Do You Read more Men or Women #Authors ? #amreading #books


Woman in Silhoutte Publishing Sunday Morning Thoughts

Women in Publishing

Back on familiar ground after my personal blog issues last month, to Reading and Books. My favorite topic in the world..

For as long as I remember, I’ve never bothered about the gender of the authors I’ve read. Been the sort of reader who’s completely un-curious about authors’ personal lives. Writing fiction, as far as I’m concerned, has nothing to do with gender, and I don’t care what V.S. Naipaul had to say on the topic.

But then I read articles like this one, by noted author Kamila Shamsie, in the Guardian:

As a snapshot, let’s look at the Man Booker prize over the last five years. Ever since the women’s prize for fiction – formerly the Orange, now the Baileys – was set up 20 years ago in response to an all–male Booker shortlist, the Booker has been the prize to which the most attention is paid in gender terms, and the question of the prize’s judges and gender came up last year when only three women were on a longlist of 13. In response, one of the judges Sarah Churchwell said: “We read what publishers submit to us … [If] publishers only submit a fraction of women, then that is a function of systemic institutional sexism in our culture.” So I asked the Booker administrators how many of the books submitted in the last five years have been written by women. The answer was, slightly under 40%. This isn’t an issue around the Booker alone. I’ve been uncomfortable with the imbalance between male and female writers in terms of the books that get submitted for prizes that I’m judging on a number of occasions.

So these days, I try to be more aware of the gender of the authors I’m reading. I don’t read much narrative non-fiction, but that’s going to change in the rest of this year. I will consciously try to pick the 9 fiction and non-fiction authors I haven’t read from Powell’s list of 25 women to read before you die.

Looking through the list of authors I’ve read, I find that in my childhood I read mostly men, because those were most of the classics, other than a few like Alcott, Austen, Elliott, Mary Shelley etc. As I grew up, I had access to more books by women, but on the whole, I think I’ve read more men than women, and I’d rather redress that balance. Have started with Eimear McBride and A. M. Homes this week.

Would welcome suggestions from you: literary, contemporary, crime and fantasy by women authors, as well as short story collections. These are the fiction categories that interest me the most these days. Also open to some narrative non-fiction– it’s a segment I’d like to read more of.

And I would like to know:

Does the gender of the author matter to you when you pick a book to read? Please qualify that with the genre you read: romance or scifi or crime or literary etc. Does writing fiction have anything to do with gender? Do you know if you’ve read more books by women than men? What books by women would you recommend to me and all the readers of this blog?

If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page and the thread on gender bias in writing and publishing.

Do You Mark the #Books you #Read ?


The Reading Experience

The Reading Experience

As a child, I’d often seen people reading books with a pen in hand– underlining, making notes, folding pages.

I have a horror of that– I try to keep my books as pristine as possible. I’m not anal about them or anything (right!), but I never take a pen to them, even those that I study for a project. I add sticky notes, in case the need to make a note of something is absolutely dire.

I read this article on books and readers, and it made me sit up and take notice:

There is something predatory, cruel even, about a pen suspended over a text. Like a hawk over a field, it is on the lookout for something vulnerable. Then it is a pleasure to swoop and skewer the victim with the nib’s sharp point. The mere fact of holding the hand poised for action changes our attitude to the text. We are no longer passive consumers of a monologue but active participants in a dialogue. Students would report that their reading slowed down when they had a pen in their hand, but at the same time the text became more dense, more interesting, if only because a certain pleasure could now be taken in their own response to the writing when they didn’t feel it was up to scratch, or worthy only of being scratched.

Looking back over the pages we have already read and marked, or coming back to the novel months, maybe years later, we get a strong sense of our own position in relation to the writer’s position. Where he said this kind of thing, I responded with that, where he touched this nerve, my knee jerked thus. Hence a vehicle for self knowledge is created, for what is the self if not the position one habitually assumes in relation to other selves? These days, going back to reading the books that have remained since university days, I see three or four layers of comments, perhaps in different colored pens. And I sense how my position has changed, how I have changed.

Makes some sense to me, and today when I picked up a book other than one from the library, I thought of trying out this reading with pen in a hand scenario. I didn’t manage to scratch a line. Maybe my habits are too ingrained now. Or perhaps, it reminds me too much of my editing stints, and ruins my reading pleasure.

What about you? Do you mark your books with a pen while reading? Or like me, do you like your books free of marks?

Does Encouragement equal Support for #IndiePub Authors?


I recently read post by fellow blogger Andrew Leon, Encouragement Does not Equal Support. He is talking about providing encouragement/ support to Indie authors:

“Encouragement is nothing more than patting someone on the back and saying “good luck.” It really doesn’t take anything to do. There’s no real effort involved. Now, don’t get me wrong; encouragement can be nice: It feels good, but, really, it’s completely insubstantial. It doesn’t do anything real.

