The Conscious-Unconscious Biases in My Reading Habits

So I was taking a quick look at my blog stats and I’ve reviewed a little under 350 books (yay me) between December 2009 and September 2016. The tag cluster suggest (accurately) that I read a lot of Canadian literature and almost exclusively novels. No surprises there.

Then I got to wondering about the distribution in my reading across gender and racial lines in authorship. I did a quick count of the first 150 books reviewed (in years 2009-2011 roughly – 100 books in 2011, so there’s that). Knowing, of course, that these aren’t precise, I was not surprised to learn that the vast majority of the novels I read are written by white people (about 80%) (I say I wasn’t surprised, which isn’t the same as not being troubled). I was surprised to find this period suggests I read a majority of male authors (about 65%). And without doing a deep dive into the biographies of authors I’d guess that these authors likewise fall into the dominant identity categories across the board.

Given that I’ve spent time in my posts opining on the value of reading for offering readers new perspectives and that my literary training came from an institution proud of its effort to expose and counter canons, I’d say I have a healthy heap of hypocrisy in my reading habits.

I’m not sure yet what to do with these observations. Putting it out to you – dear readers – how do you (or do you?) work to ensure breadth in your reading habits? Am I assigning unwarranted value to diversity in authorship (when perhaps I’d be better to consider my genre range? or something else?)? Is it time for me to embark on another reading project (akin to 10-10-12) that encourages me to read outside my canon?

Discuss!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Conscious-Unconscious Biases in My Reading Habits

  1. Ever so thoughtful! I appreciate the splash of quantitative inquiry here… we’re not all that bad. 😉 I don’t have an answer for you, but I do think it’s a useful question to be raised. I will raise it at my next book club meeting, once I take a peek at my own list.

  2. My quantitative ‘splash’ is about as far as I’ll ever go (as you know!). I’m toying with ‘a year without white men,’ but I’m not sure whether that’s a reasonable way to read (i.e. what if Dave Eggers publishes another bad book this year and I can’t resist reading it? Or David Mitchell publishes another brilliant one? And doesn’t this give too much credence to authorial power?. Interested to hear what your book club says; I’ll bring it up at my own!

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