Every year VIDA keeps track of how many women are published in literary journals and reviewed by publications like the New York Times Book Review. This year, they noted significant progress in several magazines. Reading about the yearly count made me wonder how my blog and my book list stacked up in terms of inclusivity. So I decided to examine my own reading practices to see whether I’m reading more men or women. I looked back at my list of all the books I’ve reviewed in the 2 years I’ve been blogging, 217 in total. Here’s what I found:
I read 76 books by men and 139 books by women. That means almost 2/3 (64%) of my reading list is female, and 35% is male. (The numbers don’t add up to 100 because I read 2 books by pairs of male/female coauthors, and I didn’t put them in either category. It should also be noted that I counted Cuckoo’s Calling in the female category, because J.K. Rowling is female, though she published it under a male pseudonym.)
This was not a huge surprise to me; I had a hunch my authors skewed female. I think my reading list stacks up this way because the genres I read are more female dominated. The men that I did read were more likely to have written nonfiction (Malcolm Gladwell, Martin Seligman) or classic novels (Dickens, Tolstoy).
I don’t think this means I need to do affirmative action to begin reading more men. Throughout my education, I read plenty of books by men, and needless to say, they still dominate literature. Otherwise no one would bother doing counts like this. If I were to change my reading habits to be more inclusive, I should probably begin reading more books by people of color. I’d love suggestions!