My name is Brianna. In north side Chicago, born and raised, in the library was where I spent most of my days. Focusing on the classics by J.K. Rowling and Anne McCaffrey, I eventually branched out into realistic fiction and dipped my toe into poetry and non-fiction. I studied English Writing in college, where I also learned basic juggling skills. Since then, I’ve written over 1000 poems and continued my avid and eclectic reading patterns.
In the summer of 2015, I spent a lot of time listening to the Book Riot podcast. Book Riot strives toward more diverse books because as a culture with diverse people and diverse readers, our stories should reflect that.
I’ve heard rumblings about women lacking representation in publishing, and though the VIDA count for 2014 looks more encouraging than the counts for previous years, pursuing diverse representation in art and literature is a continued battle. I’ve read about people taking on a challenge to be more selective in their reading material to make a point and support diverse voices. This is not untravelled territory, which is why I’ll link to articles at the end of this post.
I declare 2016 to be the year during which I will read only women authors.
I am doing this experiment to purposely exclude male authors from my reading material BUT this experiment is not a statement against the inherent quality of books written by men. For me, this experiment is meant to be a reflection on if and how my reading experience changes if I focus on women writers. I also hope to expose myself to more feminist literature, non-fiction, and women authors of color.
For the purposes of documenting my experiment, I will provide myself some structure:
- Weekly posts recounting my challenges, conversations, and book searches
- Monthly round-ups of the books I’ve read in a given month
Will you join me in this year of reading only women authors?
Some of the articles that helped me make my decision:
“Reading women’s voices helped me to hear them more loudly in my daily life. Our culture is getting better and better at encouraging women to speak, but it’s not doing enough to listen to what they say when they do.” – Lilit Marcus, ‘Why I Only Read Books by Women in 2013′
“I’m thrilled that a little fun personal project I didn’t think much of at first has turned into a phenomenon that even has its own hashtag. But the point of the reading project was to raise awareness about the way that female writers are still seen as less important, less literary, and less canonical than male writers, and even some of the coverage about my work hasn’t changed that.” – Lilit Marcus, ‘What Happens When You Tell People You’re Only Reading Women?’
“To some degree, I was being conditioned like a lab animal against ambition. My book was getting at least a few of those rejections because it was big, not because it was bad. George, I imagine, would have been getting his “clever”s all along and would be writing something enormous now. In theory, the results of my experiment are vindicating, but I feel furious at having spent so much time in that ridiculous little cage, where so many people with the wrong kind of name are burning out their energy and intelligence.” – Catherine Nichols, ‘Homme de plume: What I Learned Sending out My Novel under a Male Name’
“I decided to read only women authors in September of 2014, but I’d unknowingly begun much earlier, in January of 2013. Here’s how it went down.” – Annika Barranti Klein, ‘I Haven’t Read a Book by a Man since 2013 (and it’s been awesome)’
“Gender, race, sexual orientation – none of these factors determine how well an author writes. I can therefore skew my author demographics however I like and find good books.” – Doing Dewey, ‘Is It Sexist to Only Read Books by Women?’
“Authors and editors are doing their part, but if we want to make any substantial progress, readers must be willing to take risks on narratives that subvert traditional gender roles.” – Meredith Turits, ‘Closing the Publishing Gender Gap Means Shifting Culture’