Do We Tend To Rate Diverse Books Higher? // ft. the good, the bad, and the neutral

Hi friends! I wanted to come here today to talk about a topic that might be a little controversial, but it needs to be talked about.

Okay, so maybe we’re not talking about that today. BUT ONE DAY I’LL BRING UP THE WAFFLES VS. PANCAKES DEBATE, MARK MY WORDS. But in all seriousness, we need to talk about diverse books and their ratings! Especially in the world of book blogging/booktube/bookstagram!

Are we more inclined to give diverse books a higher rating???

Listen! Diversity in books should always, always, always be celebrated. It’s something that should become the norm, and we all need to push for that. However, I feel like we often, consciously or subconsciously, tend to give books with diverse characters a better rating or review.

The Good, The Bad, and The Neutral (In My Opinion!)

  • The Good: Diverse books are getting attention! Sometimes, they’re pushed underneath the radar but when glowing reviews come in, it generates hype. And when hype is generated, more people will read it! Rating these books higher gives authors opportunities they might not receive otherwise, because prejudice really does exist, sadly, in this world.
  • The Bad: It could leave room for “bad” rep. If we’re too blinded by diversity to think about plot and characters, it could be seen as “unfair” to people who have formulated good stories. Of course, on the other hand, all books should be diverse. It can become far too easy to throw in a character, say “their skin was caramel” and call it a day. Sometimes, the idea of diversity is all that happens rather than the realistic, poignant representation everyone deserves. And while we SHOULD hype up good rep, I think that we can all, as a community, get a little confused by what’s good rep and bad rep.
  • The Neutral: You could say, does it really matter? Maybe diversity plays such a huge role in your rating, that it’s simply the biggest factor. And that’s fine too!

I think that this is often done subconsciously, at least for me. Sometimes I’m like YES FINALLY REPRESENTATION and if weren’t for the rep I would hate it. I think that I, personally, need to strike a good balance between letting diversity become a huge factor and also taking everything else into consideration.

I’m so curious to know your thoughts on this topic! Talk to me!

42 thoughts on “Do We Tend To Rate Diverse Books Higher? // ft. the good, the bad, and the neutral

  1. I have a harder time rating diverse books because I don’t want to come off as a diverse hater, when it’s really the writing, plot, or world-building I’m not a fan of. I’m a huge supporter of diversity and I’m glad you’re addressing this issue and how ratings can be affected by it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t look at just the diversity in a book. I rate based on everything besides that because I don’t want to make it such a big focal point that people forget about everything else that is included. I do try to mention a few sentences or say, “the characters in this book are quite diverse.”. This is a good topic! Thanks for shedding some light on it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What an interesting discussion! I’m going to talk about something that bothers me, but I never brought up because it’s controversial. When the only thing that is mentioned in a review is that the book has LGBTQ rep or is an Asian fantasy and that’s why it’s great… it kind of bothers me. There is more to the story than just the representation, and in a review I want to hear about that. Just because a book is diverse or has good representation does not mean that the book is inherently good.

    I think that sometimes a gay character is thrown in just so the book can receive LGBTQ rep, but then the book hardly mentions anything else about that character. I think looking at the quality of the representation is a really good point that you bring up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. When the quality of the representation is good I am so much happier. If I am not represented in the book I always read own voices reviews, because most of the time I am not a great judge on if something is being represented well. I mean obviously we can all see when something is REALLY poorly represented.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Diversity is good, not just for the sake of anti-prejudice but for the sake of a story. The world is diverse, so good stories should reflect that. However, like with any element if you try to force it….it’ll feel forced and hurt the story. I think as readers it’s good to think about reading a wider variety of books. Personally I just read fantasy….a lot of fantasy and historical fiction. In historical fiction there’s a lot of cultures and countries I’ve missed out on probably so it’d be interesting to set a challenge to seek out good stories from around the world. (Actually, that’s a great idea now that I think about it, might be a fun reading challenge!) But for giving a book a higher rating because it’s diverse, I see what you’re saying. Books have layers though, so I think you can give it bonus points for diversity, but still acknowledge a book’s weaknesses in plot or character development etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an awesome post, Kaya!
    I think that diversity does tend to bump up my ratings, but I am also trying to be realistic. Yes, diversity is good, but turning every character BUT ONE (the reverse of the *average* book) into a diverse character, isn’t diversity in my eyes. It’s trying to be liked. The diversity does need to be relevant and not take over the narrative.
    – Emma 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I guess I’m pretty much neutral. I know diversity is a hot topic now and very important in the US, and it’s nice when authors try to represent everyone. However, realism is more important to me than diversity.