Support requires an effort. To put it in another context, support is more than just wishing fellow authors “best of luck” with their releases. Support is more than just cover reveals and blog hops. Support is more than just adding someone’s book to your “to read” list on Goodreads….Actual support is buying the books of your author friends…..Actual support is reading the books that you’ve picked up from your friends…Actual support is, after having read someone’s indie release, leaving a review. A real review.”

Authors review authors on Amazon

Authors Reviewing Authors?

I agree with the post, and I think if you’re a reader or a writer (a majority of this blog’s audience) you ought to go read it.

I try, whenever I can, to feature authors on my blog, interview them, and of course, do cover reveals and such. But as Andrew rightly points out, this is hardly enough.

I do buy books by fellow authors, read them too.

I share their books on social media and feature both the authors and their books on my blogs. But I’ve stopped short of doing a review. I’m terrified of reviewing author friends– I could write a balanced review and probably not offend any of my excellent blog friends. But then, I could. So I do everything I possibly can, other than write a review. I know some of them left me a review on the ebook I published in 2011, and I sometimes feel guilty for not leaving a review in return. I do whatever else I can, by sharing them on social media and buying/ gifting their books.

I don’t know whether I fall short of support, but to me, blogging and my online life is a pleasure, and I wouldn’t want to do anything that jeopardizes my online friendships. I’ve read other authors who agree with my POV. For the foreseeable future, this will be my (guilt-ridden, but firm) stance. Let me know yours in the comments– as always your comments teach me new perspectives, and I look forward to learning from you.

———

As part of my pledge in my A to Z Reflections post, I’ll feature three bloggers on each post, Bloggers I Recommend Visiting:

Anna Tan: A dear Malaysian blog friend, and editor of the bestselling Love in Penang. Check out her post promoting another fellow author, the excellent Mimi Barbour.

Jemima Pett: A cherished blog-friend, and author of Bravo Victor, and many other excellent books. Check out her post with her giveaway, and supporting other authors.

Lisa Buie-Collard: A consistent blogger, amazing blog-friend, and charming author. Check out her post on Why Indie Authors Need Editors.

(If you visit these bloggers and leave a comment, I’ll automatically include you in a list of bloggers slated for this feature, or for your posts to be linked, tweeted, promoted on my social media profiles.)

——–

Do you read books by Indie Authors? An Indie author yourself? What is your view of Indie authors reviewing other Indie authors? Do you agree with the article above on ways to Encourage and Support authors? As a reader, how much attention do you pay to a reader review?

Teaser Tuesday: We Were the Mulavaneys


This Tuesday, it is time for the teaser again, and this time the book came from the very bottom of my tottering TBR pile (I’m thinking of mixing up older books with the new): We were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

We were the Mulvaneys Joyce Carol Oates damyanti

We Were the Mulvaneys

Here are two teaser sentences from We were the Mulvaneys:

During these mad dashes to the wall phone in the kitchen she hadn’t time to fall but with fantastical grace and dexterity wrenched herself upright in midfall and continued running (dogs whimpering, yapping hysterically in her wake, cats scattering wide-eyed and plume-tailed) before the telephone ceased it’s querulous ringing–though frequently she was greeted with nothing more than a derisive dial tone, in any case.”

Blurb: “‘The Mulvaneys of High Point Farm in Mt. Ephraim, New York, are a large and fortunate clan, blessed with good looks, abundant charisma, and boundless promise. But over the twenty-five year span of this ambitious novel, the Mulvaneys will slide, almost imperceptibly at first, from the pinnacle of happiness, transformed by the vagaries of fate into a scattered collection of lost and lonely souls. It is the youngest son, Judd, now an adult, who attempts to piece together the fragments of the Mulvaneys’ former glory, seeking to uncover and understand the secret violation that occasioned the family’s tragic downfall. Each of the Mulvaneys endures some form of exile–physical or spiritual–but in the end they find a way to bridge the chasms that have opened up among them, reuniting in the spirit of love and healing. Profoundly cathartic, Oates’ acclaimed novel unfolds as if, in the darkness of the human spirit, she has come upon a source of light at its core. Rarely has a writer made such a startling and inspiring statement about the value of hope and compassion.

I read the book in about three days– some parts were painful-beautiful to read. All the characters are drawn so poignantly– even though not all of them have chapters from their point of view. This is one of my favorite genre of books, the family saga, with a background of crime thrown in, dark, but not too dark– something I can get lost in and never come out.

Oates has written over 40 novels and much else besides in a career spanning 50 years so far– how did she do it? I have barely scratched the surface of her work, and intend to pick up many more.

How about you? Would you read a book like We were the Mulvaneys ?

