I was reading a book review from Jessica the other day. She wrote an aside that she realized that she tends to read female protagonists. So  it got me thinking: do I read more male or female leads in books?

I’m going to go into my Nook (no Kindle here…) history for this calendar year and give you a quick count. Take 30 seconds to think about your own habits as  you imagine me counting.

Male- 8

Female- 12

Neither/Both- 8

So it would appear by my standards that I am really all over the place. I have no clear favorite, but really base my interest in a book based on the story itself. Hmmm. I’m actually surprised, because I thought for sure that I would have been leaning totally towards the female protagonist. When Jessica posed the question, my brain was screaming “Female Protagonist. Girl rule boys Drool. Of course I love female leads.” I made an assumption that because I identify as a woman, that my books would identify that as well.

Hmmmm

So let’s drill down on the numbers. My favorite book that I read this year was Amor Towles “A Gentleman in Moscow”. I mean, gentleman is in the title, so you know you’re getting a male protagonist. But it didn’t matter. Book was elegant and intelligent and I just loved going page to page reading about the life of this gentleman.

My second favorite book this year was “Daisy Jones and the Six”. I know- woman in the title, but no….the book looks at things from the perspective of different people. So yes- we hear from Daisy, but we also here from other people. There is neither an overriding masculine or feminine tone to this book: it’s just a fun, interesting read where the voices of multiple characters are sharp and clear.

After looking at my list, I do realize that when I just want to be entertained, I almost always go for female leads. There are times when I don’t want to think: I want to sit under a blanket with a mug of tea and read, and these times are female protagonist time. I want to relate on that level, I want a character like me, or like my friends. My binge books lean towards females. I’m going to bet that the majority of my summer list will contain female leads.

What about authors? Male or female? I’m counting…

20 female

7 male

It would appear that I do tend to gravitate towards female authors.

So maybe I like books that are written from the perspective of a woman, no matter what sex their main characters identify as? Maybe women write the types of stories that I want to read? Maybe women write better dialogue and I am a dialogue girl?

Who knows.

But now that the question is out there on the table, you know I’m going to overthink this too. You know I’m going to be looking at the books I read/choose and asking myself the male/female question. Is the sex of the author important when choosing a book? Is the sex of the main character important? Do I choose books based on either criteria?

So now I’m throwing it out to all of you: answer any or all of the questions that I too am pondering. But basically, how does the sex of the author or sex of the main characters affect your reading habits?

Discuss

 

85 thoughts on “Who’s Your Hero?

  1. Although lately I’ve been reading a lot of spiritual non-fiction, I can tell you without even looking that I am almost always going to go for the female protagonist. I would guess it’s a ten to one split, even. I’m trying to think of even one book I’ve read in the past year that was a male lead, and I can’t think of even one! Now I have to go check. 🙂

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    1. I was surprised when I actually looked at my numbers. Now I can almost guarantee it’s going to switch over the summer, but who knows what fall will bring?!

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      1. I just scrolled all the way into 2017 on my Goodreads list, and there was only one book from a male perspective- the autobiography of Tommy Lee from Motley Crue, of course. Which was, by the way, fascinatingly disgusting. Hahahaha! That’s out of about 50 books! Maybe I need to branch out a little. I also went through a serious cozy mystery phase. I must have been having a really rough time. I like easy, predictable stories when I’m feeling down.

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  2. Female authors generally and female characters but then again I used to read a lot of male authors, but I don’t approved of their books and I cannot afford to buy them… Actually, now I read whatever I get approved of

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    1. As long as you enjoy most of them it’s all good. But from a marketing perspective…is it expected that woman will only read women and men will only read men?

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  3. Never thought of this before, but weirdly, now that ya made me think of it, I realize I do read female protagonists more than male. But that’s not how I choose my books. I rarely read fiction, and in the non-fiction genre, professional development, etc. it’s a 50/50 split between male and female authors.

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  4. I never really thought about it before but I do read.more.women than men authors. Next time I’m looking for a book to read I will have an different approach to find my.next book. Thanks for msking me think this morning.

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  5. I don’t seek out men or women when choosing the books I read (or male or female protagonists in those books), but when I looked at my 2019 reading log, 57 of the books I’ve read this year are were written by women, and 26 were written by men. That’s a much wider difference than I thought!

