There’s a feature on goodreads that allows one to see one’s list of most-read authors. One clicks on “My Books” then the the “Most read authors” link. My ten most-read authors are all men. Mary Stewart arrives in 11th place, though she’s tied with the three authors ahead of her.
Is my reading really that male-dominated?
I exported my list of goodreads “read“ books and did a quick tally of male and female authors.
The result: just over 10% of books authored by women, the rest by men.
More surprise. I knew I read more books by men than women, but wouldn’t have imagined it being that different. Also, my tastes aren’t really eclectic, in fact I mostly read books that were discovered or suggested by friends (real-life and goodreads), mentioned on book sites or prize lists (that, I admit, I am ashamed of, reading books because they won some stupid prize). Then I realized that the huge bias is mostly a product of my teenage reading years. I don’t particularly gravitate toward male-dominated genres like sci-fi and fantasy, but I used to, and I used to read more books by major sci-fi and fantasy authors.
So that explains it, right? Wrong. I exported my to-read list and the result is just about as damning: 13% women writers.
What surprises me the most is that, of the many functions that literature fulfills, I look to it to spend time in other people’s skins, to see life from the eyes of those whose life is far removed from my own.