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View Poll Results: Are you male or female, and do you read books by mainly male or female authors?
I am male and read mostly male authors 45 50.00%
I am male and read mostly female authors 0 0%
I am male and read roughly equal numbers of books by male and female authors 17 18.89%
I am female and read mostly male authors 7 7.78%
I am female and read mostly female authors 0 0%
I am female and read roughly equal numbers of books by male and female authors 11 12.22%
Something about Planet X 10 11.11%
Voters: 90. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 4th February 2009, 09:48 AM   #1
Professor Yaffle
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Male or female authors?

I was chatting to a friend recently about books and favouite authors etc and she noted that nearly all of my favourites are by male authors, and said she was surprised because generally people tend to prefer books by authors of the same gender as themselves.

I had never thought about this before, and hadn't even noticed that I mainly read books by male authors until she pointed it out. So I was wondering how true this generalisation is.

So please answer my poll question and feel free to elaborate in the thread.

ETA - I am interesting in fiction only.

Last edited by Professor Yaffle; 4th February 2009 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 4th February 2009, 09:55 AM   #2
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I tend to read non-fiction and the subject matter in most cases is dominated by male authors. No idea what my preference would be if you can control for that.

I haven't catalogued all the novels I have but that's male-heavy too. (I often think that Alexander McCall-Smith could be a woman though)

So I have to answer "I am female and read mostly male authors"

http://www.librarything.com/catalog/...zi&tag=fiction

Last edited by Francesca R; 4th February 2009 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:01 AM   #3
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Interesting question.
My wife and I have found a general preference for same gender authors - for fiction that is.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:02 AM   #4
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I don't pay attention.

Thinking about it, I read a lot of Science Fiction, which is heavily male dominated, some Fantasy, which is I think roughly equal, and Young Adult fiction which seems to lean to more female authors.

I think the generalisation is bunk. I bet there's a presumption that most women only read "chick lit" in play there.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Francesca R View Post
I tend to read non-fiction and the subject matter in most cases is dominated by male authors. No idea what my preference would be if you can control for that.

I haven't catalogued all the novels I have but that's male-heavy too. (I often think that Alexander McCall-Smith could be a woman though)

So I have to answer "I am female and read mostly male authors"

http://www.librarything.com/catalog/...zi&tag=fiction
Ah yes, I hadn't thought to clarify that I was talking about fiction - thanks for the prompt.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:06 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Piscivore View Post
I don't pay attention.

Thinking about it, I read a lot of Science Fiction, which is heavily male dominated, some Fantasy, which is I think roughly equal, and Young Adult fiction which seems to lean to more female authors.

I think the generalisation is bunk. I bet there's a presumption that most women only read "chick lit" in play there.
I'm not sure where she got the generalisation from - I will ask her next time I see her. She is an English Literature graduate, but I have no idea if she heard it in one of her courses or not.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:11 AM   #7
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A quick google on the subject found this:

Quote:
Men have finally realised what they are missing, but they still aren't all that keen to do anything about it.
This is the conclusion of a study into sex differences in reading habits, which found that, while women read the works of both sexes, men stick to books written by men. And the boys can no longer use ignorance as an excuse.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/may/29/gender.books
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:30 AM   #8
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I'm a male. The question had never occurred to me before, and I certainly read both genders. But I have a shelf of books that I wish I'd written, so I took a quick look at it, and *all* of them were written by males.

<sigh>

For what it's worth, I think that more than half of the music I listen to was performed and/or written by women. Does that redeem me at all?
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:36 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
A quick google on the subject found this:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/may/29/gender.books
Interesting. No bias from academics Lisa Jardine and Annie Watkins, obviously.

The last novel I read was by a woman, "Gideon the Cutpurse" by Linda Buckley-Archer. I'll be reading the sequel if my daughter can get it from her school library.

I've never heard of "Monica Ali's Brick Lane", "Carol Shields's Unless", or "Andrea Levy's Small Island" so I'm not going to claim they are "important", even when "pressed". What does that mean, "really important book", anyway? A book's value is entirely subjective.

And if "pressed" to name a great female author, I have Margaret Atwood, Ursula LeGuinn, Joanna Russ, Anne McCaffrey, Mary Shelly, Eudora Welty, and Agatha Christie, just off the top of my head, all of who I've read and enjoyed immensely.

