October 15, 2019, 12:26:52 PM

Author Topic: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations  (Read 16017 times)

Offline cupiscent

Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #120 on: December 03, 2016, 08:12:23 PM »
What I am saying is that I can remember my favorite books better than you can apparently.

But we aren't talking about favourites. We're talking about recommendations. I could rattle off my own list of favourites, and it would probably only be 5-10. But in the last year alone I read (checking GoodReads) 39 books that I gave four or five stars, and I would be happy to recommend any of those if they were appropriate to what someone was asking to hear about.

Offline tebakutis

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #121 on: December 03, 2016, 10:18:28 PM »
Random recommendations from me, since I haven't seen them listed yet:

  • Cary Osborne (Iroshi series - Psychic ninjas in space!)
  • Leona Wisoker (Children of the Sands - great secondary world writing in a desert setting)
  • C.J. Cherryh (basically everything but especially The Morgaine Cycle ... how do people not recommend her more often?)
  • Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern because dragons, obviously!)

Offline Lanko

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #122 on: December 03, 2016, 11:01:36 PM »
I was thinking and this crossed my mind:

Using GR's final list, there are some extremely popular titles in there. Some are volumes #7 or #8 or #9 on their series. You don't get to this level of popularity without talking about the books to other people. Word of mouth is the most important thing, after all.

And lack of word of mouth might be the problem, but not in the way the people clamoring for more female authors to be read may be thinking.

There's a "What did you read in month X" thread, but that's hardly the place that will make people pick up a book, since there's a lot of people throwing lists in there and because of that there are mostly ratings or very short comments, more of a "report" thread.

The "currently reading thread" is an interesting one. People casually and organically talk about books they're reading or on what others are. I have so much books already on my TBR that the only way I add more is to find an extremely interesting concept or if people in here are raving about it. And the only guarantee is that it will go to the TBR, not that will be read.
But probably that thread may have made up a good portion, if not most, of my TBR. We don't get books only on recommendations lists, contests and etc. The casual conversations in various threads probably have a huge effect.

@cupiscent , you usually post on the "What did you read in month X" threads, but I actually don't recall ever seeing you posting in the "What are you reading" thread and talking about all the books you report in the other thread.
It's probably the best place to talk more in-depth about books we are reading. Any specific reason you don't comment about what are you reading in there?

Others like Raptori used to review, now he only gives cold stars, which is an indication the book worked (or didn't) for him, but not exactly if other people should read it...
He also rarely comments on WAYR thread and doesn't even post on the "What did you read in month X" threads.

From Tebakutis, I don't think I even see him in GR, and he also doesn't post on WAYR or "What did you read in month X". If he read other books this year other than 2 or 3 titles in our Book Club, I have no idea.
EDIT: As I was writing this, he gives four recommendations  ::) Are they recent?

And who knows how else it is for some others.

I mentioned all this not to point fingers, but because if you feel recommendations for those authors are an issue, and if you are reading them and have them with you, well, you people surely aren't talking about them.

And I don't mean only the famous authors you have read years ago, but the ones being read recently or even now. I myself have read authors very few people heard about (some of them have my review as the only one for their book on GR). Still never touched names like Rothfuss, Erikson, Sullivan, Pratchett...

As a lot of authors and potential authors are also here, we all know the importance of word of mouth. And the people who have it for a lot of names are mostly silent. Which ironically can be the biggest thing contributing to the problem.

Maybe that's what needs to be changed? Maybe some of you are more reserved or only talk about it when directly and specifically asked for, which is totally comprehensible.
I'm not saying anyone has any obligation to comment everywhere, but maybe that's a start for seeing more books and discussions in here?

Just something that maybe we should reflect about.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline Raptori

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #123 on: December 03, 2016, 11:54:48 PM »
Can't speak for the others @Lanko, but I've been spending more time talking about books and making recommendations on a different forum instead of here!

Also, while thinking about this issue, I made a few changes to my bingo list. Example: for the "something somebody read for 2015 bingo" square for authors I've read before, I replaced The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu with Vicious by VE Schwab. Lives of Tao looked interesting to a point, but it was maybe middling priority in my TBR. On the other hand, Vicious wasn't even on my list at all - I had read one book by Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic) and thought it was mediocre, and didn't plan to read anything else by her. I finished Vicious the other day, and it turns out that it's probably the best book I've read this year (out of roughly 70 in total). The only reason I read it was this discussion.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying "we should all go read books by females just because they might be awesome", but that "talking about this kind of issue can actually lead people to books they enjoy which they might have otherwise ignored"!
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #124 on: December 03, 2016, 11:56:28 PM »
What I am saying is that I can remember my favorite books better than you can apparently.

