Last year was the first time that I took part in Goodread’s Reading Challenge, which allows you to set a goal of how many novels you wish to read in the year. I read 25 books. It’s not a lot, but it’s what I can fit into an increasingly busy life. What I found more interested, however, was looking back at the list and reflecting on my reading habits throughout the year.
This year, I set myself a new goal 26 books, one more than last year and, more importantly, an even number. My secondary goal is to end the year not only at this number, but with 13 novels by female authors, and 13 novels by male authors, an equal split of gender. Why? Because last year I only read 8 novels by women, about 33% of my total output. Also, because I think it’s good to challenge oneself.
A major reason why my reading list is consistently filled with an abundance of male authors is due to the fact that I always make time to read the new books from my favourite authors, most of whom happen to be male. It’s a slippery slope. Looking at 2012, I read two novels by Terry Brooks, one by Daniel Abraham, one by Tad Williams, and four by Robert Jordan. Those four men alone comprise the same chunk as the female authors. Until I discover new, female authors, there’s no real way for them to break into that list of ‘favourites’ without me making a conscious effort to ensure that it happens. Is this guaranteed to happen? Of course not, but why not try?
As you can see, if you view my 2013 Goodreads Challenge page, I’ve already finished two novels this year, both by J.R.R. Tolkien, an author who has a dubious place in the discussion of gender in Fantasy. I’m also in the midst of re-reading The Lord of the Rings, which means that I’m beginning the year with three of my thirteen male-written novels already completed, so I will be picking and choosing very carefully as I move forward.
What happens if I break the 26 book mark early? Good! I’ll continue to read and, hopefully, keep up a balance between male and female authors.