I'm thinking this has less to do with some inherent failing of the male reader and more to do with thier particular favourites not getting the accolades they feel they surely deserve.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:42 AM   #10
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It is an interesting question. I have not consciously selected books written by male authors. Reflecting on my choice of both fiction and non-fiction books, it seems that I do pick books written almost exclusively by men. I can only assume that the science and science fiction genres are dominated by men (or that they know how to pick titles that appeal to me). That assumption is probably inaccurate (to an extent), but gender is the last thing I consider when making my reading lists.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:45 AM   #11
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The Brick Lane etc suggestions were poll answers, not the researcher's suggestions for important novels. And I presume the research was done in the UK which is why the authors may be unfamiliar to you. Most people I know have heard of Brick Lane - either from the book or the film.

Anyway I never wanted this to degenerate into an argument about whether reading certainbooks makes you a better or worse person - I only quoted that article for the actual statistics in the poll.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:49 AM   #12
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Oh, Brick Lane ought to be in my list. I'll add it sometime.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:57 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
The Brick Lane etc suggestions were poll answers, not the researcher's suggestions for important novels. And I presume the research was done in the UK which is why the authors may be unfamiliar to you. Most people I know have heard of Brick Lane - either from the book or the film.
Fair enough.

Quote:
Anyway I never wanted this to degenerate into an argument about whether reading certainbooks makes you a better or worse person - I only quoted that article for the actual statistics in the poll.
I'm sorry I overreacted. The authors of the study seem to have a clear axe to grind and the article seemed condescending to me. As much as if I were to suggest that "women only read what Oprah tells them too", sort of thing.

Again, my apologies.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:59 AM   #14
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Given that I don't read much sci fi, I wonder what it is about fiction written by men that I prefer? My friend did recommend some female authors to me that she thought I might like, based on books that we both enjoyed. I have read some, and while I enjoyed them well enough, they weren't enough for me to rush out and see what else the author had written, which is my usual response when I really like a book. Offhand, I can only think of 2 female authors that I have read several of their books: Zadie Smith and Lionel Shriver. With male authors, I have loads of them: Neil Gaiman, David Lodge, Iain Banks, Mark Haddon, Ian McEwan, James Kelman and many more.
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:04 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
Neil Gaiman...
Well, that one really doesn't count, because Neil is less a man than a god.
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:07 AM   #16
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Dystopian stuff is one of the bigger themes in my fiction repertoire. That's mostly male-authored, though Margaret Atwood stands out for The Handmaid's Tale (which a forum member or two recommended to me)
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:07 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Piscivore View Post
Well, that one really doesn't count, because Neil is less a man than a god.
Quite.

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Old 4th February 2009, 11:21 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Piscivore View Post
The authors of the study seem to have a clear axe to grind and the article seemed condescending to me. As much as if I were to suggest that "women only read what Oprah tells them too", sort of thing.
I didn't read that piece, but your reply reminded me of an interview I saw in our University's student paper a while ago. There, a female literature professor ,scolding males for reading mostly books by male authors, whereas the more enlightened female readers read works by both genders. I couldn't help but think that if things were the other way around, male writers would be to blame for writing books that only interest men, while female authors produce works with universal, non-gender-specific appeal.
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:31 AM   #19
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I am a male and read about equal male and female.

I know somebody who will only read female authors, because she claims that there are plenty of good female authors, that reading male authors is not neccesary.

While I agree with her claim about plenty of good and great female authors (my favorites being Jacqueline Carrey, Mary Gentle, JK Rowling, and Ursula K LeGuinn) I also feel that my reading list would be greatly lessened by passing up amazing male authors (Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, George R.R. Martin)

As I tend towards Fantasy now more than my traditional taste for SF, It seems that current fantasy authors tend to be fairly balanced between the genders but the clasics tend to be more male (as with everything, women had to fight for acceptance and I fear many potentially great female authors never got published during the classic period).

SF, I would still characterize as mostly male dominated but the trends seem to be moving more towards balance in terms of numbers of published authors. I see this as a good thing
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:37 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Piscivore View Post
Well, that one really doesn't count, because Neil is less a man than a god.
I also maintain that despite the evidence of him having a wife and daughter, he is actually a flaming queen.

