In 2012 I read almost twice as many books written by men

I finally finished recording the brief notes for Shelf Life for the books I read in 2012. I topped last year’s count of 162 books read, but only just.

In 2012 I read 164 books. I set out with no set pattern, but as this is the second year that CWILA will be counting its numbers, I was interested to see how I did. Not so good, as it turns out. It seems I read 107 books written or edited by men, and only 57 written or edited by women. How can that possibly be?

I was shocked, but when I dug down into the numbers, I found that of the 23 graphic novels I read last year, only one was written by a woman. Of the 18 books I read on literary criticism, only 6 were by authored by women, including two by Margaret Atwood. Clearly I have some major gaps. Clearly I need recommendations for graphic novels and literary criticism written by women. Help?

I was pleased to see that I’d read almost as many poetry books (44) as fiction (52), and that the gender balance was a little more equal, at least in fiction, though I appear to be neglecting female poets, something that also surprised me, as that’s where I find the most resonance. They are my people, and yet I’m playing catch up with dude poets. What’s up with that?

In terms of what I’ve formally reviewed for others, of the 10 book reviews published last year, 6 were written by women, and 4 by men. I guess in light of that I just assumed that my overall reading would closer match what was being published. I had no idea that almost half of what I read over the entire year was authored by men.

Will this change my reading habits? I don’t know. Maybe. I kind of hope so.

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