The Overwhelming Gender Bias in “New York Times” Book Reviews

 NYT-wordmark The New York Times
This article was doing the rounds of the internet recently.
Recent analyses have found that women are less likely to be published in top tier literary outlets, or to have their work reviewedespecially by men.
While I agree with it, and think it is a problem with most publications, not just this one newspaper, I also have some issues with the tone of the article, and this sentence in particular:
Women are less likely to receive reviews when writing about topics that aren’t deemed “feminine.”
I’ve spent a lot of time on aeroplanes this year, and have been reading a lot of airline magazines. What I notice is that books written by women are NEVER reviewed unless they write about “masculine” topics such as gritty, grimy murders or political issues or something like that.
In fact, I quite often find book review sections in magazines and newspapers a waste of time because they only feature biographies of military men, or murder mysteries etc., which is fine sometimes, but more than a little dry and boring. I find there’s no variety.
And what the hell is wrong with being “feminine”?? When reading for entertainment I prefer books that deal with human beings, not facts and statistics. If women write those themes – and if they’re allegedly feminine things – then good for us.
There IS a huge issue with women being discriminated against in the publishing industry, however – despite women being bigger consumers of books – so more articles like this are definitely needed.
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The Latest Romance Genre Insult

You know what? I’m not even bothering to read the original article that sparked a huge backlash from authors, journalists, bloggers etc. I’ve read MANY quotes, and he doesn’t deserve the traffic.

All that needs to be said is that yet another man with a big audience behind him took a big swipe in a major publication at books written for and by women.

I did, however, read a number of responses, including this one (written by a man):

All the Dumb Things You Can Say About Romance Novels, In One Convenient Place.

Here is the response to the original writer claiming that a successful marriage in fiction is to women what being James Bond is to men:

Third, let’s note that ‘courtship and female self-empowerment’ are positioned as fantasy objects roughly as attainable for the modern woman as a life of ‘violence and danger’ is for the modern man. When, in fact, relationships that unfold in emotionally and physically fulfilling ways and self-empowering development on both the personal and professional level should probably be considered baseline expectations for the modern American woman, not dream lives. (And, for that matter, they should be baseline expectations for the modern American man, but that’s another topic for another day.)

Travel Reads

I’ve had a review copy of this one for a while now, but have to finish it! Originally published in German, I find it interesting it is about colonial Australia. For some reason books set in rural Australia are HUGE in Germany.

The Convict’s Mistress: A heart-breaking tale of forbidden love in a new land by Inez Corbi

Australia, 1800: Moira, a young Irish girl, arrives in New South Wales with her much older husband, a doctor who has been sent to work at the penal colony.

Locked in a marriage of convenience, the blue skies and sunshine do nothing for Moira; she is miserable, far from home and her beloved horses. A future in this land of red earth seems bleak. But things change after she meets Duncan, one of the convicts, who she saves during a camp raid. As the two get to know each other they grow closer and Moira realises she may have a chance at happiness.

But how can she escape her controlling husband? And Duncan, imprisonment? Together they dream of a future that may never be possible . . .

This epic, sweeping tale of forbidden love and new beginnings is perfect for fans of The Tea Planter’s Wife.

Out Now

Robyn Carr’s The Summer That Made Us is due out now. I have an ARC, and will be posting a review when I return from Spain.

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

That was then…

For the Hempsteads, summers were idyllic. Two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, the women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now…

After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best, hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.

Travel Reads

I haven’t read the first two in this new series by J.R. Ward (of Black Dagger Brotherhood vampire book fame), but have this third instalment as a review copy.

I’ve heard the series is pretty misogynistic, and I’m not sure if I’ll have any idea what’s going on(!), but this is one of the books I have to read while in Spain.

Devil’s Cut (The Bourbon Kings #3) by J.R. Ward

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In J. R. Ward’s thrilling finale to her Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch—and a shocking arrest.
 
At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.
 
Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.
 
As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing is for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

Travel Reads

Another book on my read/review list for Spain is Tremarnock Summer by Emma Burstall.

Tremarnock Summer Love is in the air in a Cornish village (Tremarnock Series Book 3) by Emma Burstall

Bramble Challoner has had a very normal upbringing. She lives in a semi in the suburbs of London with her parents and works at the call centre down the road. She still goes out with the boy she met at school. At weekends they stay in and watch films on the telly and sometimes hold hands. Bramble is dying for an adventure.

So when her very grand grandfather, Lord Penrose, dies, leaving his huge, rambling house in Cornwall to her, Bramble packs her bags immediately, dragging along her best friend Katie. The sleepy village of Tremarnock had better be ready for its newest residents…

Travel Reads

Here’s one of the review books I’ve downloaded to work on while travelling in Spain.

The Note by Zoe Folbigg is due out on the 1st of October.

The Note by Zoe Folbigg

The note changed everything…

One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a new commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn’t ordinary at all. Maya knows immediately and irrevocably, that he is The One.

But the beautiful man on the train always has his head in a book and never seems to notice Maya sitting just down the carriage from him every day. Eventually, though, inspired by a very wise friend, Maya plucks up the courage to give the stranger a note asking him out for a drink. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it.