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Media => Books => Topic started by: Calinthalus on November 12, 2018, 10:52:12 AM

Title: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Calinthalus 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).
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Paul Blevins Jr. 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.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Sawyer 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.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: SkeptiQueer 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?
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Tassie Dave 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

Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Sawyer 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.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Calinthalus 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.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Calinthalus on February 03, 2019, 06:28:31 AM
Bumping this a bit.  Since it's February, I've decided that after I finish the book I'm currently reading (SGU book) here in a day or so, I'm going to read black authors the rest of the month.  I had already purchased quite a few over the last couple of months that I haven't gotten to yet.  I'm planning on reading Rivers Solomon's first book, as well a few Nnedi Okorafor novellas.  I have been meaning to read The New Jim Crow for a long time now and haven't gotten to it...this would be the proper time to get to it.  Dunno how many I'll get in.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on February 04, 2019, 12:43:41 AM
If you are interested in Sci-Fi/Fantasy, then keep your eye out for Marlon James' new book Black Leopard, Red Wolf which comes out on Tuesday.

James' Man Booker winning A Brief History of Seven Killings is one of the best books I've ever read. I'm interested to see how his genre fiction compares to his previous work in lit fic.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Calinthalus on February 04, 2019, 06:37:50 AM
I've seen that title come up in a bunch of my news sources as a book to look out for.  I put it in my Amazon list only a week or so ago.  The concept was really something I had never seen before so I'm looking forward to getting to it.


Amazon tends to put books on sale at seemingly random times.  So, I put books in a specific wish list that I check at random intervals, but on average a couple of times a week.  This week they had that Rivers Solomon book An Unkindness of Ghosts on sale for three bucks (2.99) so I picked it up.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: jt512 on February 04, 2019, 05:40:47 PM
I read books on subjects that interest me.  I have no interest whatsoever in the author's "identity."
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on February 04, 2019, 11:45:11 PM
I read books on subjects that interest me.  I have no interest whatsoever in the author's "identity."

That's too bad. If you consciously seek out diverse perspectives, you can learn a lot, and become interested in topics that you hadn't even thought of before.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: jt512 on February 05, 2019, 06:17:07 AM
I read books on subjects that interest me.  I have no interest whatsoever in the author's "identity."

That's too bad. If you consciously seek out diverse perspectives, you can learn a lot, and become interested in topics that you hadn't even thought of before.
I don't think valid perspectives correlate with "identity" as much as you do.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Calinthalus on February 05, 2019, 07:57:29 AM
So you think people that aren't like you don't have a different perspective, or do you just think they aren't valid?
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: jt512 on February 05, 2019, 08:17:16 AM
So you think people that aren't like you don't have a different perspective, or do you just think they aren't valid?

I think that the truth does not care about one‘s „identity“.


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Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: PANTS! on March 01, 2019, 10:24:32 AM
So you think people that aren't like you don't have a different perspective, or do you just think they aren't valid?

I think that the truth does not care about one‘s „identity“.


Hmmm...   I would say that it is illogical to conflate fact and opinion.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: CarbShark on March 01, 2019, 11:14:11 AM
So you think people that aren't like you don't have a different perspective, or do you just think they aren't valid?

I think that the truth does not care about one‘s „identity“.


Truth? That’s a slippery thing. One persons  truth  is another’s lies.

Do you think one can find the truth by looking at everything from the same perspective ?



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Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Calinthalus on March 01, 2019, 11:27:53 AM
I figured his answer was a non-sequiter.  I'm not reading books for "The Truth©"
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: jt512 on March 02, 2019, 11:21:44 AM
So you think people that aren't like you don't have a different perspective, or do you just think they aren't valid?

I think that the truth does not care about one‘s „identity“.


Truth? That’s a slippery thing. One persons  truth  is another’s lies.

That‘s false by definition.

Quote
Do you think one can find the truth by looking at everything from the same perspective ?

I didn’t say „perspectives“; I said „identities.“



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Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: CarbShark on March 02, 2019, 02:28:46 PM
So you think people that aren't like you don't have a different perspective, or do you just think they aren't valid?

I think that the truth does not care about one‘s „identity“.



Truth? That’s a slippery thing. One persons  truth  is another’s lies.

That‘s false by definition.

