Earlier this year, K.T. Bradford published an article with the simple title, “I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year.”
It set a lot of people aflame. “Reverse sexism” and “reverse racism” and such. (Which, I should be clear is a dumb argument.)
Neil Gaiman, who is the literal “posterbook” for the article, tweeted his support. And John Scalzi added, “Someone once told me they wanted to read my books but were reading only women for a year. I said, cool, my books will be there in a year.”
I didn’t act on the post. I was somewhere in the middle of David Mitchell’s “The Bone Clocks” at the time, and Robin Sloan’s delightfully weird novella “Annabel Scheme” was next.
But I do love reading challenges. I used to have a system for reading my bookshelf. One new book alternated with one old book that had been on my shelf for a long time. For awhile, I alternated between a modern book and a classic. So this was up my alley.
Then in April I started re-reading the Harry Potter novels. And after that it was Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, which carried me through the first half of June. And suddenly I remembered the article and thought: well, I’m already this far reading only women. Let’s keep it going.
So, beginning April 10, which is when I finished Provence 1970 by Luke Barr, here’s my reading list:
- Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
- “Daughter of Fortune,” Isabel Allende
- “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children,” Kirstin Cronn-Mills
- “The Secret History,” Donna Tartt
- “Station Eleven,” Emily St. John Mandel
- “Strong Poison,” Dorothy Sayers
- “Hild,” Nicola Griffith (still underway)
I’m not sure exactly how this experiment will color my reading. Bradford wrote:
I ended that year with a new understanding of what kind of fiction I enjoy most, what kind of writers are likely to write it, and how different the speculative fiction landscape looks when you adjust the parallax.
So maybe that’s what will come of this.
All of these were already on my to-be-read pile, but perhaps reading them all together will change my view of them.
We’ll see. I think I can keep up with this, although there are a few books by men that I know are coming out in the next year that I want to read.
But, as Scalzi said, they will still be there in April of next year.
(I always update my reading on Goodreads if you are interested in following along book by book. Otherwise I’ll update my list on this site every couple of months.)