In 2014, and again in 2015, I decided to see if I could read at least twelve new-to-me female authors, and possibly review them to share my discoveries. I’m continuing the trend into 2016 because I think there’s still a need for it, because reviewers and good friends of mine have confessed that they still read far fewer women than men, because a recent Facebook post I read asking people to list their five favourite FEMALE SFF writers was crammed with replies like “Mark Lawrence” and “Brandon Sanderson” and because some idiots complained that Mad Max : Fury Road had too many women in it to be a proper action film… We clearly still have some way to go *rolls eyes*
It’s not hard, whether you read 30 books a year, or 60, or 100, to make sure you read one book a month by a female author you’ve never read before, in any genre, fiction or non fiction – there are a lot of books out there, after all!
And doing the challenge has led me to discover some faboulous writers who might otherwise have passed me by. Notable and recommended firsts this year include Madeline Ashby, Margret Helgadottir, Rebecca Skloot and Kate Coe.
I’m going to repeat the experiment again in 2016, aiming to read twelve female authors who are new to me and making sure I review a selection of them. I’ll update the list on this page, and as I post reviews I’ll link to them, and we’ll see if we can’t get some more of that discoverability going. This year Pete Sutton from BRSBKBLOG has agreed to have a go at the challenge, so I’ll be goading and cajoling him throughout the year and getting his opinions on the challenge and the books he’s read (he doesn’t know this yet…)
If you feel that your 2015 reading list was a little lacking in women, or you just want to discover some great new writers, why not join in with the challenge, share your lists and see how you get on? You might discover some awesome new books, and you’ll be helping to promote awesome female writers at the same time – it’s win-win!
MY LIST – NEW-TO-ME FEMALE AUTHORS READ IN 2016
- Sarah Pinborough – The Death House ( reviewed )
2. Sarah Lotz – The Three
3. Sandi Toksvig – Girls Are Best
4. Bobbi Brown – Bobbi Brown Make-Up Manual
5. Octavia Butler – Kindred
6. Genevieve Cogman – The Invisible Library ( reviewed )
7. Nina Allan – The Race
8. Naomi Novik – Uprooted
9. Jean Donaldson – Fight! A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-Dog Aggression / Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs (Two for the price of one here)
10. Madeline L’Engel – A Swiftly Tilting Planet
11. Susan Ee – Angelfall
12. Emmi Itaranta – Memory of Water (reviewed)
I’ll keep you updated as the year goes on. And if you decide to take up the challenge, let me know how you get on, and keep sharing those undiscovered women writers!
Update – 1/1/2016
Happy New Year! Several people have now expressed an interest in joining that challenge or made suggestions – thank you all for the input! If you’re looking for inspiriation, you could always check out the link to Ian Sales SF Mistressworks, as suggested by Pete, for reviews of pre-21st century SF written by women.
Just a quick note – someone asked Pete if this challenge only applied to SF and F authors. My list might lean more heavily towards women in genre fiction, because I am a woman writing genre fiction and that’s where my interest lies. If you want to take part in the challenge, it’s 12 books by ANY women you haven’t read before, in ANY genre, fiction or non fiction. The only critera is they have to be female authors you haven’t read before.
In the face of another “Influential White Men in SF” list at SF Signal (no, I’m not linking. Google it if you must but it’ll only depress you) – here’s a list of ten WOMEN in SF you should be reading right now (influential or up-and-coming)
- Octavia Butler
- Ursula LeGuin
- Emma Newman
- Emily St John Mandel
- Paige Daniels
- Ann Leckie
- Tricia Sullivan
- Stephanie Saulter
- Connie Willis
- Janet Edwards
Add them to your lists!
Still ahead of target for the year. and I’m also making a conscious effort this year (more than I did last year) to make sure I also read women I’ve already read – currently Trudi Canavan and Joanne Harris. Reading published books is currently taking a back seat to reading submissions for Kristell Ink, some of which are by women but don’t actually count towards the list) but as I’m already ahead I’m not too worried.
Check out this great post on Bookends Blog which has a list of recommendations for books for people to try out if they’re new to SFF and want to dip a toe in the water. And, most excellently, ALL the books on their list are by women – thank you Bookends!
As you know, Pete Sutton and Kate Coe are both taking part in the Discovery Challenge this year, and today Pete has interviewed Kate on BRSBKBLG about her own writing, and how she’s getting on with the Challenge – check it out here!
