Of late I have found that the vast majority of what I’ve been reading has been written by men. That’s not a conscious choice or even much of a choice. It’s just a fact of reality given that I choose what I read based not upon the author but on the content. I want to read a good story or learn about something in the case of non-fiction. The only time that the author comes into the equation is in determining whether I read their latest work, if I’m a fan of them already.
Gender most definitely has no place in my choice of reading material. So then why mention it? Because there’s been a large amount of discussion on a number of podcasts and even in print media that I listen to around the issue of gender balance at conventions, in reviews, etc. It would be nothing less than fantastic to eliminate the author as factor when it comes to judging books with reviews and to some degree I can see it (possibly through much squinted eyes at a very great distance) as being a reality, however the amount of coverage that male authors receive over female authors shows otherwise.
The funny thing is that while women authors are fewer in number on my list of favorite authors than men, I have never read as many books of a male author as I have a female one. I have read the vast majority of Robin Hobb’s work which numbers four separate trilogies as well as two books of her latest series, for a total of 14 books. That easily tops the 11 or 12 works from Robert Jordan. And Robin Hobb is continuing to publish, so I’m likely to keep reading.
The sad fact is that out of all the books I’ve read those by women is a much less significant number. Regardless of genre they still are in the minority, and if you look at my goodreads list you’ll see that to be true. Please note that my list is by no means comprehensive. Having read some of the most interesting books, for me, there are still plenty of others that hold no sway over me – again the author doesn’t come into play.
I’ve read Ursula K Le Guin, the aforementioned Robin Hobb, Helen Fielding (not Bridget Jones’ Diary), JK Rowling, Anna Politovskaya, Kristin Kathryn Rusch (under the pseudonym she used for her Star Wars novels), Karen Traviss, Isabelle Allende, Eve Ensler, Yrsa Sigurdsdottir and plenty more. Some of their works I found to be astounding, others no so much. Again, why am I mentioning any of this? Because I want to read more; I want to know who I’m missing out there.
I thought Kim Stanley Robinson was a woman, because I have a cousin who is named Kim and have always associated the name with women even after having met a number of Kims who were men. Sadly I still haven’t even gotten around to reading his work. I have Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City on my NOOK waiting to be devoured. But who else should I add to my list? Who’s writes good cyberpunk or some really outrageous literature like David Foster Wallace? Who’s got something challenging? Of course the suggestions don’t have to be just women authors, but some more would be nice.