I recently wrote a post for YA Highway encouraging every reader to do an examination of the books they read in 2013. Not just a cursory glance at the list – a real breakdown of subject matter, and gender, sexual orientation, and ethnic diversity (of authors and characters). The post was inspired by Science Fiction/Fantasy blogger Aidan Moher’s 2013 challenge to read an equal number of books by women and men, and by playwright Stephen Spotswood’s personal “self-dramaturg” (self-analysis) of representation in his own plays.
In my article I said the results would surprise people. Well, it isn’t really fair for me to throw that out and not come clean with my numbers, is it? So, here we go!
I read a total of 40 books in 2013. (Not all percentages add up perfectly. Some categories overlapped, some main characters did not have a gender or sexual orientation [Thanks, Book Thief], and other things. Plus, mathematician, I am not.)
Of the books I read this year, 36 (or 85%) were fiction, and 3 (7%) were non-fiction.
I read 15 adults books – 38% of the total – and 24 young adult books – 60% of the total. I read just one middle grade book in the year.
Of those, there were: 16 contemporary books, 8 fantasy books, 4 paranormal, 3 science-fiction, 2 historical, 2 dystopian, 1 mystery, 1 short story, 1 biography/memoir, and 1 graphic novel.
Exactly 75% of the books I read (30) were written by women, and 25% (10) by men. (This is actually my target stat. I have no problem with this balance.)
Of those authors, 4 were people of color, and 5 publicly identify as LGBT. I’m pretty darn embarrassed about the graphs below.
In the books I read this year, 19 had female main characters (48%), 11 had male main characters (25%), and 7 had multiple points of view (1%).
There were black characters in 3 of the books (0.08%), Asian characters in 2 (0.05%), Latin@ characters in 1 (0.03%), Middle Eastern characters in 2 (0.05%), and 7 books with LGBT characters (1%).
The love interests in 7 of the books were people of color (1%). I did not read a single book with a main or major supporting character that had a disability, or was Native American.
Needless to say, I was surprised – and disappointed – to see the statistics from my own reading in 2013. I’ve set out to do much better in the next year, even starting a GoodReads list with a more diverse representation that I hope to make a decent dent in.
Make Your Own List!
I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my reading throughout the year, and to follow representation among both authors and characters. If it sounds interesting to you, you are welcome to download it here and use it as a jumping-off point to track your own progress in 2014.
Happy New Year, and happy reading to everyone!