But we aren't talking about favourites. We're talking about recommendations. I could rattle off my own list of favourites, and it would probably only be 5-10. But in the last year alone I read (checking GoodReads) 39 books that I gave four or five stars, and I would be happy to recommend any of those if they were appropriate to what someone was asking to hear about.
While that's true, cupiscent, when talking about recommendations favourites often do come into it. People rarely recommend a book that they didn't like when asked for a recommendation by someone else.
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #125 on: December 03, 2016, 11:59:00 PM »
What I am saying is that I can remember my favorite books better than you can apparently.

But we aren't talking about favourites. We're talking about recommendations. I could rattle off my own list of favourites, and it would probably only be 5-10. But in the last year alone I read (checking GoodReads) 39 books that I gave four or five stars, and I would be happy to recommend any of those if they were appropriate to what someone was asking to hear about.
While that's true, cupiscent, when talking about recommendations favourites often do come into it. People rarely recommend a book that they didn't like when asked for a recommendation by someone else.
True, but most people like a ton of books which don't come to mind as "favourites". A lot of the time - especially when people ask for something specific - most people will be recommending something which isn't a favourite.
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Lanko

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #126 on: December 04, 2016, 12:10:31 AM »
Can't speak for the others @Lanko, but I've been spending more time talking about books and making recommendations on a different forum instead of here!

Also, while thinking about this issue, I made a few changes to my bingo list. Example: for the "something somebody read for 2015 bingo" square for authors I've read before, I replaced The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu with Vicious by VE Schwab. Lives of Tao looked interesting to a point, but it was maybe middling priority in my TBR. On the other hand, Vicious wasn't even on my list at all - I had read one book by Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic) and thought it was mediocre, and didn't plan to read anything else by her. I finished Vicious the other day, and it turns out that it's probably the best book I've read this year (out of roughly 70 in total). The only reason I read it was this discussion.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying "we should all go read books by females just because they might be awesome", but that "talking about this kind of issue can actually lead people to books they enjoy which they might have otherwise ignored"!

What? You traitor!  ::)

And about your last paragraph, that might not have been the intention for some, but it was for others, as many expressed it out on various forms and their reasons for "what" and "why". And not only me, but others noticed it too.

Well, let's see what happens now!
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #127 on: December 04, 2016, 12:32:33 AM »
@cupiscent , you usually post on the "What did you read in month X" threads, but I actually don't recall ever seeing you posting in the "What are you reading" thread and talking about all the books you report in the other thread.
It's probably the best place to talk more in-depth about books we are reading. Any specific reason you don't comment about what are you reading in there?

Mostly because it's 194 pages long (the way my forum setup filters things) and I don't have that much time in my day, especially since posting there would be doubling up on my GR updates. I prefer the regular pause for reflection of the what-I-read-this-month threads. And I've certainly added things to my to-read from what other people have been reading and enjoying. (Or even not-enjoying; sometimes the way someone talks about what they didn't like about a book makes me think it might be something I'd enjoy.)

Also, I've been pretty brutal with my reading list recently, and I don't want to spam the forum with "Started Book X." Three hours later: "DNFing Book X, ugh." ;)

Offline Lanko

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #128 on: December 04, 2016, 12:45:51 AM »
Mostly because it's 194 pages long (the way my forum setup filters things) and I don't have that much time in my day, especially since posting there would be doubling up on my GR updates. I prefer the regular pause for reflection of the what-I-read-this-month threads. And I've certainly added things to my to-read from what other people have been reading and enjoying. (Or even not-enjoying; sometimes the way someone talks about what they didn't like about a book makes me think it might be something I'd enjoy.)

Also, I've been pretty brutal with my reading list recently, and I don't want to spam the forum with "Started Book X." Three hours later: "DNFing Book X, ugh." ;)

Never thought the size of that thread could be an issue for some  :o (In the way the forum is setup here, it's almost 650 pages long).

Fair point for the amount of DNF's, but you also don't comment anything in there about the books you did finish and liked! There would be a little more word of mouth for those books and authors, no?
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Offline Peat

Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #129 on: December 04, 2016, 01:03:52 AM »
Cherryh is an odd one. I know her reputation - its a staggering one in historical terms - but I've never read her, barely heard anyone talk of her... her and Poul Anderson might be the two most forgotten fantasy authors. Maybe Vance? Decent topic to be had there.

And I reckon Raptori is right about people recommending books they know and like, not just their favourites.

I also reckon sharing info about books you DNF still helps people. Some people do look at negative reviews and think "Huh, that's what I like, I'm in". Not to mention sheer simple repetition of a name creates stickability. And I'd agree what we read is about a lot more than recommendations, but the question was recommendations so that's what I did.


