Do I have a reading bias? If I do, is that really a bad thing, or just a preference, much like having a genre preference? I have never really concerned myself with these questions, but several things have prompted me to examine this question.
Earlier this year, I was sort of running out of things to read. That doesn’t make a lot of sense when I see it in print in front of me. I guess it would be better to say that I was running out of known quantities, or known entities, to read. I was catching up with either the ends of series, or catching up with the current output of some of the authors I was reading. Neither of these things makes me happy. Series endings rarely provide the closure I am looking for and catching up with an author seems like Christmas is over and I will have to wait 364 days–longer if it is a leap year–until Christmas comes again. If a “what am I going to do now?” moment at the library I asked one of the staff to recommend a book. I liked her choice and I have asked her to recommend a couple of more. After finishing them, and waiting on some of the more popular choices she made–either these books are popular on their own or other people are getting in on my recommending action–I noticed that all the books were by female authors.
Having remarked on it, I gave it a hmmmm? and then put that away for a while.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I was discussing books with a colleague and mentioned that my librarian had recommended a few really good books to me. She remarked that they were all female authors. She mentioned that her and her ex-boyfriend had a similar discussion/argument (honestly I can’t remember which because I was focussing a little bit on the “ex” that she had attached to the word boyfriend). She read mostly female authors while he read mostly male authors.
Then just a few days ago, one of the writers I follow on word press had a bunch of reading questions on her blog (read those questions here ). While I plan to answer these questions later, I took note of the fact that she asked whether the reader would read only female or male authors. There was that question again. Obviously, other people have the same question. When I googled looking for an image, it seems like quite a few people have wondered about this question.
|Year||Books Read||Male Authors||Female Authors|
|2015*||47 and a half||39||8 and a half|
* the reading year is still in progress
The stats don’t lie. Obviously, I read many more male authors than female authors. If not for the recommendations of the librarian, I am sure that number of almost nine books would probably be around 5, or maybe less.
What does that mean? Do I gravitate to male authors? Have I just been exposed to more male authors? Is it just a random accident? You couldn’t convince me of any genetic mumbo jumbo. I know I don’t harbour any thoughts about the superiority of an author based on sex. I wouldn’t even say that I can relate more to either male or female authors because most of the books I have read about Japan experiences (and I read those a lot) are written by women. And if I had to compare male and female voices in that particular genre, I would say that women have written the more compelling and insightful books.
Looking back even farther: In 2009 I read 8 books by women, but only five in 2008. Looking back through my books, I cannot say that I have ever hit double digits after university. I cannot remember my every detail of my literature classes, but I think it is safe to say that in at least one of those years I must have read a larger number of female authors.
I admit that I have enjoyed the books my librarian has recommended to me. They have all been tremendous reads that will make me read more of their books. Perhaps we will see this reflected in the year’s end tally of books.
How about you?
Maybe I am reading too much into this (pun not intended, but not rejected either). Do you have a bias? Do you know where the bias comes from? Can you identify any of its causes? Does it matter? Please feel free to comment.
Being conscious of my bias, I will strive to change that. However, I do not want my librarian to feel the pressure, so I will gladly accept recommendations from you.