The short answer to the question in the title is: yes. The long answer is way more complex than that.
Whenever I’m looking back at the books I read there is one thing that I notice immediately: I rarely read books by men. And when I say rarely, I mean that I can’t even remember what the last book written by a man I read.
Now, I just checked my goodreads reading history and it shows me that the last one was Noah can’t even by Simon James Green a month ago, before that it was Heartbreak Boys, also by Simon James Green, in August. Then, there was Oscar Wilde and Alexis Hall, Ryan La Sala, Phil Stamper and Lev C. Rosen.
They all have one thing in common: they’re queer. When was the last time I read a book by a straight man? Or, to ask the question that is at the core of this post: when was the last time I read a book by a supposedly cis straight white man? I can’t remember.
Do they not write good stories? How did I go from reading about 80% cis straight white men to about 2%?
The thing is: they can write good stories. The problem is: usually, they’re not for me. Not anymore. In earlier years I read a lot of adult high fantasy and at that time I didn’t read in English yet and the German bookmarket was dominated by men. Still is, when it comes to good selling adult fantasy. But my bookish taste evolved. I grew up and grew into myself, my interests changed and I realized that I didn’t like these books anymore. Those books were often bloody and violent, especially towards women. And they often centered around men as well. And women I couldn’t identify myself with.
I’m now at the point where I don’t even check out the German Adult Fantasy section in the bookshop anymore. I know that there are books that might interest me, but I inform myself on the internet and then go and get a book without really looking at those around it. I’m tired of reading about their worlds.
What I want is diversity in ethnicity and religion, in sexuality and culture. I want to read books by BIPoC, I want to read books by LGBT+ authors, I want to read books by disabled authors. I don’t want books that are either written in a style I just don’t understand and fantasy worlds that take Middle Earth and put it in a new dress. And I’m not interested in other genres than fantasy, contemporary, romance or historical fiction.
Well, I think especially romance is highly dominated by women. So that explains that.
But I caught myself reading the synopsis of a book and thinking “mh, this sounds good” and then seeing that the book was written by a man. And put it back on the shelf. Where does this antipathy towards male authors come from? Is it just my general distrust of men? Probably. Yeah, I just said it: I distrust men.And authors aren’t excluded.
I mentioned earlier the queer authors I read. Why do I read their books? The answer is simple: they write 1. in the genres I like, 2. they experience what they write about. The same goes for authors of colour. Here we come to a topic I can’t leave out in this: OwnVoices.
What I said above could be interpreted as “I only want to read queer authors, please out yourselves so that I know I can trust you and read your books”. That is not what I want at all. An author, same as every other person should have the choice to come out whenever they want. Or just not come out. It’s their thing and their’s alone. I can’t stress this enough: Only come out when it’s safe for you and you feel ready for it. Do not let someone pressure you into coming out.
Does this mean I won’t read your book, then? Maybe. Maybe not. But that’s the same with every book. I might pick it up or not. A good synopsis and the author aren’t everything. Most of the books I read I picked up because someone recommended them to me. And yes, I will read your book if someone recommends it to me. I will read it when it has a pretty cover (I’m a cover hoe, sorry). I will read it when the synopsis is too good to put it back. And I’m just one person, too. Not everyone shares the same reading preferences.
I believe one of the main reasons I read only books by women, nonbinary authors and queer men is because in their books, I often feel seen. I feel seen because I myself am queer and they share my experiences. Because I myself am a woman and they just get it. And maybe because the genres I read feature a lot of books not written by cis straight white men. Perhaps there are other reasons I just haven’t realized yet. I don’t know. But I really wanted to put this down and hopefully discuss this with you. There is so much more to say that I haven’t put in this post.
Just let me make one thing clear before I end this: I’m not saying that all the books I read are great or even good. A lot of them are not. But their stories interest me. They make me and others feel seen where we aren’t seen in our everyday life. They can still make mistakes. Nobody is perfect, I guess.
Please note that this is just me and my personal experience and my personal preferences. But I’d like to know your thoughts! What influences your reading habit? Do you feel similar to me? Or completely different?
Until next time,