Speaking of topics, I had a look at a few topics that you'd call more conversational than recommendations. 199 recommendations off of 8 threads with a break down of 136m, 63f - 31.6pc. Remove the most unbalanced threads and its 102m, 40f off of 6 topics - 28.1pc. Only 3 of the 8 had 33pc women, only 1 of the 3 higher. That was this thread on LGBT in Fantasy - http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/lgbt-fantasy/ - looks like recommendations given in general conversation are pretty similar to those in recommendation threads.


Now on 62 threads, 1804 recommendations. None from introductions because looking over them reveals tiny amounts of data with much the same ratios. Was going to do some pages from the Currently Reading thread - hard to say what counts as a recommendation and what counts as people  just jawing about a book (although there seems to be less of that in general in there) so I didn't. Although looking at the last 6 pages and without chasing up books where I don't know the author, I think people have only read 5 female authors in that time. So there's that, doubt it would be much different there. 

The 1804 breaks down into 1256m, 548f. That's 30.3pc.

Part of the reason its below 33pc is 10 "Best of..." threads I went through. Those turned up 421m 163f -27.8pc. That's counting each author only once though. If you count every time an author is recommended (I did that in 7 threads), it goes 391m 112f - 22.2pc. The 3 I didn't count is because they were nomination threads and I was lazy and just counted the entrants in the resultings threads - 55m, 11f. The moment this forum starts talking about its best books of the year, its favourite authors, its favourite series etc.etc. it gets notably male-centric. Not one of the 10 features 1/3 representation (barely in a few cases) and removing all of those threads would give women 31.5pc of the nominations here.

So there's a bit of a skew that gets pretty pronounced when people are nominating their favourites.

These stats will change no one's minds - in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone was sick of them and had stopped reading. Plan to put up the full stuff with more general looksies in a couple of days in a different thread. But for me, they point to a wee bit of a problem. I was talking earlier in the thread about a possibility/theory/belief that female authors are pushed less hard than male authors; a bit of a lag that gets pronounced when we talk about the perceived elite does, imo, back that up.

But at the end of the day, we're all here to enjoy what we read. And I can't even definitely say there's an issue.

If I was to give a conclusion though... its have a dig. A lot of good stuff goes relatively unnoticed or gets forgotten quickly. I've looked at SO MANY RECOMMENDATIONS. Do I have a few names on the mental TBR list now? Yeah I do and I wouldn't if I didn't go digging past Sanderson/Lynch/Hobb etc.etc. I feel like if there's a problem, once people go digging it will start to correct.

p.s. The five (may change once stats finished) are Hobb, Jen Williams, Novik, Jemisin and - surprise to me - Kameron Hurley.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #130 on: December 04, 2016, 01:11:43 AM »
Fair point for the amount of DNF's, but you also don't comment anything in there about the books you did finish and liked! There would be a little more word of mouth for those books and authors, no?

But I do talk about them on the monthly thread. I could copy-paste, but that seems like a waste of everyone's time?

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #131 on: December 04, 2016, 01:25:55 AM »
Speaking of Cherryh, it helps to be 55.
She's been one of my favorite authors since I first read the Morgaine series. Which is SF, but might as well be Fantasy.
Then her science fiction: Faded Sun. Chanur. Downbelow Station. Cyteen.


Such great stuff.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #132 on: December 04, 2016, 01:46:40 AM »

Speaking of topics, I had a look at a few topics that you'd call more conversational than recommendations. 199 recommendations off of 8 threads with a break down of 136m, 63f - 31.6pc. Remove the most unbalanced threads and its 102m, 40f off of 6 topics - 28.1pc. Only 3 of the 8 had 33pc women, only 1 of the 3 higher. That was this thread on LGBT in Fantasy - http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/lgbt-fantasy/ - looks like recommendations given in general conversation are pretty similar to those in recommendation threads.

The 1804 breaks down into 1256m, 548f. That's 30.3pc.

Part of the reason its below 33pc is 10 "Best of..." threads I went through. Those turned up 421m 163f -27.8pc. That's counting each author only once though. If you count every time an author is recommended (I did that in 7 threads), it goes 391m 112f - 22.2pc. The 3 I didn't count is because they were nomination threads and I was lazy and just counted the entrants in the resultings threads - 55m, 11f. The moment this forum starts talking about its best books of the year, its favourite authors, its favourite series etc.etc. it gets notably male-centric. Not one of the 10 features 1/3 representation (barely in a few cases) and removing all of those threads would give women 31.5pc of the nominations here.

So there's a bit of a skew that gets pretty pronounced when people are nominating their favourites.

These stats will change no one's minds - in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone was sick of them and had stopped reading. Plan to put up the full stuff with more general looksies in a couple of days in a different thread. But for me, they point to a wee bit of a problem. I was talking earlier in the thread about a possibility/theory/belief that female authors are pushed less hard than male authors; a bit of a lag that gets pronounced when we talk about the perceived elite does, imo, back that up.

