Author Topic: Reading habits and diversity  (Read 351 times)

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Offline Calinthalus

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Reading habits and diversity
« on: November 12, 2018, 10:52:12 AM »
I know it came up in one thread or another; a chat about making a decision to try to read more authors outside of your particular demographic.  Outside of following specific authors, I usually don't make a point of picking a book based on the author's identity.  Half the time, unless it's an author I know, I don't even look at their name long enough for it to matter.  I read a history book on Women in the Whiskey industry and just found out today it was written by a white man.


Anyway, this has stuck with me since that thread.  Being that we're nearing the end of the year...and I'm bored at work today, I decided to go through my list of books I've read this year so far and see how they break down in demographics.  Since I didn't feel like trying to look up an author's sexuality, I didn't break anything down by that (although I happen to know a few specific authors are gay).  I'm assuming cisgender unless specifically identified.  I read Julia Serano's excellent "Whipping Girl" about her experiences, so I know she's transgender; but I'm not sure how to go about looking for others I might have read along the way.


This year, so far, I've read seven books by white females, one book by a black male (Bryan Stevenson), and 38 books by white men.  Nearly half of the books by women were by Mary Roach...and I re-read the Wheel of Time this year so Robert Jordan takes up a big chunk of the white men category.


So, I've been leveraging my wish list in Amazon to try to set up for upcoming reads.  I've been reading a mix of fiction and non-fiction.  I've got a load of books from a Humble Bundle to read, and got a great deal on a Brandon Sanderson trilogy.  I've also bought N. K. Jemisin first book of the "Broken Earth" trilogy.  I also know I want to read Tyson's new book on astrophysics and the military.  But I'm also thinking I need to take gender and race in account when picking out more books? Jemisin and Tyson above are PoC but that's not why I picked them out (I always end up reading Tyson books and have been hearing great things about Jemisin's trilogy).




Anyway, should I bother at all?  Does it matter?  I mean, reading Serano and Stevenson were eye-opening about problems outside of my world...but those are non-fiction books about those topics.  Does reading an author based on demographics actually make a difference when the subject is not about their world?  I don't think any book by Mary Roach tells me anything about female authors; and I don't know that the same book couldn't have been written by a male with the same results (or as same as being from a different author could be).
"I think computer viruses should count as life. Maybe it says something about human nature, that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. Talk about creating life in our own image."
--Stephen Hawking

Offline Paul Blevins Jr.

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Re: Reading habits and diversity
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2018, 03:24:02 PM »
I have never been able to find a woman author who clicked with me. I've sampled Tabitha King (I'm a huge fan of Stephen), Anne McCaffrey, Anne Rice, Naomi Novak and a few others but was never impressed enough to read more than a book or two from each. My favorite male authors fill multiple shelves in my library.

Does that make me sexist?  I'm predominately a science-fiction, alternate history, historical fiction, military fiction reader.  Granted those are pretty male dominated, testosterone filled genres. Favorite authors include Harry Turtledove, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Larry Niven, Harlan Ellison, John Scalzi,  Arthur C. Clarke, S.M. Stirling, Robert J. Sawyer, to name a pretty diverse few. Haven't found a female author that I enjoy as much as any of them. I did love Dian Duane Star Trek novels, the few ST novels that weren't total wastes of time.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 03:26:04 PM by Paul Blevins Jr. »

Offline Sawyer

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Re: Reading habits and diversity
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2018, 05:54:27 PM »
Beat me to it, Calinthalus.  I was going to make a thread like this eventually.

28 books so far this year,
8 of which are authored of co-authored by women
2 books by black women, and 1 book by a white woman that is explicitly about racism
1? books by LGBTQ authors
0 books by non-American/European authors (finally squeezed in a Russian at least!)

Looking back to 2013 when I started tracking stuff on Goodreads, it was 38/40 white heterosexual American/European males.  So my mission to diversify my reading material has been somewhat successful.

I'll admit that it's tricky to find female authors, particularly for fiction, where I feel compelled to read all of their popular works.  There's women writing nonfiction that I think are phenomenal - Naomi Oreskes, Rebecca Skloot, Laurie Garrett, Doris Kearns-Goodwin, but no fiction authors where I really get hooked.  Haven't looked that hard though. 

At some point I'll post any of my "must read" books about racism or feminism.  He's a bit overhyped at this point but I still think Ta-Nehisi Coates is a good starting point for learning how things look to non-white people.  Don't have a good primer for feminism.

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: Reading habits and diversity
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2018, 05:55:26 PM »
I have never been able to find a woman author who clicked with me. I've sampled Tabitha King (I'm a huge fan of Stephen), Anne McCaffrey, Anne Rice, Naomi Novak and a few others but was never impressed enough to read more than a book or two from each. My favorite male authors fill multiple shelves in my library.

Does that make me sexist?  I'm predominately a science-fiction, alternate history, historical fiction, military fiction reader.  Granted those are pretty male dominated, testosterone filled genres. Favorite authors include Harry Turtledove, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Larry Niven, Harlan Ellison, John Scalzi,  Arthur C. Clarke, S.M. Stirling, Robert J. Sawyer, to name a pretty diverse few. Haven't found a female author that I enjoy as much as any of them. I did love Dian Duane Star Trek novels, the few ST novels that weren't total wastes of time.

Ever try any Ursula Le Guin or Margaret Atwood?
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Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: Reading habits and diversity
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2018, 01:23:57 AM »
Sex/Race/Age/Sexual Preference etc are not something I consider when choosing a book. Just whether it sounds good or not.
The only thing that will stop me reading an author is if I find their statements, views or actions unpalatable. I will never again read Orson Scott Card or Marion Zimmer Bradley.

So far this year I have read 30 books:
16 by Men, 13 by Women and 1 by an author that chooses to identify as non-binary gender.

5 were written by POC. 4 women and 1 non-binary gender.
At least 1 book was written by a gay author.

My favourite book I read this year was written by a black, lesbian, non-binary gender author (An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon)

This is how they describe themselves in their bio on their own website:
Quote
Rivers Solomon is a dyke, a Trekkie, a wannabe cyborg queen, a trash princex, a communist, a butch, a femme, a feminist, a she-beast, a rootworker, a mother, a daughter, a diabetic, and a refugee of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

https://www.riverssolomon.com/bio


Offline Sawyer

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Re: Reading habits and diversity
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2018, 08:49:34 PM »
Just started One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson, about voter suppression.  If I start making white genocide jokes next week you can blame this book.

Now that I think about it, this is a 3 year streak of reading soul-crushing political books in late November as the days get shorter and gloomier.   :-\

EDIT:  Made it all the way to page 37 before screaming obscenities.  80s Jeff Sessions should burn in hell for eternity.

EDIT 2:  F*%# Roberts and Rehnquist.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 08:43:22 PM by Sawyer »

Offline Calinthalus

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Re: Reading habits and diversity
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2018, 09:08:24 PM »
Just started One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson, about voter suppression.  If I start making white genocide jokes next week you can blame this book.

Now that I think about it, this is a 3 year streak of reading soul-crushing political books in late November as the days get shorter and gloomier.   :-\
Might I suggest Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson?  Just to keep the trend alive.
"I think computer viruses should count as life. Maybe it says something about human nature, that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. Talk about creating life in our own image."
--Stephen Hawking

 

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