And, I don’t read “girl books”

I never considered myself a “writer for girls.” Yet when approaching schools for a visit there are rare occasions when I’m asked: “What about the boys?” I have a problem with this. The questioner assumes boys can’t, or don’t read my books because the main characters are girls and/or because they’re written by a woman. It also assumes boys won’t want to attend a presentation from an award-winning female writer who writes books with female main characters. I think this assumption is wrong, and I’m basing it on my own preferences:

  • I read and enjoyed Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch books even though I was never in the military and I’m not a detective.
  • I read and enjoyed The Number One Ladies Detective Agency and The Color Purple, but I’m neither Botswanan or Black.
  • I read and enjoyed James and the Giant Peach, but I’m not a kid and I’ve never been inside a peach.
  • I read and enjoyed Harry Potter, and I’m not a boy, not a kid, and not a wizard.
  • I read and enjoy Findlay Donovan Findlay and the author are white women like me.

Do you see my point? A book’s main character or author’s gender doesn’t determine whether I like a book. Gender also doesn’t determine if I’d like to see the author’s presentation, and I’ve attended many presentations.

Sometimes I like to read about worlds unlike my own, people unlike me, and adventures I’ll never go on. And sometimes I like to read about people and circumstances that are close enough to me that I can imagine what it would be like to experience that book’s adventure.

It’s about choice. Sometimes I’m in a James and the Giant Peach mood, and sometimes I want Jack Reacher. Similarly, some days I want strawberry ice cream and sometimes I feel like Rocky Road.

I believe in encouraging and inspiring kids, tweens, and teens to read books regardless of the author or main character’s gender. I understand that this topic easily transitions to book banning, which I also oppose, but that’s a topic for another day.

What have you read that you’re not “supposed to” want to read?

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