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« THE DOCTOR IS IN | Main | The Ad Man Answers #19 »

October 05, 2007

Comments

Tasha Alexander

Hmmmm....I don't know. If I'm honest, I'll admit that I tend to read more books by men than women. Not a comment on women authors in the least; there are plenty of them I adore. Heck, I just ordered Jeanette Winterson's latest from the UK so that I wouldn't have to wait for the US edition.

As for Oprah, interesting statistic, but what's she to do? I don't think she should pick women simply because of gender.

Unless, of course, she'd like to pick me... ;)

Cristy

I doubt anyone would advocate Oprah choosing a book simply BECAUSE the author is a woman, but considering the overwhelming number of books published each year (and she also delves into the past for her choices, so that total explodes exponentially), it wouldn't be unreasonable that she seek out more works by women for consideration.

Looking at Oprah's book club archives, http://www.oprah.com/obc/pastbooks/obc_pastdate.jhtml, is it my imagination or did she choose MORE women authors early on when she concentrated on current releases as opposed to her reliance on the so-called classics? (1996 - all 3 women; 1997 - 6 women; 1998 - 5 women; 1999 - 7 women; 2000 - 7 women; 2001 - 4 women; 2002 - only 2 listed, both women)

So, couldn't the argument be made that the root of the sexism is actually in what is deemed "classic literature" and Oprah is just not countering this pre-existing bias?

Patti Abbott

Curious numbers considering her books usually seem like the type written and read by women. Does she look for men who write like women and for women?

Patti Abbott

Curious numbers considering her books usually seem like the type written and read by women. Does she look for men who write like women and for women?

Jaimie

That is very interesting. I never noticed that. The books seemed so "for women" that I just assumed they were written by women. I haven't read many of them but those numbers seem disproportionate to me

KingM

It's probably an indication that Oprah is choosing books that personally appeal to her, otherwise, I might expect the opposite.

David J. Montgomery

Her selections do seem to make a statement that, of the books she feels enthusiastic enough about to recommend to her audience, virtually all are written by men.

Does that say more about her or about literature?

Josephine Damian

Lady O seems to be going after the big Nobel winners these days... not a lot of ladies in that club :-(

But yeah, she sure picks a lot of "women's fiction" early on. Maybe she's trying to balance the numbers now?

My guess she'll pick an Orhan Pamuk book next :-), but I know Nathan Bransford is hoping she'll pick "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson. I'm with him.

Lady T

In keeping an eye on Oprah's Book Club over the years,it looks to me as if she's in her You Must Take Me Seriously mode,which to her may mean more books written by men.

She also seems to go for what she considers "safe" when a challenge/probelm comes along as a result of her picks(Franzen/Frey). After the Franzen deal,she dropped current novels like a hot potato and went the classic books/ memoir route until Frey and his Million Little Lies blew up in both of their faces.

I agree that Oprah shouldn't pick a book based on the gender of the author but it would be nice to see her select a novel by someone who could really benefit from the exposure,a great first time author like Min Jin Lee,Robin Brande,Brock Clarke or Jon Clinch. That was always the thing I liked about the OBC and I wish she would do that once again.

Clea Simon

Considering that it's the anniversary of Sisters in Crime, perhaps someone from SinC should present her with a copy of our Books in Print. Even a mention would be nice.

David J. Montgomery

I'm afraid that hoping for an anointing for crime fiction is in vain.

Lorra Laven

I agree with your friend: it's not statistically possible, but only if the choice is completely random. Her taste in literature skews the results toward men, making a prediction based on the percent of women writers vs. men, unreliable.

Terry

I tend not to read books because Oprah recommends them (she lost me after the James Frey mess, where she defended him, and then drew-and-quartered him). I do like to pick up the books Nick Hornby recommends in his Believer columns.

Although the male authors Oprah's been pushing lately are great ones, Doris Lessing, The Brontes, and Willa Cather were pretty great, too.

As writers, we would do well to read books written by other writers--of both sexes. Otherwise, why should anybody read anything we write?

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