Author Topic: I read only women for a year. [blog post]  (Read 1479 times)  

Offline erikhanberg

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I read only women for a year. [blog post]
« on: July 17, 2016, 09:45:05 pm »
I've finally written up my thoughts from reading exclusively women for a year and I thought KBoarder writers might be interested in the topic.

Here's the post http://erikhanberg.com/year-of-reading-women-wrapup/

One thing I didn't get into much in this is the research about bias in publishing: a surprisingly low number of the reviews in industry publications and awards go to women. Self-publishing, combined with the algorithms of Amazon and Goodreads, can help subvert that bias (though obviously the publications and awards committees need to work on dealing with it as well). It was interesting to note that after reading only books by women for a year, Goodreads has started to recommend a lot more books by women. So there's something of a feedback loop: the algorithms finally caught up to my reading challenge, even though they didn't know about it!

Anyway, I hope the post is good food for thought.

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    Offline Abderian

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #1 on: July 17, 2016, 11:28:06 pm »
    I've finally written up my thoughts from reading exclusively women for a year and I thought KBoarder writers might be interested in the topic.

    Here's the post http://erikhanberg.com/year-of-reading-women-wrapup/

    One thing I didn't get into much in this is the research about bias in publishing: a surprisingly low number of the reviews in industry publications and awards go to women. Self-publishing, combined with the algorithms of Amazon and Goodreads, can help subvert that bias (though obviously the publications and awards committees need to work on dealing with it as well). It was interesting to note that after reading only books by women for a year, Goodreads has started to recommend a lot more books by women. So there's something of a feedback loop: the algorithms finally caught up to my reading challenge, even though they didn't know about it!

    Anyway, I hope the post is good food for thought.


    Thanks for an interesting post. I recently decided to watch only films that feature women as the protagonists for a year as I'm so tired of films always being about men, but I'm struggling to find very many, especially that aren't along the lines of Sex in the City.


    Offline Sarah Shaw

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #2 on: July 18, 2016, 12:38:04 am »
    Thanks, interesting post. I've been wanting to do the 'read only people of color' for a year challenge for awhile- and I've probably got enough books already on my kindle that I could easily do it, but at the moment I'm still focused on finishing my own book- so for the time being it's still 'only books about or set in the 18th century'.

    Offline A.A

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #3 on: July 18, 2016, 02:28:23 am »
    Thought-provoking article! Will give it a tweet :)

    Just realised I've spent years where I basically only read novels by male authors - Ludlum, King, Koontz, Eddings and Nabokov leading the pack. That was many years ago. Now, I tend to read more by women, possibly because women are writing more thrillers, sci fi and horror these days.

    Offline Betsy the Quilter

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #4 on: July 18, 2016, 02:34:21 am »
    Thanks for an interesting post. I recently decided to watch only films that feature women as the protagonists for a year as I'm so tired of films always being about men, but I'm struggling to find very many, especially that aren't along the lines of Sex in the City.

    You could post in Not Quite Kindle asking for suggestions! 

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    Offline thesmallprint

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #5 on: July 18, 2016, 02:41:45 am »
    I've been trying to read women all my life . . .

    Offline 31842

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #6 on: July 18, 2016, 06:12:57 am »
    Thank you so much for taking it upon yourself to spend this year reading female authors!  It means a lot to have someone take an action like this.  I'm glad to hear that it ended up being something you enjoyed!

    Thanks for an interesting post. I recently decided to watch only films that feature women as the protagonists for a year as I'm so tired of films always being about men, but I'm struggling to find very many, especially that aren't along the lines of Sex in the City.

    Isn't it crazy?!  If you have Amazon Prime, Hulu, Acorn, or Netflix, I've found that British film-making does a much better job with female protagonists.  I've enjoyed Miranda, The Vicar of Dibley, Vera, Lark Rise to Candleford, Silk, Up the Women, Land Girls, Call the Midwife, Miss Marple, Clatterford, New Tricks, and then they're almost too intense to recommend and I do so with trigger warnings (there's a lot of violence against women in them), but Happy Valley and The Fall have two of the finest female performances I've seen.   Outside of the UK, try Miss. Fisher, Mr. & Mrs. Murder, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt (give it a couple episodes to settle in).  If you want more action, Jessica Jones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are great. Keep looking!  Awesome female leads are out there!

    Offline noirhvy

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #7 on: July 18, 2016, 06:22:47 am »
    And how do you know the writers are of the feminine sex, gender and so on? Do you have them do a DNA test? Or are they writers who SAY they are women?
    I do not favor these "all those people are bad" screeds.
    Personally, I have noticed that a lot of women (I suspect they are women, they say they are) are writing very clever and entertaining books. The subject matter is at, times, not my cup of tea, though.
    Male readers are, they tell me, a minority. So I guess it's the minority's (women)  fault if women writers are ignored. Or are they?
    Personally I have such a hard time trying for find any book that's worth reading, be it written by a male, female or by a hedgehog of uncertain gender.

