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March 4th, 2015

That Thing About Not Reading Straight White Males For A Year

By now I'm sure you've heard about that challenge to not read any books by straight white males for a year.

It got me thinking.    I realized that even though I read about three books a week, only four of them last year were written by white males, one by Poppy Z. Brite, one by the guy who writes the Jack Reacher novels, one James Ellroy book and one Stephen King book.

But, this was not intentional. I just picked up books that looked interesting and/or were suggested to me by the staff of the local bookshop.

To check this out - and to see how hard it would be to not read straight white males I decided to take a tour of my local bookshop section by section yesterday. Here's what I discovered.

Crime/Thrillers - Roughly 85 percent female authors (it could be slightly higher or lower because lots of the books are by Scandinavian authors and I often can't figure out the gender of their first names.) I think most of the people are white, but am unsure about the dude who writes the Alex Cross books. No photo of  him in any of the paperbacks.

Young Adult - This is like 95 percent or more female with the exception of R.L. Stine and a Halran Coben book.

General Literature - This is a huge mixed bag. Lots of stuff in translation from authors with hispanic names. A bunch of women. All the Ellis John Irving and Tom Wolfe books (whom I don't  consider straight but certainly come from privilage.) A bunch of seemingly straight white dudes as well. But a ton of chic lit.Probably more chick lit than anything else. OMG Marian Keyes has written a lot of books.  Interestingly I noticed that the chick lit books seem to be broken down by race. The covers scream out at you - for upper class white women or for black women. A bunch of queer literature.

Classics - This is mostly white dudes, though we get Bronte, Wolstencraft, Wolstencraft-Shelly, and those books that were essentially chick lit from 1800s. Also, for some reason, Jean M. Auel is here.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy - This is where it gets weird. The sci-fi is mixture of men and women, but the fantasy novels seem to be either obviously men, or people with a bunch of initials instead of first names and, fuck, the covers are in your face masculine. Iinterestingly they also put their horror novels here. The horror novels seem to have a lot of female writers, but the novels written by women seem to all be advertised as "erotic" while the ones written by dudes seem to be advertised as just horror.

My Verdict: If you want to not read straight white men for a year that would be pretty easy if you are into crime, general literature, YA or horror porn. If, however, you want to read sci-fi it would be somewhat challenging and if you wanted to read fantasy you'd be fucked.

June 2019

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