As we near the end of 2018, we are reflecting on a year of wonderful diverse books! We’ve put together a list of #stpldiversereads that features a number of debuts and one title published after the loss of a great Canadian author, Richard Wagamese, in 2017. Instead of the usual end of year reading lists, we’ve compiled ours according to topics and genres. We’ve also created a tagged list of these titles in our catalogue, just search #stpldiversereads!
Pride and Prejudice Reboots
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Both Pride and Ayesha at Last are inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Why read the classic when you can read a 2018 #ownvoices reboot? Like Austen, Zoboi and Jalaluddin both examine class and social structure in their novels. Unlike Austen, these reboots also highlight what it means to be Muslim (Ayesha at Last) and Haitian-Dominican (Pride). These re-tellings offer us a chance to read an updated version of Austen’s well-loved story that includes the diversity of our world.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Beneath a Ruthless Sun by Gilbert King
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Beneath a Ruthless Sun is non-fiction that reads like a novel and American Marriage is a fictional tale that seems entirely possible. Both books offer a nuanced approach to what it means to be black and facing criminal charges. Beneath a Ruthless Sun also explores what occurs when special needs adults are institutionalized without due process. Both Jones and King present problems from a variety of angles and offer the reader the chance to decide for themselves.
Past and Present
A Map of Salt and Stars by Zeynab Joukhadar
The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas
Maps, scrolls, and adventure, oh my! On the surface, these two books could not be more different: one is about a family struggling to decide whether to stay in Syria or take their chances as refugees and the other is about a student who receives a mysterious package on his doorstep. These books are examples of how historical adventures can reveal the connections between past and present. Both books explore gender roles, faith, history, family, sexuality, and community. Whether they’re read together or separately, these are two books not to be missed.
Starlight by Richard Wagamese
A year after Richard Wagamese died, his agents and publishers released his final book. Unlike other posthumous novels, Starlight remains unfinished. All we have is what Wagamese wrote and his intentions for the ending. Wagamese writes with a quiet passion about the healing possibilities of nature and the lingering effects of trauma. This is a beautiful book about haunting pasts and new beginnings.
Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq
Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot
This is a year of genre-bending debuts and both Split Tooth and Heart Berries fit the bill. Juno award-winning singer Tagaq writes about the far, and sometimes forgotten, north. Terese Marie Mailhot offers a very personal memoir in essay form. Both Mailhot and Tagaq take risks in their writing and offer readers books that push boundaries and boldly tackle difficult truths.
Sci/Fi and Fantasy
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
Children of Blood and Bone is an epic quest narrative that had a film deal before its publication. Blackfish City, not headed for the screen yet, involves some fascinating creatures in a futuristic society grappling with climate change. Adeyemi and Miller are both strong world-builders and readers can envision themselves in these fantastical spaces. Even though both are fictional and thousands of miles apart, the themes of resistance hit close to home.
Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu
American Panda by Gloria Chao
At first glance, these books may seem like an odd pair: one involves an arranged marriage of two people trying to hide their sexuality and the other is a young adult novel about trying to find your place in the world. Sindu and Chao’s books have more in common than they seem. Both examine what it means to live in a Western society with careers and dreams while managing familial expectations around arranged married. In both cases, characters have to navigate what happens when someone deviates from “the plan” or subverts traditional conventions.
Stories of Our Fathers
I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to my Daughter by David Chariandy
The Storm by Arif Anwar
Storytelling takes pride of place in these books by David Chariandry and Arif Anwar. I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You features an emotional record of a father trying to raise his daughter in a complicated and divisive world. The Storm contains intersecting stories of a number of people preparing for catastrophes in their lives. In one of these stories, Shahryar is losing his visa status in the US and must make the most of his remaining weeks with his American-born daughter. Both books are compelling and revealing reads.
Looking for more diverse books? Check out our list by searching #stpldiversereads!