Thursday, December 19, 2013

Reading Stats: A White, Female Book Year

The homogeneity of YA authors and characters has been a significant issue the last several years (frankly, the issue extends to all literature, not just YA). The majority of YA authors and characters are white. The majority of YA authors tend to be female. (Interestingly and troublingly though, the majority of YA authors who hit the top ten in the NYT bestseller list are male).

I'm well aware that my reading habits coincide with the white, female trend. Not purposely, of course, but it does work out that way. I was curious just how homogeneous my reading was this year, so I decided to break it down my 2013 reading by genre, author gender and race. I am displeased, although not surprised by the results.

Here we go:

Total Books Read:

100 Books (give or take a few)
34 Manga Volumes

YA/MG Novels Read:

66 Books (give or take a few)

Adult Non-Fiction Books Read:

12 Books

Adult Fiction Books Read:

16 Books

YA/MG Male Authors Read:

The Rithmatist by Branden Sanderson
The School of Good and Evil by Somain Chainani
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Adult Non-Fiction Male Authors Read:


Adult Fiction Male Authors Read:


Non-White Authors Read (All Genres):

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
The School of Good and Evil by Somain Chainani

I'm guessing that most of you have similar reading breakdowns. It's a pretty poor showing. In addition to hardly reading any books by non-white authors, I read zero by GLBTQ authors in 2013. And from what I can recall, only one book that I read focused on a non-white main character (The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa although you could throw Scarlet by Marissa Meyer in there too with Cinder).

I'd like to read a greater diversity of books in 2014.

Who do you recommend?

For male YA authors, my defaults are John Green and David Levithan. Who else has good books out there right now? I've been meaning to get to books by Tom Leveen, Scott Westerfeld, and Matthew Quick amongst others.

I would like to read more books by authors of color (I hope that's a politically correct term; I'm never sure what the best thing to say is). Who's out there? Off the top of my head, I can think of Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Y.S. Lee, Sharon Draper, Nikki Grimes, Swati Avasthi, Walter Dean Myers, Sherman Alexie. I had to do Google searches just to think of that small list of people. I know there are many more and am ashamed that I can't think of more.

Have you noticed a lack of diversity in the books you read?

What books do you recommend?


  1. Hello! I am a UK based author writing some YA, some a little younger I am mixed race and most of my protags are not white. While some of my books are contemporary BRAVE NEW GIRL, DYING GAME, FACE VALUE some, including my most recent SAWBONES are historical. Other UK writers of colour include Malorie Blaackman, Bali Rai, and Sarwat Chadda. We are definitely a minority sadly! xx

  2. I've been following a bunch of conversations on Twitter that follow this same thread -- so many white female authors (and, thus, protagonists). Do you read the Stacked blog? ( Kelly Jensen's been talking a lot about this.

  3. I definitely recommend Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg. Amazing book, one of my favorites of 2013. Not an author of color, but meets some of your other areas you're trying to hit.

    1. That was going to be my recommendation so I'm glad I started reading through the comments! Openly Straight made it on my favorites as well.

  4. Paolo Bacigalupi writes great YA and adult sci-fi, and his characters are usually of mixed or non-white ancestry. Marie Lu is another great YA author, as is Patrick Ness. Hopefully that adds some more color to your reading list haha

    - Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider Silk

  5. This is SO interesting to me!

    I know there is a huge gap when it comes to the best sellers lists and I know about all the inequity happening at cons and some of the writer organizations but for me personally, I've noticed that I rarely read anything by male authors.

    As far as GLBTQ - I read quite a bit that have male gay characters but now that I think of it I haven't read anything with lesbians/transgender etc.

    Same goes for people of color.

    I'm not avoiding it in any way but those just aren't' the books that pop in front of me so that I know about them. We should make more of an effort.

    Tom Leveen is one of my favorite male authors. I especially liked Party and Manicpixiedreamgirl.

  6. I'd recommend David Estes, Eoin Colfer, Rick Riordan, Nick James, Rustin Petrae, John Flanagan, Scott McCloskey

  7. I know I haven't read as many diverse books just because they are harder to find, as you said. I do seek out LGBT books and have read quite a few this year. But still, not enough. However, I was just thinking TODAY that I don't remember reading a book where the character is colored or mixed race, etc. I have read quite a few with Asians I guess, but that's about it.

  8. You know I don't really check to see what the color of the author is when I am reading but I I guess if I was the think about it most are white. I just never really give it much thought I just read the

  9. Love John Green! And I need to read more books with male authors. Most I do read are by women.

  10. Proxy is a good book and by a guy and LBGT themes in it. Yeah I can understand wanting some more diversity. I would also agree with Karen's list of books.

  11. So I was browsing my read list to see which male authors I could recommend, and found that I only have two that are not John Green and David Levithan.

    Dan Wells and John Corey Whaley,

    Apparently, I need to make an effort to read more males.

    Also, throw Ned Vizzini on this list =(

  12. My authors are overwhelmingly white and female as well though I did slightly better getting some economically diverse characters and GLBTQ characters in my reading though I'm not sure about the authors themselves.

    I have no idea what my reading plans are for 2014 but I suspect I'll be reading a lot of non-fiction where I tend to find more male authors.

  13. I'm reading Mara Dyer right now, and one thing I'm loving about it is that Mara is Indian. I don't believe the author is, but even so, it's nice to read a character whose a little different than normal.


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