We’ve all been there as readers. You’re reading a book and the characters begin to fit into this cookie cutter mold of being like other characters you’ve read. Or they become less of character and more of a singular trait. Tropes are something we can’t avoid in literature and media. Some do a lot more harm than good, while others are just ehh. So here is a post about a few tropes that bother me.
Manic-Pixie Dream girl (MPDG)
We’ve all found our way to the end of a novel where the female protagonist or supporting character sole purpose was to make the main character step out of his shell. Do things unexpected and rebellious all the while she doesn’t truly exist to the readers outside of how she relates to the main character. Manic pixie dream girls are these 2-dimensional character curves that are more like an overzealous trait that uses women as props to help men change or “better” themselves. This trope is harmful because it plays into the ideology of male-centered story telling and woman are only here to help us. Always the quirky love interest never the superhero.
Melanin Deficient Dystopian (MDD)
You ever opened a dystopian novel and at some point wondered where are the people of color. Well, you’re in luck most of us have. MDD isn’t necessarily a character trope but a writing “trope”. These novels typically have a dynamic plot set in some dystopian setting where we get to meet a bunch of characters, none of which are POC. This writing style is harmful because, like, representation matters, and what does it say that a bunch of authors think that POC would die off, or when their are POC they tend to be congregated in the poorest colony.
The gay best-friend/ Gay in Theory
This trope has been dying down a lot lately in YA novels in my opinion. But essentially TGBF trope or GiT is when the author writes a character as being gay, but essentially its more for diversity points than an actual character. It’s GiT because you never learn about the gay character as it relates to him existing as a queer person. It’s like yeah she said he was gay on page 41 for a quick moment, but for the rest of the 500 pages the character doesn’t exist a queer person. It’s the gay brother to MPDG when it comes to tropes. We never learn about this character, only about how they can provide sass or advice to the main character.
Killing off the only black character
Let’s talk about how racism can seep it’s way into writing, intentionally and unintentionally. In Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass we literally read as the only black characters (who weren’t like slaves) die advance the plot of the white protagonist (Spoiler) . Do I even need to continue about how this trope is annoying. I don’t know how many books I’ve read where eventually the black character HAS to die so the White character characters plot can continue. This has to stop. It says that white characters are superior and a black character should be honored to die, because they’re death went to a good cause. This argument has taken shape lately in conversations about abelism due to Me Before You. Same song, different dance.
The love triangle
What if I told you a female main character doesn’t have to been in a love triangle for people to find her story interesting. Or that she doesn’t have to find anybody interesting on a relationship level. I’ve seen this A LOT more in YA novels with female protagonist, but what does that say to young female readers that you can be brave and courageous and do all these amazing things, however deep down your mind is stuck on boys. See hows its so hard to think of a YA book thats female-lead without a relationship because we still can seem to think of women as having agency over their body without having a male attached to it in some form. Love triangles are boring and does a disservice to the Main character and readers.
Mr. Perfect vs Mr.Average
please i’m so tired of the the new tall dark and mysterious guy who just moved into the town from some obscure hipster place in a love spat over someone with the average bookstore worker best-friend (who probably wears glasses). This trope just sets unrealistic fantasies for everyone.
The sassy Black friend
The sassy black friend has one task in you’re YA novel. To give you aunt Jemima wisdom in African American Vernacular and be the backbone for the soft spoken main character.This one note character trope is harmful because it depicts People of color as these aggressive people who are like guard dogs to protect the main character and feeds into the stereotype that all black people are sassy because 9/10 that’ll be the only black character in the novel.
Burying the gay character
Hey look I wrote a gay character. Now go on vacation for a few pages…or chapters…or books…
Killing the gay character
This is a troupe I’ve seen a lot of people in the queer community speak passionately about, where we get a gay character who is awesome and then boom they’re dead. By some force of nature or god. So yeah, stop killing us in novels.
