In 2019, something I did just happened. Perhaps it was the years spent idolizing men in literature, or maybe it was my intersectional feminist view from videogames leaking into my reading list, but I couldn’t as quickly buy books by white men. Something in me subtly gave, and it was as if I’d hit my likely lifetime quota. To preface this, I have a Literature BA with a focus on Literary Theory. I am that much of a bibliophile. I can’t sleep without reading at least 50 pages of something or other. My dream home overflows with books. This obsession started when I was a child with an overactive imagination and a problem falling asleep. I would wake up in a pile of books.
Before anyone rage tweets I’m sexist for taking a year to read books mostly by people who were not white men, I want you to stop and realize I have likely read thousands of books by this demographic. If you take my yearly total, which only counts my pleasure reading and not the piles of papers I have had to read for my job as an academic, I’m at 52 books not by white men. 2019 was a lighter reading year for me as well, according to my kindle data. I’m 45 next week. I’d make a rough guess I’ve read somewhere in the area of 5k novels in my life, with the four years of my degree averaging around two books a week and my teen years spent with my nose in a book. I was even the editor of the school literary journal. I was that much of a nerd.
However, I’d assume women wrote less than 500 of the books I read. My shelves are lined by white male authors, with the occasional Baldwin, Le Guin, Atwood, or Carter book thrown in for good measure. I have diversified my games and music tastes, but my reading habits were in a dire need of an update. Unconsciously, I set about this task only to realize it after the fact. It was a groundswell, and also a sign of how publishing itself has begun to change.
I’m never going back. The stories I read this year redefined for me what and whose voice mattered. I have cheered, sat up in bed, and few times, stayed up all night. Enjoy. Note, I did buy a few where men are second authors. They are here for completeness.
Here are the books in no order:
- Rage Becomes Her. Soraya Chemaly.
2. Braiding Sweetgrass. Robin Wall Kimmerer.
3. The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. Audre Lorde
4. Middle Game. Seanan McGuire
5. The Priory of the Orange Tree. Samantha Shannon.
6. The Devourers. Indra Das.
7. Uneasy Street. Rachel Sherman.
8. Atlas Alone. Emma Newman,
9. Insurrection. Tade Thompson.
10. Six Wakes. Mur Lafferty.
11. Black Leopard Red Wolf. Marion James.
12. Artificial Condition. Martha Wells.
13. Circe. Madeline Miller.
14. How Long ’Til Black Future Month? N.K. Jemisin.
15. After Atlas. Emma Newman.
16. Planet Fall. Emma Newman.
17. Rosewater. Tade Thompson.
18. Shades in the Shadow. N.K. Jemisin
19. The Inheritance Trilogy. N.K. Jemisin
20. All Systems Red. Martha Wells.
21. The Geek Feminist Revolution. Kameoron Hurley.
22. White Innocence. Gloria Wekker.
23. Emergent Strategy. Adrienne Maree Brown.
24. Too Like the Lightening. Ada Palmer.
25. The Stone Sky. N.K. Jemisin.
26. Words are My Matter. Ursula K. LeGuin.
27. Women Who Make a Fuss: The Unfaithful Daughters of Virginia Woolfe. Isabelle Stengers and Viciane Despret.
28. The Power. Naoimi Alderman.
29–31. Lilith’s Brood (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago). Octavia E. Butler.
32. Semiosis. Sue Burke.
33. Epigenetic Landscapes. Susan Miller Squier.
34. Exit Strategy. Martha Wells.
35. The Raven Tower. Anne Leckie.
36. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Ocean. Vuong.
37. Before Mars. Emma Newman.
38. Rouge Protocol: Martha Wells.
39. Joyful. Ingrid Fetell Lee.
40. 84k Claire North.
41. The Calculating Stars. Mary Robinette Kowal.
42. All the Birds in The Sky. Charlie Jane Anders.
43. The Killing Moon. N.K. Jemisin.
44. The only Harmless Great Thing. Brooke Bolander.
45. The Lathe of Heaven. Ursela K. Le Guin.
46. This is How you Lose the Time War. Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
47. Invisible Women. Caroline Criado Preze (I found out she was a terf after and well, don’t buy this. She’s a terrible human.)
48. Achilles. Madeline Miller.
49. Hilma af Klint: Notes and Methods. Hilma Af Klint.
50. Another Science is Possible. Isabelle Stengers. Stephen Muecke.
51. Times Square Red. Time Square Blue. Samuel R. Delany
52. Parable of the Talents. Octavia E. Butler.
Before you rage tweet, yes, I did also read a few books by white men, but only two are worth mentioning here because they are radical explorations of how we got to where we are at now:
1. Making Sense. Simon Penny. ❤ ❤ ❤ (This book bears special mention because it was likely 20 years in the making. It unseats the thinking in western science that have caused this situation we are in today. I could not recommend it more. It’s a brutal, systematic take down of intellectual traditions in technology.)
2. Archaeologies of Touch. David Perez.