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Do You Read more Men or Women #Authors ? #amreading #books

By 03/08/2015July 21st, 2017books, reading, writing
Woman in Silhoutte Publishing Sunday Morning Thoughts

Women in Publishing

Back on familiar ground after my personal blog issues last month, to Reading and Book, my favorite topic in the world. Today,I’d like to talk about men and women authors.

For as long as I remember, I’ve never bothered about the gender of the authors I’ve read. Been the sort of reader who’s completely un-curious about authors’ personal lives. Writing fiction, as far as I’m concerned, has nothing to do with gender, and I don’t care what V.S. Naipaul had to say on the topic.

But then I read articles like this one, by noted author Kamila Shamsie, in the Guardian:

As a snapshot, let’s look at the Man Booker prize over the last five years. Ever since the women’s prize for fiction – formerly the Orange, now the Baileys – was set up 20 years ago in response to an all–male Booker shortlist, the Booker has been the prize to which the most attention is paid in gender terms, and the question of the prize’s judges and gender came up last year when only three women were on a longlist of 13. In response, one of the judges Sarah Churchwell said: “We read what publishers submit to us … [If] publishers only submit a fraction of women, then that is a function of systemic institutional sexism in our culture.” So I asked the Booker administrators how many of the books submitted in the last five years have been written by women. The answer was, slightly under 40%. This isn’t an issue around the Booker alone. I’ve been uncomfortable with the imbalance between male and female writers in terms of the books that get submitted for prizes that I’m judging on a number of occasions.

So these days, I try to be more aware of the gender of the authors I’m reading. I don’t read much narrative non-fiction, but that’s going to change in the rest of this year. I will consciously try to pick the 9 fiction and non-fiction authors I haven’t read from the Powell’s list of 25 women to read before you die in an effort to read more women authors at the same time.

Looking through the list of authors I’ve read, I find that in my childhood I read mostly men, because those were most of the classics, other than a few like Alcott, Austen, Elliott, Mary Shelley etc. As I grew up, I had access to more books by women, but on the whole, I think I’ve read more men than women, and I’d rather redress that balance. Have started with Eimear McBride and A. M. Homes this week.

Would welcome suggestions from you: literary, contemporary, crime and fantasy by women authors, as well as short story collections. These are the fiction categories that interest me the most these days. Also open to some narrative non-fiction– it’s a segment I’d like to read more of.

And I would like to know:

Does the gender of the author matter to you when you pick a book to read? Please qualify that with the genre you read: romance or scifi or crime or literary etc. Does writing fiction have anything to do with gender? Do you know if you’ve read more books by women than men? What books by women would you recommend to me and all the readers of this blog?

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    I always reach for books by women writers, not consciously, though. Their books just call out to me. 🙂

  • Sonia Dogra says:

    Now that I’m thinking about it, I tend to pick books by women authors more often than by men authors.

  • Darkersunshine says:

    I don’t know about others but I certainly hesitate to pick up any book by a male author, not because of any gender bias or anything , but because I personally feel that there is something missing on the emotional level, particularly in drama or even romance , I guess.
    Men have a different way of looking at the world than women and sometimes I feel they can’t capture those slight nuances of emotions , as particularly as women can.
    Although I have read some amazing male authors too… however I still find my bookshelf dominated by female authors .

  • ericlahti says:

    To be brutally honest, I have never actually looked. If a book looks interesting, I’ll pick it up and read it. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say if you handed me a book by a man and a book by a woman and didn’t mention the gender for either, I’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference based on writing style alone.

  • Terence Park says:

    I am certain that I have read more men than women writers in SF. As far as fantasy goes I suspect the balance is still in favour of men but less so. Though I followed authors, when I used to read lots of SF & Fantasy, I didn’t look at gender. I catalogued my collection some years back so I can be pretty certain on what I’ve read.
    Women authors whom I followed include Doris Lessing, Ursula Le Guin, Andre Norton and CJ Cherryh and off the top of my head, Sci Fi / Fantasy Recommends would be:
    Doris Lessing: Briefing for a Descent into Hell, and also The Marriages between Zones Three, Four and Five
    Ursular Le Guin: The Dispossed
    Andre Norton: Dark Piper, Year of the Unicorn (Ms Norton was a prolific writer with American Indian roots – a factor that needs to be taken into account in her earlier works)
    CJ Cherryh: The Chronicles of Morgaine

    Yep, these are pretty old, but then I put reading on ice quite a few years back. Women are just as capable of writing tripe as men though, in my experience, the latter seems more prevalent. Out of genre, I took a liking to George Eliot. By luck or flaw I seem to have avoided bodice ripping yarns and chick-lit. At a writing level, I find rebalancing the gender equation to be an interesting area; some of my stories require a woman to be in control.

  • gspottedpen says:

    I admire Gyeno-centered writing. My favorites are writers Susan Sontag and Philosophers Spivak, Judith Butler and Beauvoir and Julia Cristeva. Yes, it’s interesting that post modernism is liberating the gender, [its] (he(r)) consciousness and he(r) bodies into newer modes of writing which would be philosophically her-stories. I wonder why would some feminists in order to dethrone Freud construct a lesbian phallus? Why is feminism veering to libdo-centric feminisms? May be that’s also a sign of liberation. Yes out of the conglomerate feminist philosophies and literature a new femino-centric theology should spring up. I feel happy that to be effeminate is not a sin.

  • I’ve noticed I lean more toward male authors … though Idon’t know why …

  • I never really paid attention before, but I did notice that my recent book list has more women authors than male.