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  6. Honestly- I have never paid attention to it. I think my collection of books is completely diverse. I may have a bit more female writers/leads on my shelves but I do love to read romance… that said I also own a ton of books by James Rollins, Clive Cussler, Stephen King, Lee Child… just to name a few. I’m attracted to the plot of a story- that is the only thing that factors into my choice in books. If the summary is interesting- into the cart it goes!

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  7. I don’t set out to choose female authors, but of the 30+ books sitting on my shelf to read, only 2 of the fiction titles were written by male authors! It’s funny really- I react first to title, then synopsis of book then may check to see if the author is one I have read before. I’m guessing, by looking at the titles again, that females are going to take the lead as driving characters in the stories as well!

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  8. I hadn’t considered these questions before–interesting! I suppose I didn’t really pay much attention, but now I’m trying to find more female horror writers because I like to write dark fiction/horror fiction. So, I wanted to see how the male/female horror writers compare. Mostly, I try to look for originality and, of course, an interesting title.

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    1. I never stopped to look at my reading habits, but I found going over my list to be really interesting in what I thought I read about, vs what I actually read about

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  9. Wow. I’m the odd ball here. I don’t even give it a passing thought. What has this world come to? I pick a book by reading the blurb on the sleeve and read it because it interested me. I don’t consciously say ‘oh, a female protagonist’ or whatever…

    I don’t get hooked on male or female. It’s like I’m blind to the gender, (or colour or orientation). It just doesn’t register in a tangible way.

    Example: I’ve followed and read a blog by a woman on and off for a couple of years. She talks about her relationships sometimes, but not always or often. It wasn’t until just this week that I realized she was a lesbian. How did I discover it? Two things: at one point there was an image somewhere with the flag they use (the rainbow colours) and she mentioned a past partner having been a ‘she’.

    When I read her stories about her relationship dilemmas, I never made the connection that her partner was female until at that point. Which in itself tells me something: how similar we really all are, and how similar relationships in general all are, especially romantic ones. Same ups, same downs…

    I guess my perspective is the same neutral way with choosing what to read. I just don’t make a conscious decision based on gender or the protagonist’s gender.

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  10. I tend to choose female authors and protagonists (although attending book clubs has changed that a bit). However, I’m often pleasantly surprised when I read a book by a man with a male main character and can also relate to them, somehow…

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    1. I know…with book clubs they can literally be anything! I know. I love the Don Tillman character that Grahame Simison (spelling most probably off) has created

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  11. I absolutely lean towards female protagonists and authors. It seems to be more of an issue with authors than protagonists, though. This is something that I started paying attention to a few years ago when I first really got into writing book reviews because I noticed that I just wasn’t a huge fan of most of the books written by men. When I started paying attention I found that I struggled with male authors because one of the most important things in books for me is emotion and connection with the characters and I struggle to get that with most male authors. I’ve even intentionally gone out to attempt to find some male authors that I liked in an effort to see if this was just a personal bias, but have found this is a thing for me. While I do have one or two that I will read, and one I really love, those are extremely rare.

    While I mostly prefer a female protagonist, I’m not opposed to flipping that. I’ve read some really great books with male protagonists. The problem with me is that because I lean so heavily towards female authors, I’m just way more likely to get a female protagonist.

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    1. One of my fave series are the Rosie books, written by Graham Simison (I know I botched the spelling) both male author and male protagonist but written so well I can’t help but get excited

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      1. When they’re among the best writers, which they often are, they seem to speak to me more. My husband and I are both avid readers, and I reckon that in over 50 years of togetherness we haven’t read more than 10-20 of the same books! His authors and their plots rarely resonate with me and vice versa. 😊

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  12. I don’t care about the gender of the protagonist. I just want my hero to be a true blue, for real, and average American…you know ’em. A champion that has, just maybe, read one work of fiction in the last five years, and hasn’t pick up a hardcover non-fiction title in a decade or, make that, two. You know like a normal American. Write on.

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  13. I participated in an Australian Author Challenge a few years ago for two reasons: a) it seemed that I was reading books written mostly by men and b) the books I had been reading were well marketed and publicised, and generally by the same authors. Completing the Challenge meant that I discovered a host of talented women writers, and that our indie authors also have a great deal to offer. My reading is now far more balanced with a 50/50 male/female ratio and far more interesting as I come across those with less monies spent on marketing.
    Interesting topic, LA.