But at the end of the day, we're all here to enjoy what we read. And I can't even definitely say there's an issue.

The problem with just getting cold numbers like this is that it does ignore a lot of context involved, even with a lot of work done trying to get around it.
While on GR you just have the books of the year and vote, no explanations or specifications required.

And saying "there is only % of women here and there", "it's male-centric" and "it's a bit of a skew" implies that if male authors are ahead, it's a problem, but if it was the other way around it would't be, for whatever reason.

If a number like 33% of female authors bothers you, do you think there's "a wee bit of a problem" with the GR Final List composed of 90% females and 10% males? Or YA SF/F, that also has 90% female and 10% male? And since GR is the most popular site for books and lists, it will be used as a recommendation list for millions, including here.

Do you think GR it's "a bit skewed" and "female-centric" and that there might be an issue with it?

Guess not, which then leads to this situation, whether intentional or not:

50%-50% - Parity, great!
51%+ towards female authors - Great!
51%+ towards male authors - Hm, I think it's a bit male-centric in here, there's only a % of women in here and there might be an issue here, folks. Red alert!

And then with the last option also comes the "go for the gender" when picking a book to bring more parity, which isn't far from quotas, as some correctly pointed out.
People will come say it's not what they meant or want, or no gender discrimination openly said, but it's what it comes down to, no matter how one dances around with the words used:

"I read 3 books. They were from male authors, better get 1 or 2 from females now."
*Walks intro library*
"Oh, good cover! What a nice story! Damn, the author is male!" *Dismisses it*
"Oh, good cover! What a nice theme! Damn, male again!" *Dismisses it*
"Oh, good cover! Nice concept! Oh, female! Sweet!"

And then instead of interest or story or theme, gender becomes the focus, whether was the intention or not.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline Lanko

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #133 on: December 04, 2016, 02:03:45 AM »
Fair point for the amount of DNF's, but you also don't comment anything in there about the books you did finish and liked! There would be a little more word of mouth for those books and authors, no?

But I do talk about them on the monthly thread. I could copy-paste, but that seems like a waste of everyone's time?

The "problem" is that the monthly thread simply throws dozens of books at once from a lot of people. And since it's so much we just rate it or write a short comment, as I don't think many people would read dozens of long reviews in there...
Unless someone is already very aligned with your own tastes, it's hard to make a case to go for a certain book there, unless someone really raves about it.

What I do is that I post what I'm starting or finished and comment on it, I don't copy/paste the review, but sometimes I do just a small part (sometimes edited a little) with the good-bad.
Then at the end of the month I just put the all in one place, but it's more spread on the other thread, as 5-10 books don't simply come at once at somebody.
Since you DNF so much, you could just comment when you finished?

Also, the other thread has discussions about some books a bit more often. And also, not everyone here uses or even have Goodreads, so you are missing a lot of people with books they could enjoy! For them it wouldn't be copy-paste.
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #134 on: December 04, 2016, 02:22:30 AM »
Ok, I do agree to some extent that it's difficult to gather meaningful statistics (though at least Peat's trying!), and it's always good to challenge stuff like that if you feel it's necessary, but some of that is a bit off, Lanko.  :P

And saying "there is only % of women here and there", "it's male-centric" and "it's a bit of a skew" implies that if male authors are ahead, it's a problem, but if it was the other way around it would't be, for whatever reason.
50%-50% - Parity, great!
51%+ towards female authors - Great!
51%+ towards male authors - Hm, I think it's a bit male-centric in here, there's only a % of women in here and there might be an issue here, folks. Red alert!
These bits in particular. At best they're absolute straw-man argument, but I have no clue where you're getting that implication from. Care to point out where it's coming from? Bear in mind that, at a ~30% market share, that means there are twice as many male authors. There's a huge difference between what the other side is saying and what you're claiming they're saying, which really doesn't help your argument!

And then with the last option also comes the "go for the gender" when picking a book to bring more parity, which isn't far from quotas, as some correctly pointed out.
People will come say it's not what they meant or want, or no gender discrimination openly said, but it's what it comes down to, no matter how one dances around with the words used:

"I read 3 books. They were from male authors, better get 1 or 2 from females now."
*Walks intro library*
"Oh, good cover! What a nice story! Damn, the author is male!" *Dismisses it*
"Oh, good cover! What a nice theme! Damn, male again!" *Dismisses it*
"Oh, good cover! Nice concept! Oh, female! Sweet!"

And then instead of interest or story or theme, gender becomes the focus, whether was the intention or not.
So you're saying people don't have TBR piles, and are unable to take multiple factors into account? Everyone just has to go into a store or library and pick up books at random until they find one that appeals, and then they have to walk out with that one?

^ I know that's not what you actually meant to say; that's essentially what you're doing in your characterisation of the other side's stance.  ;)
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