  • gruundehn says:

    I have been noticing that most of the responders here say that gender does not matter. Those who have paid attention to author gender have noticed that certain genres have been mostly one gender or another, perhaps due to gender preferences in reading or publishing houses pushing one gender to a specific genre or another. There is even one, or rather one that I remember, responder writing that gender is now an issue as the responder tries to read more women authors as a deliberate choice.

    But I wonder about self reporting bias.Not that this claims to be scientifically accurate but it is public and I wonder if people are stating that they do not notice because it is the “right” thing to do. I am sure that most of the people who state that they value story over gender are responding accurately but I wonder if there isn’t a percentage who respond as they think they should.

    My genres for reading are sci-fi, fantasy, detective fiction (oddball detectives mostly such as Nero Wolfe, Brother Cadfael, Sister Fidelma, etc.) and religious writings. Being as old as I am (65) a lot of my preferences were formed fifty or so years ago (I enjoy rereading Agatha Christie) when women writers were primarily in romance fiction (a friend of mine was collecting romance fiction for his sister and started reading some of it, now he is hooked but it never hooked me) but I still will read new (to me) authors. Which is why I tend to shop in brick-and-mortar bookstores, I read the blurbs and maybe look at some of the main text to see if I like it, which is hard to do at an online store. I will buy further books from an author I got interested in from an online store but rarely a first try at an author.

    Another question that might be worth exploring is: Do you read translations of works written in other languages? Planet of the Apes was originally in French as I remember. What other books translated from other languages that I have read I cannot remember but the possibility is out there. Anyone else?

    If this comment is too word, sorry it is 4 AM.

  • Peter Nena says:

    I don’t care about gender either. A fine story is a fine story. I just read it.

  • worldofshars says:

    very relevant blog post my friend, because the set of genitalia a writer has is oh so very important for if (s)he writes good books or not. This whole gender bias thing needs to end, we humans should be too smart for that shit.

  • Lauren says:

    I have never cared the slightest who writes the books I read. I read historical fiction, sci-fi, YA, humor, and more, but I really couldn’t care less who writes it.

    • Lauren says:

      But as woman myself, I don’t give much thought to so-called “gender bias”.
      I can occasionally see a difference in the style of writing when a woman writes that I don’t care for, and every once in a while I even catch it in my own writing. But for the most part, I don’t really care.

  • Honestly, I don’t really mind about the gender. I am sure there must be some differences when it comes to writing, but maybe it’s more about the person itself than gender. When I pick a book, it’s mainly because the title or synopsis got my attention.

  • I read both genders however I do notice that I seem to read novels with female characters more often. But men often have women protagonists these days.
    I recently read a blog from a women who conducted an experiment, sending her book out to agents as herself and as “George.” By the responses she concluded that George was a much better writer of the same book. 😉

  • SamanthaWho says:

    Great post! Thank you for including Powell’s list of 25 women to read before you die. I’m currently reading one of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s books and it’s fantastic!

  • Nice post, Damyanti! There’s some real food for thought there. I have to say I’ve honestly never considered gender when I reach for a book. it’s all about the subject matter and whether the story seems appealing. This article did make me realize I’ve only reviewed books by male authors so far… I might have to address that imbalance to support my fellow ladies!

  • Nomi Isak says:

    Great post, Damyanti. Like you, in grade school I read more men than women (because that’s what we were given to read in class). Thus, when I got to college, I took a Women’s Literature class to start making up for that. I have to say I read more women now; being a woman writer, I like to see what other women writers are creating. But I am always happy for a good read no matter the gender of the author.

    One of my all-time favorite novelists is Barbara Kingsolver. She writes about themes that matter to me (the environment, biology, human nature, nature’s nature). She brings poetry to science. A similar author is Ruth Ozeki. (I’ve only read one novel, All over Creation, but it was wonderful!) Both of these authors also work some good humor into their tales.

    Thanks for following my blog, Damyanti. I’m going to follow you too!

  • John says:

    I actually do not even pay attention to the author most of the time. If it is not part of a series, I tend not to read more of a single author.

  • rxena77 says:

    It’s the story that interests me. Charlaine Harris’s Shakespeare set of mysteries I have recommended over and over. Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series of books have long been one of my favorite fantasies. But being male, I tend to want to see a romance from the male perspective most of the time. 🙂

  • D.G.Kaye says:

    Great post, with a fabulous list to read. Happily, I have 4 of those authors and their books long awaiting me on my bookshelf; now if I could only get to them. I personally don’t favour men or women authors in particular but somehow I tend to read more from women authors. 🙂

  • DJ Cockburn says:

    I read most genres and I don’t think it matters to me what the author’s gender is, though I do notice that I probably read more by male authors. I can’t see that writing fiction has anything to do with gender, though I often find myself wondering why it is that on the spectrum that runs from crime to thriller, the women authors tend to be more at the crime end. I’d be curious to know if anyone has a theory on that.

    The best books by women authors off the top of my head, in no particular order:

    Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Crime with a dash of horror)
    Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Historical, set around the Biafran War)
    Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (Urban fantasy)
    Act One by Nancy Kress (Science fiction)
    The Lazarus Effect by HJ Golakai (Crime)
    The Devil that Danced on the Water by Aminatta Forna (Memoir of the Sierra Leone civil war)
    Disordered Minds by Minette Walters (Crime)
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (Science fiction)
    Codename Verity (Historical, set in WWII)
    A Place of Execution by Val McDermid (Historical crime)

    Which is more than enough for now!

  • The Cold Hearted Man says:

    Explains why you drifted over? Thanks!

  • I have to join the long line of people who may not have given this question a thought before reading this post. I tend to read according to a book that catches my eye. But I did a quick memory search and found that most of the books I’ve read have been by women. Maybe there is something subconscious about it; but simply put, I just like to read a good book. I am partial to romance novels, historical and inspirational works as well as cultural literature.