The mystical ethnic friend
The mystical ethnic friend (MEF) has one job in your YA novel: to bring some magic to it. These characters are typically described as brownish or from a country in the middle-east, or practices voodoo and they’re really skilled in magic and they’re here to aid our warrior into the battlefield and protect them (until they eventually die, bc they always do.) This is a louzy trope because it relies on preconceived notions of people of color being these mystical exotic beings that have these cultures and norms that equates to witchcraft.
It was the winter break before I turned 18 and I was snowed in. I decided to binge watch Queer As Folk on Netflix, a TV show that chronicles the lives a gay white men living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It seemed for almost every episode that ended up at one of the local gay clubs in the area, this was my true first exposure to gay clubs. I’ve always watched a bunch of ballroom videos where predominately QPOC go to vogue and walk against each other all in good fun. (SEE: Paris is burning) There was something freeing about watching the sea of people on Queer As Folk dancing to the music. Sweaty, shirtless, and unapologetically. This made my excited for when I turned 18 because I wanted to go to a club just like that, with people just. like. me.
So fastward, now it’s spring and its my birthday weekend. I’m super pumped to go to my first gay club. So I freak out about what to wear, I mean the whole idea of the club is to find “someone” right? So I end up wearing these above kneecap shorts with a flannel tied around my waist, ankle high boots and a blue v-cut shirt. I thought I was cute, but also exposed -because for most of my life I’ve benefited from passing privilege – the line for the club was wrapped around the corner, with people of all genders, creed, and binaries waiting to get in. And while I felt at home waiting in line I was also cautious. Because we were outside, still in a hetero-normative environment. Where people like us are shamed for expressing who we are.
So for what seems like an hour and two or three cars staring at us, we finally made it inside the club. The music was blasting, people were sweaty and dancing and no one was judging, or laughing. Being inside the club felt like I was able to get finally get free -after about a few drinks -. It wasn’t like the TV though. It was a lot more diverse, but it wasnt magically like the show, it had its own magic to me. I enjoyed myself, I danced I laughed, I made new friends. Once it was time to go home and the club let everyone out, The smile I had, the joy that was brought to be by the environment was gone, because I knew I was entering into a space that was dominated with beliefs and practices that were against people like me. Which isn’t to say gay clubs are serendipitous, they too come with faults. They too still exemplify and uphold cisheteropartriachal practices at time. However for the most part being in the moment with the thumpa thumpa and people just like me, its a holy feeling, almost like church. Gay spaces are sacred grounds.
Which is to say that the shooting that happened in Orlando was a hate crime. It was him wanted to take away the few resources and spaces we have to call our home. It was his attempt to silence us, take away our happiness. And just to be clear and attack on any gay club is an attack on ALL gay clubs. My heart hurts for those who have loss their lives to such a violent act. This is something I can promise everybody on the spectrum fears. From cis passing white men, to the trans and non binary women of color. Women like Yaz’min Shancez, who were murdered for living their life authentically. This is our reality, this is our struggle. That people like the gunman in Orlando are so homophobic they’ll go to any lengths to harm us.
A lot of talk from the news and media has been saying it has relations to ISIS which I mean, yeah that sounds good if you want to push an anti-Muslim rhetoric to the american people, but we all know thats not true. I just feel like ISIS wouldn’t send someone to shoot up a gay nightclub that seems so left field, I feel like this is something someone who has a personal vendetta or hatred for a group of people would do, to his us where it hurts most during pride month. Just like the gunman who shot up the church. We’ve come so far in the movement for equality and my fear is that this incident will cause us to be pushed back. It will cause many more Americans who were ready to come out the closet to be more reluctant, and I just want to say to anyone who is considering coming out or dealing with anything don’t let this gunman win. Live your life authentically, be happy, get married, love unconditionally.
There isn’t a day that goes by that im afraid someone will decide today will be the day they will harm me because im black, or because im gay (Or because both) but to be afraid, to hide who I am to make someone else comfortable is to give them the power, to give them agency over my life and I don’t wish that for anyone. Lastly, give people time to grieve. Especially family and friends who had loved ones in PULSE, both living and dead. This tragedy hasn’t been easy for them. Do check in with your friends who are LGBTQIA+. Don’t feel like they NEED to talk to you, especially if you’re straight, offer an ear don’t force one. Be careful with what you share on social media, somethings might seem cool or catchy but might be false information or triggering.
