Battle of the Sexes by Patrick Brown

April 25, 2005

Earlier in the year, I took a look back at the books I’d read in 2004. I was surprised to find that most of them were by men. I’d always thought of myself as a guy who reads good books, regardless of who wrote them, but the facts proved otherwise. My girlfriend, meanwhile, pointed out that her reading list was split fairly evenly between the sexes. The only conclusion I could draw is that I am a chauvinist pig. Well, maybe not, but for a guy who claims he has no biases, my reading list was well stocked with white men and little else.

To remedy this, I’ve decided to try a little experiment this year. For the entire year, I am alternating between books by men and women. Aside from enforcing gender equality, this has so far leant some much needed discipline to my life.

Some of you will no doubt say, “But Patrick, I’m not a sexist pig. I don’t have to force myself to read women, it comes naturally.” My hat is off to you, but I’m sure you have a literary blind spot that could be addressed with a program like mine. Maybe you only read contemporary literature. Perhaps your reading list is strictly non-fiction. Maybe you haven’t read a short story collection cover-to-cover since college. If any of these are true, I recommend developing a little curriculum of your own. You’ll find your literary world blown wide open, and you’ll introduce yourself to some great books you might not otherwise get around to reading.

is a staff writer for The Millions. Patrick has worked in the book business for over seven years, including a two-year stint as the webmaster and blogger for Vroman's Bookstore. He is currently the Community Manager for He's written book reviews for Publishers Weekly, and he's spoken about books and the internet at the LA Times Festival of Books, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association spring meetings, and the 140 Characters Conference. He writes the sporadically entertaining Tumblr blog The Feeling.