  • clbutor says:

    This is also an issue I’ve become more aware of recently. I’ve never really paid attention to the sex/gender of the person writing the book, though I am always interested in writers’ lives. However, I have found that I typically read more books by men — simply because more books by men get published, polished, and PR’d. Glancing at my Goodreads profile, I notice that 16 of the last 25 books and comics I’ve read were by men — or a full 64%. This is a slightly screwed number because at least three of those were anthologies that featured women artists, but they didn’t get the Goodreads billing.

    I don’t particularly think gender has very much to do with writing. I think there are certain topics that are “safer” for women to pursue such as self-help, emotional exploration, parenting, romance, and YA — but that certainly doesn’t mean women are hard-wired to write these topics; it’s just that our culture has pushed women towards more “acceptable” topics.

    A few of my favorite female authors are G. Willow Wilson (known for her memoir The Butterfly Mosque and for writing the comic Ms. Marvel), Kelly Sue DeConnick (a comics writer known for Bitch Planet, Captain Marvel, and Pretty Deadly), Rainbow Rowell (a YA/romance writer known for Fangirls, Attachments, and Eleanor and Park), Roxane Gay (a writer known for her essays on pop culture and her novel An Untamed State), and Faith Erin Hicks (a cartoonist known for Super Girl and The Nameless City). I tend to read a lot of comics, so I always pay attention to when/if there are any women around.

    • Damyanti says:

      Thank you for all those excellent recommendations. I think we need to be more aware of bias, that’s the only way we’ll fight them– and they need to be fought.

  • patgarcia says:

    I thought about your questions because some of them I’d never considered. First, I am a voracious reader and read practically all genres, if the book catches my interest. As a fiction writer, I like books with strong female characters, but I don’t think that writing fiction has anything to do with gender.

    One of my favourite authors is Joyce Carol Oates. I like Toni Morrison also but have to admit I have not read her book, Song of Solomon. I have put that on my reading list. I believe I read more books by women than by men, maybe 60/40 if I had to give a percentage.

    As for book recommendations on women authors, the list by Powell on the 25 books you must read by women is an excellent start. I’ve read 15 of them, but I would add, if you want to read a good mystery book, read P.D. James. She was an excellent author of mysteries.

    Pat Garcia

    • Damyanti says:

      Thankyou, Pat. Fellow Morrison fan here, though I haven’t read all of her work. JCO used to be a favorite, but not so much anymore.

  • tartanrose88 says:

    I have to admit I had never really paid attention to author gender either; but thinking on it I suppose it’s mostly male. Not because that was a choice I made, simply that the main genre I read seems to be mostly dominated by men. Having said that, I did recently purchase a Karin Slaughter book, thinking I would give her a try. Maybe subconsciously trying to tip the balance? As a female, thanks to your post I’m now going to actively seek out female authors and try to read equally. #sistersaredoingitforthemselves

    • Damyanti says:

      I’m not actually trying to influence people to read more books by female authors– that would be promoting a bias of another kind, bu yes, I myself am more aware of the gender of the authors I read. I know that it is harder for a woman at each stage of the publishing game.

      • tartanrose88 says:

        Of course – but you are an influence. A well written post can make a person stop and think. For me, that made me think about trying to level it up for the ladies personally, but I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who read mainly female authors too – my mum for one! Haha

  • If you haven’t read it, don’t miss Barbara Kingsley’s Poisonwood Bible. I am aware of the gender problem in review sections of magazines and the simple equation, that more women write, more women read, but fewer win prizes or are taken seriously. The trouble is that both sexes (though women are less aware of it) think that men are more serious and important and therefore better writers with more important things to say. As a reader I am not aware of gender influencing my choices. I certain read masses of books by both.

    • Damyanti says:

      “the gender problem in review sections of magazines and the simple equation, that more women write, more women read, but fewer win prizes or are taken seriously.”

      This is why we need to keep discussing this more and more in all sorts of forums.

      I have that Kingslover book– but haven’t read it. Will bump it up on my TBR pile!

  • cjparsons says:

    I don’t pay attention to author gender, but genre does tend to dictate which author I’m reading. Scifi–more men authors; romance–female, thrillers–equal; mainly because the percentage of male/female authors varies in the genre. Some good authors: Dee Henderson (romance); Timothy Zahn, Aaron Allston, Andre Norton, Anne MacCaffrey (scific); Helen McInnes, Alastair McClain, Elizabeth Peters (mystery/thriller). That’s just the classics and I have another whole list of indie authors!

  • Shom says:

    I read less-opaque literary fiction, middlebrow fiction, detection / crime, graphic novels, and non-fiction. And Bengali literature.

    Does writing fiction have anything to do with gender?
    Maybe. I don’t see it, but maybe it does. In terms of book sales it certainly does not. Neither in terms of quality.
    Do you know if you’ve read more books by women than men?
    No idea.
    What books by women would you recommend to me and all the readers of this blog?
    Less-opaque literary fiction – Anything by Hilary Mantel. Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies.
    Detection / crime – Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl. Dark Places.
    Graphic novels – Alison Bechdel is the high-priestess of graphic novels. Fun Home, is recommended to me by friends. I am passing on the recommendation here
    Non-fiction: There are many here, but specifically on sports, which I read often, I am very eager to read Amy Lawrence’s Invincible: on Arsenal’s 03-04 premier league season.
    Bengali literature: Right from Ashapoorna Devi to the present day. I am especially a fan of the recently departed Suchitra Bhattacharya – Kacher Manush is recommended. Easy read, but heavy on content.

  • I’ve never really noticed the gender of the author but now that I look back I realise I pick more women authors. I’m not even sure why. In fact I think I should consciously pick from male authors now – quite the reverse of you.

