As most of you who have been following our website know, we have decided to feature (mostly) women authors this year for our #WomenReadWomen2019.
While this remains our overarching theme, the three of us have different ways of going about it. Iphigene has resolved to read more women authors this year, Fats has pledged to read 26 women authors from 10 different countries, whereas I (Myra) am endeavouring to read exclusively female authors/ artists /illustrators this year coming from at least 25 countries. Thus far, you can see my progress here which I will be updating continually as I draft posts for publication here at GatheringBooks. Do note that this does not in any way capture all the books I have read – this can be found on our Goodreads account. This table only includes the titles I have decided to feature here for our reading themes.
At the time I am drafting this post, I have read 64 women across 68 titles coming from 16 countries. Yet even while it seems pretty satisfactory, there is still a preponderance of American reads featured here in our site – with most books coming from the United States of America – to be specific, 47 books across 43 authors/illustrators are from the US – more than half of the books I have read (69% to be slightly precise).
To simplify matters, I am only looking at where the author or illustrator are currently based now – not their ethnicity – or their country of birth – or even the setting of the novel. Rather, I am focusing more on the sensibilities of the female author wherever they are now at this particular point in their lives – be they immigrants, expatriates, locals, residents, aliens to the places where they live now.
Struggles Encountered: Temptation!
Naturally, just when I have decided to read only female authors – so many great books written by male novelists have just come out – while a few have been recently given to me – such as Shaun Tan’s Tales From The Inner City, George R. R. Martin’s Fire And Blood, The Lost Art Of Reading: Books And Resistance In A Troubled Time by David L. Ulin, Six Memos For The Next Millennium by Italo Calvino – all are books gifted to me by my husband last Christmas. I am sure I will encounter more titles from some of my favourite male novelists as the year progresses. We can still share those in our book hunting expedition posts, particularly titles that we have received for review or have bought in our recent book travels or book buying binges – and which I will be reading and featuring next year on our site.
However, I remain firm in my resolve – that unless it is for work and I have absolutely no choice in the matter – I am devoting my self-selected reading this year to female authors.
“Why Are You Limiting Yourself?”
is the question I often hear from fellow bibliophiles – mostly book club friends who are unable to fathom that I would “impose” something like this on myself. I do get what they are saying to some degree – but, what is 12 months to reading as many women from the world as I possibly could? In fact, a better question would be: why only a year? There are so many amazing women novelists and book creators out there, that I personally feel that twelve months is not sufficient.
Moreover, this is good exercise in self-reflection – which is the reason why I am writing this post – and a good way to honour female voices and women’s experiences. I consider this my little effort to affirm women’s struggles which have been ongoing and have been silenced for centuries.
If we look at it from this perspective, I begin to wonder why there aren’t more people doing what I am doing.
#WomenReadWomen ReadAlong Chat
A month ago, I was tagged in a Twitter post that shows another website doing a similar reading challenge for the year – with one book by a female author featured each month. This gave me an idea to initiate our own Read Along Chat – which would fit our reading themes in 2019. Hence, here is what I have come up with:
The chat is done on Litsy where we have a pretty active and modest following, with fellow bibliophiles who have pledged to join us. The discussion happens at the last day of each month. Here are some of the Read Along Chat discussion questions for Joy Harjo’s Crazy Brave (United States Of America).
This is our schedule for February and March, just in case you decide to join our chat on Litsy – just find the hashtag #WomenReadWomen2019:
Sin: Selected Poems Of Forugh Farrokhzad translated by Sholeh Wolpe (Iran) scheduled on 28 February, and Insurrecto by Gina Apostol (Philippines / United States Of America) scheduled for our Read Along Chat on 31 March, Saturday.
Since we do love to plan our reading, I have selected the titles for the #WomenReadWomen2019 Read Along Chat for our upcoming reading theme from April – June.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews (Canada), Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Australia), Three Daughters Of Eve by Elif Shafak (Turkey / United Kingdom). As can be seen, I am doing my best to select female novelists coming from various countries. Even the titles from the US are written by a Native American (Joy Harjo) and a Filipina immigrant (Gina Apostol) now based in New York.
Do join us if you are able to! We’d love to hear your thoughts on these titles. If you have recommended titles for us to find, we’d be happy to know them.