Discussion: things I wish were represented more in books

Though I think books are (thankfully) becoming much more inclusive, there are still tons of things I’d like to see represented more. Most of them seem to be little things, but they can actually be really important. Books shape the way we see the world and what we see as normal, so perpetuating certain ideas through books can be damaging. So, here is my list of things I wish were representing more or were more normal in books.

Taking medication for mental illness/actually treating mental illness

I’ve talked before about the way medication for mental illnesses is treated, especially in YA. But I wish that taking medication or going to therapy was more normal. It doesn’t even have to be the focal point of the story, but the character can just mention their meds or therapist and have it not be a big deal.

Mental illness where the point of the story isn’t the person dealing with mental illness, more just that they have it and deal with it but the plot isn’t centred around it.

Similar to the one above, but I just wish that more characters had mental illnesses as just a part of their character. Like, this is my character, she’s 18, plays baseball, deals with depression, has two younger siblings, and wants to study journalism is university but can’t decide which school to go to. Not every person with mental illness has to go through an epic story of self-discovery to learn how to deal with it. They can just have it and focus on other aspects.

Biracial couples

Diversity is luckily becoming a more popular thing in YA which is great. But there are still few books (I find) that have biracial couples. That being said, I can think of three I’ve read in the last year. But still! I think it’s something that needs to be portrayed more in YA books.

Parents that are actually involved

So many people have talked about the lack of parents in YA books especially, and I totally agree. I know it’s convenient to not have parents, or to have parents that aren’t overbearing, but it’s honestly not realistic. I wish more books had parents that were actually involved in their children’s lives and had good relationships with their kids.

Religion is an important thing in a person’s life but the story isn’t about their religion

Similar(ish) to the mental illness one. But I wish more books talked about religion as just a part of the character’s lives. Religion is a big part of so many people’s lives and I feel like it tends to be overlooked in YA, or it’s the sole focus of the book.

Female friendships

Good, accurate female friendships in YA are still few and far between. So many books still play into girl-on-girl hate, or girls insisting they’re ~not like other girls~ which is such BS. I just wish there were more healthy female friendships. My one friend group that is primarily girls in the most loving, supportive group of people I could ever hope for. I just wish those types of friendships were more prevalent in YA books.

Ace representation

Again, books are becoming way more diverse and including way more sexualities. But ace representation is still rare, even in the LGBTQ+ space. I wish there were more books with ace characters, and that focused on being ace.

So those are the things I wish were represented more in books! What are your thoughts? Do you agree with any of them? Disagree? Have anything else you wish was represented? Let me know!

Thanks for reading! xx

31 thoughts on “Discussion: things I wish were represented more in books

  1. This is such a well thought out list. Reading it I was like huh, hang on a minute… I don’t actually remember seeing that in a book… It really made me think!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GREAT post! Agree with so many of these. Active parents for sure. And mental illness has to be the biggest one. It’s better than it was, compared to the day when only villains had mental illnesses, but not by a lot. But that could be a slippery slope.

    People need to see that mental illness is out there, and that it affects all people, bad and good. It’s not selective. And though some authors might think to send a message of “there’s nothing wrong with mental illness” that seems too far. Someone receiving that message might take it as “there’s nothing wrong, it’s okay to not seek help.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!!!

      And I totally agree! I think mental illness needs to be normalized and destigmatized so people feel comfortable getting help, but not so much so that it’s no longer seen as an issue and people stop getting help. My mom’s a psychiatrist and she said one of the biggest issues with mental health acceptance campaigns is that they sometimes work the opposite way with people who actually need help, and they start thinking the exact way you said. Which is totally counterproductive and not helpful at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Whenever I sit down to write, I always want stories where both sets of parents are involved. Like you said, characters tend to have more freedom to explore and go on adventures when they are orphans or only have one parent but I think that is getting a little overused to the extent that it becomes the norm.

    I would also like to see more disability representation and representation of other illnesses besides cancer. I know the latter is realistic to our society but there are other illnesses I can think of that have huge effects on families and society too, and it’s a shame they don’t get the attention they deserve.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree! I also feel like it’d be so useful if the characters reasoned with their parents, and it could work as a kind of an example for those reading it.

      And I totally agree about disability and other illnesses! They’re often so overlooked too, and they should totally be represented more

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally feel you on the point you raise about having mental illness and religion be part of the story but not have the whole story revolve around that one aspect of character. I also feel the same way about queer characters, most stories featuring a main character who is LGBT+ revolve either around them coming out or their romantic relationships. I’d love to see more stories in fantasy or adventure or sci fi or whatever other genre that follow a character who just happens to be gay. Being gay isn’t their entire identity. Just as having a mental illness or being religious isn’t the entirety of one’s identity either.

    I love your discussion topics, they’re always really interesting and engaging. I love hearing your stance on certain topics and seeing another point of view on things I may already be thinking about. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I totally agree! Obviously coming of age stories and coming out stories are important too, but it’s also great when the characters are just themselves and it’s not the focal point? I’d love to see it more in fantasy especially, where I feel like straight and white is so much the norm.

      Thank you so much for saying that! It really means a lot 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, I completely agree with all of these! I feel like we need to have so many more books that don’t center on a character’s marginalization in order to normalize it!! I completely agree with the taking medication for mental illness, because taking medication or having treatment is usually “frowned upon” in young adult where the child doesn’t want to go through it and I feel like we should normalize treatment more? Also, a lot of books treat love as a cure for illness which is SO. FRUSTRATING.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you said that so well!!

      And yes, exactly!! I wrote a post a while ago talking about how damaging YA’s perception of medication is for those who have mental illnesses. And YES UGH I hate when love is the cure to everything because it’s not!! Like sure, it can help you feel better, but it’s not going to cure you.

      Liked by 1 person

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