    • Damyanti says:

      At the end of the day gender of the author doesn’t and shouldn’t matter to readers, except in some genres. Wonder why publishers hold on to the bias.

  • It’s interesting as I’ve scrolled through these comments, but I never pay attention to the author. I read fantasy, YA fantasy, romance, and general fiction. Most people have pointed out that they read simian genres with 2/3rds being primarily male. Ironically for myself I would say 95% of the books I’ve read in my life have been female authors.

    I don’t know how that has happened, and I don’t particularly care one way or another. Yet as a woman I tend to gravitate towards a female main character and thus wonder if that becomes the coincidental fact in why 95% of the books I’ve read are written by woman.

    Also for great female authors I really love Kristen Britain who writes The Green Rider series.

    • Damyanti says:

      I suppose at a subconscious level we do make a choice– which is why you’ve read more women, and I, more men. But as long as we talk about it, there’s an awareness, and I think awareness is important to fight any kid of subconscious bias.

  • susurrus says:

    I’d have to say I’ve read more books written by men. The opportunity for women to write has been far from equal and I’ve read quite a lot of novels written in earlier times.

    I’ve read many plays and quite a bit of poetry, both of which have both been significantly more written by men than women. But that’s not because I prefer male writers. Their gender isn’t important to me – though the insight and humanity of the author is.

    • Damyanti says:

      “the insight and the humanity of the author” — it is very important. But sometimes very insightful writers are not very insightful people. Not sure how that happens, but it does,

      • susurrus says:

        It’s easier to have the insight to understand what to do than to have the wisdom to always put ideas into practice!

  • C'est la vie says:

    Ever since i had kids, my to read list has grown like Rapunzel’s hair. But now that i think about it, i think have read my fair share of the Bronte Sisters, Jane Austen and of course, Margret Mitchell. But then i have also read the men so i guess Victorian novels even out. Closer to our generation, i’m not sure how or why but the scale seems to have tipped towards men. Like you said, m gonna have to balance it out soon. 😉

    PS. Ive been reading your blog for a while now and i love it. At the end of the post though, i wanna say so much and my kids don’t give nearly as !much time to type so…yeah, thats why i dont get to mark my ‘present’ 😉

    Ok Margret Mitchell isnt victorian…sorry, thats my mom brain talking 😛

  • I predominantly read thrillers and I don’t know why but I prefer male authors. I regret that because some female thriller authors are rated very highly in the industry.

  • I’m pretty sure I read more women than men, but you’ve raised such an interesting question. i just finished T. B. Markinson’s A Woman Lost and A Woman Ignored. She’s an amazing writer. I read all genres – put a book in front of my face, give me the time and I’m lost in the story! Great discussion.

  • Sonya Rhen says:

    I believe I’ve read more women writers as my favorite genres are cozy mystery and romance, which seem to have a high volume of women writers and even the sci-fi and fantasy books I’ve read lately have been mostly by women. Also, reading a romance written by a man usually leaves something to be desired. 😉

  • I read more women authors because I’m specifically looking to support women authors to balance things out. The last literary novel I read and enjoyed is The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson.

  • Terry Nelson says:

    All I care about is good writing, nothing else matters.

  • Anna S. Kedi says:

    I don’t really care, I just read. Still, as you mentioned i also believe to have read more men these years because I am a fan of african litterature, which remains quite dominated by men. As far as polars/crime books are concerned for which I am also fan, my best authors are essentially women: P.D. James, Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie, Fred Vargas and so many others. As you mentioned crime, P.D. James’s novels are a must-read.

  • TheLastWord says:

    I certainly did not pay attention to gender then and I don’t really now. I do find more women authors entering my world these days than men. Possibly this is because a lot of the men are busy writing fantasy fiction with medieval kingss dragons and things. I don’t know if that is the case, but I certainly seem to see a bigger splash being made my women authors.

    Even in my little corner of the blogosphere, I find an overwhelming majority of bloggers I interact with are female. It went as far as one commenting “I thought you were a woman”. I wrote a post about it wondering if my writing is more appealing to women and if gender shows through in a writer’s style or voice.

    I read the classics ( re-read ). I’ve read much crime and detective fiction, humour such as PG Wodehouse, Henry Cecil etc and I’ve also read a lot of plays.

    One new writer I read recently was in college with me and I was pleasantly surprised to read her debut novel “Teatime for the Firefly”. I’ve also enjoyed Geraldine Brooks’ “March”. which was interesting in it’s treatment and the connection to Alcott’s family.

  • Gender never was a factor in choosing an author’s book. Now most of my book selections are non-fiction; mostly history, or spirituality. (I find myself being drawn to authors sharing her or his personal spiritual journey.) Off the top of my head, a favorite fiction writer is the late Rumor Godden (In this House of Brede).

    • Damyanti says:

      Noted that down. If I was to live to finsih my TBR, I would become immortal. Some days I find my life activities such a waste of time– I’d much rather read.

  • epsnider says:

    I probably read a few more novels by female authors. I like family sagas and historical fiction. I write hysterical non fiction!!

  • I read different genres. I think there is an imbalance of men to women authors who are published. I am not biased toward reading one over the other though. Modern mystery writers I read are a little more male but have female writers as well. I like Dennis Leshane, Michael Connelly, Louise Penny, Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo , Tana French. I usually read more fiction than non-fiction. Loved “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger. Non-fiction: Unbroken and Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, David McCullough’s books 1776, John Adams, and Truman. I do like some science fictions as well.

    • Damyanti says:

      I liked Tana French but found her books a tad long. Noting down the other authors– all new to me, I have to say.

