As happens fairly regularly in the literary world, people have been talking about gender and books. Two different takes caught our eyes this week: The Book Bench at the New Yorker took an analytical look at the discussion with What We Talk About When We Talk About Men Not Reading, looking at both men’s reading and at the the publishing industry. Meanwhile, author Maureen Johnson took a personal look at the issue with Sell the Girls, in which she talks about how the vast majority of her assigned reading, in school and college, was by and about men.
The census, however flawed and necessary it may be, has triggered some great writing and thinking about race and how we define ourselves. From CNN we have two great essays: journalist and filmmaker Raquel Cepeda writes on being Latino and the stories her family has told of their mixed heritage, and author Walter Mosley brings us a poetic look at the 10,000 years of history that led to him.
Continuing last week’s conversation on being biracial or multiracial—in a video and link to an essay about census—we have a video looking back to the 2008 presidential campaign and a group of multiracial students at Rutgers:
On her blog, author Shannon Hale takes a look at the lack of girls in children’s movies, the limited roles they play, and an appeal to parents: take your sons to movies with girl heroes. The same goes for books and the same goes for other types of diversity: give the children you know books with heroes who don’t look like them.
I’ve been looking a lot at the Job Voyager, a nifty interactive chart of the U.S. labor force from 1850 through 2000. On it, you can see the number of farmers and farm workers decreasing fairly steadily and the number of clerical workers rising. You can see the percentage of women in workforce increasing, with an impressive leap between 1950 and 1960. A fascinating fact: until 1950, one could claim “inmate” as an occupation on one’s census form. Likewise “retired.” Some professions, like blacksmith, have basically disappeared, while others, like electrician, have emerged. Aside from a spike in 1990, the percent of public officials has been fairly constant.