T10T: Own-Voice Books for Under-Represented Cultures

March 27, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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!



More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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

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

    1. 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. 😉

      1. 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!

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

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

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