      • It has been a while since I read Tana French but I liked reading about the Dublin police. I realized that I spelled one author’s name incorrectly. It is Dennis Lehane. I am reading one of Jo Nesbo’s book now, “The Son”, it is going pretty fast. 🙂

  • Dazrahe says:

    I may be wrong, but I think I’ve read an equal amount of both male and female authored books. My favored genres are science fiction, fantasy and horror. Although I adore Stephen King, my earliest recollected author is Madeline L’Engle (and I know I’ve misspelled her name). Unfortunately, my method of picking a book to read has little to nothing to do with the author and everything to do with the illustration and the first full paragraph of the book or noticing the book name in a movie I’ve seen and liked. If neither attract me, I won’t even touch it. That’s a bad habit that I probably should break

  • haplo48 says:

    I don’t care what gender the author is. I’ve read lots of books, mostly sci-fi and fantasy, written by either men or women. In fact, my favorite series ever is the Death Gate Cycle. Overall, though, I’d have to say I’ve read mostly men.

    • Damyanti says:

      in your case, I think the genre you read might have something to do with it– both are heavy on male authors, or females writing under pseudonyms.

  • Fascinating and timely discussion, Damyanti. For me, I choose women authors deliberately some of the time; other times, it truly doesn’t factor into the equation. We probably have more male authors than female, but it’s not at all due to any concerted effort on our part to exclude anyone. It hews to a ‘taste’ line of what subject areas and genres we have interests in. Favorite female authors of the well-known ones in the literary world and ones I’d highly recommend (whom you’ve probably already read; and I know I saw others recommend at least some of these), including poets and playwrights: poet Anne Carson, poet Marianne Moore, Dorothy Parker, Margaret Atwood, short story master Flannery O’Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, Zora Neale Hurston, Lillian Hellman, Louise Erdrich, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Zadie Smith, and science writers like Marynn McKenna, Anne Druyan, and Laurie Garrett. I would like to say Anne McCaffrey, Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, and Toni Morrison, but I’ve not read much, if any, by them [shame on me, I know].

    • Damyanti says:

      No shame, Leigh. We can’t all have read all books. I haven’t read any Zora Neale Hurston, Lillian Hellman, Louise Erdrich.

  • More women poets. Slightly more women mystery writers. Slightly more women fantasy writers. Probably more male nonfiction writers.

  • tylertork says:

    I don’t keep track, but of my favorite writers, the ones I watch for, about 2/3rds are women.

  • S. J. Lynn says:

    I used to not care, but as I got older and geared more towards Romantic Suspense, I find that I prefer a woman’s perspective since I’m a woman. But, I’ve read many great books by men. It just depends! If you are a great author, then it doesn’t matter what sex you are.

  • jessmbaum says:

    I just like reading. I don’t really care. If I like a story I like it. Sometimes I feel that by making a book about the author as opposed to the work itself takes away from the art, but that’s old school and I get that.

  • I primarily read fiction and fantasy books but have never decided whether to buy a book or not by the author’s gender! Honestly, I can’t say it ever consciously crossed my mind. On my twitter there seems to be a good mix of female and male authors but maybe I have done that subconsciously? As long as the book is fantastic and I enjoy reading it the gender of the author couldn’t matter less to me.

  • I have no idea. I suspect more men than women because I read thrillers and more are written by men than women. I don’t like the romance thrillers. I like more of a procedural. Interesting question. I’m going to pay attention to that for a few months.

    • Damyanti says:

      Jacqui, paying attention is what I’m going to do, too. Right now, I’m reading almost exclusively women, other than Toby Litt.

  • wwannwrites says:

    Personally, the gender of the author is relevant to my interest of reading materials, I find the types of books that keep me involved without turning my stomach. If you want a steamy set of Romance stories, read Some like it Hot by Brenda Jackson. I also finished The Lighthouse Brides Collection, wich is a collection of six romances developed around the country’s historical lighthouses. All of these novellas were written by women, but that didn’t matter to me. I love Christian fiction, and If a man can pull me into the story and bless my heart, then that’s fine with me. As for narative nonfiction, I recommend a book titled Savage Summit, which is about five women who climbed Mt. K2 and either perished on that mountain, or died from other perils on other nearby mountains. I don’t remember who it was written by, but this book sparked my interest in climbing. I also read In the Garden of Beasts by Eric Larsen. Although written by a man, the narrator was a woman, and the book is about pre-WWII Germany. Happy reading, and I could recommend a tun of books if only I could remember half of them. LOL!

  • ergozen says:

    Crime/Literary : Natsuo Kirino, prepare to be scared and reviled, “Out” or “Grotesque”
    Literary (often overlooked) : Carson McCullers–you’ll wish you could write like her “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”–any of her short fiction, she is genius!

  • Sammy D. says:

    Lest my name confuse you, i am a female.

    I don’t care two hoots about gender when I choose a book. There are times, however, when I finish a book and marvel that a male author has written so accurately from a female protagonist’s perspective.

    If someone excludes authors because of their gender – even white men – it’s a purposely duscriminatory choice ( not to mention self-deprivation of some outstanding authors). Aren’t we trying to be tolerant and rid the world of ALL discrimination?

    Frankly I find identity politics – and selecting anything based on gender falls into that category – continues to slash away at our ability to get along. It is insidious and pits us against each other in win/lose ways.

    As for the current flap over Literary Awards being given to more men than women – is a remedy that smacks of affirmative action any more palatable? Would I feel good about an award I won because the rules required that a woman be given the edge just because more men won in the past? The awards are subjective, no matter what – read about the most recent Pulitzer Award where judges rejected the 4 nominees and required a 5th.

    What happens when the Award goes to a 30-ish age woman four years in a row. Are the 60-year old women going to scream about about age discrimination?

    I say write your best stuff, and grab opportunities as they present themselves. They always do, and I’ve watched too many people not even recognize an opportunity when it passes them by.

