Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Gender Divide

UPDATE 9/5/11- Thank you so much for all the suggestions. I just finished requesting library books! I do want to add a few favorite male authors that I hadn't been thinking about at the time of this post: Ken Follett (best known for The Pillars of the Earth, but I prefer The Key to Rebecca and Jackdaws); Chris Bohjalian, who is absolutely brilliant at plunging into ethical dilemmas of current interest, such as transsexualism (Trans-Sister Radio) and midwife law (Midwives); and finally P.G. Wodehouse, a much less contemporary author whose comic novels, particularly the ones starring the butler Jeeves, are side-splitting funny, if you enjoy British humor and puns, which I very much do. I'm sorry to have ignored you, gentlemen!


I'm already learning things from this blog. When I put together my list of favorite authors, I realized how few of them are men, and most of those are nonfiction writers like Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers, The Tipping Point) or Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States). Do I not read enough fiction written by men, or do I just not enjoy it as much? Is it natural for men and women to gravitate toward same-sex writers?

I enjoy Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, and I've already mentioned my favorite play by Oscar Wilde. I read George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm every few years and still think they're relevant. I love Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I laugh out loud at David Sedaris's essays. And yet I wouldn't consider any of these men to be favorite authors.

(I have to make a quick point here about The Princess Bride. The book is so, so much better than the movie. The Pit of Despair can't hold a candle to the description of the Zoo of Death. Read it.)

I've read most of John Grisham's books, although I prefer his earlier work. I think Stephen King is a great writer, but his plots usually make me either nauseous or afraid of the dark, so I tend to avoid him. I find Nicholas Sparks too sentimental, Dan Brown too contrived, and James Patterson too sensational.

Am I giving male authors a fair chance? Am I just reading the wrong books? I would like to correct this imbalance, so if anyone has suggestions for fiction written by men, please post them in the comments section. At the very least, I'll make an attempt to read them and write a fair and honest review. At the most, if I'm lucky, I'll have my mind blown by some new writer, and can in turn share that passion with you.

If you don't have an author to share, but you do have an opinion on male vs. female writers, I'd love to hear that as well!


  1. I really like Wally Lamb's books...but he often seems to me to be writing with a woman's perspective.

  2. Neil Gaiman (sp?), Salmon Rushdie, if you like fantasy the game of thrones books are well written even if they only come out once every 5 years, Douglas Adams for sure!

  3. Leon Uris and Phillip Roth are both good. Norman Mailer is a good time too.

  4. Interesting... looking now, almost all of my favorites are women too. (after the obvious J.K. Rowling, I adore Jane Green and gobble up anything and everything she writes!) And my all-time favorite was written by a woman ('A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith).

    I haven't read them yet but have heard great reviews of the Stieg Larsson books from some close friends whose opinions I do trust. Have you read them? (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the others?)

    I also love Stephen King but agree you have to be in the mood for it or the book might end up in the freezer. And if it's ok to now shift him to your male non-fiction writer category- have you read his memoir "On Writing?"

  5. Thank you for all the suggestions! I always forget about Wally Lamb, but you're right, Laura, I think they're sort of feminine in style. I haven't tried any of those authors, Irene and Puppy, so thanks for the suggestions. I've always wanted to read Leon Uris and Salmon Rushdie. Library here I come! And to the Dimas family, I did read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and tried so, so hard to like it, but I just couldn't. I must be the only one out there, because I know so many people who love it too. I'll blog about that failure at some point. And I've just started "On Writing"!

  6. Leanne, have you checked out Dan Simmons yet? He's emerging as my current favorite author of the moment. Check out "Carrion Comfort" or "Drood" both are great and interesting reads. Stephen King calls "Carrion Comfort" one of the three best horror novels of the 20th Century.

  7. Leanne, Do consider reading Pat Conroy's Beach Music. He writes so beautifully about the South Carolina coast. I think you will enjoy it. Also check out Nelson DeMille. The Charm School was the first novel of his that I read several years ago and I couldn't put it down. It was very intriguing. Enjoy!