If you're a woman, do you mostly read books written by women? How about you, men? Has it occurred to you to think about it before?
I have to admit that personally, I mostly read books by women. I don't do it consciously; I just find myself more drawn to work by female authors. (Last year I read 86 books. 15 were by men.) This tendency toward gender-biased reading came up on the radio last week when I was on my way to work. In his story, "Confession: I'm Biased Against Female Authors," Peter O'Dowd reflected on the fact that in a decade's worth of reading, he read 149 books, only 22 of which were written by women. (I apparently read way more than this guy.). He cites a study by the bookish social media website Goodreads confirming his hunch that he's not alone in this proclivity. Surprise, though: Both men and women tend to rate books by women a tad higher.
Does it really matter if we stick to writers of our own sex? Maybe, maybe not. I think we should all read whatever it is that grabs us, but just as an experiment, next time you're in need of a book, pick up one written by a member of the opposite gender and see where it takes you.
P.S. If you're interested, the Goodreads study found that the top five books written by women published 2014 that men on Goodreads were reading were: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Cress by Marissa Meyer, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, and Four: A Divergent Collection (four out of those five are teen fiction!). The top five books published by men in 2014 that women on Goodreads were reading: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (who is really a woman!), The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.