Quote
Do you think one can find the truth by looking at everything from the same perspective ?

I didn’t say „perspectives“; I said „identities.“

Yes, that was your answer to a question about perspectives.

Doesn't a person's identity provide their perspective?

Is there a meaningful difference in the context of this question?

Or is this you invitation to another faux-pedantic rat hole?
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: jt512 on March 02, 2019, 02:43:08 PM
So you think people that aren't like you don't have a different perspective, or do you just think they aren't valid?

I think that the truth does not care about one‘s „identity“.



Truth? That’s a slippery thing. One persons  truth  is another’s lies.

That‘s false by definition.

Quote
Do you think one can find the truth by looking at everything from the same perspective ?

I didn’t say „perspectives“; I said „identities.“

Yes, that was your answer to a question about perspectives.

Doesn't a person's identity provide their perspective?

Is there a meaningful difference in the context of this question?

Or is this you invitation to another faux-pedantic rat hole?

I think „identities“ cloud perspective.  I avoid people who have them.


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Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: CarbShark on March 02, 2019, 02:56:45 PM
So you think people that aren't like you don't have a different perspective, or do you just think they aren't valid?

I think that the truth does not care about one‘s „identity“.



Truth? That’s a slippery thing. One persons  truth  is another’s lies.

That‘s false by definition.

Quote
Do you think one can find the truth by looking at everything from the same perspective ?

I didn’t say „perspectives“; I said „identities.“

Yes, that was your answer to a question about perspectives.

Doesn't a person's identity provide their perspective?

Is there a meaningful difference in the context of this question?

Or is this you invitation to another faux-pedantic rat hole?

I think „identities“ cloud perspective.  I avoid people who have them.

Well, that answered my question.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: fred.slota on March 02, 2019, 03:22:04 PM
I can be a voracious reader.

I recently had a period of enforced idleness with access to a library that allowed 4 books at a time.  I would rotate through a science fiction, action/spy, fantasy and mystery, usually working through a series in each.

After a little while, I decided to add a literary classic to the mix.

Among the high- and low-lights...
 
An annotated Dante's Inferno was amazing.
Jane Eyre and Little Women was okay.
Dr. Zhivago was pretty good, too.

Moby Dick was atrocious.
Stay away from The Travels of Marco Polo.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: PANTS! on March 02, 2019, 03:42:15 PM

I think „identities“ cloud perspective.  I avoid people who have them.


I never knew you were a victim of identity theft.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: jt512 on March 02, 2019, 03:44:33 PM

I think „identities“ cloud perspective.  I avoid people who have them.


I never knew you were a victim of identity theft.

Touché!
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Tassie Dave on March 02, 2019, 06:36:48 PM
Moby Dick was atrocious.

I don't get the love for that book. It is a total snooze-fest.

For American 19th century classics, give me some Edgar Allan Poe or Mark Twain anytime over that book
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: daniel1948 on March 03, 2019, 09:51:29 AM
Moby Dick was atrocious.

I don't get the love for that book. It is a total snooze-fest.

For American 19th century classics, give me some Edgar Allan Poe or Mark Twain anytime over that book

I totally love Moby Dick. The writing is brilliant and the story had me engrossed from beginning to end. The descriptions of life on a whaling boat are fascinating, even though I abhor the unimaginable barbarity of the activity they were engaged in.

With any work of fiction, there is a story, which can be dull, or can be fascinating, or anywhere in between. There is the skill with which the story is told, which likewise can range from dull to enthralling. And there is the language used to tell it, which can be mundane or poetic, or, yes, anywhere in between. The best works of fiction have an entertaining and/or interesting and/or useful/educational story, told in an engrossing manner in beautiful language. Moby Dick, in my opinion, has all three.

Poe, on the other hand is utterly vapid. Mark Twain is brilliant. Everyone has their own taste in books, apparently.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: fred.slota on March 03, 2019, 10:31:21 AM
Moby Dick was atrocious.

I don't get the love for that book. It is a total snooze-fest.

For American 19th century classics, give me some Edgar Allan Poe or Mark Twain anytime over that book

I totally love Moby Dick. The writing is brilliant and the story had me engrossed from beginning to end. The descriptions of life on a whaling boat are fascinating, even though I abhor the unimaginable barbarity of the activity they were engaged in.