Okay, maybe this is more my fantasy than something I truly believe, but c'mon, he is good looking, British, and an amazing writer. Just let me have my dreams.
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:45 AM   #21
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I've never put much thought into the gender of the authors I read. I tend to read mostly Sci-Fi/Fantasy. As a result, I guess I've read mostly male authors. Although my favorite author in the genre is female, Robin Hobb.

By the same token, my least favorite author is also female, Anne Rice.
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:46 AM   #22
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Interesting that so far, we have nobody who reads mainly female authors (though we don't have too many female participants in the poll yet). I wonder if that is down to the type of people likely to read this forum, as IRL I know several women who read predominantly female authors.
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:47 AM   #23
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Male -> Male

Mostly because they seem to write a lot more for some reason. There a few books by female authors I rank among my favourites, but they just don't write lots of books.
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:55 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Blackadder View Post
Male -> Male

Mostly because they seem to write a lot more for some reason. There a few books by female authors I rank among my favourites, but they just don't write lots of books.
Well, leaving aside the very real issue of a history of discrimination in publishing, that's sort of what I'm thinking- that the ratio of published male authors to female is going to greatly favour the males- especially as you go back in time. In that case, the women showing a tendency to reading equal numbers of male and female authors might not show the inherent egalitarianism as the study's authors seem to imply, but an actual bias on the part of the women- either in favour of female authors, or for very recent fiction.
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Old 4th February 2009, 12:22 PM   #25
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Mainly male, but not through conscious choice and some of my favourite authors are female. I can't imagine selecting books based on the gender of the author.
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Old 4th February 2009, 12:32 PM   #26
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Where's the "I am male and have no idea of the gender breakout of authors I read because I couldn't care less" option

I guess it's mostly male, but it's incidental ie not like I purposely "aim" for male authors in the least.
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Old 4th February 2009, 12:34 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Piscivore View Post
Well, that one really doesn't count, because Neil is less a man than a god.
Neil Gaiman can die in a fire.
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Old 4th February 2009, 12:40 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by bigred View Post


Where's the "I am male and have no idea of the gender breakout of authors I read because I couldn't care less" option

I guess it's mostly male, but it's incidental ie not like I purposely "aim" for male authors in the least.
If you read the OP you will know that this thread has nothing to do with whether people purposively read one gender rather than another. I stated myself that I hadn't even realised that most of my favourites were male until it was pointed out to me.

Apart from the poll to see if there was indeed a gender difference here, I was more interested in whether there are characteristics of male and female writing that appeal to people differently. I have no idea what those characteristics might be - I have no idea whether there is some aspect of much of female literature that turns me off, or whether it is just chance that I like more male stuff.
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Old 4th February 2009, 12:41 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Morrigan View Post
Neil Gaiman can die in a fire.
I am sure he can, but I would rather he didn't.
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Old 4th February 2009, 12:43 PM   #30
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I am a male, and most (but not all) of the books I have recently read were written by male authors. Can one deduce anything from this? I doubt it. I have an impression that the majority of fiction currently on sale in bookstores was written by male authors. Considering that, I do not have enough information for a meaningful comparison.
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Old 4th February 2009, 12:57 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I can't imagine selecting books based on the gender of the author.
Outside of fiction, I do pay particular interest in work by female economists, because they are rarer (particularly at writing books if a bit less so with papers) and because it's a favourite subject of mine.

If I was still keeping up with science I think it would be the same there.

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Old 4th February 2009, 02:09 PM   #32
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Don't care one way or the other, but it is mostly male. Not by choice though... *shrug*
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Old 4th February 2009, 05:12 PM   #33
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My tastes in fiction lean heavily towards crime, sci-fi and alt history. The books I have read recently seem to have mostly been written by men but there are some excellant books written by women in each genre (though I haven't come across that many alt history novels written by women).

Originally Posted by cwalner View Post
I know somebody who will only read female authors, because she claims that there are plenty of good female authors, that reading male authors is not neccesary.
That is an odd argument. We could say the same about white authors or authors with an 's' in their name.
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Old 4th February 2009, 05:24 PM   #34
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I am currently reading the WebMage series by Kelly McCullough. I had assumed the author is female by the name (much more common here as female name than as male). Due to this thread, I double checked and turns out Kelly is male.

