This month for the Fanboy Book Club (which you should absolutely join) we’re reading More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (which I forgot to add to my March TBR, I know, forgive me, I didn’t know which book we were reading at the time), and, as part of this month’s theme centered around diversity, we all get to recommend diverse books!
However, I ran into a slight problem when I was trying to come up with my recommendations: I realised I haven’t read that many diverse books with male leads so this list is a mix of books with both.
Trick by Natalia Jaster
Trick is one of the rare fantasy books featuring a bisexual male lead (I think it’s actually the only one I’ve read), and it is spectacular. I cannot praise this book enough, and I recommend it to anyone in the mood for a beautiful, and foolish, love story.
The Archer’s Heart by Astrid Amara
Set in a world inspired by Indian tradition (I think? Don’t quote me on this) The Archer’s Heart follows Keshan and Prince Jandu as they navigate the dangerous politics of their world, all while trying to conceal their relationship. I’ve only read the first book in a three-book series, but it was incredibly moving, and the subjects treated in it are very relevant today.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
If you want tears over two gay idiots in love this is the book for you.
(I call them idiots very fondly, btw, I didn’t mean it in any negative capacity)
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Another book about two gay idiots in love, this one also incorporates Penelope Bunce, a half indian sidekick who stole my heart within a few pages. How can you not love her when this is how her first conversation with Simon goes down?
“I didn’t know someone like you could be named Penelope,” I said. Stupidly. (Everything I said that year was stupid.)
She wrinkled her nose. “What should ‘someone like me’ be named?”
“I don’t know.” I didn’t know. Other girls I’d met who looked like her were named Saanvi or Aditi—and they definitely weren’t ginger. “Saanvi?”
“Someone like me can be named anything,” Penelope said.
“Oh,” I said. “Right, sorry.”
“And we can do whatever we want with our hair.”
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
While Ink and Bone has a male lead, it’s diverse because of the secondary characters which include an Arab Muslim woman, Khalila, and a gay mentor, Wolfe, in the sweetest of relationships (I seriously love Wolfe and I’ll defend him to my dying day). This is a fantastic book if you’re interested in a gritty, YA story where the Library of Alexandria not only survived, but threw the world into chaos.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
While diversity isn’t addressed in the usual terms, themes of race, inequality, even slavery, were present in this novel. I don’t know how they develop, as I haven’t read the other two books in the trilogy, but I don’t doubt that they remain very relevant.
Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab
While Rhy (*heart eyes*) isn’t that central as a character to A Darker Shade of Magic, my favourite bisexual prince is a full blown main character in the A Gathering of Shadows, which made me very, very happy.
The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
Another case of a book with diverse supporting characters, The Sword of Summer features Samirah al-Abbas as an Arab Muslim sidekick, as well as Hearthstone, a deaf Elf. If you’ve read any book by Rick Riordan, this one follows his style, and I really loved it.
(There’s also the fact that Blitzen and Hearthstone are another pair of gay idiots in love. What’s that you say? It’s not canon? Well, it’s not canon yet)
The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
As diverse as Sword of Summer is, it doesn’t come close to the diversity in the Heroes of Olympus series which features both different ethnicities and sexualities.
(I wonder what he’ll do in Trials of Apollo, and by that I mean I need more Solangelo to complete my life)
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search by Gene Luen Yang
The Assassin’s Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke
The world this duology is set in is heavily inspired by middle-eastern mythology, with a distinct One Thousand and One Nights feel to it, which makes for a very diverse set of characters; add in lesbian queens and pirates, and it can’t get any better than that!
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
While the set of characters in Truthwitch is very diverse in itself, this book takes it a step further because it includes a Roma-inspired tribe, which is hated by all other nations/societies in the book. Personally, I’ve never read a book involving this kind of subject and I think Truthwitch does a very good job in showing how this hate would shape and impact that tribe.
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
In this second installment of the Seraphina duology, Hartman includes an incredibly diverse set of characters, as well as themes. This was the first book I’ve read which features an actively trans character, as well as a discussion on what pronouns to use when addressing someone (those two are only loosely related since the pronouns discussion affects a language as a whole: it’s a courtesy to ask a person which pronouns they prefer upon meeting them), without overshadowing the plot.
Rebel of the Sands by Alwin Hamilton
Rebel of the Sands has one of the most peculiar settings I’ve stumbled upon recently: it’s a Western (if not a steampunk story) set in a world heavily inspired by Middle-Eastern tradition.
Eon duology by Alison Goodman
I haven’t read the original Mulan story (in fact I’ve only watched the disney film and those are rarely accurate) but the Eon duology follows a similar concept as Eona attempts to navigate the dangerous court politics while concealing her true gender.
I really enjoyed reading all of these books and I highly recommend them (especially Trick, it’s so amazing, I could go on for ages about how good it is)! I’d also love to know about other diverse books, so if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment!