Ending the Phrases “I Don’t Read” and “I Don’t Read Women,” One T-Shirt At A Time

by Alafair Burke

Admit it. At some point in your life, you’ve said it, or at least heard someone say it. “I don’t read books by women,” or more harshly, “I don’t like women authors.”

Typically when I hear the sentiment, there’s a slight (and I suppose flattering?) modification: “I don’t usually like women authors, but I love your books.”


Appreciative yet perplexed, I started asking readers why they thought they didn’t like women authors. Usually they said it was because the books weren’t hard-boiled enough. Or they said there was too much romance and not enough action.T hey believed that women writers were writing for women and not men.

On the conference circuit, I’ve talked a little bit about the stereotyping of authors, and we’ve had great discussions about male/female differences (or the lack thereof) here on Murderati.  I do believe that publishers and editors are more likely to steer female crime writers toward romantic suspense.  They might also encourage them to write more about female experiences and characters. 

But to say “I don’t read women” is very different than preferring certain types of books over other types of books.  Some of the most inventive, brilliant, and, yes, bad-ass crime fiction being written today comes from women.  Using gender as a proxy for subgenre is a darn lazy way to choose books when your local independent bookseller will happily hand-select books tailored to your individual preferences, and when Amazon tells you if you like Michael Connelly, you might also like Tess Gerritsen, and if you like Harlan Coben, you might also like Lisa Gardner, and when thousands of high-quality reader-reviews are a computer away via GoodReads

I was talking about the “I don’t read women” phenomenon over on my Facebook wall a few months ago, and I quipped, “I want a t-shirt that says Real Men Read Women.”  Before I knew it, a bunch of my friends said they wanted to buy that t-shirt.  Well, when it comes to my readers, I say, “Ask and you shall receive.” 

But if I was going to get into the tee-shirt vending business, the money needed to go to a good cause.  And as the daughter of a writer and a librarian, I see no worthier cause than youth literacy.  As much as I hate to hear someone say, “I don’t read women,” it’s far worse to hear, “I don’t read.”  And it’s even sadder to hear those words from a child.

Did you know that the majority of low-income families do not have a single book for their children at home?  Teachers have students bringing in phone books when asked to bring a book from home, because it was the only book they had. 

I’m proud to report that bestselling (and super cool) authors Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritsen, Laura Lippman, Karin Slaughter, and Lisa Unger have lent their names to an odd little effort to end the phrases “I don’t read” and “I don’t read women,” one t-shirt at a time.  Thanks to them, “Real Men Read Women” gear is now available online

We’ve also got “I Like Boys Who Read Books by Girls” gear.

And though we thought that the use of our names would help bring the crime fiction community to the effort, we also have gear that does not list any individual authors, so you can collect the gear even if you prefer Harper Lee and Dorothy Parker.

All profits will go to First Book, a non-profit organization that provides new books to low-income children.  Order your stuff here.  And if you’re not into t-shirts, mousepads, and water bottles (who ISN’T into that stuff?), please consider donating directly to First Book here.

Thanks in advance for your support and for help spreading the word!

I’ll be raffling off a t-shirt to one lucky commenter.  Just post a comment that relates either to your favorite female authors or your experiences reading as a child.

P.S./B.S.P.  Early reviews for my new book, LONG GONE, are rolling in.  Library Journal, in a starred review, says “Burke’s first stand-alone novel is a fast-paced, plot-driven nail-biter.”  And from Booklist: “Burke delivers a tightly plotted, suspenseful account  . . . It’s very much in the Lisa Gardner vein—strong female protagonist, shadowy villains, intricate and suspenseful story.” (And they didn’t even know Lisa and I are on t-shirts together!)  Still waiting for PW and Kirkus.

You can watch the LONG GONE book trailer here:

68 thoughts on “Ending the Phrases “I Don’t Read” and “I Don’t Read Women,” One T-Shirt At A Time

  1. Marleen Kennedy

    I don't understand anybody who doesn't read. I can't imagine living a full and interesting life without books being a major part of it.
    I understand people who say I don't (usually) read ….. even less. I certainly have my favourite genres, with mystery/suspense probably being top of the list (regardless of the gender of the author) but it is through reading outside my comfort zone that I've discovered the most amazing authors and books in the past.

  2. hollygee

    I would not have survived childhood without books. I was an only and my mother did a lot of driving, we didn't always have the money for sitters, so I was with Mom. Reading. Constantly.

  3. Reine

    Alafair, what a great and fun thing to do for literacy!

    I loved reading as a child. A book was so much more satisfying than a short TV show or even a film. Still is, of course. For a few years, when I was little and lived with my parents, there weren't many books available except at school. The local library was too far away for children in my neighborhood to walk to and really did not have much for children, anyway. Our parents did not take us. A couple of times my friends and I made the 3 mile walk (each way), but we were not allowed to even go into rooms that contained books beyond our age level (just 6-8 years old at the time). Who decided what was what in that regard, I don't know. But at that age I just thought the poor librarian was mean. [Sorry, wonderful librarians.] That was Massachusetts a long time ago.

    One of our teachers, Ms. Carnilla, had two walls of books, and gave us extra credit for each book we read (beyond the required 10) and wrote an essay about in a journal. She passed them out on the first day of school. I am pretty sure she bought these notebooks herself. You might remember the kind – little cardboard bound booklets with a funny black and white design? If we filled one up, she gave us another.

    I am so happy to see this support for literacy and hope you raise lots of money with the tee shirts. There are still many children who do not have access to books.

  4. Kathy Collings

    The Bookmobile came every week to the junction at the head of town, right by the diner. Mom, my sister and I would walk the four blocks with our books that were to be turned in. Then, we would get to go inside, two at a time, to pick whatever we wanted. I didn't discover Laura Ingalls Wilder but I did fine every other book of that genre, and Marguerite Henry, and many others who just looked interesting. It never occured to me not to read women and it never has since.Bring on your modern day Bookmobile!

  5. JD Rhoades

    "I don't read women authors" ranks up there with the late John Belushi's statement that "Women aren't funny" in the top 5 statements that make me scratch my head and go "WTF"? Some of my favorite authors are women. and not because they write "like women," because they're great storytellers

    . I wonder…do you hear this much from younger readers? Because I 'd think the generation whose first great book- addiction was Harry Pottter might feel differently.

  6. Ruth Thompson

    My parents always signed me up for the summer reading programs at the local library. Had a teacher senior year of high school say the difference between his A students and his C students were the summer reading program.

  7. Alafair Burke

    Reading starts young. There are lots of adventures in a book. I remember as a child loving to read adventures books, pretending i was in the story. Lots of great memories. Now my children are doing the same thing and enjoying books everyday.

  8. Judi Rohrig

    Though I grew up with my local library as a second home and I gulped books like cornies, it was Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" that made me want to be a writer. Then Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN revealed my leanings toward dark fantasy. Add to the mix Margaret Atwood, Jane Hamilton, Vin Packer, Emily Dickinson, Alafair Burke, Joyce Carol Oates, George Sand, Colette, Poppy Z. Brite, and Jean Rabe and the dish is leaning toward yummy and delicious.

  9. Alafiar Burke

    You are quickly following your dad as a great writer of fiction. Keep up the good work. If you ever come to New Orleans, it would be an honor to meet you.

  10. Alafair Burke

    I'm really enjoying these comments. To folks who are new to comment here: The "Author" field in the comment box means the author of the comment, i.e., YOU! Although most of the 'Rati choose to use their own names, you may use a pseudonym for "author" if you like, but don't use my name or people think it's me (Alafair) posting. My husband, for example, might be shocked to learn I have children!

  11. Beth in NEPA

    I have been reading since I was about 4, encouraged by my parents, especially my dad.. I owned a children's book written by Carl Sandberg, The Rootabega Stories. When I was 5 I got to meet Mr. Sandberg when he was giving a talk at the college where my dad taught. I was clutching my book when I met him and he autographed it for me. My dad later told me that Mr. Sandberg was impressed that I could read his book at my age. Growing up, I read everything I could get my hands on. I remember going to the library as a child in the summer when I was aged 7 or 8 I think, and taking out a couple of books. I would go home and read them and go back for more. It was NOT ALLOWED on the same day. Fortunately my mom finally went with me and changed that!!!!! Good thing. I still read constantly. As I have gotten older I seem to prefer women writers but mostly because I like the kind of books them seem to write.
    Sometimes I like little cozy mysteries. Other times harder hitting thrillers like what Tess Garritson writes and paranormal of the kind written by Sherrilyn Kenyon. My tastes are eclectic, mostly I just like to READ! I feel so sorry for people who don't read. They are missing so much,
    I prefer to read a book rather than see the adaptation in a movie or on tv. I like to let my imagination go with the book. I don't always agree with the way the stories are cast.
    This is no doubt too much information for this note but so be it.