Another interesting link for you – Kate Elliott (Black Wolves) has posted on the Barnes and Noble blog with a list of depictions of women in fantasy that didn’t want to make her want to SMASH ALL THE THINGS. Lots of female authors on this list – follow this link to read it.
Halfway through the Challenge and we’re not quite halfway through the year. It’s been quiet on the reviews side because I’ve been reading submissions for Kristell Ink, but that’s done now (and I can reassure you that we’ve sent contracts to some fabulous writers, some of whom happen to be women…) So hopefully a few more reviews in the second half of the year!
It’s been quiet, but I’m still reading away and will be adding another book to this years list in 50 or so pages. In the meantime, those fine people at Ladybusiness have just produced a very interesting list of “60 Essential SF and Fantasy Reads” that you need to check out – see if you can spot what they’ve done here?
Smashed it for 2016, ending with a five-star zinger! How did you get on?
It’s a great idea, us female authors need a helping hand! I look forward to keeping an eye on your progress and discovering new authors with you.
Please do! I’d love to know how you get on and what great new reads you find!
So far I have at least 8 new to me female authors on my Goodreads TBR list. Not sure I’ll have time to read them all in 2016, but it is one of my resolutions to read more.
Sharon Kae Reamer said:
My goal as well! I just finished Mission Child by Maureen F. McHugh and am now almost done with Elfland by Freda Warrington. I’m struggling to get through The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin but the limitations are my mindset (I know too much geology and it got in the way of the story), not hers. That’s three already for December. I’ve got three Bujold books on my TBR pile (at the top) for January.
My sister gave me The Fifth Season for Christmas, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it!
Bujold and Jemisin are great (and Elliot and Hurley and Clarke and Johansen and Hambly and Wurts and so many more)!
Try EJ (Emma, I think) Swift. Her Osiris trilogy is well worth a read.
Thank you, will do!
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Yep. Count me in. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to reblog this article tomorrow morning – because you’re right, women writers could really do with more reviews.
Feel free to share! 😀
Reblogged this on Brainfluff and commented:
This thoughtful post from Joanne Hall reminded me that female authors often struggle to get their work reviewed – even the best of them them… I shall also be also having a go at this challenge and posting my results throughout the year. Anyone else is very welcome to join in!
Yep, “discovearbility”:is a huge problem. Back in the -80s and ’90s, it was easy to get dozens of reviews in newspapers and magazines. Now, those channels are gone, and nothing has arisen to replace them. Author involvement on social media–which, frankly, authors shouldn’t have to do–seems to be the only way to go.
It used to be that if you put out a good product, people would discover it and it would sell. No more.
More power to you for persevering in this incredibly hostile environment.
Thank you! Writing books is the thing I enjoy most in the world, and it saddens me to see good writers, especially women, giving up because they feel they’re being ignored. A rising tide lifts all boats 🙂
Have you seen the 2016 Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge over at Worlds Without End? It’s pretty much exactly what you’re doing here. The challenge is to read 12 new-to-you women authors in 12 months and write 12 reviews. Its been hugley popular on our site for the last 4 years – getting bigger every year. Last year’s challenge had 51 readers who read 549 books and posted 215 reviews. We’ve got 32 particpants already this year so we hope to blow those numbers out of the water. We’ve built some site features to help folks find new women to read like a gallery of all the women authors in our database (1,126 so far) and some resource lists including Award Winning Books by Women, 200 Significant SF Books by Women, and the excellent SF Mistressworks list you already know about. Here’s a Bitly link to get you there: bit.ly/1PnIvjQ.
I hadn’t seen that but that’s an absolutely brilliant rescource – well done and thanks for sharing! I might have to join in over there 😀
Excellent! Hope to see you there.
Sophie E Tallis said:
Well done you Joanne, this sort of push is exactly what’s needed. It’s why so many female writers still have to hide behind a male name or ambiguous initials to help their books get more exposure. Every time I go into Waterstones it’s the same, the SFF section is dominated by male writers with JK Rowling being the odd exception. We do need to read more diverse books by diverse writers and that has to start with giving women a fairer crack of the whip!
I’m lucky, although I don’t read half as many books as I used to as it takes me so long, I am reading a lot of fiction by awesome women writers as I’m busy reading a lot of Grimbold titles, including a certain Spark & Carousel by you and Green Sky & sparks by Kate Coe! Both of them AWESOME so far!!! 😉
My January discoverability challenge reading here: http://brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/reviews-discoverability-challenge.html
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