10 Diverse Books Adult Patrons Will Love

Free your patrons from reading more of the same mystery novels featuring irascible white protagonists with trust issues, the same romance novels with white women in too-tight corsets, or the same literary fiction about white college professors having midlife crises. Some of the best writing in the adult market today is diverse fiction that sweeps readers into new and dazzling worlds. From fantasy to literary fiction to compelling nonfiction, these titles illuminate hidden figures and reveal compelling new voices.

Here are 10 diverse adult titles from a wide variety of genres to give you something new for your readers to love.

1. The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson

(Penguin Press, 2015. ISBN: 9781594205958)

Phaedra is 16 and Dionne is 11 the summer they are sent from Brooklyn to Barbados when their mother can no longer take care of them. The change is disorienting to the girls, but as they explore Bird Hill, where their family has lived for generations, they each begin to find a sense of belonging, particularly Dionne, who begins to learn her grandmother’s midwifery and obeah. Soon they’ll have to decide where they want to live — and who they want to be.

2. The House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle

(Cinco Puntos Press, 2014. ISBN: 9781935955245)

Rose looks back at the tragedies and triumphs of growing up in Skullyville, a thriving Choctaw community in what is now called Oklahoma. While the white settlers are eager to drive the Choctaw from the land and are not above resorting to violence, Rose tells of how she saw her grandfather and the other Choctaw people refuse to be defeated in this story full of history, tragedy, humor and Choctaw heritage.

3. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

(Tor, 2016. ISBN: 9780765387868)

This is a clever, chilling reinvention of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s most notable works (The Horror at Red Hook). Like the best horror, The Ballad of Black Tom uses supernatural horrors to illuminate real world issues. This novella introduces readers to Charles Thomas Tester, a hustler during the Jazz Age in New York City. Tommy is used to doing errands, including those of the occult variety, but he’s not prepared for the chaos and violence that will ensue when an ancient magic stirs.

4. Murder on the Red River by Marcie R. Rendon

(Cinco Puntos Press, 2017. ISBN: 9781941026526)

In this historical mystery, readers will fall fast for Cash, a 19-year-old Native woman who shoots pool, drinks beers and drives trucks. When Cash follows a radio announcement about a dead body, she finds herself at the scene of a murder alongside her mentor Sheriff Wheaton. Now Cash will follow the waking dreams she sometimes finds herself in to unravel the mystery of how the Native man ended up murdered on the Red River and solve the case with Sheriff Wheaton. This is a great new find for fans of regional mysteries and will hopefully be just the first installment of Cash and Wheaton’s adventures.

5. Monstress, vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu, illustrations by Sana Takeda

(Image Comics, 2016. ISBN: 9781632157096)

This volume collects issues 1–6 of the comic book series Monstress. Readers will be immediately drawn to Takeda’s beautiful drawings and Liu’s fierce and haunting storyline about a young girl who shares a psychic connection with a monster. Set in a steampunk-ish alternate 1900s Asia, this is a nuanced, rewarding fantasy comic about monsters, girls, power and kicking butt. Each issue leaves you wanting more, so prepare to get hooked.

6. Him, Me, and Muhammed Ali by Randa Jarrar

(Sarabande Books, 2016. ISBN: 9781941411315)

A short story collection perfect for fans of George Saunders, these stories follow a wide variety of Arab women throughout personal journeys to find themselves and discover a place in the world to call home. Jarrar successfully blends multiple genres, from realistic fiction to magical fantasy, to explore questions about migration, borders, Muslim identity, love and family. In stories set all across the world, Jarrar uses satire, humor, tragedy and unflinching honesty to mesmerize readers.

7. A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett

(Topside Press, 2014. ISBN: 9781627290067)

An outstanding short story collection stretching from the Canadian prairie to a Brooklyn gay bar, A Safe Girl to Love allows readers a glimpse into the rich, complicated, painful and joyful lives of a wide variety of transgender women. Plett gives the trans women in her stories the humanity they are so often denied in mainstream coverage and treats readers to funny, romantic, incisive fiction.

8. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

(Thomas Dunne Books, 2016. ISBN: 9781250099082)

Alt, an Aztec Blood Drinker on the run from some very scary foes, intends to feed on Rodrigo, but her plans quickly go awry. Now the two of them are caught up in a complicated, bloody, intense battle involving gangsters, cops and vampires. This dark, refreshing take on the vampire mythos is set in Mexico City and incorporates Aztec mythology. It’s perfect for fans of horror, mysteries, and even literary fiction. The world-building is haunting and comprehensive. This is a book that has plenty of action, gore and twists to keep readers turning the pages.

9. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

(Doubleday, 2013. ISBN: 9780385536974)

Rachel Chu gets the surprise of her life when she agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young. She thinks she’ll have a fun, quiet summer with Nicholas and his family, but what she doesn’t know is that his family is rich. Crazy rich, in fact, and Nicholas is one of the most eligible bachelors in Singapore. A lot of people have opinions on Rachel and Nicholas’s relationship, and it’s going to be a wild summer figuring it all out. Crazy Rich Asians is a funny, sharp, contemporary comedy of manners and romance. It’s the first book in the series about the Young family and will soon be a major motion picture.

10. Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older

(Ace Books, 2015. ISBN: 9780425275986)

Walk the streets of New York City with Carlos Delacruz and hear and see things you would have never noticed before. Of course, Carlos has an advantage — he’s an in-betweener, partially resurrected from death and able to hear (and sometimes help) the dead. This makes him a valuable agent with the New York Council of the Dead, but trouble is brewing within the council and on the streets, and Carlos is going to have to figure out who to trust. First in the Bone Street Rumba series, this book is urban fantasy at its finest.


Angie Manfredi

Angie Manfredi

Head of Youth Services at Los Alamos County Library System
Angie Manfredi is the Head of Youth Services for the Los Alamos County Library System (NM). She is a passionate advocate for diversity, literacy and children’s right to read whatever they wish. She is currently serving on the 2018 Newbery Committee. You can follow her on Twitter @misskubelik or her blog.