I always marveled at rainbows, how even after the worst of storms it shined through.
Born August 2, 1924 James Arthur Baldwin was an African American novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet. With novels published such as Go Tell It on the Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, Giovanni’s room, Another Country, and Tell Me How Long The Train’s been Gone, Baldwins work has forever been immortalized in my heart.
Baldwin to me is what Rainbow Rowell is to YA reader lovers. Being both black and gay I find that my identities arent always represented in novels, it’s typically an either or. With Baldwin he masterfully gets my the angst I felt growing up with the duality as of being both black and gay while raised in a religious household. Baldwins novels often provoked thought with his imaginative writing and always challenging the status qou. Living during the Civil rights era Baldwin’s work often reflected the racial climate of his time. While many argue that he often hid behind white face (Writing characters who are white in hopes of getting published and more notoriety) his work is still none-the-less great.
I remember first reading his novel Giovanni’s room and realizing that their was an author out there who got it. Who understood where I was coming from and where I’ve. And while I realize that I’ve never been to Paris, nor am I a white gay male,. something about this book clicked with me. When we talk about authors and publishers who pushed the status qou and made way for LGBTQ novels, his name should be among the list of other like Larry Kramer, Rita Mae Brown, E. M Foster, and so many more!
Look I’ve been tagged in something, people know I exist!
This tag was created by Naz who runs readdiversebooks. However I was tagged by the amazing Cinderzena. (I added hyperlinks so you can go to their pages and follow them. Trust me, ya know ya wanna.) For more book recommendations check out the #DiverseBookBloggers campaign on twitter.
All my summaries will come from Goodreads*
A book starring a lesbian character.
Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.
One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naive gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.
With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways…But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.
A book with a Muslim protagonist.
Two sisters. Two lives. One future.
Sohane loves no one more than her beautiful, carefree younger sister, Djelila. And she hates no one as much. They used to share everything. But now, Djelila is spending more time with her friends, partying, and hanging out with boys, while Sohane is becoming more religious.
When Sohane starts wearing a head scarf, her school threatens to expel her. Meanwhile, Djelila is harassed by neighborhood bullies for not being Muslim enough. Sohane can’t help thinking that Djelila deserves what she gets. But she never could have imagined just how far things would go. . .
A book set in Latin America.
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa’s brilliant, multilayered novel is set in the Lima, Peru, of the author’s youth, where a young student named Marito is toiling away in the news department of a local radio station. His young life is disrupted by two arrivals.
The first is his aunt Julia, recently divorced and thirteen years older, with whom he begins a secret affair. The second is a manic radio scriptwriter named Pedro Camacho, whose racy, vituperative soap operas are holding the city’s listeners in thrall. Pedro chooses young Marito to be his confidant as he slowly goes insane.
A book about a person with a disability.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
A Science-Fiction or Fantasy book with a POC protagonist.
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!
A book written by an Indigenous or Native author
The Swan Book by Alexis Wright
The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute young woman called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city. The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale, has Oblivia Ethylene in the company of amazing characters like Aunty Bella Donna of the Champions, the Harbour Master, Big Red and the Mechanic, a talking monkey called Rigoletto, three genies with doctorates, and throughout, the guiding presence of swans.
A book set in (or about) any country in Africa.
A Man Of The People by Chinua Achebe
By the renowned author of “Things Fall Apart,” this novel foreshadows the Nigerian coups of 1966 and shows the color and vivacity as well as the violence and corruption of a society making its own way between the two worlds.
A book set in South Asia.
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic
A book with a biracial protagonist.
Giovanni’s room by James Baldwin
Baldwin’s haunting and controversial second novel is his most sustained treatment of sexuality, and a classic of gay literature. In a 1950s Paris swarming with expatriates and characterized by dangerous liaisons and hidden violence, an American finds himself unable to repress his impulses, despite his determination to live the conventional life he envisions for himself. After meeting and proposing to a young woman, he falls into a lengthy affair with an Italian bartender and is confounded and tortured by his sexual identity as he oscillates between the two.