  • cynthiamvoss says:

    I have probably read more men than women, I noticed that and have been trying to read more by female authors. It’s funny that you say you’re not interested in the author’s personal life. I’m the opposite. I’m always wondering what events in the author’s life helped shape the fiction. With actors too, I’m always interested in their personal lives. Probably a little too nosy lol.

  • abuamirah says:

    I never cared much about the author’s gender, but now that you have mentioned it i just realized i have more books by women authors in my bookshelf! I would suggest you read one titled “the weight of water”……and i have forgotten the author’s name…..will check it out later!!!!!

  • I don’t really care about the gender I read, but now that I think of it, I’ve been reading mostly women lately.

  • JC says:

    I pay a GREAT deal of attention to the gender of the author and read women almost exclusively, in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. I spent my entire childhood and my college years reading dead white men. When I went to grad school, I said, “No more men,” and rarely if ever read a word a man has to say.

  • ccyager says:

    I have paid attention to the gender of the writer I’m reading, and I read widely: literary, mystery, sci fi, fantasy, social/political fiction, memoir, biography, some historical fiction. In the past, the only reason I’ve noticed gender is to make a note of the author’s name either to read more of his or her work or not. I also pay attention to the nationality of the writer — sometimes different cultures bring a different approach to fiction. Some female authors I love that I’d recommend: P.D. James, Virginia Woolf, Harper Lee, Sheri Tepper (especially “Grass”). At the moment, I’m reading “The Monsters of Templeton” by Lauren Groff and the first volume of Virginia Woolf’s diary. I’m certain that I’m missing someone that I’ll think of later….. Cinda

  • pjlazos says:

    Gender never mattered to me, either, but I do think I’ve read more male than female authors for the reasons you’ve mentioned. Some powerhouse women’s writers I admire: Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Wells, Margaret Atwood, Diana Gabaldon, Terry Tempest Williams. And if you’re looking for literature and contemporary women’s fiction with a touch of the metaphysical, let me send you a copy of my book, “Six Sisters” by P.J. Lazos. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

  • oshrivastava says:

    Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

  • kaypickard says:

    When I look at my bookshelf, nearly all of my books are by women. This is because when I like an author, I stick to them and my main genre is romance or chick lit. BUT I also have a favourite crime novelist, Peter James, so have most of his books too. I also have a small spattering of John Grisham, Ian McEwan and Steven King. So I tend to like women authors for romance and men for crime stories. I wouldn’t buy a book dependant on what gender wrote it, I think the content is most important.

  • dabhibrendan says:

    Must read Robyn Young’s historical fiction. It’s brilliant!

  • Reblogged this on The WRITE Place and commented:
    Interesting and thought provoking post. Thank you to Daily (w)rite.

  • Is that why it’s called the MAN Booker Prize??

  • Nikki says:

    I read fantasy fiction. And no, I don’t pay attention to the author. To the point that if it is a series I have to remember to look at the author when I go to buy the next one. I will say that there are more woman writers in fantasy than there used to be. As in there used to be very little. And I like that selection. It means I can read books with a strong female character in it for a change, which I love. Rather than someone who needs to be rescued by some guy who was ‘chosen’ for an epic adventure.

  • lexacain says:

    I read horror and there are a lot more male horror authors than female. (Women tend to write paranormal romance.) But I’ll read from any gender, as long as it’s horror.

    But I have to say there aren’t any female horror authors I’m fond of. I’ll try them out, but most are just too “interior” oriented instead of plot/tension oriented. They bore me with melodrama. (But some guy authors do too…)

  • Martin Peltz says:

    Reblogged this on sweatingthewriting.

  • Joseph Nebus says:

    Quite a few more men than women, I have to admit. I’d like to claim that’s because of indifference to the author of things I like. But the things I like tend to be history, science, and science fiction, and those are genres that see many more male (or male-presenting) authors than female.

    • Joseph Nebus says:

      … oh, also, it’s ridiculous to think I’m indifferent to the authors of things I like. After all, if I see something by a person I’ve already read and enjoyed, I’m much more likely to pick that up than something else, even if it’s on the same topic, by someone I never heard of.

  • Hi D, This is something which made me think. When I pick a book fiction or non-fiction I never go by gender on the author, I prefer a good book. But after you question when I look back I realize that though unknowingly but still my books has majority of male authors. But this can be because in the last century writing world was dominated by male except Christie, Austen and other big names. But that is one way of thinking to be honest I am not sure why. I will still pick a book based on my interest and how well it is written rather than going by gender of author.

  • cricketmuse says:

    Nope. Gender doesn’t matter. The story does. Just like I refuse to start reading “diversity” to bring more harmony in the universe. It’s all about the story.

  • jacksteff says:

    Basically the gender doesn’t matter that much to me. I think it’s a 50:50 thing in the sense that it depends on the category of book I’m reading.
    When it comes to fiction, I’ve read more works of women fiction.
    Being a crime, paranormal and romance reader, most of my books are from both genders. And it doesn’t really matter.

  • shanx says:

    I doubt what I read or will ever pick up will have anything to do with gender. Reading, I am sure everyone will agree, is that love you fall in all over again with the magic of words. Who holds the magic wand shouldn’t matter. The magic is what I lose myself in 🙂 ( or that’s how I think 😀 )

  • I never look at the gender of the author I read – I pick a book based on how much the story appeals to me. I read mostly fantasy, and when this topic first came up, a few years ago, I thought I read more men than women – my favourites are Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Jacqueline Carey, Patrick Rothfuss and Terry Pratchett. Of those, only one is a woman.

