Some time ago, there was a post on my favorite writing forum about a program to encourage people to read books by female authors.
Now, I am likely going to alienate a few people with this statement (maybe more than a few), but I don’t consider the way the author’s reproductive organs are plumbed when deciding what book to purchase and/or read.
Seriously. It never even enters my mind. I look at author’s names only to see if I’ve read them before. If I have read a given author before and enjoyed it, I’m more likely to seriously consider another book by them. If, on the other hand, I’ve read a previous book by an author and didn’t care for it, I’m going to be skeptical about buying another of their books.
Beyond that, what I want from a book is a good read, and there are just as many good female authors out there as good male authors. Looking over my bookshelves, I see male authors like L. E. Modesitt (the L is for Leland), as well as female authors like Anne McCaffrey. Though their styles are different, both are highly successful authors who are still selling books.
I think these efforts to promote one gender of authors over the other do a disservice to literature in general. Should I read a subpar book by a female author — just as there are great authors of both genders, there’s also bad authors of both genders — just to look good in the eyes of the people pushing those efforts? Sorry, not gonna happen.
If you want to see more female authors, teach women to write well, and they’ll sell books on their own without external “read female authors” efforts. Louisa May Alcott, among many others, proved that many years ago, and it’s no less true today.