Let’s Discuss Diversity In Books, Specifically Our Reaction to Said Diversity ft. Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Okay guys, so if you follow me on GR you might already know that I read Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee earlier this month and I had quite a few thoughts on it. Or more specifically I had quite a few thoughts on how we, as a bookish community have reacted to said book. So, sit back, grab some tea and a biscuit because I’m about to rant.

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Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Tash Hearts Tolstoy is your run of the mill, typical geeky YA book. Think, Queens of Geek for classics nerds. It’s not a bad book, in my opinion, it’s just mediocre ya contemporary (keeping in mind that ya cont is not my fave genre). So what’s my gripe with this book? Well, actually nothing. It has good rep, it has different and 3D characters and a pseudo-interesting plot. Tash Hearts Tolstoy has a lot of good things going for it. So why am I writing this blog post??

Well, as I was reading Tash it occurred to me again that whenever I have heard someone talk about the book, it’s been only to brag abt the Asexuality rep the book contains. The mc, Tash is romantic asexual and that’s all you will know via booktube or most blogs unless you read a review or look the book up because no one seems to be divulging any other information. Which got me thinking, why do we treat diverse books like this? We show them off in our hauls and tbrs but how much are we actually paying attention to the book itself?

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My issue is not with the book. My issue is with us as a community. My issue is with how we flaunt sexuality without paying attention to the content. This is not in reference to anyone in particular, or even to the whole community. But, I have noticed that a lot of us do this. We attain a book purely because of the rep and that’s it. I’m not discounting the rep, or saying representation (good rep, that is) is bad. But, I am saying that the actual content should matter, not just the characters’ sexuality, skin colour or position in life etc.

I am all for accurate representation in books, but I think the actual book itself should matter too. Don’t just buy the book because of the rep, get praise for it in your tbr, and then never touch it again.

And, on the flip side, if you do read it, don’t expect a pat on the back and don’t give it five stars just because the mc is black and you’re not. Don’t give the book 5 stars just because it taught you what Asexuality is. It’s great that you learnt something new, but what about the book itself? Taking the rep out of the equation, was it any good? If the book had been about a straight white teen would you have rated it so highly?

Don’t hate me, and if you have a different opinion please talk to me in the comments! But, I think that it’s almost an insult to the author to give their book 5 stars when you really thought it was pretty lacklustre. Also, with the rise of authors chucking ill thought out and terrible rep into their books (particularly non-ownvoices) shouldn’t we be praising our diverse rep and showing these authors that hey, I loved the rep but maybe the plot left a bit to be desired?? But, I’m still looking forward to seeing you improve and seeing yourr writing develop over the course of your career!

Shouldn’t we be building up and supporting our diverse authors instead of just reading books written by people who honestly don’t really know what they’re writing about (*coughs* Becky Albertalli)???

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Look, I honestly don’t know where this discussion has gone as I’ve been writing it but, I stand by what I’ve said and if I lose a few followers over it, so be it. But, having a book with good rep (aka Tash) is amazing but, shouldn’t we actually then go ahead and read the damn thing??? All I’m saying is we need to actually pay attention to these wonderful diverse books we’ve been blessed with and actually read them instead of hauling them or putting them on a tbr and never thinking about them again.

If you want to read any of my thoughts while reading Tash Hearts Tolstoy click here.

I hope this discussion/rant (???) wasn’t too dramatic and that I actually managed to get some kind of a point across within my rambles. Either way, thanks for clicking on my post and have a god day!

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HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS TOPIC? AM I COMPLETELY WRONG & OUT OF LINE?
DO YOU READ THE DIVERSE BOOKS YOU HAUL?

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11 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss Diversity In Books, Specifically Our Reaction to Said Diversity ft. Tash Hearts Tolstoy

  1. I agree with you on many points, we should not only judge a book based on the fact that there’s a certain kind of representation in it BUT Tash Hearts Tolstoy is one of only mainstream YA books with asexuality rep and that’s why I picked it up and many others too. Asexuality is a topic that’s pretty much only present in some indie books and ace people like me are craving for more mainstream rep. So though I think we shouldn’t judge a book solely on the rep, we shouldn’t forget that sometimes even having rep in a meh book is the only rep someone gets. And promoting that is incredibly important to me, even if the book isn’t particularly good. (btw I actually liked Tash Hearts Tolstoy quite a bit)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a fantastic point. I am actually ace myself so I can relate to this a lot, and that was what I enjoyed mostly about the book. I don’t have high hopes but I am somewhat hopeful that books like Every Heart a Doorway & Tash’s popularity in the community will show publishers that we do want more Ace mcs.

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  2. The reason I pick up diverse books is to read them. I do agree we shouldn’t rate a book higher because is features a diverse MC. We should be rating books based on its entirety not one specific aspect.
    I don’t think it’s a bad think for authors to include diverse characters even if it isn’t an own voices representation. Of course we should point out if it has bad representation, but authors shouldn’t be forced to write only own voices characters. Authors also shouldn’t be forced to reveal private information, like sexuality, to prove a book is own voices.
    Diversity is a complicated topic. It’s so important to talk about, and I’m glad we’re finally seeing books with more diverse characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree that it’s amazing that we are getting so many books in the mainstream book community with diverse characters and of course an author/creator should never have to out themselves just to prove a point!
      Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you make a lot of good points. I personally haven’t seen that many reviews *only* talking about a particular book’s diversity, but I get the feeling that that only happens when that particular rep is really rare to find in books. It’s probably a countermeasure to the many people who read a (usually slightly more mainstream) book and completely fail to mention ANY of the rep in it. Again, most of the reviews I’ve written/read talk about the characters and/or plot too, but I personally would rather know about the rep in a direct way, and if I wanna know about the plot I can find a different review by a more “professional” (?) or famous reviewer, which just happens to be a category of reviewers that most of the times ignores rep.
    My comment is very generic and there’s much more nuance to this topic but thank you for writing this interesting discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ve mostly seen it in Booktube or blog hauls where the creator has less time to talk about the book. I think in reference to Tash, they mostly say “I don’t know much or anything about this book but it has an Ace MC and it’s getting hype so I bought it”.
      I agree that more of the “famous” reviewers generally don’t talk about rep. Maybe to avoid backlash or because they feel like they can’t review that aspect if the characters’ rep isn’t part of their own identity???

      Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yup, I completely get what you are saying. I have seen book reviewers highly rate diverse books, sometimes before reading them, based SOLELY on their rep just as much as I have seen people 1-star books based on the lack of rep.

    Diversity and rep is important, and I do think that those books should be openly promoted so they can reach the audiences looking for books that rep themselves. But, it definitely shouldn’t automatically make them a 5-star.

    I know personally that I kinda brace myself when I give a lower rating to a renowned diverse book (see Girls Made of Snow and Glass). And that’s even despite the fact that I will still mention, discuss and often show appreciation for the rep presented in the book.

    I appreciate diverse inclusion, but there is a fine line between promoting great representation and books being put on a pedestal because they fall within a certain category. I think it puts us at risk of promoting all diverse rep, instead of good diverse rep. Not all diversity in books is presented in a non-harmful manner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, stuff like that really gets my goat – why rate a book before reading it ??

      I feel you on that. I only rated Tash 3 stars, which I think is still a good rating, but I was really nervous to post my final rating when I finished. Because I know this is a popular book with an ace mc and so I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

      Exactly, what’s the point in promoting all rep when you could promote accurate and good rep??

      Liked by 1 person

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