When I created the list of books I read in 2013, I was horrified at the low number of books I read that featured female protagonists. My goals for 2014 were:
- Read more books, period.
- Read more books by and starring women and people of color
- Read more books written before my birth
- Continue to read a diverse selection of nonfiction subjects
To that end, I succeeded where women and nonfiction were concerned, but I continue to fall hideously short where authors and protagonists of color are concerned. Reversing that needs to be a primary goal of 2015.
The books I read were:
Ashes of Honor, Seanan McGuire
Chimes at Midnight, Seanan McGuire
Indexing, Seanan McGuire
Skin Game, Jim Butcher
Sparrow Hill Road, Seanan McGuire
The Winter Long, Seanan McGuire
Legion: Skin Deep, Brandon Sanderson
Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal
Without a Summer, Mary Robinette Kowal
Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson
Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett
The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss
Valour and Vanity, Mary Robinette Kowal
Monstrous Regiment, Terry Pratchett
Cinder Spires #1: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher
The Stupidest Angel, Christopher Moore
Parasite, Mira Grant
Lock In, John Scalzi
The Gone-Away World, Nick Harkaway
Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
Ms. Marvel, vol 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson
Captain Marvel, vol 1: Higher Further Faster, Kelly Sue DeConnick
The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith
If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?, Kurt Vonnegut
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson
Yes Please, Amy Poehler
(Filmmaking & Writing)
Writing the TV Drama Series, Pamela Douglas
Difficult Men, Brett Martin
The Pluto Files, Neil DeGrasse Tyson
The Violinist’s Thumb, Sam Kean
I also listened to the following Podcasts:
No Such Thing As A Fish*
Children of Tendu*
Welcome to Night Vale*
On The Page with Pilar Alessandra
* In entirety
Total Pages: 9717, compared to 8052 in 2013 and 8886 in 2012! 2011’s 19,376 can stop bragging. Like half of that was from rereading Sandman.
Format: 24 audiobooks, 1 print book (Writing the TV Drama Series), 1 ebook (Indexing), 2 graphic novels (Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel), 2 beta texts (The Slow Regard of Silent Things and The Aeronaut’s Windlass).
Total Authors: 21
Gender of Author: Parity! 15 by women and 15 by men! Yes, I read the first volume of Captain Marvel on New Year’s Eve to bring it into balance. And yes, I’m counting J.K. Rowling’s male pseudonym as a woman, because I wouldn’t have read the book if I hadn’t known she’d written it.
Race of Author: A whopping 29 books by white authors, with Neil DeGrasse Tyson as my lone author of color. What the HELL, Priscilla. No, having white Muslim woman G. Willow Wilson among those 29 does not make this figure any less shameful.
Gender of Protagonists: 5 starring men, 14 starring women, and 4 with multiple protagonists of mixed gender (or in the case of Lock In, a protagonist of indeterminate gender–though I listened to the Amber Benson audio performance, which biased me towards female). HELL TO THE YES. This nicely compensates for last year’s galling revelation that I read almost nothing with a female protagonist!
Race of Protagonists: Again a poor showing with 20 books with white protagonists, 2 with protagonists of color (Lock In and Ms. Marvel), with maybe-kinda The Stupidest Angel slipping in with Mixed Protagonists, as one of the viewpoint characters is Latina.
Publication Date: Almost half (14) were published in 2014 (or 2015 for The Aeronaut’s Windlass), and the same number (14) came out within the last ten years. Only two came out pre-2005: Monstrous Regiment (2003) and The Stupidest Angel (2004).
And man, I’m just realizing I left Jim Butcher’s “Ghoul, Goblin” and “War Cry” off this list. Whoops. Comics and betaing make everything complicated.
I’m frankly gobsmacked that despite my massive efforts to read as many female authors as possible, I ended the year at parity. Why am I not gravitating more toward the amazing women writing in fantasy? I’m reminded of those studies where grade school teachers thought they were giving boys and girls equal speaking time, when they were really giving girls 1/6 of the speaking time, and when speaking time was actually equal, the boys complained the girls were doing all the talking.
What do I need to do to make parity feel natural and effortless? I need to look through recs of female authors and discover some new favorites, so they’ll take up more space on my “unquestioned auto-buy” list. The auto-buys are where the guys are getting their edge. They’re also dominating my nonfiction choices.
I also need to read more authors of color. Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist was high on my To Read list, but I didn’t get to it this year. I utterly adore N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor–I really need to catch up on their recent work. I’ve been meaning to pick up a Murakami book for years. There are a couple Octavia Butler books I’m curious about, despite my wildly differing opinions on two of her books (adored Kindred and was thoroughly skeeved out by Fledgling).
Other authors of color for me to keep in mind: Salman Rushdie, Isabel Allende (really enjoyed her Zorro), Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Sherman Alexie, Samuel R. Delany, Malala Yousafzai, Nalo Hopkinson, Kazuo Ishiguro, Malinda Lo, and Charles Chestnutt.
Who am I missing?
So yes! Goals for 2015 are only slightly modified from previous years:
- Read more books, period. My 2014 Goodreads goal was 26, and my 2015 goal is 30.
- Read more books by and starring women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups
- Read more books written before my birth
- Continue to read a diverse selection of nonfiction subjects, but with more books by women
- Read more screenplays