    But when I think about my bookshelf as a whole, there are many women – Anne McCaffrey, Tanith Lee, Melanie Rawn, Diana Gabaldon, Trudi Canavan, Celia Dart-Thornton, Cassandra Clare, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis, Fiona McIntosh, Sara Douglass, Tracy M Joyce, Deborah Jay, Kathy Reichs, Karen Miller, Janny Wurts, Lois McMaster Bujold, Andre Norton, Veronica Roth, and Cherie Priest.

    I can think of more women than men, because here are the other men I can recall – Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Tracy Hickman, Simon R Green, Michael J Martinez, Shawn Wickersheim, Scott Lynch, Raymond E Feist, Joe Abercrombie, and Dan Simmons.

    So just off the top of my head, my bookshelf ratio is 57% women to 43% men, although my favourites are skewed to 80% men – that would change from time to time, though, so I’m not going to sweat over it too much. Once upon a time Melanie Rawn and Janny Wurts were also favourites. Come to think of it, maybe Janny Wurts still is…

  • Denise Covey says:

    I probably read a good mix of both male and female writers. I love women’s fiction which is what I write, but I love the psychological thrillers penned by James Patterson et al. That said, I read somewhere that many men say they won’t read a book written by a woman. Hmm…
    Thought-provoking post.

  • I would be remiss if I didn’t name drop an author here. Ayelet Waldman wrote Daughter’s Keeper, and I have kudos for this weighty novel that weighs the tension between enabling and personal responsibility. I don’t care who you are male or female, but when we stand on our own two feet to own everything about ourselves with no pretense something powerful happens. If you write that way I’ll read what you have to say. That’s what draws me here.

  • great post, and a fascinating thought process. i don’t care so much about the author’s gender. in the last year my reading has been about 70 percent male, 30 percent female, but that is mostly because i tend to prefer older literature and that is, sadly, over-represented by males. i think one of the neat things about the future is that more women are writing, more are getting published, and eventually the awards and big contracts will equal out, because most readers do not care about the gender of the author, they care about reading something that is well written.

  • Always going to be a bit of a challenge to answer this question. Typically, I read well-written books. I doubt that the gender really matters, but I won’t know for sure unless I go back and analyse the writers I have read in the past. Current crop of writers are, well, interesting, to put it mildly. Ultimately, I think if the writer has a good turn of phrase and a captivating narrative, I would read him/her. Shouldn’t really matter.

  • Anna Kopp says:

    I have never picked up or not picked up a book based on the gender of the author. That seems silly to me. As far gender in writing goes, most of my YA/PR/UF is women while epic fantasy/sci-fi is from men. I wonder if it’s because there is a true distinction between what each gender decides to write, or if there is a discrimination in the publishing world for what is considered a good gender for a genre. Would they sell less books if an epic fantasy has a woman’s name on the cover? Possibly. I don’t know.

    Christie Golden is one of my favorite writers and she writes books of fantasy lore. They are absolutely fantastic and on par with the best fantasy books I’ve ever read, though I doubt most people who like fantasy know about her.

  • littlealmond says:

    After quitting a college program that consisted of 90% male writers, I have been consciously reading more female writers. Across genres: mystery, classics, even children’s books, if it’s by a woman, I’m more likely to decide to read it.

    The ideal for me is the androgynous mind that Virginia Woolf and her Bloomsbury colleague E. M. Forster believed in.

    “The fact is that neither Mr. Galsworthy nor Mr. Kipling has a spark of the woman in him. […] Shakespeare was androgynous; and so was Keats and Sterne and Cowper and Lamb and Coleridge. Shelley perhaps was sexless. Milton and Ben Jonson had a dash too much of the male in them. So had Wordsworth and Tolstoi. In our time Proust was wholly androgynous, if not perhaps a little too much of a woman.”

    I copied Woolf’s words from “A Room of One’s Own” from a blog post I found by googling the androgynous mind.

  • Jill's Scene says:

    Hi Damyanti. I do think women writers have a more difficult time getting published and then getting taken seriously. I read somewhere that’s why J.K Rowling used initials rather than her full name right back at the beginning of Harry Potter.
    I’ve had a quick look through my Kindle library. It’s almost evenly divided between men and women. Interesting – I’d thought I was reading more men than women! As for Powell’s list, I’m amazed Alice Munro isn’t on it, and there’s one or two I’d kick off. (I’m not much of a fan of Lionel Shriver. I much prefer Siri Hustvedt’s “What I Loved.”)

    I’ve just got to blow the trumpet for brilliant New Zealand women writers: Janet Frame’s autobiography “An Angel At My Table” is pretty darn good.

  • I don’t bother the author’s gender. It is the book’s writings that appeals me.

  • Ian D Moore says:

    Reblogged this on Ian D Moore's Blog Bits.

  • Ian D Moore says:

    I have no preference for gender in fiction. A couple of the best books I’ve read this year have been by women, namely Lesley Sky’s The Drowned Phoenician Sailor and Sharon Brownlie’s Betrayal, both powerful emotive stories. One of the best shorts was written by a man from the POV of a woman. Max Power’s short story in the anthology You’re Not Alone. Remarkable. Writing should be about talent, not gender.

  • erdeaka says:

    This thing about gender in the realm of literature has been running riot on the Internet for a while, and almost all bloggers I follow talk about it. But here’s what I am going to say: as long as we put human beings into separate boxes, that are MEN and WOMEN, there won’t be any equality. We have to stop right there first. Writing has nothing to do with gender, it’s about talent, and every society has different culture even in writing/literature. In my country Indonesia, the way I see it, there are more female writers than male ones. And the number of female writers who got nominated for literary prizes are also greater than of their male counterparts. The problem is not the gender, but what society you look at as the reference. If you only look at the Western society, then that’s what you got: gender inequality in every aspect of life. As for myself, I don’t care about gender when I read. For me, reading is about gaining knowledge and inspiration, not about equality politics.

