R.O.W.E. Week 1: A Question of Apology

I’m Brianna Kratz, a Chicago poet and reader. For 2016 I am reading only women authors for my Read Only Women Experiment (R.O.W.E.). For weekly updates on challenges, conversations, and monthly round-ups on books I’ve read during a given month, keep up with me via Goodreads or Twitter. Photo courtesy Andrew Gingerich. Library books. Photo courtesy Andrew Gingerich. I read a lot at work. I read so much at work that the people who pass me in the hallway check out the book cover or the stack of books that I'm carrying for “back-up books.” There are a couple common ways that people at my work react to my reading:
  1. “Sheesh, you read a lot!”
  2. “That book looks interesting, what's it about?”
  3. “I read this really great book, you should check it out!”
I love talking about books with people (go figure, I'm talking about books with strangers on the internet), so I don't mind any of these reactions. This past week, the 3rd version of this reaction was a recommendation from a male coworker of a book written by a man. I was polite, thanked him for the recommendation, and promised to check it out. That's where the conversation ended. Why didn't I say anything about my Read Only Women Experiment (R.O.W.E.)? Because I didn't want to have to say, “I'm sorry, but I'm only reading women this year.”

How do I talk to a man about my project, and is it something I should apologize for?

If I love talking about books so much, I should be able to proudly tell anyone that I'm reading female authors this year. In fact, I should also be able to bring male readers in to support my mission to learn more about the impediments and difficulties faced by female authors that they might not realize. Is this project something I should apologize for when talking with fellow readers? No. No one will be hurt by my reading choices, and no one expects me to immediately leap at their recommendations. So why apologize? It's early enough in the new year that I can still resolve that to be less shy, and talk more willingly about this project. No apologies. I'll just keep reading. New update and exciting news: Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame makes her character, Hermione Granger, proud by creating a feminist book club. There's a write-up in The Guardian that provides the Twitter context on how it started, and you can find a group for the book club, Our Shared Shelf, on Goodreads. Check back at the end of the month for the full list of books I've read this January, or keep up with me via Goodreads or Twitter. Currently reading: Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald
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Brianna Kratz

Brianna Kratz has a B.A. in English Writing from Illinois Wesleyan University where she learned the importance of "the poetic turn," the difference between thee and you, and how to read Middle English. She lives on the Internet where you can find her on Twitter and Lens & Ink.