#readwomen2014: Will you do it?

I posted back in 2010 about the gender split in my library; I realised it was heavily in favour of men and so I tried to redress the balance, which I have done reasonably successfully so far, but it’s a task in progress! Consequently #readwomen2014 – a Twitter hashtag project started by Joanna Walsh – piqued my interest when I read about it a couple of weeks ago.

Joanna explains: “I started the Twitter hashtag #readwomen2014 after drawing some bookmark-shaped New Year’s cards showing some of my favourite female writers…When I posted photos of my cards on Twitter, a few people asked me to tweet the 250-odd names of female writers I had typed on the back…within minutes, women – and men – were adding their own favourites to the list. The meme was passed on until the list of names doubled, then trebled. This was something people cared about. It also felt as if they were having a lot of fun.”

I am wholeheartedly on board with #readwomen2014 and would urge any Multiverse readers to bear the project in mind when adding to their libraries this year.

Flavorwire have posted a handy list of fifty books by female authors, so if you want inspiration for your next book purchase, you could start there. Alternatively I’m listing some of the reviews of books that I have loved here, so you can visit my archives for some recommendations too:

I’m currently reading Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, which I intend to review on the blog soon; it’s a challenging but utterly original read so far. Look out for the hashtag #readwomen2014 for any books by female writers that I review on the Multiverse this year and let me know if you make any discoveries I should know about.

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5 thoughts on “#readwomen2014: Will you do it?

  1. I’m not liking this project. It’s just dividing the world, making selected groups and doesn’t really educate/change anything. A more diverse reading (various countries, topics, time, etc.) is better than limiting something. Every time I’m trying to get out of my way and choose a book “because it’s a woman so let’s give it a try” I’m disappointed in a book. Usually I don’t pay attention to the sex of the author. If a book interests me, I’ll read it, no matter the sex.

    I never put off a book based on a sex of the author. Never. Reading (only/mainly) women for a given time isn’t a way to solve the imbalance in talking about literature and its reviews.

    1. Hi Kama. Thanks for your comment although I don’t agree! I think it’s great that you read widely regardless of the gender of the author but many people don’t. Additionally the VIDA report shows how campaigns such as ReadWomen have helped to redress the gender balance in reviewing (you can read more about it here – http://www.vidaweb.org/the-count-2013/).

      Out of interest I wonder how you would solve the imbalance if you don’t agree with Read Women?

      1. I’ll read the link later on and comment then.
        I don’t like dividing anything into groups, sex included, because the duality of discourse (men vs women) ignores those who don’t fit (or don’t want to be put into a label). It’s not “gender balance in reviews” because there should be 3 parts for it, not two. How do you treat an author with his personal history _similar_ to Larry/Lana Wachowski? Or would you just put him into T and forget there was such a person? Or for older works he’d be classified as a men and for newer as a women writer? How about those statistics? Should they (the old ones especially) get rewritten and recounted when a writer changes his sex? ReadingWomen/VIDA is not helping in the long run to ease imbalance, but makes another imbalance. And is showing in a good light a bad action to differentiate based on sex. And is putting people in an exact labels, based on what somebody sees. And is ignoring other people. It’s not trying to balance anything.
        Those who read mainly one sex (doesn’t matter which one) could be taught through diversity. If you want to have a good view on something, let’s say a war, do you listen to 1 selected side, both sides or both sides and an independent observer? You know, both sides probably will be biased in their point of view.
        Diversity in reading gives you more insight into things. And if you’re a blogger or professional reviewer, why not review 3 books on a given topic, with various points of view? It doesn’t have to be 3 books from the same time nor country, and the topic might be broad. If you’d be writing about women in Islam, you shouldn’t just pick Malala’s book, but also a book about woman/women living “perfectly normal lives like the middle class in Europe etc.” and also a book about female political leaders (or one selected) in predominantly Muslim countries. Or you could do the topic even more diverse, add fiction, etc. Would it matter if the book was written by man or a woman? As long as it’d stick to the facts, does it really matter?
        Those so popular lists could (should) include more variety. Instead of bitching how men don’t read books by women, make a list of books on similar topic, mixing various people with various backgrounds and styles. Not everybody will try all the books, but you’re giving an exposure to various artists. And it stays for ages on internet. It’ll make a positive change in the long run. That’s what I believe.

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