Random (but not really)

Friday, August 26, 2022

Why Representation in Books Is Important

One of the things that has come recently is visibility in media—being able to see one’s ownself reflected in books and movies etc

Some of people (especially those on the far right) seem to think this is ridiculous. Most of those people are normal white people (quite often male) whose life view is reflected in centuries of art and literature.

Personally, I have found it incredibly enlightening to read stories from others point of view. After all, I learn something about those who are not like me. (As someone who loves fantasy, and escaping to other worlds, this seems sensible.)

But more importantly, in recent years I’ve discovered things about myself I didn’t know before. Things I might not have figured out—or come to accept—if I hadn’t read stories about people with those traits. Because the people in these stories were people I like—people I identified with, especially as the worked (and sometimes struggled) to exist in a world that others sailed through.

It was always a relief it is to see characters in books struggling with the things I do. Yet it was still a shock to see people name those things—names that I had not necessarily associated with myself.

Because of this, I want to point out some of the books and stories that helped me come to terms with who I am and who I have become, but also books that have helped me see things that I do not experience—or at least don’t experience in the same way.

What I want to start with is mental health. Because mental health is complicated.

First off, there’s shame.

Better Than People

Simon didn’t like this side of himself. The side that saw others’ struggles— and how simply they could sometimes overcome them— and raged. Wished he could trade places.

Roan Parrish. Better Than People

Believing you make things difficult for those around you.

Then I remember that I’ve decided not to be in a bad mood anymore— not with Griffin, which should be easy, since hurting him makes me flinch every time. And not with myself, which will be harder, because hurting me has become a habit.

Talia Hibbert. Work for It

(T)hat you are too much work for someone to bother with.

“I’m sorry,” Cooper blurted. His heart was beating hard, but fuck it, what were they here for if not this?

Park looked at him. He had that same odd look on his face he’d had when they first got to Jagger Valley that looked so much like nerves, but a little hopeful, too. “For what?”

“Everything. Well, for earlier, and for being, you know, me.” Cooper laughed awkwardly.

“What the hell, Dayton,” Park said, sounding angry. “That’s a horrible thing to say.”

Charlie Adhara, The Wolf at Bay

The Wolf at BayBecause everything about you is a little bit off, a little bit skewed.

That word opens a fissure inside Dev’s chest. Burden. The way he felt as a kid every time his mom got off work early to take him to therapy.

Alison Cochrun, The Charm Offensive

And sometimes even those who love you don’t understand.

“I feel awful when I know you’re having a hard time and I can’t fix it.”

“You can’t fix it,” Simon said flatly. “It is me.”

Roan Parrish. Better Than People

Intellectually you know your friends love you regardless of how prickly and difficult you feel.

“Oliver. It’s not your job to make being with you convenient for me. Just like it’s not my job to make being with me convenient for you.

Alexis Hall, Husband Material

But it’s still hard.

The Noblemans Guide to Scandal and ShipwrecksAs you go along, you learn tricks and tools to help manage the things that make you different—the things you struggle with.

He looked at the situation and chose to acknowledge all the dimensions of it.

Dimensions (as he thought of them) weren’t positive or negative. They were simply the truth of how he felt about things.

Roan Parrish, Best Laid Plans

You keep your expectations within reason.

“Good morning, Jude,” Faron said as they got close.

“Morning,” I said. It never did to qualify things too early.

Roan Parrish. Invitation to the Blues

You try not to think of the only-ifs.

This part was always the hardest. The moment when he could see the person he would have been— the connections he would have made— if only he weren’t like he goddamn was.

Roan Parrish. Better Than People

Boyfriend MaterialYou try to remember that you are a work in progress.

“God, is this going to take years?”

“It’s going to take your whole life,” Felicity says. “But it doesn’t have to be the defining element of it.”

Mackenzi Lee, The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks

And if you’re me, you try to keep your sense of humor about it all.

“You’ve been through a lot today,” he said. “There’s no need to diminish it.”

“Yeah, but if I don’t diminish things I have to face them at their normal size, and that’s horrible.”

Alexis Hall. Boyfriend Material

But even with all that, it helps to know you aren’t alone.

“Every choice we make,” James said, “and every path we take are what leads us to the points we’re at today. To the people we love and who love us. Sometimes those paths are horrific, but we wouldn’t be the people we are if we hadn’t traveled them.”

A.M. Arthur. Getting It Right


988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988


Veterans Crisis Line Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255

Mental Health Resources


5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain


Mental Health Representation in Books: Depression
Mental Health Representation in Books: Anxiety
Mental Health Representation in Books: Grief
Mental Health Representation in Books: PTSD
Mental Health Representation in Books: Addiction and Eating Disorders
Representation in Books: Injury
Representation in Books: Illness
Representation in Books: Neurodiversity


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