I’m a member of one of the NaNoWriMo groups on FaceBook, and the question of how many male and female writers we read seems to appear a lot lately on those pages.
Granted, the real questions were about how many male versus female authors male readers read, but it inspired me to examine my own personal library.
What’s Included and What Isn’t
Note, there are several things I am not counting in this list.
I am not counting anthologies. Many of these have many authors contributing to a single book; if I buy the entire book and choose to read only those stories written by women, I have, so far as the publisher is concerned, still bought the entire book.
I am not counting Storybundle…. er, bundles. Nor any sets that are bought in similar bundles. They have a problem identical to anthologies.
I am only counting one instance of each author. If I have read thirty books by one author, it stands to reason I probably enjoy that author’s works. Likewise I’ll enjoy a complete series regardless of who wrote it; I won’t read only part of a set just to find more balance in my author selections.
I am not counting my Doctor Who/Torchwood books. The entire series is written by a wide variety of authors, giving it a problem similar to anthologies, and it is a series, giving it a problem identical to those written by a single author.
I am not (for now) counting print books… simply because I can do a quick check through my Kindle library to see what ebooks I have; digging out boxes of books that are destined for the thrift shop is just slightly trickier.
What I will count is one single instance of each author I read–that is, I will count how many different authors appear in my personal library, regardless of how many times each appears–and I will determine whether they are male or female.
Further examination based on, say, ethnicity might be done in a later post.
And for a mild cheat, if a particular book is co-authored, but I bought it because of one specific author (again, because I’m already familiar with that author’s work and know I enjoy it), I will list that author only.
There are only a few examples that fit this criteria, but they are there.
The List of Authors
So, the list, according to my Kindle:
- Kevin J Anderson
- Piers Anthony
- John Barrowman
- Scott Baughman
- Kristen Britain
- Christopher Bunn
- Rhonda Carpenter
- K M Carroll
- Suzanne Collins
- Nicole Corway
- Lynn Donovan
- EA Draper and Mark Eller
- Diane Duane
- David Eddings
- Tera Edun
- Stefan Ellery
- Charlotte E English
- Nadia Foley
- Alan Dean Foster
- Neil Gaiman
- Ellen Guon
- Craig Hollarn
- Tara K Harper
- Nell Harvey
- Dorothy Hearst
- Robin Hobb
- Grey Keyes
- Stephen King
- Jay Kristoff
- Mercedes Lackey
- Joseph Lallo
- RJ Larson
- LRW Lee
- Barbara Longley
- Blair MacGregor
- Monique Martin
- MR Mathias
- James Maxwell
- Tara Maya
- Jess E Owen
- Brian S Pratt
- DP Prior
- Brian Rathbone
- Veronica Roth
- JK Rowling
- Jeri Smith Ready
- Melissa Snark
- Lady Soliloque
- Barbara G Tarn
- JRR Tolkien
- Megan Whalen Turner
- Charles E Yallowitz
And all this is to say nothing of the books on my wishlist, added on a whim or because a friend recommended them. These are just the ones I have actually purchased so far.
Male to Female Ratio
Please note that this does not take into account how I came across these authors.
Some were recommendations (one teacher suggested Eddings’ works long ago), or I was familiar with them in some capacity before reading their works (Jess Owen’s Summer King trilogy, or being a fan of John Barrowman the actor before learning he and his sister Carole had co-written several books). Still others were from purchases made practically a whim.
All are counted here.
Male authors: 19 (I count John Barrowman here simply because I was led to his and Carole’s books as a result of being his fan)
Female authors: 24
Unknown (due to initials, gender-ambiguous names, or the fact that I am simply not sure): 9… and one is included here only because it is another co-authored book and one name uses initials.
And since many of my books are part of ongoing series, I suspect the count would favor women far more heavily if I included the individual books.
Or maybe not. There is the Doctor Who series to consider, after all.
My count is not strictly consistent, and depends as much on my knowledge at the time of purchase as it does on the way the author’s name is presented.
Case in point: JRR Tolkien, despite using initials, I have known for quite some time is male, and is sorted accordingly. I follow KM Carroll on deviantArt, and I knew for a fact she was female before purchasing her books. JK Rowling…? Well, I know now that she’s female, but I’m not entirely certain I knew it when I first started reading Harry Potter in high school.
Or there are the names that, themselves, are ambiguous. Is Nell a boy’s name or a girl’s? I think Blair is a female name, but I am not certain. I have learned that Robin Hobb is female, but the name sounds male to me (that’s what happens when you use a pen name 😉 ). And so on.
Overall, however, I think my personal library is fairly well balanced in terms of author gender.
I have slightly more female authors than male ones–not counting the ambiguous or initialed names, but the numbers are not too far off that they truly “favor” one gender over another.
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