Inclusive reading, and inclusive readers advisory work.
Yesterday morning two very different kind of posts came through my Zite feed. One was headed
No Boys Allowed: School visits as a woman writer. This is an excellent and depressing post by Shannon Hale. This is well worth reading as it has some very helpful points about readers advisory work and who/how you suggest titles and authors, and not being apologetic. The other, I am not linking to, was called something like Key number of [name of genre] books to read if you are a real [name of genre] fan. Only books by men were included in this list. The first post was about encouraging reading and encouraging a diversity in reading. The other went down the unfortunate line of "real" fans which is problematic. Each of us will read our own cluster of titles which have meaning to us, but whose grouping may leave others wondering. That is good. I can be a fan of the genre listed and not have read any of the titles suggested by this list. I am troubled by the use of real in this context, perhaps I am an unreal fan of the genre as I have not read the entire list? I can live with that. It is not helpful to have lists (which is why I am being annoying and not linking to it) which say you can only be in the club for this genre if you have read/watched/played this exact set. Where is the fun in that? Where is the focus on the appeal characteristics for individual readers? I am sure that this list was meant to be encouraging, encouraging reading, encouraging a sense of accomplishment, encouraging a sense of belonging to a group. I was also concerned that the key titles were all written by men, that no woman was deemed good enough to write a key [genre name omitted] title. There are many wonderful women and men who write in genre listed, so read across the spectrum, and enjoy.
Reading these two posts together highlighted the importance in readers advisory work of being deliberately inclusive so that people see and enjoy diversity in what they read.