  12. Grace

    I have always been in love with books, libraries, and stories since I was a young child – still remember the excitement I experienced when I learned to read – the words coming together – nothing like it. I love the idea of the t-shirts – will definitely support. And the trailer of your new book is awesome, can't wait to get my own copy. Thanks for the great post.

  13. Dave Hall (The Fighting Leprechaun)

    I'll happily admit to borrowing some of Kinsey Milhone's investigative techniques when I was a cop, though I never adopted her diet of Quarter Pounders with fries. What's really sad is when those who have been given the gift of literacy choose to self-limit the bounty because of baseless predjudices. Good writing is good writing, period!
    Kudos to y'all for deftly fighting both ignorance and illiteracy with this project! And kudos to my late mother, who taught me to read "big kid's books" before I started kindergarten, which was the best present I've ever received!

  14. Alafair Burke

    My mom used to take me to downtown Wichita every Saturday. We'd start out at the Macy's bargain basement, then see a dollar matinee at the movie theater, and then end at the public library for me to exchange my stack of books with a new one. I realize now she was getting me out of the house so my father could write, and doing so very cheaply (we never actually bought anything at Macy's).

  15. Rhonda

    When I was growing up, I always wanted books off the Scholastic book order from school. My mom would always buy them for me. I heard her tell someone once, "If this is the habit she chooses to have, I don't have a problem paying for it." She told me I was mad when I started Kindergarten and they told me they didn't start teaching reading until first grade. I've been reading anything and everything I can get my hands on ever since, male and female authors alike!

  16. Allison Brennan

    How many times have I heard this same thing? Love the post and shirt Alafair!

    As far as the comment, "I don't read" … I was on the Levy bus tour in 2008 with a bunch of authors, multi-genre but mostly romance sub-genres. One of the authors had a memoir out–he was the son of a man wanted by America's Most Wanted and turned in his father when he was 19. Anyway, he'd grown up in Michigan, and one of the h.s. teachers at a school he'd spoken to had told her students they could get extra credit if they went to the signing and either bought the book or had him sign a card. most bought his book. (And so did I! He's very inspirational — Chip St. Clair)

    One signing I was sitting next to him and two girls came in with their mother. Chip talk to the girls, signed a book for them, and said to the mother, "What do you read? Over here" on his right "is Sophia writes historical romance, and Allison" on his left" write suspense novels. There's also an inspirational romance author and a–"

    She cut him off and, in front of her kids, said, "I'm sorry, I don't have time to read."

    I wanted to throttle her.

  17. Marc Davey

    I love reading. In my youth, I could read a book a day, now I savour it & have less time for that pace. Yet I pick up a new author based on what interests me-suspense, thriller, true story & sometimes something light. Women authors at first did not get my attention until Tami Hoag. She reached inside me & knocked me for a loop. That was it & then Anne Rice, Dorothy Tartt & Alafair Burke have crept in& started catching my eye…and you know they knock it out there with the best guy writers out there. THANK YOU!

  18. Sylvia

    These t-shirts are a gas! I showed my 11year-old daughter the shirts and she is loving the "I like boys…" but of course she would.

    My Mom was one of those mothers who belonged to the Book of the Month club or whatever the book club was for mailorder of the day. We lived in a remote place and the closest bookstore was an hour drive away and the local library had a woman who for whatever reason had rubbed my Mom the wrong way. I think she just wanted books that were hers and filled the bookshelves. She ALWAYS had a book going and typically read at least 1-2 per week.

    We were always read to and while I couldn't get her to give me an allowance or spend on clothes or whatever else I wanted, if I asked to buy a book she always did. I remember walking to the corner drugstore to see if a Nancy Drew I hadn't read had come in or later whatever the teeny-bopper romance series books were in. As a teen in the summer I was on the 1-2 book per week track.

    As an adult, I ebb and flood on reading. I can blow-off deadlines and pickups to finish a book (bad Mom) and then go weeks without reading (so sad).

    Women authors? You know the story of JK Rowling and why she went with initials. I think she changed a generation of boys to read everyone.