Examining the mystery of love and passion in an intensely imagined narrative, Baldwin creates a moving and complex story of death and desire that is revelatory in its insight
A book starring a transgender character or transgender issues.
George by Alex Gino
BE WHO YOU ARE.
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
I tag anyone who hasn’t done it yet! Get to it!
The month of June is Pride month for a lot of us, and for the book community this gives readers a chance to find books by LGBTQ+ Authors or that involve members of this community. I’ve seen a lot of #ReadProud challenge post floating around, and while this is not a challenge I hope you find books from this list as well, and get around to reading them. My fear however, is that I don’t want this to be a fab, cishet people reading queer Lit because its Pride Month, this should be almost an everyday thing. This #Readproud is divided into four categories. YA, Adult, Memoirs essays and Short stories, and a bonus section with a few movies.
- Grasshopper Jungle x Andrew Smith
- Bisexuality, Love triangle, Aliens bugs, Dystopian, Historical
- None Of The Above x I. W. Gregorio
- Intersex, Identity, secrets, love, acceptance
- Simon vs Homo Sapiens Agenda
- Gay, Identity, Oreos, Relationship, acceptance
- More Happy Than Not x Adam Silvera
- Gay, Identity, Loss, Acceptance, Bullying, Western Influence, Family Issues, Memory.
- Not Otherwise Specified x Hannah Moskowitz
- Lesbian, Acceptance, Identity, stereotypes, religion.
- South of Sunshine x Dana Eldendorf
- Lesbian, coming out, small town, religion, bigotry, struggle with faith, diverse LGBT characters. Racism.
- Parrotfish x Ellen Wittlinger
- Trans FtM, transition, serendipity, acceptance, bigotry.
- Luna x Julie Anne Peters
- Trans MtF, Gender Idetity, acceptance, Trigger Warned, support, forced therapy,
- Hero x Perry Moore
- Gay, Superhero, acceptance, dystopian.
- Chulito x Charles Rice-Gonzalez
- coming out love story, queer youth culture, latino, bullying.
- Rubyfruit Jungle x Rita Mae Brown
- Lesbian, Gender roles, period piece, acceptance, sexuality
- Faggots x Larry Kramer
- Gay men, relationships. coming of age.
- Giovanni’s room x James Baldwin
- coming out, coming of age, Travel, Paris, American, gender norms, societal norms, love,
- Plan B x SJD Peterson
- Androgynous, gender non-conforming, football player troupe, acceptance, problematic element, cliché love story.
- The Children of Gavrilek x Julie Kirion Chandler
- LGBT characters, magical realism, diversity, Cuban, Love, Acceptance.
- Fun Home x Alison Bechdel
- Love, Coming out, parental issues, trust, confusion.
- Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Shope Café x Fannie Flagg
- Lesbian, Tomboy, love, murder, mystery.
- Confessions of a Mask x Yukio Mishima
- Code-switching, Erotic fantasy moments, religion, coming of age, acceptance,
- Down to the Bone x Mayra Lazara
- Cuban American, Lesbian, homeless, shelter, acceptance, love.
- In The Blood x Lisa Unger
- Trans, Mystery, lies, not centered around transition, college, love.
- Carry me like water x Benjamin Alire Saenz
- Intersectionality, HIV / AIDS, Magical realism, secrets, lies.
LGBTQ+ Memoirs, collection of short stories, Essays
- Redefining Realness x Janet Mock
- Trans, Own Voice, Memoir
- Fire shut up in my bones: A memoir x Charles M. Blow
- Childhood abuse, Acceptance, Own Voice
- A Cup of Water Under my Bed x Daisy Hernandez
- Cuban-Columbian, race relations, love, Lesbian, Bisexuality, Transmen. Own Voice. Memoir
- Teaching the cat to sit x Michelle Theall
- religion, lesbian, catholic, love, memoir, own voice.
- Manning up: Transsexual Men on finding brotherbood, family and themselves
- Own voices, intersectionality, personal narratives.
