Inspired by an article by Anne Boyd Rioux about gender equity in nonfiction, Shannon (River City Reading) recently made it one of her goals to read more nonfiction by women. Rioux’s article, in written in response to the overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male, includes these really frustrating facts:
A recent study in Mayborn also showed that among all of the major prizes in nonfiction over the past 20 years, only 20 percent were won by women and five percent by people of color. The study also found that these results don’t simply prove jury bias; the percentage of books by women submitted to the major competitions was only 30 percent last year.
Like Shannon, I know that my nonfiction choices are dominated by men. And since payin attention is the best way to actually do something about it, I decided to borrow Shannon’s goal for my personal reading list for Nonfiction November. Once I started looking at my shelves, I realized I have a ton of great books by women to choose from. Here’s what’s on my stack (in addition to my book in our readalong):
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (2010) – This is a book that looks at the way the War on Drugs is disproportionately hurting communities of color. Given what happened this summer in Ferguson, this is a must read.
- Sex and the Citadel by Shereen El Feki (2013) – “As political change sweeps the streets and squares, the parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at an upheaval a little closer to home – in the sexual lives of men and women in Egypt and across the region.”
- Factory Man by Beth Macy (2014) – A look at how one local manufacturer helped save a small town. I found this one randomly at the library and I’m intrigued.
- The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg (2014) – This one just arrived in the mail yesterday, and I am so excited about it. In short, “An investigative journalist uncovers a hidden custom that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl.”
- Minneapolis Madams by Penny Petersen (2013) – Apparently Minneapolis used to have a thriving red-light district run by politically powerful madams. Sounds interesting!
- The News Sorority by Sheila Weller (2014) – After decades of male dominance, three women – Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour – have made it into the boys club. I’ve been excited about this one since I got it in the mail.
So there you have it – lots of great nonfiction by women to choose from. And just as an FYI, reading nonfiction during November isn’t a requirement for participating in our little celebration – it’s just something that I’m excited to do to try and get back into my nonfiction reading groove.