    My favorites? Well, Murderati of course carries favorites that I've discovered and devoured the work of Tess, Alafair, Zoe, Cornelia and I came to Murderati through Louise. Katherine Neville's past works (before The Fire) have a place on my bookshelf and there is the infrequent cozy by Cleo Coyle and others (ashamed to admit I cannot recall their names).

    I'm becoming more of a snob where I want to read female authors more than works by counterparts with testicles. I don't know why… perhaps looking at voice and style? Maybe I'll have a good answer for that someday.

    Love the line! I just may have to add this to my "Honey Badger Don't Care" t-shirt.

  19. PK the Bookeemonster

    I agree with you, Alafair, I think people are confusing the gender with the type of book. Women have been very strong in the SFF genre. In crime fiction, they should try Chelsea Cain, Karin Slaughter, Val McDermid, Christa Foust, Megan Abbot, just to name a handful. Plus, so many authors go by initials now, it's difficult for the average reader to know what the gender of the author is.
    And then you have the opposite sometimes: readers who will read only women. IMHO, a story is a story that holds its own no matter the gender of the author.
    BTW, I'm working on my June issue of Premeditated and worked on your new release — it sounded terrific! Congrats!

  20. KarinNH

    The best comment from a student at the end of a semester: One young woman looked at the rest of us and said, "I used to think I didn't like to read, but now I know I just didn't like what people were making me read."

    Every semester some variation of that comes out. And although I am always thrilled for that one student, I just wish every kid knew that. They have all heard so many rules that dismiss their choices: it needs to be a classic, it can't be popular, it must be by a man/a woman/a serious writer, and that genre doesn't count.

    All that matters is the story!

  21. Karen in Ohio

    Yay, for the t-shirt, Alafair. Love it.

    As I've gotten older, and more crotchety, maybe, I'm finding myself more and more leaning towards fiction written by women. Maybe it's because women writers have to try harder, or maybe I just enjoy the more widely drawn characters, and more closely observed emotions. Whatever it is, my husband shares the preference.

    In fact, he recently said to me what I had said to friends just a week before: I much prefer women singers. Weird, huh?

  22. Pam

    When I was 10 my father started a contest in the summer of which of us could read the most books. We lived on a Air Force Base on Okinawa. At first I "read" all the joke books at the library. Then I discovered L Frank Baum and the Oz series. Then I was hooked. I enjoy reading both men and women. The authors gender does not even enter into to my decision to read a book.

  23. Sarah W

    What a great double-whammy of an educational project!

    I have a regular who would love Naomi Hirahara's Mas Arai series, if I could get him to open the covers. He loves Japanese culture and history, he loves mysteries, he's even an avid gardener. But he took one look at the author's name and assumed her books were "Joy Luck Club cozies." That's a direct quote, by the way.

    I told him that the MC was male, and you really don't want to hear his opinion about that.

    I'll wear him down eventually . . .

  24. Joan Raffety

    I started reading seriously when I was in my early 20s. Up until that point in time, I was a fair-weather reader. When my kids were little, I didn't read as much because I got tired of re-reading the same sentence 15 times before I was finally able to make it through the paragraph.

    When I was younger, I used to think that I was too busy to read, but now when I'm in my mid-40s, I'm crazy busy with a full-time job, taking three college classes every eight weeks working on two bachelor's degrees, working on writing my own book and two daughtersm a son-in-law (18 and 25, 25 years old) and an almost two year old grandson — and I find that I read to escape the madness! The busier I get, the crankier I get if I don't get my reading time.

    I love the concept of your campaign and would love one of those T-shirts! 🙂

  25. jenjen842

    I think that a lot of the time women authors get certain nuances of characters that men just can't understand or much less write about. Of course I am a little biased being a woman :o) Not that men can't, I'm just saying a lot of the time.

  26. Tammy Cravit

    The only "I don't read…" I've ever uttered is "I don't read lousy stories". Why anyone would want to deliberately limit their reading based on such arbitrary considerations as the gender of the author is absolutely beyond me. I am interested to realize, as I write this, that I <i>do</i> have some preference for books with female protagonists, but not necessarily only those written by women.

