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,
love this post, and i definitely agree with a lot of the sentiments you expressed here! i think the only cishet white male author i’ve read from recently is rick riordan from my rereads, but beyond that… no one else! i definitely think that like you, i just don’t care about books written from those men anymore and would rather spend my time reading content from other authors. great post!! <33
Rick Riordan really is the exception. I love his books a lot 🙂
thank you! <3
I completely understand your view. Although I always rather read female authors, I just have no interest in letting straight men describe women and what they can and mostly cannot do. I just looked into this year’s reading stats and only about 10% of the books I read were written by men, although I don’t know their sexualities off the top of my head. So I totally understand your preferences here.
yes, exactly! I’ve read so many bad and cringey descriptions of women by men, I just can’t take it anymore.
And you do not need to know the sexuality! It’s just a thing I noticed. I don’t pick up books because they are writen by non-straight men but for the queer promises they hold. And most straight men don’t write about queer people, so one thing leads to another here 😀
very interesting post. I don’t feel like I am conciously deciding to not read books by men but my reading preferences tend to be written by women. And yeah, I have to admit, if I could choose between a book by a women or non-binary person and a book by a man, I’d always choose the former.
Looking at the books that I have read this years, about 20% were by men – more than I anticipated tbh, but a third of them were by Rick Riordan so yeah. 😀
I totally would agree that most books written by straight cis men simply do not contain the stories I’d like to read. Also, I am more suspicious on how they depict women. They still write awesome books. Some write books I like to read. But the majority of books actually isn’t and I feel like what you have written about stories you want to read kind of explains it. ^^
I feel like most books in the genres I read are either written by women or men who aren’t cis and straight. Or I simply just ignore them subconciously 😀
And yes! I’ve read so many bad examples of men writing women, I don’t trust them 😀 Sure, they can surprise me positively and they definitely write good stories but there are jsut some things I can’t ignore… But I’m content and happy with the books I read and I don’t plan on changing anything there 😀
Have a wonderful evening <3