Let’s Play Diversity Bingo With NYT Bestsellers

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I found this really cool Diversity Bingo Chart on Tumblr a while back and decided to give it a whirl with some of the bestselling YA books of today! I’ll only be doing the ones I’ve read, just so I’m fair and can consider the whole book. Let’s see if any of them can get BINGO.

#1 NYT Bestseller: PAPER TOWNS by John Green

After a night of mischief, the girl Quentin loves disappears.

papertownsALMOST, but not quite! Paper Towns passes the Ellen Willis test (characters’ genders can be reversed), Racial Bechdel (two POC talking to each other about something other than a white person), and Deggans (at least two POC in the cast of a story not about race). For the Sexy Lamp test (passes if the female can’t be replaced with a sexy lamp), and Tupperware (female character takes part in high-stakes plot points), I wasn’t so sure. Yes, Margo does show up at Q’s doorstep in the beginning and is the driving force beneath the story… but she’s also described as an enigma, and doesn’t really appear in the story after chapter one. PT has a pass rate of 56%, counting the halfies, and a pass rate of 33% not counting them. I gave it 3/5 stars.

 #4 NYT Bestseller: THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

A girl copes with life under the Nazis by stealing books.

bookthiefSort of, but not quite. I’m kind of willing to let this one slide for Deggans, Mako Mori, and the Racial Bechdel, though, because it IS historical fiction and deals with the Nazi regime (therefore there would be very few POC, since Hitler had them all killed, and it would be nearly impossible for many of them to pass off as a white person). The Book Thief passes Ellen Willis (characters’ genders can be reversed), Sexy Lamp (well, how would Liesel steal books if she was a lamp?!), Bechdel (two named female characters talking to each other about something other than a man; Liesel and her foster mom), Tauriel (a female character is good at her job and acknowledged as such; foster mother is good at foster mothering, and mothering was a job at the time), and Tupperware (female character participates in high-stakes plot points). SO YAY! If we eliminate the ones that would be nearly impossible to pass due to the historical aspect, TBT would have a 86% pass rate and make BINGO. As it is, it has a pass rate of 56%I gave it 4/5 stars.

#8 NYT Bestseller: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

A girl faces new realities when she learns she has cancer. (NYT, did you even read this book?! Your blurb sentence is soooooo off.)

tfiosNope. 😦 Passes the Ellen Willis (characters’ genders can be reversed), Sexy Lamp (female character can’t be replaced with a sexy lamp), Bechdel (two female characters talk to each other about something other than a man… ONCE, but I guess it passes), and Tupperware (female character participates in high-stakes plot points… if you could call them high-stakes). It also sort of half-passes Tauriel (female character is good at her job and acknowledged as such), if you consider her mom or one of the nurses, but not quite. With the half-passes, TFiOS has a pass rate of 56%, and without them, it has a pass rate of 45%I gave it 3/5 stars.

#9 NYT Bestseller: ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven

An outcast helps a classmate recover from the passing of her sister.

allthebrightplacesNope. 😦 Passes the Ellen Willis (characters’ genders can be reversed), Sexy Lamp (female character can’t be replaced with a sexy lamp), Bechdel (two named female characters talk to each other about something other than a man; Brenda and Violet), and Tupperware (female character is allowed to participate in high-stakes plot). ATBP has a pass rate of 45%I gave it 3.5/5 stars.

#12 NYT Bestseller: THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher

A boy receives a tape from a classmate who committed suicide, containing thirteen reasons why. (Yes, this one is worse than the rest because I made it up. I couldn’t find the blurb sentence.)

thirteenreasonswhyThe farthest from BINGO so far. Passes Ellen Willis (characters’ genders can be reversed), Sexy Lamp (female character commits suicide and blames a lot of people, so not a lamp), and Tupperware (female character isn’t sealed away from high-stakes plot points). THIS IS SAD. TRW has a pass rate of 33%I did not give this book a rating.

Well, that was rather depressing.

Not a single book I’ve read from the current NYT bestsellers list gets BINGO. 0%. My average rating was 3.375/5 stars. WHICH IS AGAIN, DEPRESSING. But which ones were most diverse, according to their pass rates?

dark-rustic-wood-background-viewing-gallery-o2lfau2r

  1. THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak was the most diverse book, passing 56% of tests
  2. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green passed 45% of tests solidly and 56% of tests if you let some things slide
  3. ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven also passed 45% of tests
  4. PAPER TOWNS also by John Green passed 33% of tests solidly and 56% of tests if you let some things slide
  5. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher comes in fifth and last, only passing 33% of tests

Does the book you are currently reading make BINGO? What about the book you’re writing? Which NYT bestsellers that you know of can make BINGO?

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7 responses to “Let’s Play Diversity Bingo With NYT Bestsellers

  1. Wow. Now that you think about it, that is extremely disappointing. THIS IS WHY WE NEED MORE DIVERSITY. Like, whyy?! Also, that Bingo Chart is pretty cool. (Next time I wanna see if a book is diverse, deffo using this one) I LOVE THIS POST. The Sexy Lamp one…well, I laughed 😄

    • EXACTLY. (Ugh, this new layout makes it rather difficult to remember to reply to comments… sorry!) I think the Bingo Chart is AWESOME because you have to have female representation, diversity, and LGBTQIA+ characters (any combination of two or all three) to pass. I’ve rethought a lot of my novels since I’ve seen this and while some pieces of writing still don’t pass, those are usually on the shorter side, so I feel less awful about not passing. Also, the SEXY LAMP one. HOW CAN ONE NOT PASS THAT? Seriously. FEMALES. ARE. NOT. SEXY. LAMPS.
      Say it with me:

      Females. Are. Not. Sexy. Lamps. They have brains, and therefore have the capacity to mentally process.

  2. Wow! This is an incredible post. I will start looking at books with an entirely new perspective from now on! And, yes, we obviously need a lot more REAL diversity books!

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