    When I was a kid, I was shy and an outcast on many levels with my peers that I firmly believe my love of books was probably the only thing that kept me from becoming one of those tragic stories that we read about of children who take their own lives too soon. A lunch-hour spent in the school library with a good book was peace and escape and happiness for me; those days when the library was closed were sheer misery.At the time, I remember being teased mercilessly for being such a bookworm, but my ability to read a book and teach myself what I want to know about has surely stood me in good stead as an adult.

    As I write this, I'm feeling great sadness remembering the school librarian, a kindly woman named Mrs. Mason who let me spend time in the library even when it was technically closed, who saved for me new books that she thought I'd enjoy, and whose untimely death of a stroke when I was in 5th or 6th grade was one of the first experiences of true loss I had in my childhood. How I wish there was a way I could go back and thank her for saving my life!

  27. M Janine Brennan

    Books. Books. Books. I can't get enough. I don't care what sex the author is. I care about good writing. With a good book I can tune out the world and leave the stress behind. Lately I have been reading a lot more than usual. Hmmmm.

    My mother always had a book going and we always had books in the house. Saturdays my father would drop my mother and me at the library (she didn't drive then) and we both would stock up by the armful. I read my way through my childhood right into motherhood. I then read to my baby and books were always a part of the gifts he received even after he left to start his own family.

    Now I send books to my grandsons with their gifts and maybe even for no special reason other than I spotted a good one at the book store. Now his sons love their books too.

    Gender was never a factor with the books I read to my son nor is it involved in the books I pick for them as gifts so I believe I have contributed to at least 3 males in this world who read for the love of the written word, not for who has done the writing. Yay me!

    And yay Alafair for a great idea. Let the world know that real men read woman (and they knit too).

  28. Kercelia Fletcher

    My love affair with reading began at a very early age, and inspired me to expand my vocabulary in order to better understand what I was reading. I attempted to pass my love of books along to my children by presenting them with books as gifts often as they grew up. I have to say that I've never met a genre that I didn't like when it comes to reading. I began with the Nancy Drew Mysteries because they were close at hand, and gradually extended my circle to include such authors as Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and James Lee Burke. My latest "discovery" is Diana Gabaldon, who fascinates me with her time-travel novels. I am also a great fan of Alafair Burke.

  29. Carmen Wyant

    Where I grew up the most likely comment I'd hear is "I don't read." Sex of author had nothing to do with it. My brother, who never cracked a book to read for pleasure now teaches English literature-go figure.

  30. Rae

    Great post, Alafair, and thanks for the excuse to do some shopping 😉 A few years ago, I heard a young up-and-coming writer say he didn’t read women, and was truly shocked. Until that moment, it had never occurred to me that anyone, especially someone who appeared until that moment to have higher-than-room-temperature IQ, would base their reading choices on such stupidity. I of course vowed never to read another one of his books, which at the time was a bummer, because I liked his writing; never did buy his stuff again.

    I can't recall a time when I couldn't read. I distinctly remember reading Winnie the Pooh before starting grade school. As I grew up, I just devoured everything I could get my hands on, which made for some sorta weird literary juxtapositions, as what I could get my hands on was often whatever my incredibly conservative (both politically and socially) grandmother had brought home from the library. So I’d go from Allen Drury to the Bobbsey Twins, from Nixon’s Six Crises to Louisa May Alcott. It was all just grist for the mill

  31. David Corbett


    I'm actually rather impressed some of these folks who've said these things to you or other women writers can actually articulate their stupidity. As you'll see below, until I was obliged to think about this issue because of your nifty post, I hadn't tried honestly to address my own bias. And I'm embarrassed by it — not least because I still don't truly understand it.

    I try as best I can to alternate between men and women writers in the book group I lead at my local indie bookstore: http://www.davidcorbett.com/highcrimes.php

    My focus is a certain type of book — literary fiction that deals with crime or crime fiction that pushes the envelope of genre (by which I do NOT mean "transcends the genre") — and I can honestly say I have not discerned any reliably identifiable distinction between men and women writers.

    We're currently reading Dorothy B. Hughes' IN A LONELY PLACE — recommended to me by Megan Abbott and Sarah Weinman — and it compares far more with other writers of the 1950s (it brings to mind Goodis and Thompson) than some genetic "woman writer" mold. And I don't think any man we've read wrote a steelier book than Joan Didion's THE LAST THING HE WANTED.