With any work of fiction, there is a story, which can be dull, or can be fascinating, or anywhere in between. There is the skill with which the story is told, which likewise can range from dull to enthralling. And there is the language used to tell it, which can be mundane or poetic, or, yes, anywhere in between. The best works of fiction have an entertaining and/or interesting and/or useful/educational story, told in an engrossing manner in beautiful language. Moby Dick, in my opinion, has all three.

Poe, on the other hand is utterly vapid. Mark Twain is brilliant. Everyone has their own taste in books, apparently.
My recollection is that the ratio of story (the plot, the characters, the thoughts and motivations) to data-dump was rather low.  Your mileage may vary.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: daniel1948 on March 03, 2019, 03:15:47 PM
Moby Dick was atrocious.

I don't get the love for that book. It is a total snooze-fest.

For American 19th century classics, give me some Edgar Allan Poe or Mark Twain anytime over that book

I totally love Moby Dick. The writing is brilliant and the story had me engrossed from beginning to end. The descriptions of life on a whaling boat are fascinating, even though I abhor the unimaginable barbarity of the activity they were engaged in.

With any work of fiction, there is a story, which can be dull, or can be fascinating, or anywhere in between. There is the skill with which the story is told, which likewise can range from dull to enthralling. And there is the language used to tell it, which can be mundane or poetic, or, yes, anywhere in between. The best works of fiction have an entertaining and/or interesting and/or useful/educational story, told in an engrossing manner in beautiful language. Moby Dick, in my opinion, has all three.

Poe, on the other hand is utterly vapid. Mark Twain is brilliant. Everyone has their own taste in books, apparently.
My recollection is that the ratio of story (the plot, the characters, the thoughts and motivations) to data-dump was rather low.  Your mileage may vary.

My recollection is that roughly a third of the chapters were descriptions of how a whaling boat functions. I found that stuff fascinating. Someone who is not interested in that would certainly find the book dull. There's also a lot more in the book than just the story of Ahab and the whale. But it's been too long since I last read it. I've just downloaded it back onto my Kindle for when I finish the book I'm reading now.
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on March 03, 2019, 04:01:53 PM
Looks like the topic has strayed from the diversity part of "reading habits and diversity".
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Sawyer on March 03, 2019, 11:03:24 PM
What, we're no longer allowed to read books about *white* whales?  Reverse racism!


(I was going to use the Archer Bartleby the Scribner joke here but I already used that on another forum this week)
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on March 04, 2019, 12:35:23 AM
What, we're no longer allowed to read books about *white* whales?  Reverse racism!


(I was going to use the Archer Bartleby the Scribner joke here but I already used that on another forum this week)

This deserves a standing ovation. Well done!
Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: Calinthalus on June 10, 2019, 11:33:26 AM
So, I'm halfway through this year and had some time on my hands here at work and decided to make a count of the gender/racial makeup of authors I've read.  At least two of the books I've read this year have multiple authors.  I listed those books by their top billing.



White Male   15
White Female   3
Black Female   5
Black Male      1
Black Transgender (they/them)   1
Unknown Female?   1


The last entry is a book I picked up on a lark.  The name of the author is most likely female but I can find no information on the author at all.  The main character of the book was female and the voice felt really authentic to me, but that doesn't really mean anything because how would I know.


Most of my 8 non-fiction so far were written by men.  The one exception being "The New Jim Crow" written by a black female.  The others were by a mixture of authors from primarily white and/or Jewish backgrounds.




I went out of my way to read black authors back in Feb.  Sort of a theme.  Other than that, I haven't been dedicated to my original concept.  I fell into a Sanderson trilogy I wasn't familiar with and had to read it.  Same with a Scalzi book I found on sale.

Title: Re: Reading habits and diversity
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on June 11, 2019, 01:57:19 AM
Props to you for tracking this, Calinthalus. Reading diversely is so important. I've got a long way to go on this myself, but I'm working on it.

A recent great scientific/skeptical book by a female author is Good to Go by Christie Aschwanden. It is ostensibly about recent fads in athletic training, but it really just uses that subject as a vehicle for explaining the scientific method, the difference between science and pseudoscience, and how to be a good critical thinker.