia and how it affects American Muslims. I picked up a copy of this a couple of weeks ago, and it’s literally the top (non-ARC) contemporary title on my TBR right now.
Representation: Muslim, Indian

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5. Emergency Contact — Mary H. K. Choi
This actually releases today, and I am very impatiently awaiting the arrival of my pre-order! It’s about college-aged teens, so it sounds like it will straddle the border between YA and NA, and combines a meet-cute with digital correspondence, which is… I mean, that’s two of my top contemporary aesthetics combined. Yes. <3
Representation: Korean
Releases today! (March 27th, 2018)

6. Starfish — Akemi Dawn Bowman
I could not possibly make this list without adding one of my favorite contemporary reads of 2017, StarfishIt’s about a biracial Japanese/white girl, and it dives into a lot of the struggles that come with being “both”. It also tackles parental abuse and anxiety, and I just thought it was incredible.
Representation: Japanese

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7. American Street — Ibi Zoboi
This is a book about a Haitian immigrant, written by a Haitian immigrant, and it sounds heavy, sad, and gorgeous. I just picked it up from BookOutlet recently, where I think you can still grab a copy of the hardback if you’re interested!
Representation: Haitian

8. American Panda — Gloria Chao
This is another contemporary I picked up recently and have right at the top of my TBR, as I hear it is hilarious and precious. It is actually based on the story of Gloria Chao’s childhood as the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants. (Plus, the MC’s mom is based on Gloria’s own mother, which is totally precious.)
Representation: Taiwanese

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9. The Poet X — Elizabeth Acevedo
If you guys are tired of hearing me rave about this verse novel, I dunno what to tell you, because it’s here to stay. I loved this story so much, with its incredible rep and discussions of racism, body positivity, rape culture, and how much religion can warp our childhoods when it’s done “wrong”. I love it so much, and much like the MC, Elizabeth Acevedo is the daughter of Dominican immigrants.
Representation: Dominican

10. The Bone Witch — Rin Chupeco
This recommendation comes with a tiny caveat: I haven’t read this yet, so I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think the Filipinx rep is “on page” in black and white? That said, I’m told by a lot of people that the fantasy story is very heavily inspired by Asian fantasy and culture, and I know firsthand that a lot of my friends were surprised to learn the author is Filipinx, so I had to include it! <3
Representation: Filipinx

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BONUS: Go — Kazuki Kaneshiro; All Out — Saundra Mitchell (anthology); A Thousand Beginnings and Endings — Ellen Oh (anthology); 
Here are a few stories that have multiple reps, so I wanted to include them as a bonus! Not all of the All Out stories have rep, but close to half of them do, and many are own-voice. As for A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, it’s literally a collection of Asian authors writing retellings of East and South Asian folklore and myths. I literally have no words for how excited I am for it.
Representation: Go (Japanese, Korean); All Out (Latinx, Filipino, Chinese, Cuban, Turkish); A Thousand Beginnings and Endings (multiple South and East Asian reps!)
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings releases June 26th, 2018


Are there any own-voice books for marginalized cultures you would like to recommend? If so, let me know in the comments!


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  • Reply Kay Wisteria March 27, 2018 at 12:08 am

    I haven’t read any of these but I really really want to read American Panda for that Taiwanese rep 🙂 Happy reading!

  • Reply Anne@Headfullofbooks March 27, 2018 at 12:24 am

    Children of Blood and Bone is already on my TBR list. I am psyched about it. My TTT

  • Reply ChrissiReads March 27, 2018 at 12:36 am

    I see some books on here that I’d really like to try out. Fabulous list.

  • Reply Kathy @ Books & Munches March 27, 2018 at 1:57 am

    Can someone just send me all the books on this list?
    Like, except for Children of Blood and Bone because that one should be on its way already. :’)

  • Reply Mariela March 27, 2018 at 2:03 am

    I am reading COBAB! Good so far!
    My TTT.

  • Reply Dorine March 27, 2018 at 3:41 am

    Wow, I was having so much trouble with coming up with books, but you named so many great books!

