renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
[personal profile] renay posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
By day, Zach is a mild-mannered computer programmer. By night, he naps and browses Reddit and also makes me dinner, which I always appreciate. He doesn't blog much, and when he does it's so short he should probably be using Twitter, which he has at [twitter.com profile] echthroi. What he lacks in verve and volume he makes up for with large volumes of dry humor, random bursts of insight you only realize were insightful three days later, and sheer apathy. When faced with a project that requires the participants to really and truly care about self-improvement, what better person to scoop up than the dude who barely reads and demand he accept your reading challenge?




Renay: Zach! Thank you for joining us for lady fun times in 2012. Since you'll be appearing here throughout the year after I prod or bribe you (with Godiva truffles) into follow-up posts, you should share a little about yourself so Ana and Jodie know what they're getting into accepting this wacky plan of mine. Please tell me your hopes, dreams, and your favorite type of books (which will soon become of Key Importance).

Zachariah: Right, nothing says slow-ball opening question like “What are your lifelong aspirations?!” :D I believe you already have the answer to that one though (you DID mention Godiva chocolate), so moving on to favorite books...I go classic nerd all the way with Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I have a fondness for books with whiz-bang plots and zero character development, but I have been tempted into deeper waters once or twice.

Renay: It's the "once or twice" part that interests me. Sometime mid-2011 I asked you how many books by women you had read. At the time, the answer was zero. Of course, you only had seven books when I posed the question, but looking back, what did you think about only having read men every time you chose a book?

Zachariah: I felt pretty ambivalent about it. One the one hand, it was seven books by four authors; two of them were actually re-reads of some of my favorite books, and another two were direct sequels to something I had just read. So there was more going on with the book choices than the normal pseudo-chaos of book selection. On the other hand, I’m not facing a shortage of known-to-be-awesome books by women in my home bookshelves, so it was interesting to me that I hadn’t read at least one female author yet in 2011.

Renay: Yes. Because you live with the co-founder of a blog called Lady Business. You went to the library and checked out more books by dudes instead of reading the books by ladies that you often trip over to enter our living room. Let me be clear: I am not knocking reading books by the dudes, because I like plenty of male writers. In fact, when you ask me to list favorite authors, if I don't slow down and think, I'll have five or six men before I even drop one woman writer: we are all a product of our culture.

Let's go back in time to 2010 (the joy of spreadsheets), where your (individual author) breakdown was eleven men to five women. Even though you read 40 books, you completed The Series of Unfortunate Events (dude) and caught up with The Wheel of Time (OH GOD all of those words). Male authors recurred across your 2010 list (Snicket, Simmons, Jordon, Scalzi, Gaiman, Green) but all female authors only occurred once (Pearson, Priest, L'Engle, Ryan, Marchetta). I suspect what we would find if we went back to 2009, 2008, 2007 and so on (much like I did in my own reading when this was pointed out to me) that men will often surpass women in sheer number on your reading lists, especially in fantasy and science fiction, which are the genres of your choice.

This is not a new debate or a new problem. Ana, Jodie and I documented one such debate last year. Your "ambivalence" is unfortunately not unique to your position.

Zachariah: Were we to go back before 2009 I think my reading lists would have like two books per year, but I agree with the thrust of your suspicion. I'm particularly interested in my apparent propensity for reading series rather than standalone stories, and look forward to finding out how well this is going to carry over as I make the change to primarily female authors in this challenge.

Renay: I tried to think of fantasy and science fiction series by woman off the top of my head and just failed out of that (classy, self) so I'll also be interested to see how many you come across without it just being Bujold, Bujold, oh hey, how about Bujold? given the makeup of our finances and library offerings.

Let's talk about the terms of the challenge! As you should know by now, given my habit of talking about it at length, here at Lady Business we follow a certain philosophy (or, as I like to say, we reverse what popular culture deems interesting and relevant):

1. Stories by ladies about ladies.
2. Stories by ladies about men.
3. Stories by men about ladies.
4. Stories by men about men.

For this challenge, we agree to read five books by ladies (options #1 and #2). After the fifth book, the sixth book can be from options #3 and #4, if, say, a certain YA author decides to do something outrageous like sign the entire first printing of his book and therefore it comes out early, ten days into this project. We also have the choice of not reading a male author at that point, but if we continue reading women writers, we won't be able to read another book by a man until we've read six additional titles by ladies.

Traditionally published books and sequential art from middle grade to adult count, but fanfiction does not. So, fine, I won't go read the Inception fanfiction I'm behind on to count toward the challenge. Whatever.

There will also be no obfuscating. Books have to go on the list dated when you finish them!