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  14. A Gentleman in Moscow..absolutely loved that book, didn’t fall asleep (shocker) didn’t want it to end. Sadly though, I don’t read enough to create a male/female list..but I could put together a finished it/didn’t finish it list..😬

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  15. years ago, I was reading mainly male authors – and the majority were named John: Barth, Irving, Fowles. And Nabokov. Not John. Vladimir.

    I must have gone overboard, because next I read only female Canadian authors. Atwood, Munro, Hay, Toews, Coady…

    Now, I cannot find anyone that meets my reading needs – probably because I don’t know what they are anymore.

    But to answer your question, I used to have a huge crush on Mighty Mouse. 😉

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  16. I don’t really care if the book has a female protagonist or a male protagonist and I honestly couldn’t tell you which one I read more of. I can however tell you that this year so far I am reading more female authors. I don’t intentionally do this though.

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  17. I have never tallied, either, because it has never mattered to me. But I learned some interesting things about our language and how it is used to diminish women compared to men when I was taking my Wikipedia course earlier this year. I’m trying to train myself to be more aware of wording. But when it comes to fiction, for me it’s all about a good story. I can’t recall caring about the sex (or sexuality) of the protagonist.

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    1. Honestly, I’m happy to see that we all want a good story…who the author or lead us doesn’t matter. Now you have me intrigued about language of women…

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  18. I tend to read mostly women authors, and have for years. I read very few male authors regularly, John Grisham and Dan Brown come to mind. I don’t mind reading a male author if he is writing as a male protagonist, but when a man tries to write as a female protagonist, it usually doesn’t work. (John Grisham are you reading!) I think women are better at writing a male protagonist, then vice -versa. Maybe they have better imaginations. (of course I am looking at his as a female point of view – any men reading, I would be interested in your opinion).
    I’m currently reading The Bookshop of the BrokenHearted by Robert Hillman, simply because I’m a sucker for anything with a Bookshop in the title, and while the male protagonist, an Australian sheep farmer seems authentic, the female protagonist, an older Jewish woman and an Auschwitz survivor who lost her son and moves to Australia to open a bookstore, just does not work for me – no woman would think/act like that or be so selfish. (There is a young orphaned child involved in the plotline). She was so unbelievable that the plot didn’t work. I ended up disliking the female character so much, I peeked ahead to see if he stayed with her. And of course he did, because there was lots of sex involved! Let’s just say, the book was no The Light Between Oceans.

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      1. For me, if something seems unrealistic, that’s a killer. There’s a scene in the book where a young six year old boy (stepson) walks for 4 days to get to the farm, the only place he had known any love was with the sheep farmer. He arrives in the middle of the night, cold and hungry, clothes torn from being in the outback. And the women gets out of bed, sees him and says, you have to send him back, ie it’s either him or me, then she goes back to bed. Can you imagine any female, let alone an Auschwitz survivor being that cruel?? It just wasn’t realistic.

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  19. As a young reader I ONLY wanted to read books about girls. I’d get easily annoyed with male protagonists. Thus, I never read the Hardy Boys, but loved Nancy Drew. Nowadays, I’m a genre-centric reader—sci-fi is my go to, and a good many of the protagonists and authors are male; however, several of my favorite authors write very strong female characters. Gareth Powell and Adrian Tchaikovsky both feature believable and multi-dimensional female protagonists in many of their books. And, the deeper I dig the more female sci-fi authors I find. I’m going to stop because I get pretty caught up in the subject. 🤪

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  20. I go for the subject matter, if the description grabs me I do not care who the protagonist is, maybe I will look into my latest books to see if it leans heavily towards one or the other, but I do not really care, just a nice engrossing story is what I need.

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  21. I read books that interest me. I can care less if the author is male or female, black or white, christian or atheist, cat or dog. Everyone brings their own journey to their writing but if it’s entertaining and well written what difference does it make who wrote it. I think for me to do anything else would go against the grain of what I believe. But I guess everyone is different.

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  22. I read any book that is good and that holds my interest and draws me in. Some of my favorite authors are men, others are women. I find it really doesn’t matter at all to the quality of the book, and the quality of the book is all I care about.

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  23. At the top of my TBR stack is Rules of Civility by Towles. I’ve had it for at least a year. Have you read it? I’m curious to know what you thought? A Gentleman in Moscow is on my TBP(urchased) list.
    Daisy Jones is at the bottom of the TBR stack because I finally bought it Wednesday last.

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