Diversity in the Reading List

David | Mar 8, 2016

Happy International Women’s Day!

In honor of, I’d like to share my reading list from 2015. Except for 2 non-fiction books I read for work, all of these works were written by women authors. Take a quick look:

  1. You by Caroline Kepnes
  2. Fuse by Julianna Baggott
  3. Burn by Julianna Baggott
  4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  5. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
  6. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
  7. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
  8. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper
  9. The Cognitive Style of Power Point by Edward R. Tufte
  10. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte
  11. The Grey King by Susan Cooper
  12. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
  13. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  15. Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper
  16. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  17. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  18. Those of My Kind by Jennifer Loring
  19. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  20. Habeas Corpse by Nikki Hopeman
  21. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
  22. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  23. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  24. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

This is important. Not ground-shaking, earth-moving, sphincter-irritating important, but important nonetheless.

But the important part isn’t that I did this.

The important part is the amount of conscious effort required to do this this. I couldn’t just merrily pick up books along the way like I’ve always done and assume I’d come out with a reasonable amount of balance between male / female.

Some of these are big names (yes, I never read Harry Potter), some are classic, some are relatively new, and a couple I even know personally, but even so, I had to make a super tremendous conscious effort to only read novels by women authors for a year.

I could blame the publishing industry, or big bookstores, or Amazon, or even Trump, but that kind of misses the point. Really, I can only blame myself, because even though I made a big deal about how tough it was to do this just a minute ago, it really wasn’t all that difficult.

I just started asking people around me to very specifically recommend books by women authors, and for the most part, they were able to come up with good choices.

What do I think of these books I read by honorable women-folk? Well, Julianna Baggott’s PURE series (Pure, Fuse, Burn) is a wonderful post-apocalyptic tale, and Caroline Kepnes’ YOU is chilling to the bone, like watching a train full of knives crash into a semi full of kittens. In fact, every one of these books I found enjoyable and have no problem recommending.

This experiment showed that ensuring a reasonable amount of diversity in a reading list really isn’t all that hard. It’s a matter of asking broadly, maybe researching a little, and just thinking about it. That’s all. Think about it.

I’m changing my reading habits from here on out and encourage everyone else who might be lacking diversity to consider doing so as well. I’m planning my year of reading out in advance, taking books from a broad range of recommendations and lists, in an effort to not only shake up the genders on my list, but other forms of diversity as well.

I’ve started my 2016 list already, and am balancing primarily on gender, but it’s only a start and I could use help. For instance, I know gender isn’t binary as I’ve made it out to be here, but like I said, this is just a start.

I’m wide open to suggestions on where to go from here, so leave a comment and point me in the right direction, or share whatever tactics you might employ to bring some diversity into your reading life.

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