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens speak out
- Transgender + gender neutral Young Adults, interviews, own voices.
- Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme
- short stories, Queer Authors, gender sterotypes,
- Labor of Love: The Story of One Man’s Extraordinary Pregnancy
- Transparents, parenthood, acceptance, sterotypes, gender norms, societal expectations.
- Quarantine x Rahul Mehta
- Indian-American gay men, family issues, western privilege + lifestyle, own voices.
Extra: Movies ( Just in case you need to put a book down for a moment or two)
- Paris is Burning
- On Netflix, Queer men of color culture, vogue + Ballroom history, Origins of “shade” and “Tea”, highly recommended.
- How to survive a Plague
- Early HIV/ AIDS activism, on Netflix, informational.
- Biopic Harvey Milk, politics, Murder, LGBT history
- Boys Don’t Cry
- Transman, Hate crime, Love, Bullying
- The Laramie Project
- Bullying, documentary, Matthew Shepard.
- But I’m a Cheerleader
- My Own Private Idaho
- The Danisha Lady
- The Rocky Horror Picture
So you’ve entered that awkward stage of I just finished a book and now I don’t know what to read. Or maybe you want to spice up your book collection add a little diversity to it. Here are some tips or ways you can do that.
Step 1 – examine the way you find your books to read. If it be by goodreads, or booktube, some of your favorite book bloggers, or by the New York times best seller. Take a step back and realize how you typically find books.
Step 2- Ignore that way. Get out of that pattern of your go to say of finding books. One of the things I’ve noticed in communities like booktube, the average viewer follows the popular bloggers, who all vlog about the same books. Or if you have a go to blogger, stop going to them.
Step 3- this is the fun part, I promise. Research. Now that you’re ready to expand your horizon on book topics and diversity, you have to basically start from scratch. You can find tag sections of book reviews, or you can literally roam the isles of your local library or bookstore. Goodreads has a really good recommendation engine as well.
Step 4- once you find that next book that you typically wouldn’t pick up or etc, now it’s time to read it. (Which I guess is the true fun part)
Step 5- now that you’ve gotten one or two books in your library, keep it up. Diversifying your library ( which basically means to take a break from reading books written by men that are centered around cishetwhite men) Don’t stop at one or two books. Try to match the amount of books you already have with your new books.
It’s been four years since I graduated high school and my reading has increased exponentially. The first year after graduating I didn’t read much. A few books here and there. I mostly re-reading books I had sitting around, to kill time while waiting for a family trip or to temporarily offset my boredom. By the third year I was an going to bookstores and buying books to read, or listening to the audio versions. It wasn’t until I started blogging about the books I read that I realized what made me stop reading in the first place, the narratives.
My reading list for high was pretty standard. To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men Wuthering Heights, and Shakespeare. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the value and validity of these books, but for an African American male this reading list is lacking. Yes, I understand that people say To Kill A Mockingbird is a timeless book. Sadly, all it really does is make white people feel less guilty about the oppression of black people, even though Atticus Finch never actually existed. That book and many of the others mentioned are assumed to be book all can enjoy. I didn’t enjoy wuthering Heights, I didn’t care for any of the families, Heathcliff bothered me, and I felt bad for the servant Nelly. I couldn’t get into reading these books because I couldn’t relate to them, I couldn’t see myself as them.
Now it’s hard to question why people don’t like to read books. So many things play into it, but I can be certain a big portion of it has to do with because for so long we’ve been forced to read books from people who write about perspectives we can’t relate too. How much can I gain from reading The Great Gatsby. Nothing, I could care less about a rich white man. I don’t want to read about a rich white man. I want to read about the Pecola Breedloves, Ali’s & Noodles , et al. I enjoy reading about me, something I wasn’t able to do in high school, but even that has been a challenge.
Walking into a bookstore, or searching through online websites can be a few shades of lackluster. Especially when you’re shopping for diversity. Ciswhite men dominate this industry. With there limited perspective on other people, or their lack on caring how they represent other characters outside of their protagonist.