    If the characters and the plot make total sense, I won’t give it a lower rating for lack of diversity. I, for example, live in a country with over 98% white people. Seeing anyone of color is very rare. And all over the world, even in the US, there are communities that are not so diverse, so it wouldn’t make sense to make them diverse in a novel. So, just as I wouldn’t mind if a novel that takes place in a predominantly black neighbourhood doesn’t include white people, I also don’t mind if it’s just white people in another setting. Of course, if the novel takes place in NY or another multicultural place, I believe diversity is necessary.

    So, to me, if diversity in a novel makes sense, great, if the lack of diversity makes sense, also great. In both cases, if it’s unrealistic, I’d probably give it a lower rating.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love this Kaya!! I mark my reviews with any sort of diversity so readers will know right off that this may have diversity that to them is worth reading the book whether I enjoyed it or not. I feel like that covers me. I recently read a F/F romance where that romance was only in the first chapter. It was really disappointing. I stated my reason and left it up to them! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a really interesting discussion! Diversity has definitely become something to rate books on for a lot of bloggers as I’ve seen reviews mentioning diversity as a reason to bump up a rating. And while I do think diversity is super important, for me, I wouldn’t add/remove stars based on this as otherwise I think diversity becomes sort of a fun ‘quirk’ if you understand what I’m saying.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. waffles are better than pancakes. Period. 😛 But for real, I do tend to rate diverse books higher because I get so freaking excited to find characters like me, but the characters also have to be *good* characters for me to relate to them. If they’re bland or shallow, then my rating will go down just like it would with a poorly written non-diverse (is that a word??) character. So like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I know it may sound “bad”, but I think we should really separate quality writing and literary content and it merit from the writers and their background. Diverse writers should have the same opportunity as any other writers to shine and have their books noticed, but when they do reach that level and it comes to rating books – the truth should be told without bias.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great topic, you bring up some excellent points. I think for me I always see diverse rep as a bonus and something to strive for within books overall, but I don’t really let it affect my ratings. I’m always focused on the characters and if they were written well more than anything else, because that’s my jam as a reader. I think for some people, maybe their jam is diversity and so maybe they do rate based on that. I think rating in general is interesting because whatever is your passion in books, that’s probably what you’re going to focus on when it comes to ratings, you know? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is such a great topic, Kaya! I think I was more inclined to give higher ratings for diverse books when I was younger because there weren’t too many stories with, for example, Asian mcs and prominent queer rep, and I felt like I HAD to give positive reviews for them. But now there’s so much of it, and I don’t really feel the same kind of pressure anymore. Well, except with Korean-centric books. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm……I think Wicked Fox is like the only recent Korean-centric book I’ve read that I can rec. 😅 Though there’s also Rebel Seoul, which is a scifi thriller drama set in Korea!

        And I’m planning on reading Idol Worship (by Ji Soo Lee) soon, and it’s apparently a reverse harem romance about a girl who becomes the manager of a KPop group. It just sounds soooo good!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I SOOO 1000% agree with you!! I feel like the bad side of it is exactly what has happened with Islamic-fiction! amazing people out there who love diversity are giving new books classed as “Islamic-fiction” loads of attention when its actually pretty bad representation! so thank you so much for bringing this up! a much-needed discussion! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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