Let’s Talk About Sex!

Here’s a random question for you all…does an author’s gender have any bearing on how much you like a book?

I recently saw a thread on the Book Blogs forum that addressed this issue and it got me thinking.  Several women said that they don’t like to read books by male writers because they felt  the writing lacked emotion, had too much cussing, or they just couldn’t get into the characters.  They said that there was just something about a woman’s voice that made them connect to the story in ways that a man’s voice couldn’t. 

Granted, a few women responded saying they prefer male authors to females, but it seemed like they were the minority.  A guy also replied saying he was the exact same way but with male authors and he hadn’t even realized it before reading the discussion, but he thought about it and realized that 90% of the books he owns were written by men.  His thought was that in general people tend to read books written by authors of the same sex.

Reading this thread, I realized that I’d never really considered this before, but I went over a mental list of my favorite authors and it seems to be pretty gender balanced.  I think men are just as capable of depicting emotion and romance and women can be just as gritty, violent and crude.  I tend to read books from many genres though, so maybe that’s why I’ve never developed a preference?  When I’m browsing for new buys I don’t even glance at the author’s name (assuming it’s a new author to me and I wasn’t drawn to it precisely because of the author) until I’ve checked out the cover, the title and the synopsis.  If the writing is good, I connect to the story and care about the characters.

To be honest, the discussion made me feel kind of sad that presumably there are many people out there that are missing out on so many wonderful books just because of the author’s gender.  I mean, I understand that it’s the general writing style that doesn’t appeal to them and they’ve probably given it several tries, but still…I guess for me, an author’s gender has never been a factor (that I’m aware of, anyway), but to each his (or her) own! 

Anyway, I thought it was quite an interesting topic so I thought I’d pass the question on to you.  Do you tend to read only male or female authors?  Had you ever even considered it before?

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5 Comments »

  1. Definitely an interesting topic – got me thinkin’, and I think I’m a sexist! 😉 No, I actually read women authors frequently, but all the writers I count as my favorites are men – Philip Roth, Richard Russo, John Irving, David Foster Wallace. I’m not obtuse enough to claim that’s a coincidence but there are women writers like Zadie Smith and Claire Messud who I enjoy spectacularly. I’ll definitely be interested to see what your readers have to say!

  2. iread Said:

    I never consciously pay attention to the author’s gender when deciding what book to read next, and I don’t really have a lot of favorite authors. I have favorite books and favorite series, but I can’t think of any authors who I follow religiously.

    That said, going over the mental list of all of my favorite books, there are twice as many female authors on my list as male authors. But, if I were to whittle the list down to a top ten, it would be a balanced list since I tend to truly LOVE the books written by men more than those written by women.

  3. Karoline Said:

    hmm….it doesn’t matter to me. It all depends on the plot for me regardless of author. Not sure what I have more of in my lists.

    However there are times when I avoid some female authors because they HAVE to add romance value in books where it’s not necessary. that makes me want to drop the book in the donation chute.

  4. Jody Said:

    I think I probably read more women authors than male authors, but it’s not because I don’t enjoy books written by men. I think the main reason is that I am a fan of strong women leads (in books and TV) and those types of books are more often written by women. I do still have plenty of books written by men on my shelves, just not as many as those written by women.

  5. Jamye Said:

    Hmmm…very interesting! Seems like we’re all a little unconsciously biased.

    Karoline, I agree about the gratuitous romance elements. If it adds to the story, by all means, but if not then don’t bother!

    Jody, I wonder if that’s the main reason for this trend, that we like to read same sex main characters, which are typically written by authors of the same sex?


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