Tonight, I went to a bar with some fellow grad students and found myself in the midst of one of the intellectual discussions I love. It got me thinking about what types of authors I tend to read. First, the background:
My male friend and I were talking to two women in the "literary nonfiction" program here at UO and he was discussing a course he's taking in that program. He said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that he doesn't enjoy reading first person narratives written by people he can't relate to -- specifically, single, unmarried women (this discussion seemed to stem from what he's having to read in this one class, and one of the other women we were talking to said that professor is a "nutjob.") He suggested that he thinks men mostly read books by other men and women tend to read books by women. So, the four of us got to talking about who our favorite authors are. Every one of the authors I seek out and read regularly were men. I could name two women authors I would read no matter what.
I told my male friend I am the exception to his rule anyway, because I honestly don't care if I can relate to a person's story, so long as the writing is good. He did admit that I read a very wide variety of subjects and authors. He even said he's jealous that I can do that, which was a nice ego boost.
Anyway, after I thought about it, I came home and looked through my books. Out of about 200 books on the shelf, counting class books (but not reference works), nonfiction and fiction, I counted 20 written by women. Only about five of those authors were repeated (I had multiple books by Molly Ivins, Fannie Flagg, Mary Roach, Maya Angelou and Helen Fielding.) I had several male authors repeat throughout my collection.
So, I pose a question: Who are your favorite authors? If you are a man, do you read more books by men (and does sexual orientation make a difference)? If you are a woman, do you read more books by women? I'm talking about both fiction and nonfiction here, although my friend's argument was mostly pertaining to first-person nonfiction narratives.