In the end, one of us will have read more books by ladies.

Zachariah: To clarify, if we opt out of reading a male-authored book, then that book is replaced by a female-authored book; it is not “saved” so that we may later read two (or however many) male-authored books in a row. If I have the understanding of this correct, then...challenge accepted!

Renay: That is true! That is violating the spirit of the challenge. No stacking the dudes (sorry dudes)! Our official record is available on Google Docs and only books on this list count and the entire internet will know if we try to cheat. Or, well, at least I will. *g*

Good luck out there, sir. You will need it! :D

Zachariah: Thank you! I do hope there won’t be any hard feelings once I’ve won.

Date: 2012-01-02 08:15 am (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
Good luck to you both! I look forward to seeing where your adventures take you :D

Date: 2012-01-02 09:06 am (UTC)
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helloladies
Well, it's only the 2nd of January! You can still make a rule :D

Date: 2012-01-02 03:31 pm (UTC)
zachariah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zachariah
Since all the anthologies you've ever pointed out to me were male-centric, I feel that also might be violating the spirit of the challenge, unless we single out only the stories by women. I'm open to options, though!

Date: 2012-01-02 12:41 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Love that we can track your progress (is a stalker). I'm so excited for your new discoveries and to hear about how this goes.

Date: 2012-01-02 01:55 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] dastevens
Ooooh...this is too fun!

Date: 2012-01-03 10:53 am (UTC)
goodbyebird: Batman returns: Catwoman seen through a glass window. (GG Rory what great writing is all about)
From: [personal profile] goodbyebird
Adventures with books, yay!
I've been working on reading more the past couple of years. Due to the shittiest of shitty memories, I've no clue about my reading patterns before 2010, but then I started doing the scrapbook thing on my journal. Last year my reading tally was 14 women to 11 men, author wise(I've made no conscious attempt to read more by women, but I do quite often gravitate to stories about women). My comics reading was entirely composed of male authors though, but that's only out of four series.(though it is my impression that in comics there are far less female writers that are easy to come by)

2009 was four male writers versus one female. At least I am showing a shiny progress when it comes to the amount of books I'm reading. *g*

Date: 2012-01-04 03:59 pm (UTC)
goodbyebird: Wonderfalls: Jane thinks this book sucks. (Wonderfalls)
From: [personal profile] goodbyebird
Yep. Thinking most of it is alternative/indie type stuff. I read a bit about the panels at ComiCon with DC and their abysmal men to women ration, and basically wanted to bite the head off the douche on the panel.

To be fair, most of those books were not heavy books at all. And it's not like I've got a school load to get through beside it. This year my resolution is 25, though that might be more challenging, as I have some real bricks waiting for me at home. Your project will turn out to be very interesting though, I'm sure of it. It's funny how keeping track of something and being much more conscious of it can affect the experience. People who guilttrip you for expressing your own experiences can go jump in a lake.

Date: 2012-01-26 07:48 am (UTC)
aliena_shalynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aliena_shalynn
Do you take suggestions?) Since I definitely can come up with a fantasy series by a female author: Robin Hobb wrote The Farseer Trilogy (Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin's Quest) and The Tawny Man Trilogy (Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, Fool's Fate), which is a direct sequel of the first one. And they are all marvelous, honest to god)

Date: 2012-01-26 07:56 am (UTC)
aliena_shalynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aliena_shalynn
I don't really like her point of view on fanfiction, but fortunately I read her books for the first time about 5 years befor I discovered fanfiction, so I could just love them without prejudice)

Date: 2012-01-26 01:18 pm (UTC)
seventhe: (Cats: I LIKE THEM)
From: [personal profile] seventhe
B--BUT BUJOLD!!!

Zach, you're hilarious. I kind of love you. Creepily. >.>

Suggestions

Date: 2012-03-18 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I am always on the lookout for new sci-fi either written by women or featuring women - I swear it has gotten scarcer in recent years. Some suggestions for your reading list:

Kristine Smith - series starting with Code of Conduct
Elizabeth Moon - Remnant Population or her Vatta's War series
David Weber - Honor Herrington series
Sara Creasy - Scarabeous series
Martha Wells - Fall of Ile-Rien series (more steampunk-ish than hard sci-fi), her Books of the Raksura is good bio-scifi/fantasy
Sharon Lee and Stan Miller - Liaden series (sort of Jane Austen in space/space opera)
Julie E. Czerneda- has 2 or 3 bio-scifi series that are good
Wen Spencer - Elfhome series (both scifi and fantasy rolled into one)

If you come across any good new authors in your readings, please post the names!

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