    Interestingly, the only two authors whose books the whole group didn't like were women: Susannah Moore's IN THE CUT and Joyce Carol Oates' LITTLE BIRD OF HEAVEN. That doesn't mean I haven't picked men writers who left folks cold or inspired true disdain, it just was never across-the-board.

    But the only two authors who've had three books chosen are women: Denise Mina and Kate Atkinson. This reveals a bias of mine: I love both writers. And when an interviewer recently asked me for other writers I might suggest for his blog, the first two who came to mind were women: Cara Black and Zoë Ferraris. (He's also interviewed our own Tess Gerritsen.)

    HOWEVER: I must admit that with one exception — Martha Gelhorn — the writers who've inspired me are men. Now, inspiration is deeply personal, and so touches on issues of gender identity in a variety of ways, I suppose. (Gellhorn, unfortunately known more for her marriage to Hemingway than for her journalism, was one of the finest war correspondents this country has ever produced.) And yet — on reflection, I can say the poet Kim Addonizio has inspired me in the way, say, Pete Dexter, Robert Stone and Richard Price have. Those are probably the main five, the ones I go back to time and time again to teach myself things.

    And the poet Anna Akhmatova hits me in a way no writer of either sex does.

    But I still choose more men than women writers for my personal reading. My TBR pile is overwhelmingly testosterone-centric, with the only women with books there being: Rebecca Goldstein (INCOMPLETENESS and 36 ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD), Kathryn Harrison (ENVY), Marina Lewycka (A SHORT HISTORY OF TRACTORS IN UKRAINIAN) Marilynne Robinson (GILEAD) and Rebecca Barry (LATER, AT THE BAR). [Plus two friends, Nancy Rommelmann and Cheryl Strayed.]

    That may seem like a lot, but I have a HUGE TBR pile.

    What's up with that? I'm not sure. Having a literate girlfriend who puts work by women writers in my hands helps me get out of this rut, and I'm incredibly grateful. She just gave me Jennifer Egan's A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD, and she's constantly giving me women poets and short story writers to read, all of whom I invariably love. But why don't I instinctively seek them out myself?

    In some sense, I'm always looking for writers who seem like guides on my own path, who are in a sense teachers, and as noted the majority of those have been men. But Gellhorn and Addonizio have also touched me that way.

    Hmm, as they say.

    I'm sorry, this is terribly muddled, but you've got me thinking. And questioning.

    Damn you.

  32. tess gerritsen

    Alafair, I've told this story before, but it's so relevant to your post, I'll tell it again.

    I was signing in a bookstore when I noticed a male customer who had an armload of thriller novels he was about to buy. My media escort called out: "If you like thrillers, why don't you try one by Tess Gerritsen? She's right here and she'll sign it!"

    The customer looked at me, shook his head, and said: "I don't read books by women. I don't like their writing."

    I got a look at the thrillers he was holding and happened to know that two of them were ghostwritten by WOMEN. He was already reading women authors, but just didn't know it.

  33. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Here's the deal – I read good books. At least a third of all the books I read are written by women. Maybe it's 50/50 even. I'm juggling two books right now and both are written by women.
    When I was at the RT Conference a woman came up while I was signing and passed my table, glancing at my books. She smiled and said, "Nothing personal, I just don't read male authors."
    I could kind-of understand her thoughts, considering this was a romance conference. But on the other hand I wondered how many male romance authors she was reading who are writing under pseudonyms. Probably not many, because I imagine she does her homework. Still…come on. My world would be considerably smaller if I didn't read female authors.

  34. Barbie

    I have good news and bad news. Good news, you'll never hear me saying I don't read books by women, EVER!!! Because I love women authors, very, very much. The bad news is that I often say the opposite: "I don't read books by men." I just… don't. I've read Michael Palmer before, but I haven't enjoyed it nearly as much as the women I read. And it's not a matter of genre, because I LOVE some gore, like Karin Slaughter and Tess Gerritsen. I just think women do it better, I guess. But I know there's prejudice on my part and it needs to stop 🙂

  35. Murderati fan

    I've often thought how men gravitate to male writers….Like George Sands ha! I've given up on some male writers as the depth of character isn't there, and a car chase is a car chase is a car chase. I read both male and female for various reasons. It's the story; it's the characters; it's being transported to another world; it's closing a book, like putting down a fork after a fine meal, completely sated, but looking forward to the next meal by the same chef.

