Challenge Accepted!

Ancillary Justice

I followed the Twitter conversations about The 52 Review’s “Best Of” post (I think this was last month or the month before). That’s when I first saw the challenge: only read genre fiction books written by women in 2014. Since then I’ve been caught in a morass of indecision.

I want to do it. I am going to do it. That’s not what I’ve been undecided about; I’ve been going back and forth whether or not I should tell anybody I’ve accepted this particular challenge.

Who Fears Death | Nnedi Okorafor

Prominent people I follow on Twitter (K. Tempest Bradford and Liz Bourke in particular, though I’m sure there were others too!) talked about why challenging yourself to read only women is important because, as Bourke says, these kinds of issues highlight “how many women are writing and have written a broad and varied array of SFF novels, and how seldom their names are brought up, in contrast to men’s names.”

It was true for me. If asked to name science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction authors off the top of my head my list would skew towards men (and probably straight white men at that). That’s a problem.

I’d already made it a point to add genre fiction novels by women to my Amazon wishlist any time I saw an author I respect like Kameron Hurley, Kate Elliott, and others mention one. This 2014 challenge was a call to step it up even more.

So why the indecision?

Because I’m an able straight, white, cis man. That’s pretty much the “lowest difficulty setting there is” in the United States (and I’m sure elsewhere too, but I’ve only lived here). I’m not a book blogger or book reviewer. I’m just a writer who loves books. I was afraid if I blogged about how excited I am to take this challenge–because seriously my 2014 TBR list looks like it’s already full of fucking amazing books (and I’m 100% certain there are even more that can be added to it)–it would look like I was trying to say, “Oh, look at me. I’m such a great ally! I’m soooo open-minded and willing  to have my privileges challenged.”

Ascension | Jacqueline Koyanagi

That wasn’t my intention at all. So that’s why I’m going to wrap this up. Increasing the visibility of women in genre fiction (and everywhere) is important. Filling in holes in my knowledge of the genre is important. Reading amazing books by women is important. So here’s my Goodreads list. It’s not finished. It has more books than I’ll be able to read in 2014, and it still needs more novels by WoC, by trans* women, by all women. I’m going to keep adding to it.

Who knows what will happen in 2015. Maybe I’ll stick with this challenge, or at the very least, I’ll make sure there’s parity between the books I read that are by men and those that are by women*

*this obviously includes trans* individuals as well