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Excuses Men Have Given Me For Only Reading White Men

Annika Barranti Klein

Staff Writer

Annika Barranti Klein likes books, obviously.   Twitter: @noirbettie

Sometimes a person does a wholly reasonable thing like deciding to read outside the established canon of white male authors. Or perhaps a person inquires of a man why the entire list of favorite authors on his OKCupid profile is…the established canon of white male authors.

Unfortunately, many men, unaccustomed to not being centered in every conversation, take this very personally and feel their only course of action is to loudly explain why they are right.

Because, you see, these cis het white men have the best and most correct reading habits and no one should do anything differently than they do. Below are some of the things men have said to me about their reading habits.

I don’t pay attention to gender, just good writing.

I don’t even notice who writes a book.

I just want to read what I like without worrying about it.

But you have to read the classics.

I care about diversity, I just don’t want it shoehorned in without a reason.

It’s racist to only read books by non-white authors.

I’m not sexist, I just know what I like.

I’m not racist, I just like good writing.

If you really care about literature, you have to read Hemingway.

—you have to read Faulkner.

—you have to read Hunter S. Thompson.

You have to separate the art from the artist.

Some of my favorite books are by women.

Have you read Ayn Rand?

Lots of men write books with female leads.

White people can write black characters.

I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

I read The Confessions of Nat Turner.

Have you read David Foster Wallace?

Have you read Jonathan Franzen?

Have you read Jonathan Safran Foer?

Women just don’t write literary fiction.

Women just don’t write fantasy.

Women just don’t write science fiction.

I only read hard sci-fi.

I don’t want to read a book with token characters.

It would have to be necessary to the plot.

I don’t like that vampire stuff.

I prefer books with broad appeal.

It was a different time.


I consider myself a feminist, but—