  • Reply judithcmoore March 27, 2018 at 4:08 am

    I can’t wait to read my copy of The Poet X, I’ve not read a novel in verse before!
    My TTT

  • Reply Annemieke March 27, 2018 at 7:12 am

    If you can’t wait on A Thousand Beginnings an Endings there is another Asian fantasy/sci-fi anthology out called Where the Stars Rise.. I really liked that one! From your list I have Love, Hate and Other Filters, Children of Blood and Bone and The Bone Witch on my shelves. I need more time to read. 😉

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries March 29, 2018 at 2:15 am

      Ooooh, very cool! I’ll have to check that one out! I have an ARC of A Thousand Beginnings and Endings but I keep trying to make myself wait until closer to its release date, but it’s so hard because it looks so good!

      • Reply Annemieke March 29, 2018 at 2:21 am

        I would have no self restraint haha.

  • Reply Barb (boxermommyreads) March 27, 2018 at 9:11 am

    I’m starting to hear a lot of buzz about Emergency Contact so I can see why you’re anxious for your pre-order. Wonderful list.

  • Reply Tammy March 27, 2018 at 9:36 am

    I love your list! I’m so curious about Emergency Contact, I hadn’t realized it had Korean representation in it. I just adore the cover, I may need my own copy😁

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries March 29, 2018 at 2:16 am

      Yesss! You totally do, haha. 🙂 Mine arrived earlier today and I’ve been drooling over it all day haha.

  • Reply Laura Beth March 27, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I plan to add Emergency Contact to my TBR. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Amara @ Readific March 27, 2018 at 10:38 am

    So many good books and I have all these on my tbr.I was just thinking of starting COBAB

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries March 29, 2018 at 2:16 am

      You totally should! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it – it’s a beautiful book!

  • Reply Cholla March 27, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Bone Witch has been on my TBR forever now. Great list!
    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

  • Reply TeaPartyPrincess March 27, 2018 at 11:20 am

    What a great take on the theme!
    I’ve read a few of these, and the rest are on my TBR 🙂 I have to say that those I’ve already read were awesome.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk

  • Reply flippingthruthepages March 27, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I loved your twist and great list 🙂 Actually, last week I featured #Diverse books and I am happy to see a diverse post here too 🙂
    I recently read Starfish and I totally loved it. It was so good.
    I so want to read From Twinkle, With Love.
    My TTT: http://flippingthruthepages.com/2018/03/ten-books-that-take-place-in-another-country/

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries March 29, 2018 at 2:18 am

      Thank you! <3 I love trying to come up with new ideas for each week's theme whenever possible! I'm so glad you loved Starfish. I thought it was so precious and I can't wait to read the author's next book.

  • Reply RedRocketPanda March 27, 2018 at 11:50 am

    ooooooh I loved this list <3

  • Reply iloveheartlandx March 27, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Great way of twisting this week’s list!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/27/top-ten-tuesday-152/

  • Reply Flavia March 27, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Ooooo I like the spin that you took on this week’s TTT! :O Such a great idea! Ahhh.
    Also loving the books you selected for your list! <3
    My TTT: http://flaviathebibliophile.com/top-ten-tuesday-46/

  • Reply Joann Downie March 27, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    I definitely want to read Children of Blood and Bone and also-Bone Witch. I like how you did this post, this was a toughie this week!!
    http://justmeandmyblogreviews.blogspot.com/2018/03/top-ten-tuesday-10-books-that-take.html

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries March 29, 2018 at 2:29 am

      Thank you, Joann! 🙂 It definitely was, haha. I had to enlist help from a friend for this list, in fact!

  • Reply Lauren @ Always Me March 28, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    I love what you did with your list this week! Children of Blood and Bone is going to be awesome. 🙂
    Lauren @ Always Me

  • Reply emmareadstoomuch March 29, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    I ALMOST FORGOT about how badly i want to read american panda

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries April 2, 2018 at 1:27 am

      It looks so good! I think out of all of my non-ARC contemporary titles, it’s gotta be my top TBR spot.

  • Reply Aislynn d'Merricksson April 3, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Reblogged this on The Biblioanthropologist.

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