Teaser Tuesday: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


This Tuesday, it is time for the teaser again, and this time the book was gifted to me: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Here are two teaser sentences from Beautiful Ruins:

“She feels a flash of self-consciousness and her twenty-two-year-old’s vanity rises: God what a fright she must look. For several seconds, they stand there, a gimpy old man and a sick old woman, just four feet apart now, but separated by a thick granite counter, by fifty years and two fully lived lives..”

Blurb: “The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks on over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot-searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion-along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.’

I read the book in less than a day: it is multigenerational, hops across time in the strangest of ways, and has interconnected stories that I liked very much.

It was written over 15 years, and the story of how Walter wrote the book is almost as interesting as the book itself. Beautiful Ruins was one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year for 2012–  and one of the few literary novels I’ve read with a spectacularly well-constructed plot.

How about you? Would you read a book like Beautiful Ruins ?

Are You Ready to go on a Space Opera Adventure?


This month has seen a few authors on Daily (w)rite, and I end it with Mary Pax, awesome blog friend and a successful author publisher who writes science fiction and fantasy for her growing and mostly worshipful audience! I give you an excerpt from her book, and encourage you to check out her body of work. Take it away, Mary!

The fulfillment of a dream begins with a sincere wish followed by consistent action. Tenacity is sprinkled in heavily along the way and a will to keep moving forward. Then surround yourself with great individuals with the same dream. Keep an open heart and mind. Learn. Participate. They’ll help your wings grow strong. Thanks to Damyanti for being an integral part of my flight.

Life Beyond the Edge: Excerpt

Lepsi:  Beyond The Edge by Mary Pax

Lepsi: Beyond The Edge by Mary Pax

Lepsi raised his eyelids and watched his companions. Only one other had managed to sit, a Quatten lady as brown as Dactyl. How was Dactyl?

The stray thought did him no good. His shoulder screamed, long, piercing, shrill. It didn’t let up. An eon must have passed.

You’ll think only the thoughts I give you. You know no one, nothing.

Searing pain knocked Lepsi to the ground, tormenting him, driving the commands from his shoulder into the indelible parts of his memory. Long after the initial twinges eased, the agony gripping every muscle continued to keep him on his face,. This world’s idea of sunrise and sunset — the fog darkening then lightening again — passed twice. What had he agreed to?

Mary Pax: Beyond the Edge

Mary Pax: Beyond the Edge

Beyond the Edge: Blurb

Some truths are better left unfound.

For two years Craze’s dear friend, Lepsi, has been missing. The murmurings of a haunted spaceship might be a message and may mean his old pal isn’t dead. The possibility spurs Craze and Captain Talos to travel to uncharted worlds, searching. Out there, in an unfamiliar region of the galaxy beyond the Backworlds, they stumble upon a terrible truth.

Meanwhile, Rainly remains on Pardeep Station as acting planetlord, dealing with the discovery of her lover’s dark and brutal past. Alone and questioning her judgment, her introspection unlocks more than heartache. Latent protocols in her cybernetics activate, forcing her to face a sinister secret of her own.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. This is the fourth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.

Amazon / AmazonUK / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo / Other Outlets

 

Mary Pax

Mary Pax

M. Pax– Inspiring the words she writes, she spends her summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where she lives with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. She writes science fiction and fantasy mostly. You can find out more by visiting her at: Website / FB / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Wattpad

Teaser Tuesday: Claude and Camille


Tuesday, time for the teaser again, and this time the book is something I picked up from the library on a whim, Claude and Camille.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell

Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell

Here are two teaser sentences from
Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell:

“The distant sun of late February retreated. He breathed in the cold air and the smell of turpentine and paint and the warm scent of her.”

Blurb: “In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris.

But once there he is confronted with obstacles: an art world that refused to validate his style, extreme poverty, and a war that led him away from his home and friends. But there were bright spots as well: his deep, enduring friendships with men named Renoir, Cézanne, Pissarro, Manet – a group that together would come to be known as the Impressionists, and that supported each other through the difficult years. But even more illuminating was his lifelong love, Camille Doncieux, a beautiful, upper-class Parisian girl who threw away her privileged life to be by the side of the defiant painter and embrace the lively Bohemian life of their time. “

I needed a light diversion, had seen a few works by Monet at an exhibition, and found the premise interesting. The writer in me keeps cringing at the sentences, the adverbs I hate strewn all over. ‘Lazy writing’– I keep saying every few lines: “She slowly took in the sketched face and the bold strokes of the dress. She stood so close that the buttons of her nearly closed coat almost touched him.”

But I’m intrigued by the setting, the romance of the artistic life of Monet and his contemporaries, so I’m not giving up on this book. Yet.

How about you? Would you read a book like Claude and Camille?