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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Why is it easy to tell someone's gender by their bookcase?

36 replies

darleneoconnor · 24/05/2011 18:33

Now I know this is a generalisation so let's not get distracted by a nitpicky analysis of that aspect but I bet I (or anyone) could go into any house and tell the gender of the occupants (female, male or mixed) just by the contents of their bookcase.

In our house the only overlaps of books were freakonomics, an atlas, a dictionary and to kill a mockingbird.

DP has lots of military books and crime and horror fiction. I have reems of feminist titles. I would imagine that alot of couples' collections are not as polarised as ours but there definately is a gender split isn't there?

I've heard that whilst women are happy to read book by male authors men are less willing to read female authors. Is there an unknowing sexism in this?

OP posts:
AMumInScotland · 24/05/2011 18:44

Well, most of DHs reading lately has been female authors, and he doesn't have any crime or horror fiction... a couple of naval histories for family/geographical reasons. And most of mine lately has been sci-fi/fantasy by male authors, so I'm not sure its as common as all that to be able to judge.

Hassled · 24/05/2011 18:46

DH is a male reading stereotype - books about woodwork and military history. Facts, basically. Dull facts.

I've converted him to novels now but he does seem to gravitate towards male authors.

ThisIsANiceCage · 24/05/2011 18:55

I'm the one with the military history and DIY, DP has O'Reillys.

We both have tottering mountains of novels and non-fiction, but he's the Sarah Waters fan and worships AS Byatt.

Malificence · 24/05/2011 19:05

DH worships at the altar of Pratchett and loves Harry Potter, I love Clive Cussler and Matthew Reilly, along with horror/crime and serial killer biogs.

hazeyjane · 24/05/2011 19:06

Dh - sport, cricket, history, grass and lawnmowers

me - crime fiction, classics, poetry, art

crossovers we both have - comic books, politics, scifi and fantasy, films, music, war, children's books , ladybird books.

KateMiddletonsEyebrows · 24/05/2011 19:16

DH history, historical fiction, sci fi (incl fantasy and terry pratchett), philosophy, poetry, classics, popular science/social science, plays
Me modern lit fiction, classics, popular science/social science, plays, business/management, sci fi (but no fantasy), biography

Quite a bit of crossover if you look at the whole library, but he reads books about the history of the roman empire for fun; I prefer fiction.

KateMiddletonsEyebrows · 24/05/2011 19:18

(otoh I'm fairly sure you couldn't tell DH or my gender by our music choices: mostly rock and pop, but he has rather a penchant for easy listening, Britney Spears, and, um The Seekers and New Seekers. i didn't marry him for his taste in music)

CoteDAzur · 24/05/2011 19:18

You would be wrong if you looked at my bookcase. My books are mostly sci-fi, historical crime fiction, and scientific (non-fiction). The few books I have by contemporary women authors are there because of our book club and only because I haven't yet gotten around to donating them.

DorisIsAPinkDragon · 24/05/2011 19:23

Dh is totally sci fi and dungeons and dragons fantasy or crime all of which I would rather boil my head than read. He'll red history books too, mine to my shame Blush is less than high brow tat, that relaxes me before sleep (childrens story ish i suppose).

PenguinArmy · 24/05/2011 19:43

Wrote post but it disappeared.

Basically mine and DH's are quite distinct but run counter to normal gender splits. Then again I did a physics degree whilst his was English. I have sci-fi he has 'graphic novels'. He has loads of the classics whilst mine is more reference based.

Camerondiazepam · 24/05/2011 19:55

I would say some 98% of the books in our house were bought by or for me so I'm afraid I can't really comment.

(but obviously I have anyway, cos I don't like to feel left out :o)

celadon · 24/05/2011 19:57

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fluffles · 24/05/2011 19:59

Dh and i read a lot of the same books, but he wouldn't touch some of my books by female authors with female main characters (few exceptions but not many) and i wouldn't touch is trashier sci fi or fantasy.

We share the same taste in 'good books' but not in 'trash' i guess.

oh and i read/have/buy about ten or twenty for every one he reads/buys.

CMOTdibbler · 24/05/2011 20:02

Ours are broadly similar, but dh has more heavy duty history books. I'm the one with the physics books

RamblingRosa · 24/05/2011 20:05

Hmm, we have a lot of overlap in our house although it's true that DP has more crime and history books than me. DP definitely has a higher tolerance for non-fiction than me.
Isn't there a whole thing about how women will read books by male or female authors but men are often weirdly prejudiced against women authors? I'm sure I didn't just make that up Confused

DontCallMeBaby · 24/05/2011 20:12

DH only reads science fiction - about as stereotypically male as you can get without eschewing fiction altogether.