    So, the ultimate put down review might be — Magnificent, insightful book, packed with action and tension. A must read. She writes like a man. Looking forward to shopping for my writer friends.

  36. David Corbett

    Of course, it's not just women writers who get shunned and ghettoized for reasons that make you want to back your head into a wall. This piece from April 11th's New Yorker discusses Anna Faris and the problem getting Hollywood to overcome its male bias, especially in comedy: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/04/11/110411fa_fact_friend

    I personally believe the most unique and interesting and drop-dead funny comic on the scene today is Maria Bamford: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4egL6Ju6M0&feature=related

    When Kathryn Bigelow won her Oscar for THE HURT LOCKER, the male buzz in Hollywood was: Lowest Grossing Best Picture Ever.

    So God knows the talent is there. And so is the Glass Great Wall. It's one thing to wonder if you have the talent. It's quite another to know you do, and be told it doesn't matter.

  37. David Corbett


    Yes, I was puzzled by the children. Also by the fact you apparently suffered amnesia concerning the spelling of your own name (Alafiar).

    Thanks for clarifying.


    P.S. Dusty: I watch Maria Bamford and feel my chin tapping my knees. I love her so much I could almost stalk her.

  38. Karen in Ohio

    Well, here's the thing: After 55 years of reading, I've read more than my share of male authors. If I choose now to focus on female authors, it's just a matter of attempting to even things up a bit.

  39. Alafair Burke

    David and Dusty, Wait a second, everyone knows women don't make good comedians. I keed, I heed! But I confess I've never heard of Maria Bamford, so am going to have to remedy that apparent shortcoming.

  40. Reine

    Alafair, thanks for posting that explanation about "author name." I was getting confused, thinking you were commenting and not the author! I'd go back and forth double checking who was the blogger today. I'd finally settled on the idea that there was a commenter with the same name when I read your explanation!

  41. Barbie

    David, can I just say I haven't even met you, but by your blogs and comments I think you seem like the coolest guy??? 🙂

  42. Alafair Burke

    Not to mention that I can't draw "your" name for the raffle if you use mine instead of yours!

  43. Thomas Pluck

    I hate picking favorites. I read Agatha Christie as a kid; she was likely my gateway drug to other criminal masterminds. I horrified my teachers by making a bloody Rolls Royce diorama when I read "The Mirror Crack'd."
    I didn't know Alice Sheldon was James Tiptree Jr., and her work continues to amaze me. And I was rooting for Tana French to win the Edgar this year for Faithful Place.

  44. Erin

    I can't imagine–wouldn't WANT to imagine–what my life would be without reading. I'm a woman, but I'll admit that for many years, I was partial to male authors. I didn't not read women on purpose, but rather was very into a number of series, all of which happened to be authored by men. Several years ago, I picked up a book by the daughter of one of my all-time favorite authors, and have since discovered a bunch of amazing crime-fiction writing women. And for that, I thank you, Alafair.

  45. Michael Hutchings

    Greetings from the UK.

    Who cares about the gender of the author, as long as the book keeps you hooked and entertained?!?

    Just recently I've read a couple of Alafair's books, and also a few by PJ Tracy (two female authors for the price of one there!!!). And as a previous post mentioned, who can ignore JK Rowling when she has produced such Universally loved pieces of literature.

    Keep up the good work, ladies.

  46. Dick Droese

    Frankly I've never thought of the author's gender before I saw a post about it on Alafair's FB page. But a review of my own posted "favorite authors" shows that 6 of the 8 are indeed male…..Does that make me a sexist per se? It is too bad so many kids grow up without books in their homes, especially since they all seem to have cell phones now…..

  47. Amy

    I have a few non-readers in my life. That dog in this post? That's what they look like when I start talking about books.

  48. Jon from Phoenix

    Real men read women? Who knew. Of course I'm sitting here looking at my mostly read collections of Sue Grafton, Nevada Barr, Alafair Burke, Patricia Cornwell, J A Jance, Linda Fairstein, Tess Gerritson, Karin Slaughter, Kathy Reichs, Alex Kava and on and on and on! Wow, I guess I'm a real man, lol.

  49. Janet LeClaire

    I read so much that I can no longer remember the title, only the author. I love crime/suspense novels and I also have my favorite authors. I have not yet had an opportunity to read Alafair Burke novels and cannot wait to get my hands on your latest read, Long Gone. I am also a dog lover so already we have something in common.

