This week, I’m so excited to feature another of my favorite bloggers out there– Nazahet from Read Diverse Books! For those who don’t know, he was a pivotal part of the Diverse Book Bloggers hashtag, so I knew I had to speak with him sooner rather than later. Enjoy!
Tell us about yourself/your blog! Do you have a specific focus?
Hello! My name is Nazahet Hernandez, but you can call me Naz. I’m a 20-something Latino living in Texas. Being Mexican-born but raised in the U.S. has given me a complicated dual identity that is often not represented in any media I consumed. As an immigrant of the .5 generation, I was often unsure about where I belonged when I was younger. Being gay added another layer of complexity and confusion to my identity. Looking back now, I realize that exposure to literature and media that was representative of my culture, experiences, and identity as a Latino would have helped lessen those feelings of isolation and confusion. That’s why fair and equal representation in media is personal to me.
That’s also why I created a blog that focuses primarily on reviewing and promoting the works of people of color and LGBTQ+ narratives, with a special interest in intersectionality.
What was your goal when you started #diversebookbloggers? Has it lived up to your vision?
The chief goal was to build a community of book bloggers who value diversity in literature. I wanted to create a safe space that allows us to discuss the issues that matter to us. Our most important mission is to uplift the voices and stories traditionally underrepresented in the publishing industry.
Has it lived up to my vision? Well, I had very low and humble expectations for it, so it has actually surpassed it! It’s been almost two months and the hashtag gets several tweets a day with spikes during and after our #DiverseBookBloggers chats. I hope for there to be one every month, which should continue to give it momentum. Also, this initiative wouldn’t have gained traction without the work of my fellow diverse book bloggers. So I am very thankful to all of you for that.
Which author has been the most receptive to your reviews/coverage?
All authors who have requested a review for my blog have been courteous and professional. However, Zetta Elliott stands out as the most kind, receptive, and willing to promote my blog. She responded to my interview questions promptly and was genuinely thankful for featuring her and her work.
One of my favorite things about being a book blogger is building relationships with authors, indie and self-published ones in particular. Bloggers and authors stand to benefit mutually from this relationship so I encourage all book bloggers to not be shy and request interviews! Most authors will be happy to oblige. For every review request I receive, I hope to provide an interview starting this August. I’m very excited!
What book or character have you read where you said, “This is me. This is my story?”
It’s difficult to point out a book that has captured my unique personal narrative, but the one that has come closest is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I read this book as an adult, but even then seeing a young gay Latino written so honestly, beautifully, and respectfully was deeply fulfilling.
What resonated with you about that story?
I was Ari as a teen — I kept all feelings inside because I didn’t know how to articulate my fears and wants. While reading this book, I was able to place my younger self in Ari’s shoes and see what my life would have been like had I met someone like Dante, who lived fearlessly and would teach me how pure and natural love & friendship between two boys can be. Many people have professed their love for this story, but for me it was visceral and personal.
Give us some great diverse book recommendations!
I think this question can adequately be answered by a blog post I wrote about diversifying your reading history. I give 10 YA and 10 adult book recommendations!
Who are some of your favorite diverse bloggers?
- Bina @ If You Can Read This — I can’t wait for her to be done with grad school!
- Vijayalakshmi @ The Reading Desk — she is very thoughtful, engaging, and supportive.
- Resh @ The Book Satchel — She has a beautiful blog with pictures to die for!
- Rowena @ Les Reveries de Rowena — One of the smartest people in book blogging community.
Put your best foot forward! What do you think has been your best post?
One of my recent favorites was a blog post I wrote about what the term “diverse” means to you. It sparked some very interesting conversations and a couple of response posts. For anyone who hasn’t read it yet, please let me know your thoughts. “Diverse” is such an interesting and loaded word. I’m still trying to unravel it.
The second is one I wrote about looking for diversity at Barnes & Noble display shelves and finding very little. I had a lot of fun with this one because it required in-field research and taking pictures. It proved to be much more time-consuming than I anticipated, but I loved the end result.
Your blog is still relatively new– what is your vision for it?
I’ll be reaching the 6-month milestone later this month. I’m happy to have made it this long and hope to be around for years! My goal is to build a successful platform to promote the works of marginalized voices. I want to make a lot of noise in the book blogging community and keep reminding people that diversity is not a trend, but a necessary step in the evolution of the publishing industry and reading culture.
Anything else you want to say?
Only to keep reading diverse books year-round! And if you review them, be sure to link them up here to potentially win a free book from Book Depository. *end of shameless plug*
That’s Naz, everyone! Thank you so much Naz for allowing me to feature you with such short notice. He’s such a gem, so make sure to follow him on Twitter as well as WordPress!