Thursday Thoughts on Gender in Books

I recently started following the meme, Thoughtful Thursday, hosted by Reading Is Fun Again.  Similar to the Blog Hop, a book-related discussion question is posted each week.  Here’s today’s question!

Thoughtful Thursday

Do you prefer to read books with a male or female protagonist? Does the author’s gender matter?

This is probably going to sound like a very safe, very PC answer, but I honestly prefer books to have strong characters of both genders.  I tend to get more excited about amazing female characters, but I think that’s largely about there still being some deficit in that regard (aside from the recent surge in dystopian YA…)  Sadly, it still seems like an event to find a capable female character who plays an active role in her own story, all the more so if that story is a retelling of, say, a fairy tale, where that was not the case in the past.

I do feel like, at the end of the day, people are people, and characters should be people too, and whether they are male people or female people is secondary to whether they are complex, interesting, believable people that I want to spend the length of a book with.  The question of gender only becomes a really big thing for me when one gender is notably missing.

I read lots of books with great female characters last year, but my favorite character all year was Samwise Gamgee–but it still bothers me that there are so few women in Middle Earth.

As to the question of the protagonist and author being (or not) the same gender, mostly it doesn’t matter to me.  I’d be rather hypocritical if I did care a lot, considering my novel has a male protagonist!  But see above, people are people.  I’m not the same gender as Jasper, and I’m also not a wandering adventurer, or an orphan, or illiterate–it’s all imagined!

All that said, I am more likely to look sideways at a book if the main focus is the protagonist’s character development, rather than plot or worldbuilding or relationships, and the author is a different gender.  I’m not saying that can’t be done well!  Just that I’m slightly more skeptical because the author has more to overcome to do it well.  But I try to keep an open mind.

Your turn!  Do you strongly prefer to read one gender or the other, or does it not matter that much to you?

Don’t forget you can enter the KidLit Giveaway and win a signed copy of my novel!  Contest ends May 18th.

About cherylmahoney

I'm a book review blogger and Fantasy writer. I have published three novels, The Wanderers; The Storyteller and Her Sisters; and The People the Fairies Forget. All can be found on Amazon as an ebook and paperback. In my day job, I'm the Marketing Specialist for Yolo Hospice. Find me on Twitter (@MarvelousTales) and GoodReads (MarvelousTales).
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2 Responses to Thursday Thoughts on Gender in Books

  1. jenclair says:

    I relate well to either gender, but I like a female protagonists to be emotionally interesting. In a lot of fantasy, female characters are often kind of…place markers. Sometimes I notice, sometimes I don’t. If the main character is interesting and the plot is good, I’m going to enjoy it.

  2. dianem57 says:

    I would say I relate more to female protagonists, and I do read more books by and about women. But they are by no means the only books I read, and I must say I really didn’t give it much thought until I saw your question. The fictional books I read are mostly with female lead characters and mostly written by women. The non-fiction spiritual type books I have read are almost all written by men – and have been quite inspiring to me. So maybe it’s the content and not the gender, in the end, that matters most.

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