All the books I can see at the moment are mine, bar one (possibly two, more of that later). Lots of stuff that I think most people would guess as belonging to a man, if forced to guess - Michael Marshall thrillers, China Mieville scifi/fantasy, two volumes of the Barefoot Gen series (graphic novel set in Hiroshima just before and after the bomb), a graphic novel about 9/11, some Iain Banks (the one book that definitely belongs to DH is an Iain M Banks, to be precise), Battle Royale ... Some you'd be hard pushed to guess - Cloud Atlas, Northern Lights, Roddy Doyle. The dead giveaways that there's a woman in the picture are A Life's Work, Misconceptions, Dream Babies and a few others.

There are also three shelves of cookery books. :o

I happen to be able to see a copy of the single book we had in common when we got together - Feersum Endjinn by Iain M Banks. Not sure if it's his copy or mine (I gave the duplicate away). We've since read a few books in common, but it's rare, as even though I do read science fiction I tend to like things he doesn't, and vice versa.

givemushypeasachance · 24/05/2011 20:12

Well I am a twenty-something who currently lives alone, and my bookcase includes:

  • Popular science and popular economics books
  • Lots of Oliver Sachs
  • Red Dwarf, Monty Python and Blackadder tie-ins or scripts
  • Agathe Christie and PD James
  • Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Stephen King
  • CS Lewis and the His Dark Materials triology
  • James Herriot, David Taylor, Gerald Durrell
  • Tom Clancy, Dan Brown and various trashy thrillers

I think that's an acceptably broad spectrum. Pretty much the only things that are banned are chick-lit and misery memoirs.
TrillianAstra · 24/05/2011 20:22

Most of our books are mine, and there is a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, which are apparently typically male. But Delusions of Gender and some crappy vampire shit would give me away as a woman.

Is it that women could easily read male-type books but that men would never have any female-type books?

So the same way if a person was described as wearing jeans and a red t-shirt and converse they could be male or female, but if they were wearing a skirt and heels then you would assume they were female.

NacMacFeegle · 24/05/2011 20:32

Mine are mostly sci-fi, some music bios, a lot of books about language. The Enid Blytons might give me away though :p

MillyR · 24/05/2011 20:38

The only highly gendered books in our house are record collecting books, feminist books and as Trillian put it, a bit of dodgy vampire fiction (NOT Twilight).

Having said that, DH has a male friend who only reads fiction if it by a feminist author. His bookshelves are full of feminist books.

Malificence · 24/05/2011 20:40

You must be a Pratchett nut too Nac, do you have a feegle-spotting t-shirt?

tabulahrasa · 24/05/2011 20:44

I don't know, I can't actually think of a genre of book I haven't got some of, though of course some more than others

DP has 2 joke books Confused

InmaculadaConcepcion · 24/05/2011 20:53

DH and I pretty much share the contents of the family bookshelf - we both enjoy fiction and there's no particular gender bias in our choices of author. I probably read crime fiction and parenting books more than he does and he's more likely to read political or philosophical non-fiction. But on the whole we massively overlap and often like the same sort of stuff.
He does have a pile of graphic novels and pretty much everything Terry Pratchett ever wrote from before we met. But I happily dip into those when I'm in the mood.

NacMacFeegle · 24/05/2011 20:56

I am a Pratchett nut, yes, I have the postcard but sadly not yet the t-shirt Smile

Most of what I know about the world came from Pratchett and Douglas Adams!

queenbathsheba · 24/05/2011 21:16

Almost all of our books are either reference or text books (we home ed)
Text books from key stage 1 English to A'level biology and Davidson's medicine and everything in between.
Most of my books are factual, History esp the holocaust and 20th century, antiques, furniture restoration, feminism, politics, ethics, social work and a few early 20th century Sci Fi.
A few novels like point counter point, Madame Bovary, but nothing really new and no female authors.
DH reads novels when he does read. DS1 has lots of history books and never reads fiction and DS2 loves fiction.

In short we must be a weird bunch who don't totally conform!

"Having said that, DH has a male friend who only reads fiction if it by a feminist author. His bookshelves are full of feminist books." Milly does he have a cue of women outside his house Grin

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