Amazingly, this in no way altered my opinon of the series, and am still eagerly awaiting the next book in the series due out later this year.

I agree that the results of the poll indicating a mail bias in authors is more a reflection that it is still easier for men to get published, especially in SF, which many posters have indicated a preferance for.
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Old 4th February 2009, 07:14 PM   #35
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I don't really pay much attention. I mainly read fantasy, and looking back, most of the writers I like the most seem to be female. In other realms of writing most of the writers I like seem to be male.
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Old 4th February 2009, 08:28 PM   #36
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In terms of fiction, I think it's about even. My favourite writers are P.G. Wodehouse and Jane Austen. I don't read a lot of fiction any more, though, so it's hard to tell. In my youth I think it was mostly women writers, Judy Blume & Beverly Cleary. Although my favourite book, The Princess Bride, was written by a man. In my teens and early twenties I read a lot of Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. (And being Canadian I always had Margaret Atwood shoved down my throat. Ugh.)

I wish I could say that gender never entered my mind, but being a female I've always been conscious of the lack of women in the arts, I think I even took a course or two about that in University.

So it crosses my mind in that I'm glad to see more female writers available, but I don't choose whether to read a book based on the gender of the author (to my knowledge, anyway).
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Old 4th February 2009, 09:47 PM   #37
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Where is the "I'm female, and I don't even know the gender of many authors" option?

Looking at my bookshelf, my non-fiction is predominantly male, but that's because it's largely science and economics (and John McPhee, who is his own genre), and there are many fewer women who have published books in those fields historically; it would not surprise me if that is still true.

For non-fiction, I don't know the answer. I read much less non-fiction than I used to, due to having No Time As A MomTM, but I always get the newest Terry Pratchett and Alexander McCall Smith books, even if I don't get to read them until two months later. However, in my pre-parental life, I read a lot of historical fiction (the stuff that's supposed to accurate, not the bodice-rippers) and that field is predominantly women (even some of the books published under men's names). But, I also read a lot of 'hard tech' science fiction--back when that still existed--and that was predominantly male written. Though CJ Cherryh and Ursula LeGuin write compelling culture-conflict sci-fi...

Hmmm. I don't know how to answer the question. I do think, though, that based upon sales figures, few men read the Danielle Steele / Eileen Goudge / Mary Patricia Somebody "women's fiction" books that make bestseller lists; hence, there is likely a bias. I don't think I've ever seen a man reading a "Harlequin Romance" or a naked-chested Hero on the cover "the Lady and the Thug" -type sex-and-clothing book, either, and the drugstore bookrack is full of them.

I would guess that there are more men who don't read fiction at all than women; and the majority of non-fiction is still male-written. Also, women who work part-time or are care-givers fulltime need to have 'easy reads' that they can enjoy even if they can only give them attention ten minutes at a pop, say while waiting for ballet class to finish (which may explain the Harlequin market).

All of which adds up to, It wouldn't surprise me if the assertion were true of the general public; and I don't think it's based upon any desire by men to not read women authors. I just think more women write the lines of fiction that are primarily read by women.

Just my thoughts, Miss Kitt
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Old 4th February 2009, 09:50 PM   #38
ImaginalDisc
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
I was chatting to a friend recently about books and favouite authors etc and she noted that nearly all of my favourites are by male authors, and said she was surprised because generally people tend to prefer books by authors of the same gender as themselves.

I had never thought about this before, and hadn't even noticed that I mainly read books by male authors until she pointed it out. So I was wondering how true this generalisation is.

So please answer my poll question and feel free to elaborate in the thread.

ETA - I am interesting in fiction only.
I too am surprised.

I thoughtn you were a guy.

Kidding aside, Lois McMaster Bujold and Tannith Lee are easily two of my favorite authors, but there so many more male specualtive fiction athors that even so, most of my bookshelf has male names on the spines.
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Old 5th February 2009, 05:02 AM   #39
Locknar
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As several others have said, I honestly don't pay attention.
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Old 5th February 2009, 05:23 AM   #40
fls
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Fortunately, I tend to pile up my finished books in the same spot, so it was easy for me to check. I seem to read roughly equal amounts when it comes to fiction.

Linda

Last edited by fls; 5th February 2009 at 05:24 AM.
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