    Offline Abderian

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #8 on: July 18, 2016, 07:41:30 am »
    Thank you so much for taking it upon yourself to spend this year reading female authors!  It means a lot to have someone take an action like this.  I'm glad to hear that it ended up being something you enjoyed!

    Isn't it crazy?!  If you have Amazon Prime, Hulu, Acorn, or Netflix, I've found that British film-making does a much better job with female protagonists.  I've enjoyed Miranda, The Vicar of Dibley, Vera, Lark Rise to Candleford, Silk, Up the Women, Land Girls, Call the Midwife, Miss Marple, Clatterford, New Tricks, and then they're almost too intense to recommend and I do so with trigger warnings (there's a lot of violence against women in them), but Happy Valley and The Fall have two of the finest female performances I've seen.   Outside of the UK, try Miss. Fisher, Mr. & Mrs. Murder, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt (give it a couple episodes to settle in).  If you want more action, Jessica Jones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are great. Keep looking!  Awesome female leads are out there!

    I appreciate the suggestions but I'm actually looking for films. I think these are TV series? I don't want to get too into something so that I just have to watch hours and hours of it. If you can recommend any films that would be great. There don't seem to be many.


    Offline Sarah Shaw

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #9 on: July 18, 2016, 08:26:37 am »
    I do not favor these "all those people are bad" screeds.
    I don't know where you saw anyone saying that, or anything close to that. Certainly not on this thread.

    Offline IreneP

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #10 on: July 18, 2016, 09:34:03 am »

    I do not favor these "all those people are bad" screeds.


    The OP didn't say anything like that. He said he noticed what might be an unintentional bias in his reading habits, and embarked on an experiment to expand his choices. 

    I thought his goals and the post was very well done.

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #11 on: July 18, 2016, 12:26:15 pm »
    I don't know where you saw anyone saying that, or anything close to that. Certainly not on this thread.

    It is the standard, stock reaction of a specific subset of males who get their panties in knots whenever they perceive that their privilege is being challenged.The act of actively seeking out media by any group that is not comprised of white males will get them riled up, despite the fact that one needs to ACTIVELY seek out this media because we are inundated with media focused on white males in the first place.

    Or, as I informed an irritating male relative once "Yes, there is such a thing as male history month. It is held the eleven other months that aren't dedicated to women's history."  :'( ???

    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #12 on: July 18, 2016, 01:11:35 pm »

    I thought his goals and the post was very well done.

    Thank you!

    Offline pwtucker

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #13 on: July 18, 2016, 01:33:39 pm »
    Good on you, Erik! I'm thinking about doing the same myself. What did you think of Hild?

    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #14 on: July 18, 2016, 01:41:33 pm »
    Good on you, Erik! I'm thinking about doing the same myself. What did you think of Hild?

    Hild was the best book I had trouble reading. ;)

    Seriously, there were so many old English words and Irish bits. And I'd skim a paragraph and realize something huge was going down and have to re-read it more closely. But I really came away loving the book.

    Offline 555aaa

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #15 on: July 18, 2016, 01:44:30 pm »
    Thanks for an interesting post. I recently decided to watch only films that feature women as the protagonists for a year as I'm so tired of films always being about men, but I'm struggling to find very many, especially that aren't along the lines of Sex in the City.

    Star Wars - the force awakens
    Zootopia
    Aliens (the whole series)
    Finding Dory
    Frozen
    Gone Girl
    Contact
    Wild
    Chicago
    Out of Africa
    The Silence of the Lambs
    Amelie
    Spirited Away
    All About Eve
    Sunset Boulevard
    The Hunger Games
    ...
    Frankly there are is a huge list of older movies, like "The Apartment" for example, that aren't about "a man" or "a woman." They are about people. Think about all those Hitchcock movies - say, "The Birds." But I agree that there's a lot of male protagonists now, particularly in movies which came from comic books.

    Offline jaehaerys

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #16 on: July 18, 2016, 02:08:04 pm »
    I appreciate the suggestions but I'm actually looking for films. I think these are TV series? I don't want to get too into something so that I just have to watch hours and hours of it. If you can recommend any films that would be great. There don't seem to be many.

    Steel Magnolias
    The Color Purple
    Fried Green Tomatoes
    The Help
    The Hunger Games
    Pretty Woman
    Alien
    Men Don't Leave
    Star Wars: The Force Awakens
    Ghostbusters (2016)
    Enough
    The Silence of the Lambs
    Mona Lisa Smile
    Little Women
    The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants
    Stepmom
    Erin Brockovich
    The Queen
    The Iron Lady
    Mamma Mia
    The Hours
    Pieces of April
    Hard Candy
    Brave
    Waiting to Exhale
    How Stella Got Her Groove Back
    Notes on a Scandal
    Vera Drake
    Little Children
    Titanic
    The Heat
    Spy
    Our Idiot Brother
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    The Wizard of Oz
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    Blue Jasmine
    Atonement
    Adam's Rib
    Gone With the Wind
    4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
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    Winter's Bone
    An Education
    Coraline
    The Little Mermaid
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    Supergirl
    Kill Bill
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    The Terminator
    Beloved
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    Selena
    Precious
    Fear
    Top of the Lake
    About Elly
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    Election
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    The Craft
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    Offline CarolynVMurray

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #17 on: July 18, 2016, 02:20:23 pm »
    I've finally written up my thoughts from reading exclusively women for a year and I thought KBoarder writers might be interested in the topic.