  50. PD Martin

    Great post! I probably read more women than men, but there's not a huge difference (roughly 60/40, I'd say).

    And I'm now up with Maria Bamford. Although I am a bit of a "I don't do stand-up comedians" person. Ha, ha!

  51. pari noskin taichert

    Hey, Alafair,
    Love the gear. Love the sentiment.

    As to literacy, LCC 2011 just donated $15,000 to our literacy charity here in NM — $5400+ was from the auction and the extra was part of our "profit." I felt so good giving the money to an organization that had its budget cut by $14000 this year. At least this buys them time to make good decisions about how to proceed rather than hasty ones.

  52. Alafair Burke

    Sorry I've been slow today to catch up with comments but 1) there have been a ton – YEA! and 2) I was in a faculty meeting most of the day – BOO! I'll wait until the morning to draw a winner since there's still some Monday left on the west coast, but be sure to check back in tomorrow to find out who won!

  53. Reine

    Great work! But oh, Pari… that's like one of those good news/bad news statements. Fantastic Contribution/Humungous Budget Cut

  54. jana

    I don't know what I would have done growing up without books. My first loves were Nancy Drew, Laura Ingalls, and Annie Oakley. (Ok, so Little Miss Sure Shot wasn't an author or a character in a series, but the story of her life enthralled me at an early age.) Add in an infatuation with horses, and you get the Black Stallion series, The Snowbird, Black Beauty, The Stone Pony, My Friend Flicka, and many others. Some of my favorite classics are Where the Red Fern Grows, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Go Ask Alice, Little Women, and Heidi. I consider my first "big girl book" to be Comes the Blind Fury by John Saul. It belonged to my best friend's mom who was shocked that I read it in a day (I was about 12 or 13). That led to, of course, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Then I discovered Dick Francis, who, like Walter Farley, combined horses AND mystery-but for adults! I was in heaven. I also enjoy Iris Johansen, Ann Rice (the Mayfair witches in particular), Thomas Harris, John Steinbeck, and Larry McMurtry. Somewhere along the way I stumbled onto JLB. He instantly became my favorite author. His books are just amazing. Naturally I had to read his daughter Alafair's first novel. Now I read them all. So here I am today, reading books written by both genders that encompass different genres. What makes books wonderful are the words, the talent, the canvas covered by the color palette of language, blended and shaped by people who live and breathe to write. Thank you for your dedication to your art.

  55. Alafair Burke

    Sylvia, You've got a hard decision to make. Are you or your daughter going to get the t-shirt you just won in the raffle? Pick any unisex or women's T and a size, and email me at alafair@alafairburke@com with your selection and mailing address, and I'll place the order. Congratulations!

  56. Robert Carraher

    I used to say only half jokingly, I don't read books by women with a) Irish Sitters on the back or b) Golden Retrievers on the back. But only because the few female authors I picked up thinking they were Crime Fiction, turned out to be more melodrama or romantic suspense, which isn't my cup of rye whiskey. I love Alafairs books, Jan Burke, MJ Rose, Janet Evanovich, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, useed to read a lot of Marcia Muller, so, like you said, it's more the type of fiction, not who wrote it.

  57. Kasandra Maidmentt

    I PREFER women writers, and always have. I do read male authors but my first choice is always the female writers, even those that took men's names so people would read them. George Eliot and Georges Sands are two of my many favourites. I have read most of the women on the shirt, and many others, K. Reichs, N. Barr really too numerous to mention. I actually have never heard anyone say they don't read women authors but perhaps that's because they know to do so in my presence could result in some form of bodily harm.


  58. Tory Burch Outlet

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  59. Paragona

    Okay Alafair,

    You've got me. I am a crime novel junkie and yes, I only read books men have written for the same reason you stated here:

    Admit it. At some point in your life, you've said it, or at least heard someone say it. "I don't read books by women," or more harshly, "I don't like women authors."

    And, I don't have one excuse other than I get into a comfort zone with my favorite, male, writers. So here goes! I'm heading to the closest bookstore and buying Long Gone. Then I'm going to read it and if I like it I'm buying up tee shirts in every color! If Lee Childs likes you, I'm all in.

  60. tory burch

    Everyone loves what you guys are usually up too. This kind of clever work and exposure! Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve included you guys to my blogroll.

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