An article came up in my Facebook feed yesterday about a man who said he had never read a book by a woman. It threw me that that was even possible (what, no Agatha Christie? Austen? Bronte sisters? Really?!) but I shouldn't have been surprised. It's a topic that's been written about many times before, and is one of the reasons I created this blog in the first place, and yet every time I hear or read someone say they don't read books by women I am astonished afresh. The idea just skims off the surface of my brain like urine off a Scotch-guarded couch (if you'll pardon the parent simile).
Some people are quite resistant to the idea of deliberately setting out to read more books written by women.
"I like my reading to be balanced." Um, it's not, though, is it? You just told me you read almost exclusively books written by men. Wouldn't want to tip that "balance" by making it 50/50, or even 70/30. I suppose this is evidence of a reader bias, like the listener bias which causes people to think during a conversation that women are speaking more than they actually are, and that men are speaking less than they are.
"Women don't write about topics I'm interested in." You mean ALL THE TOPICS IN THE WORLD? Because women write about all kinds of things, in all genres, for all age groups.
Since starting this blog I haven't read exclusively books by women, but I have tended to choose more of them, partly for review purposes and partly now out of habit. So far I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything by doing so. While some of my favourite authors are male (Reginald Hill, Kurt Vonnegut, William Gibson), I have discovered new female authors who have fast become favourites. Lauren Beukes is a times almost more Gibson than Gibson (I thought I was being clever there until I realised I was sleepily confusing Gibson with Philip K. Dick, but since it's the middle of the night as I'm writing this I'm going to cut myself a little slack), and I've been seeking out and discovering more female science fiction authors I had previously overlooked, like Octavia Butler and Joanna Russ. I've read non fiction like Jennifer Saunders' autobiography and Cordelia Fine's game changing Delusions of Gender. The more I think about it though, the more books I keep coming up with that I really want to read. To help myself keep track, and as a further attempt to persuade everyone to read the books I like, here are some lists. I have kept it to just spec fic for now or I really will be here until dawn.
We Who Are About To ~ Joanna Russ The Earthsea Trilogy ~ Ursula Le Guin
The Left Hand of Darkness ~ Ursula Le Guin The Hunger Games ~ Suzanne Collins The Harry Potter books ~ J. K. Rowling
A Wrinkle in Time ~ Madeleine L'Engle Kindred ~ Octavia Butler
Unholy Ghosts ~ Stacia Kane
Read them. Read them all.
Books by Female Spec Fic Authors I really must actually get around to reading/finishing:
Grass~ Sherri S. Tepper
Magic for Beginners ~ Kelly Link (I'm maybe halfway through this one, but I tend to dip in and out of anthologies) The Shore of Women~ Pamela Seargent Hild ~ Nicola Griffith
Ash ~ Malinda Lo Ancillary Justice ~ Anne Leckie
The Bloody Chamber ~ Angela Carter (A copy has been gathering dust on my shelf for I don't know how long).
The Snow Queen- Joan D. Vinge
War For the Oaks ~ Emma Bull
Liavek ~ edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly The Bride Price ~ Cat Sparks
Fool's Assassin ~ Robin Hobb The Liveship Traders Trilogy ~ Robin Hobb (My good friend Meg Heket has been recommending Robin Hobb to me for years and somehow I keep forgetting to read her stuff). Skin Folk ~ Nalo Hopkinsin
Parable of the Sower ~ Octavia Butler Chasing Magic ~ Stacia Kane
That should be plenty to be going on with, though suggestions are always welcome. I don't know when I'm going to actually get through all of these, or whether I'll get around to reviewing them all, but it will be fun to find out.
Now since you were kind enough to bear with my sleep deprived rambling I will reward you with a picture of a chicken. You're welcome.