Reading Challenge: Authors Not Like Me

If you hang out on the Internet a lot, you may have seen this post by K.T. Bradford:

I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year

It’s been the subject of much discussion, which I’m not going to get into here. Suffice to say that I’ve been thinking about it a lot. For several years I’ve been intending to buy and read more “authors not like me”, as John Scalzi puts it, but somehow it keeps not happening.

I do read a lot of female authors — last year was roughly 3/4 female, the year before was more like 60% — but they’re nearly all white, straight (as far as I know), and cisgendered (i.e., not trans).

I think it’s time that changed.

So here’s my highly personal variation on Bradford’s challenge:

For the rest of 2015, more than half the books I buy/otherwise acquire will be by writers not like me: women and men of colour and/or LGBTQ writers.

I’m setting the bar lower than Bradford’s because I know I’ll end up making some exceptions–for example, authors on my auto-buy list, or series I’m in the middle of. Again, most of these are likely to be women, so at least there’s that.

The fine print:

  • I’ll probably keep my reading habits the same in other respects. I read mostly SF and fantasy (both adult and YA) and that’s not likely to change.
  • I said acquire, not read. A lot of the books I read this year will be those that are already on my shelf/ereader, because I don’t want all of them to languish for another year. But at least some of the ones entering the queue will be more diverse, and some of them will get read this year.
  • I may also add other sorts of “not like me”, such as works in translation and/or writers with disabilities — especially if they are also POC or LGBTQ.

In case you’re thinking of a similar challenge, here are some LGBTQ speculative  fiction writers I’ve read and enjoyed:

  • Candas Jane Dorsey (bonus: she’s Canadian)
  • Kelley Eskridge (mini-review here)
  • Nicola Griffith (mini-review here — and I haven’t yet read her latest, the very well-received Hild)
  • Tanya Huff (also Canadian)
  • Ellen Kushner

Writers of colour, ditto:

  • Kathryn Anthony
  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • N.K. Jemisin
  • Thomas King — okay, technically what he writes is more literary than speculative, but it’s also hilarious and meta. My favourite is Green Grass, Running Water.

Finally, here are some of the SF&F writers of colour on my radar:

Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed – Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn
Saladin Ahmed
Aliette de Bodard
Tobias Buckell
Octavia Butler
Joyce Chng / J. Damask
Samuel R. Delany
David Anthony Durham
Andrea Hairston
Nalo Hopkinson
Keri Hulme
Ogawa Issui
Chohei Kambayashi
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Malinda Lo (YA)
Marie Lu (YA)
Tahereh Mafi (YA)
Nnedi Okorafor
Helen Oyeyemi
Cindy Pon (YA)
Michelle Sagara / Michelle Sagara West / Michelle West (both YA and adult)
Sofia Samatar
Douglas Smith

Your turn! Would you take Bradford’s challenge or something similar? Who am I missing in that list up there?

Quick administrative note: My short story The Haunting of Heatherbrae Station is now posted at Turtleduck Press. Go! Read! Enjoy!

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3 responses to “Reading Challenge: Authors Not Like Me

  1. I saw the post, and I wrote a very similar post to yours in response! Although I’m not taking it quite as far as you. I’ve signed up again for the Aussie Women Writers Challenge. But I do intend to broaden out to POC and other cultures as well. (Been doing the LGBTQ thing already…)

    Like you I already read a lot of women authors (in fact, mostly) and last year I didn’t read one thing by a white, straight, cis male author – to my knowledge. Because of what I was reading, I’m assuming the male authors whose books I did read are gay.

    Here’s to a diverse year of reading! I look forward to our shared journey. 🙂

    PS – I loved Slow River by Nicola Griffith. I think I must read Hild.
    PPS – Thanks for posting your author lists. I think one of the challenges is actually knowing whether or not an author is a POC or LGBTQ…

    Also, if you want a trans horror author, I believe Poppy Z Brite is now Billy Martin. I have a couple of his later works (dark comedy) lined up to read.

  2. Ellen! I saw your post but didn’t get a chance to reply. Yours looks like a good challenge as well. 🙂 Will be interested to see how it goes!

    Funny thing about m/m romance — a lot of the writers seem to be straight women. But you’re probably right that male writers in that genre are likely to be gay.

    Nicola Griffith also wrote Ammonite, which was pretty good, and some noir thrillers that I haven’t read, but Slow River is my favourite (so far).

    Happy reading!

  3. Oh yes, most m/m authors are straight women (at least they’re women!). But Harper Fox is not. And I’m _assuming_ the men are not straight…

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