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    19 Books You Should Read If You're Trying To Diversify Your Bookshelf

    Wake up darlings! It's let's-decolonise-our-bookshelves-o'clock!

    1. White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind by Koa Beck

    Cover of White Feminism
    Atria Books / Via

    “Y'all six, seven, eight, nines, I'm a ten bitch” does make a great IG caption/pop song lyric, but if this is how we feel about other women’s lived experiences with respect to ours, we need a makeover, thought-process wise. Get in reader, we’re going to ride the intersectionality train with Koa Beck, embrace inclusivity, decommodify feminism, and prevent the dangers of a single story from escalating further.

    You can buy it here.

    2. The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta

    Cover of The Joys Of Motherhood
    George Braziller Publishers / Via

    When Ariana said "God Is A Woman", she meant it as a compliment. She didn’t literally mean that our Nigerian heroine, Nnu Ego needs to crucify herself on the altar of gender roles and patriarchal social expectations to be considered valid. This is our cue to start humanising women instead of martyring or demonising them!

    You can buy it here.

    3. Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette)

    Cover of Minor Detail
    W. W. Norton & Company / Via

    Did you know that world peace can be restored if we collectively acknowledge all the war crimes committed against women and stop treating them as ignoble side effects of the grander scheme of things? Yes! It is possible!

    You can buy it here.

    4. Ice Candy Man By Bapsi Sidhwa

    Cover of Ice-Candy Man
    Penguin India / Via

    You’re not in his DMs. I am not in his DMs. Nobody should be in his DMs if he instigates autogenocide, manipulates sensitive information out of children, and unleashes countless atrocities on women.

    You can buy it here.

    5. Changes: A Love Story by Ama Ata Aidoo

    Cover of Changes
    Feminist Press at The City University of New York / Via

    Think of a hangnail. Now think of how you’re attached to it despite it serving no discernible purpose in your life, except for being annoying, of course. The men Esi marries are exactly like the human rendition of a hangnail. Boy, are you an escalator? Because it seems like letting your wife down has become your only job!

    You can buy it here.  

    6. Under The Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

    Cover of Under The Udala Trees
    Granta Books / Via

    Why are you, as a sensible earthling, waging a civil war against your own kind and not letting people love and live freely, when you could be eating berries, petting cats, or touching grass instead? Chinelo Okparanta makes us wonder just that.

    Startup idea: How about we invent an app that helps us purge ourselves of our ingrained bigotry?

    You can buy it here

    7. Dominicana by Angie Cruz

    Cover of Dominicana
    Flatiron Books / Via

    It’s not rad, but rather sad(ist) of Juan Ruiz to terrorise his immigrant child bride whose hope for a better future hinges on his whims. But Ana was also not “a woman marked for sorrow” and “nevertheless, she persisted”.

    You can buy it here.

    8. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai

    Cover of Funny Boy
    Penguin India / Via

    If your life ever feels like a plot written by an author who has no idea about what's happening, check out the Sri Lanka Arjie describes in this book. It was being torn apart by antagonism between the LTTE and the Sinhalese state — an illustration of megalomania, unthinking violence, and homophobia. When did humanity make being a hater its entire personality? Guess, it’s one of the top 10 questions that science still can’t answer.

    You can buy it here.

    9. Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn (translated by Joosun Lee)

    Cover of Almond
    HarperVia / Via

    The next time someone takes a jab at you for not abiding by socially prescribed norms and operating in a way unique to you, remind them of how it’s not very democratic of them to force their own narrative on you. Remind them of how you’re “as possible as yeast/ as imminent as bread”. 

    PS: Is anyone interested in being the yee to my haw when I try to manifest more hype and recognition for non-American and non-European YA fiction?

    You can buy it here.

    10. Ghost Boys By Jewell Parker Rhodes

    Cover of Ghost Boys
    Orion Children's Books / Via

    Jerome was just a boy standing in front of the big bad world, hoping for good sense to prevail. But the monomaniacal drive of historic racism, once again, ruins the day. However, if kids like Jerome, Emmett, and Sarah come together, can the day when everyone has equal access to bread and roses be far behind?

    You can buy it here.

    11. Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

    Cover of Interior Chinatown
    Europa Editions / Via

    When we unanimously concluded that we like being held, we didn’t mean being held hostage by a society that homogenises Asian Americans. A society that overlooks our individuality and limits us to one-dimensional stereotypes, in favour of the so-called assimilated American life, needs to be outvoted ASAP. For the ones in the back, which part of Audre Lorde’s quote, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences”, wasn’t clear?

    You can buy it here.

    12. Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So

    Cover of Afterparties
    Grove Press / Via

    For children of the Cambodian genocide and their future generations living in America, life has often felt like a tornado with them being the pile of leaves spinning around for cinematic effect. This anthology of short stories is a magnificent meditation on the longings, failed ambitions, and other tragedies of the Cambodian diaspora still carrying the ravages of the Khmer Rouge in their being.

    You can buy it here.

    13. Swimming Back To Trout River by Linda Rui Feng

    Cover of Swimming Back To Trout River
    Simon & Schuster / Via

    Physically, Momo is studying in the USA but mentally, he is coping with his family falling apart, the trauma inflicted by the Cultural Revolution of China, and all the obscure sorrows our vocabularies are too impoverished to convey. 

    You can buy it here.

    14. Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid

    Cover of Moth Smoke
    Penguin India / Via

    Was our Pakistani hero Daru going through a tailor-made mercury retrograde season or was his birthstone rock bottom? No fear, though, as Mumtaz is here. She is his best friend’s wife living a double life as a badass journalist. A girl boss like Mumtaz a day keeps the gaslighters and gatekeepers away.  

    You can buy it here.

    15. If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar

    Cover of If They Come For Us
    One World / Via

    Have you ever come across a poetry collection that deftly captures all the quandaries concerning sexuality, race, belonging, violence, and family, while lying latent between the existence of language and its absence? No, not yet? 

    Spoiler alert: Voila, you just met your match!

    You can buy it here.

    16. Guapa by Saleem Haddad

    Cover of Guapa
    Other Press / Via

    For our Middle Eastern, gay protagonist, life often feels like a comedy of horrors with a few coming-of-age moments sprinkled in. No offence to anyone but if we can successfully perform surgery on a grape, we most definitely are capable of granting our citizens the right to lead dignified lives and love whoever they please.

    You can buy it here.

    17. The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine

    Cover of The Wrong End Of The Telescope
    Corsair / Via

    All hail, Dr. Simpson for your remarkable work at the refugee camp in Lesbos for Syrians. Also, not to sound radical, but no one should be forced to micro-dose hell by waking up every morning for their sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and identity. Let that sink in. 

    You can buy it here.

    18. Mango Cheeks, Metal Teeth by Aruna Nambiar

    Cover of Mango Cheeks, Metal Teeth
    Tranquebar / Via

    This novel has the same energy as "Paper Boat’s" Instagram profile. Served with a generous dose of humour and nostalgia and garnished with serious themes like class hierarchy and adolescence, this book is thought-provoking, riveting, and will reel you right in!

    You can buy it here.

    19. Territory Of Life by Yūko Tsushima (translated by Geraldine Harcourt)

    Cover of Territory Of Light
    Penguin Classics / Via

    And “when the battle’s lost and won” we will finally find solace in the world of an I-novel centred around not riots or hate or humanity's inherent propensity for self-destruction, but around a mother and her daughter sharing an apartment flooded with light. All the routine aches of a broken family are ever-present in their lives but so are hope, love, and light.

    You can buy it here.