The F-BOM book box has ended, and there will be no new BOM in November.
This isn’t the news we wanted to give you. Like everyone, our plans for the year were monumentally disrupted by the pandemic. Unfortunately, after three years of promoting independent women authors, we have decided to to fold the F-BOM book box.
When we started F-BOM, our goal was simple. Put diverse books into the hands of readers who were looking for them. Where can you find diverse books now? Not just books by women, but by any group marginalized by the traditional publishing system? We’ve put together a toolkit for you to use going forward:
1) Fight the Algorithm
Marketer here: All of our online interactions are shaped by private companies who want to sell us things. That means that when you only buy heteronormative romance novels, the algorithm will keep trying to sell you heteronormative romance novels. And even when you buy a book by a woman author, a LOT of the world is buying books by male authors, and so the algorithm is heavily skewed to suggest a male author when you’re ready to buy again. Don’t get caught in a passive cycle where you’re only reading what a racist, sexist, cisheteronormative, disability-unfriendly, etc, etc algorithm is selling you. Actively seek out diversity.
2) Shop Local — Really Local
We often use this saying to mean local independent bookstores, but I’m talking about local authors. Every single one of us is surrounded by local authors, writing in every genre you could want. Not only that, they’re often selling books out of the trunk of their cars at literary events and at the aforementioned independent bookstores. Meet them, hear their backgrounds, figure out what they write, and support their work and the literary community where you live. Finding just one name will probably lead to another, then another, since all the local authors in your area know each other (trust me on that).
3) Use Word of Mouth (On Social Media, Too)
“Popular” books are determined by the amount of people reading them. But remember that biased algorithm from above? It works here too, and everyone from your friends to book awards to the not-so-woke bookstore employee might be perpetuating a cycle that excludes people. Only reading books from a culturally-Christian background? Ask a non-Christian friend about a book that moved them. It might not be “popular” by the mainstream, but it can still be a great read. If you don’t have friends you can lean on, try groups on social media, or follow hashtags.
Now that you know where to find diverse books and authors, it’s time to actually read them. Step outside of your comfort zone and read from a perspective you’ve never considered before. A neurotypical author and a neuroatypical author will tackle the same theme in completely different ways. Don’t assume something has been done before, or that you won’t like something for an arbitrary reason. Break your own biases by breaking your own habits. Your brain is running on an old algorithm, too.
5) …But It’s OK to be Critical
If you’re reading a book by a Latinx author for the first time in a long time, and you don’t like it, just…put it down. There’s no need for you to read a book just for the diversity points, because there are many, many Latinx authors out there. I guarantee you can find someone who suits your reading tastes.
Read critically. Ask yourself why you like something or don’t, and if it’s legitimate, or a preconceived notion. Finding diverse books should be joyful, not a punishment.
Diverse authors are out there, but they need your support to survive. Don’t just add these books to your TBR, put them at the top. Talk about them to your friends, review them on Amazon. Active participation is what will make the difference, not passive good intentions.
The bottom line is to be intentional about building patterns. Surround yourself with white authors and readers, and you’ll find your recommendations stay white. But broaden your search, and you’ll find yourself in a positive feedback loop that funnels you great authors–and powerful stories–you might otherwise have missed.
The good news here is F-BOM existed before as Her Story Arc, a feminist media review blog. As we re-evaluate the future for F-BOM, the site isn’t going anywhere. Please don’t forget to keep in touch with us through the blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Thank you for being part of our community all these years and into the future.
Explore the F-BOM library for your next read:
Space opera with a diverse cast? Try LJ Cohen’s Derelict.
A biracial girl hiding her magic in a fantasy kingdom? Try Intisar Khanani’s Sunbolt.
Two Black women connected by dreams? Try Sharolyn G. Brown’s dystopian The Heaviness of Knowing.
A woman with powers of genetic manipulation? Try C.A. Hartman’s dystopian noir Daughters of Anarchy.
A genre-bending and feminist take on YA paranormal romance? Try Fiona J.R. Titchenell’s Out of the Pocket.
A high fantasy where neuro-atypicals code the universe? Try Chrysoula Tzavelas’ Citadel of the Sky.
A science fiction thriller crossing ancient and modern Asia? Try A.H. Wang’s The Imperial Alchemist.
A forbidden romance forming in the face of danger? Try Lauren L. Garcia’s Catalyst Moon: Incursion.
A superhero novel about love across the multiverse? Try Jenn Gott’s The Private Life of Jane Maxwell.
A sinister take on your favorite fairy tale princesses? Try Anita Valle’s Dark Fairy Tale Queens.
Exploding cupcakes and queer black girl magic? Try Briana Lawrence’s magnifiqueNOIR: I Am Magical.
A young woman taking up the family business of shamanism? Try Alesha Escobar’s The Diviners.
Or another who can no longer isolate herself from the world or her destiny? Try Cerece Rennie Murphy’s The Wolf Queen: The Hope of Aferi.
A mystery in a dystopian city no one seems to care about? Try Tanya Lee’s The Wolf and the Rain.
In New Asia, an Empress rising–and calling her mages to protect her? Try Dorothy Dreyer’s Crimson Mage.
An interracial couple fighting off a darkness in post-Katrina New Orleans? Try Dahlia Rose’s Death Came to Dinner.