    I’m so sorry about my harsh words. Hope you don’t mind my comment. 🙂

  • It’s about equal as I recall. I read the title and the back of the book to see if I’m likely to enjoy the story and am not so interested in who wrote it.

  • macjam47 says:

    It really doesn’t matter if the book is well written, highly recommended, and fits into any of the genres I read. I never check to see if the author was male or female. I have read books that I thought, based on the author’s name, were written by a person of one gender when it was actually the other gender.

  • I mostly read sci-fi and fantasy. Gender doesn’t matter to me. That said I’ve noticed about 2/3s of the paperbacks I read are written by men, however the ebooks I read, being mostly author published, tend to lean the other way by an equal or greater portion.
    I seldom even look at if the book I’m reading is written by a man or woman, however I’ve noticed that (at least in the books I read) woman authors tend to write more graphic (I might even say grisly) action scenes.

  • This is such an interesting post. I never thought about gender. I write fantasy (I’m a she), and I tend to read a lot of fantasy, which seems to be dominated by men. I’ve read a few wonderful female fantasy authors and now am going to make an effort to read more of them. Thanks 🙂

  • Generally, the gender of the author does not matter to me as I don’t always read classics. This is mostly a “I have no idea who this person is but the book looks interesting” type of a deal! Heh! But, I have noticed I gravitate towards male authors just because I prefer the writing. I love my classics, don’t get me wrong, but recently, I’ve met the same issue with female writers that I see with female comediennes…

    There always seems to be a matter of trying to prove herself; that she can play with the boys but in order to do so, she must mimic their. But, guess what, that just doesn’t work for us! If it did, we would be men, right? Sometimes, I hit some really wonderful writing like in Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen but generally I can feel the sting of the gender block.

    Once women stop playing the game and playing to their strength instead I hope that I cannot tell whether the book is written by a man or woman.

  • More men write science fiction and fantasy, so that is what I tend to read. But I’ve picked up some great books by women authors, such as CS Friedman. I also dig M. Pax and Christine Raines, blogger buddies of mine.

  • I’ve read 30 books in the past year, and of those 31, 28 were by women. I read mostly fiction but enjoy poetry and creative nonfiction, too. I recommend Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Rebecca Makkai, Diane Cook, Celeste Ng, Shawna Yang Ryan, Julia Alvarez, Mary Ann Samyn, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Cheryl Strayed, and Danielle Evans just to get started.

  • gruundehn says:

    I probably read more male authors merely because there are more males writing in the genres I read. Primary characters are also a matter that I don’t pay much attention to. Brother Cadfael and Sister Fidelma are two of the mystery series I enjoy and read often. If more women wrote about aircraft, that would probably ramp up the number of female authors I read.

  • bikerchick57 says:

    Gender does not matter to me, but I prefer fiction and fantasty that keeps me interested with each turn of the page. If the author’s story doesn’t grab in the first chapter, it’s difficult for me to continue. I was hooked on John Sanford’s series for awhile, he writes awesome crime/murder mysteries.

  • I generally don’t pick up a book based on gender. I will say that because I like all types of mystery I seem to read a lot of women authors just be default. One of my very favorites is male – Ian McEwan and one of my favorite books was written by a woman, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

  • Quality writing can be learned be both men and women. Personally I try to ignore author gender when picking out a book, for reading (horror,fantasy, scifi). I’m not sure I can recommend many female authors outside of ones who are well known. The only other one that comes to min is a horror author, named J.A. Jance. There is one really good femal scifi writer but her name illudes me at the moment.

  • Dan Antion says:

    I read mostly nonfiction and gender doesn’t matter. When I read about people, I probably read about more men than women but that might be because I read about military leaders.

    • Dan Antion says:

      I forgot to mention that I follow more women bloggers than men bloggers. I don’t think it matters, but it is a fact.

  • Writergurlny says:

    It’s more about the story and I can connect with the characters than the gender of the author.

  • I read mostly paranormal, from YA to adult, but I will read other genres if the story interests me. I don’t think about gender of the author because that has no bearing on if the author writes a good story or not.

  • When I read a lot more books, in my younger days, gender was never a deciding factor in my selections. As for recommendations, you can’t go wrong with Anais Nin. 🙂

  • No…the gender is less important than the quality of the writing. A good writer is a good writer.

  • Reblogged this on Wade Lancaster and commented:
    And my thoughts are: This post poised a great question writers should think about.

  • Charlotte McDonnell says:

    I would add Tana French to your list. Amazing crime writer, who does excellent characterization and dialog. I’ve learned a lot from reading her.

    I pay a lot of attention to gender, because we’re still asking this question.

  • sfarnell says:

    Gender diesn’t bother me in my reading choice. Im more interested in the story write up. Being a Scifi and fantasy reader I find most of my books are from make authors but that’s not because it’s a gender choice, it’s just how is worked out. Does that mean there’s more make authors in Scifi and fantasy? What are the thoughts in this?
    On a separate but related issue I find women interact more than men on WordPress. Is this just me or do others agree?

  • Steph says:

    Rarely do I pay attention to the gender of an author. When I pay attention to it, it is usually because something they have written especially in character development doesn’t ring true. I used to pay more attention but now that I have more access to female authors I actually take less notice.

  • wscottling says:

    I don’t really pay attention to the gender of the authors that I read (mostly science fiction and urban fantasy) but looking at my reading list, right now it’s been mostly women the last few months. Last year is was pretty even, and before that is was heavily male oriented (still sci fi and urban fantasy). So I suppose it depends on what I’m in the mood for. As for recommending women authors, it looks as though we don’t read the same things. 🙂