I stumbled across an interesting fact the other day. Well, interesting to me, anyway. So far this year I’ve only read 6 books by male authors. Out of 44. That’s 14% for those who might not have a calculator handy, which I figure are most of you. Male authors have fallen off my reading list at an alarming rate (34% in 2009, 24% in 2010). This got me thinking: why?
Let’s take a look at the guys I’ve read this year (click on the links to read reviews):
- The Smart Swarm, by Peter Miller: required reading for work, and I wouldn’t have read it otherwise
- The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James: a classic author I’d been meaning to read for a while
- An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro: loved this book, love this author, nominated for the Booker Prize
- A Month in the Country, by J.L. Carr: loved this book too, and it was also nominated for the Booker Prize
- A Dance to the Music of Time (1), by Anthony Powell: a new-to-me author & series which I have thoroughly enjoyed
- A Dance to the Music of Time (2), by Anthony Powell: more of the same
The Booker Prize is an obvious source of my male author reading, with two male nominees read so far and two more planned (Remembering Babylon, by David Malouf; and On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan). I may read more Powell, and I’m also planning to read All Quiet on the Western Front for Remembrance Day in November. But I’ll be surprised if my “male author stat” goes over 15%.
It’s really difficult to optimize multiple goals: reading from my stacks, reading prize winners, reading men as well as women, reading authors from other countries, and so on. I’m afraid the men are being pushed aside by the Orange Prize, Virago Modern Classics, Belletrista, and my Iris Murdoch Booker reading. And you know what? I’m not really that bothered about it, because I’m having a great year of reading. I’m just choosing books that “grab” me, and for the time being these happen to be mostly written by women.
But I’m open to suggestions. I really need to clear more books off my stacks. And behold, there are some male authors patiently waiting there:
- Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck
- The Pearl, by John Steinbeck
- Gardens of Water, by Alan Drew
- The Story of Forgetting, by Stefan Block
- The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
- American Rust, by Philip Meyer
- When I Was Five I Killed Myself, by Howard Buten
- The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan
If you can recommend any of these, leave a comment and plead your case!
Read more from The Sunday Salon here.