A Year Of Reading Women: The Pros And Cons Of A Female-Only Bookcase

A Year Of Reading Women: The Pros And Cons Of A Female-Only Bookcase.


by Lizzy Dening |
Published on

At the end of #ReadWomen2014, Lizzy Dening reflects on the pros and cons of a female-only bookcase...

The movement #ReadWomen2014 began last Christmas, by author and artist Joanna Walsh, who designed cute Christmas cards and bookmarks to encourage her friends to consider reading more female authors over the new year. The concept wasn’t designed to be man-bashing, or even to entirely stop banish male authors (although in the interests of the experiment, I did) but more to rebalance the gender split on the average bookcase, where it was discovered that men ruled the literary roost.

The idea spread, and soon legions of bookworms – me included – were agreeing to not only read more women’s work, but entirely female books for 365 days.

A Year Of Reading Women
A Year Of Reading Women

Over the course of a year, documented by my Reading Lady blog on Grazia Daily, I read some incredible works by talented writers; some ambitious failures; and some almost offensively bad novels (I’m looking at you, Shopoholic To The Stars), all by women, putting to one side a mounting pile of new work by men that I’m keen to dig into now that it’s 2015.

I actually think, truth be told, I probably already read more female than male authors, thanks to a love of feisty autobiographies (Sheryl Sandberg, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, et al) but I certainly pushed myself this year to read a wider variety of styles, and try to explore the breadth of female authors – from vintage to modern, detective fiction to chicklit, non-fiction and novelised biographies.

My favourite titles of the year were Sali Hughes’ Pretty Honest, Naomi Wood’s Mrs Hemingway and Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, while I was disappointed by Sophia Amoruso’s #Girlboss and didn’t think Emma Donoghue’s Frog Music matched up to the glory of her breakout Room.

Will the experiment change the way I read in future? Possibly – I would like to continue reading a wider range of styles, as I have found some gems along the way, as well as a dormant love of crime fiction, but I’m not sure whether cutting out male authors has made a huge difference to the quality of what I’ve chosen to read. I’ve learnt to read more widely and – cliché alert – not to judge books from their covers, but this is a lesson that can work well for authors of both genders. Ultimately, a good book can stand alone, regardless of who wrote it. Here’s to a year of reading GREAT authors in 2015.

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