Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Women writers

My mom almost never reads male writers. I know she does occasionally – we’ve discussed one of my favorites, East of Eden, recently. But there are so many books by women that are in need of readership and discussion.

As a feminist and a writer, I’ve consistently failed to follow her example– last year, I read 38 books total and only six were by women. This is unacceptable to me. I need to support other women who write and not favor male writers buoyed by critical and commercial acclaim.

This year, I set my reading goals high: 50 books, at least 20 (40%) by women. I expected this to be a challenge, but it’s actually enlivened and encouraged my reading. Since I made this resolution at the beginning of April, I’ve read 14 books, 11 by women. It’s never a challenge to find lively, interesting, original books by women writers in any genre – be it comics, history, fiction, or memoir.

I’m going to try to review at least one women writer every Wednesday. You can see what I’m reading and have read by looking at my Goodreads profile. Later today: The Hemingses of Monticello, by Annette Gordon-Reed.

Illustration for Bitch Magazine by Meg Hunt


  1. You should read The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. It's pretty excellent. :)

  2. I will put it on my to-read list. Thanks for the rec!

  3. Oh East of Eden. I love that book.

    I also am pretty awful at reading women writers; nearly all my favorite books are by men, and that's really disappointing to think about. I feel like the majority of the books by women that get attention, or at least prominent shelf placement in bookstores, are chick lit -- hardly the best image for women writers. I look forward to getting some recommendations from you, especially fiction.

  4. Nothing against chick lit, but I agree. It's sort of a literary pink ghetto - not that there aren't exceptional examples of the genre, but a lot of it is not good. "Serious" writers are usually men.

    If I don't get around to it, Becky - read Gilead. It's amazing.

  5. A good VA girl like yourself has surely read Flannery O'Conner, and has a subscription to Oxford American Magazine, right? Julie

  6. Actually, I haven't read a lot of Flannery O'Connor (I'm only recently of VA). I need to add that to my list. Thanks for the rec!

  7. I second the Flannery O'Conner.

    Also, to expand the literary ghetto-- there's a wealth of amazing books by black women writers. To be quite honest, I've found that I prefer works by black women writers to works by white women writers. I think maybe that white women tend to imitate white men when they write, rather than finding their own unique strengths that would make them more revolutionary, and more successful. I'm obsessed with "Searching for our Mother's Gardens" by Alice Walker.

    Wait, I gotta think of more. Hm, maybe I'll just post some time with a list.

  8. Ooh, Gilead looks good. I'll have to check it out.

    Have you read The Awakening, by Kate Chopin? I love it -- I read it in high school and it was one of my first introductions to both serious, intellectual fiction by a woman, and to feminism. I've gone back and read it a couple times since and I still find it fascinating.

  9. I've never considered the gender of the authors I've read before and your mentioning your project makes me curious on how many women writers I have read as well.

    I did notice that within since June 2008, 55.5% of the books I've read have been by female authors (or co authored by at least one women). Granted, 5 of these were by Sarah Vowell, 4 by Stephanie Meyer, and one by Ayn Rand (she counts, right?)

    I'll be interested in what books you're reading. Good luck on this! :D

  10. In the book Cunt, Inga Muscio suggests going through your home and putting a gold star on everything made by a woman. The idea is to increase awareness of who and what we support. I have kind of applied this to reading too, and I read almost all women writers. I don't exclude male writers by any means, but I just seem more drawn to female writers at this point in life.


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