    Good on you Erik. It makes me happy to know that someone would do this.
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    Offline ......~......

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #18 on: July 18, 2016, 03:00:27 pm »
    Thanks for an interesting post. I recently decided to watch only films that feature women as the protagonists for a year as I'm so tired of films always being about men, but I'm struggling to find very many, especially that aren't along the lines of Sex in the City.

    Some other posters have posted extensive lists, but I'm still kind of baffled that you have trouble finding any. Most movies I watch have female protagonists.

    Offline writerightwright

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #19 on: July 18, 2016, 03:30:35 pm »
    And how do you know the writers are of the feminine sex, gender and so on? Do you have them do a DNA test? Or are they writers who SAY they are women?
    I do not favor these "all those people are bad" screeds.
    Personally, I have noticed that a lot of women (I suspect they are women, they say they are) are writing very clever and entertaining books. The subject matter is at, times, not my cup of tea, though.
    Male readers are, they tell me, a minority. So I guess it's the minority's (women)  fault if women writers are ignored. Or are they?
    Personally I have such a hard time trying for find any book that's worth reading, be it written by a male, female or by a hedgehog of uncertain gender.

    Non-sequitur much?

    Move along, nothing to see here. Just another reactionary, semi-coherent, drive-by post responding to the echo chamber in the poster's head.

    To the OP: an interesting experiment. Your article gave me a lot of perspective, things I'd never thought about before.

    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #20 on: July 18, 2016, 03:51:57 pm »

    To the OP: an interesting experiment. Your article gave me a lot of perspective, things I'd never thought about before.

    Thank you! I wasn't quite sure where it was all going when I started. It was interesting to see where it took me!

    Offline Norman Crane

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #21 on: July 18, 2016, 04:06:14 pm »
    Great experiment and write-up, and thanks for sharing both, erikhanberg.

    Looking through my own Goodreads list and general reading habits, I'm ashamed to say that your 25% eclipses mine. I've also only read books by four of the authors on your list (although I could read Elena Ferrante day after day after day...) so it's time to add to my reading list! For anyone who reads on an ereader and has at least one buddy, something to try: have your buddy take several ebook files, strip them of everything but the content of their books, load them up, and read them without knowing the sex, age, nationality, etc. of the author. I've tried this in the context of "Is it originally in English or was it translated?" and did worse than expected.

    Or is it the idea of public authorship itself that seems suspectperhaps a necessary evil?

    I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they wont.
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    Offline TraciLoudin

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #22 on: July 18, 2016, 08:53:23 pm »
    Nice post, Erik! I made 2014 my Year of the Female SFF Author. Brief reviews of all the scifi and fantasy I read that year are on my blog, as well as previous posts citing how low my ratio of female to male authors had been in previous years.

    It's always good to be more self-aware, and it's nice to see more people trying to diversify their reading habits as well!

    I intend to do a POC and a LGBTQ-focused one eventually, but I think next year will be the Year of the Indies. :)  100% books authored by self-publishers and maybe small press, too, I can't decide.
    I used to write post-apocalyptic scifi under the name Traci Loudin. Now I write fantasy romance under a different pen name, but I'm still editing as Traci Loudin. If you're an indie, I can help you get more of your words into the world.
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    Offline Richardcrasta

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #23 on: July 18, 2016, 10:20:05 pm »
    Thought-provoking article! Will give it a tweet :)

    Just realised I've spent years where I basically only read novels by male authors - Ludlum, King, Koontz, Eddings and Nabokov leading the pack. That was many years ago. Now, I tend to read more by women, possibly because women are writing more thrillers, sci fi and horror these days.

    I don't think anyone needs to apologize for reading Vladimir Nabokov: a great writer is a great writer, no matter the physical body they inhabit (because the work is what you're judging, experiencing, and enjoying, not the person who wrote it).

    Among great women writers, for me: Isabel Allende, Joan Didion, Joyce Carol Oates ... just off the top of my head. And George Eliot, Emily Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Anais Nin, etc etc 
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    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: I read only women for a year. [blog post]
    « Reply #24 on: July 18, 2016, 11:01:12 pm »
    Nice post, Erik! I made 2014 my Year of the Female SFF Author. Brief reviews of all the scifi and fantasy I read that year are on my blog, as well as previous posts citing how low my ratio of female to male authors had been in previous years.

    It's always good to be more self-aware, and it's nice to see more people trying to diversify their reading habits as well!

    I intend to do a POC and a LGBTQ-focused one eventually, but I think next year will be the Year of the Indies. :)  100% books authored by self-publishers and maybe small press, too, I can't decide.

    Thanks for sharing the link! Good stuff on there. I've read only a few of those. Will check some out!

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