Being a woman writer I had always assumed that I am woke enough to be reading the right amount of work by fellow female authors. But then a scrutiny of my bookshelf led me to an unbelievable realisation. Yes, I was reading women writers, but my list was still dominated by male authors. To put it simply, I wasn’t reading enough women writers. And thus I made a pact with myself to read more women. For every book by a male author that I bought, I made it a point to buy a work by a female author there and then. See here’s what happens, we all have plenty of women writers on our TBR list, but when it comes to buying, we go for the most visible books on our list and somehow not many works of women authors make it to the purchase counter. So this resolution led me to buying and reading more books by women, and here’s what I realised from this journey.
Some books that I read
First things first, let me mention my top three picks from works by women authors that I read this year, and that I cherished. The resolution began with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Palace of Illusions, which was recommended to me by numerous fellow readers, and that indeed lived up to all the hype. The second book I loved to read was Oyinkan Braithwaite’s deliciously devilish My Sister The Serial Killer, which happens to be my favourite read of the year. No wonder this was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and even Margaret Atwood couldn’t keep her hands off it. My third pick is Jokha al-Harthi’s Celestial Bodies, that won the Man Booker International Prize for 2019. The book, despite being quite dense, which needed to be read at a slow pace to be able to cherish all the cultural insight it had to offer on Oman, is a unique work of art.
We all have plenty of women writers on our TBR list, but when it comes to buying, we go for the most visible books on our list and somehow not many works of women authors make it to the purchase counter.
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Reading more women doesn’t mean reading fewer men
Often people misinterpret the call to read more women as reading fewer men. But that is not how it works. It is as simple as consciously keeping the count of books equal for works from both genders. As I learned from my pact, I ended up reading more books than last year, which is never a bad thing. Being an author I have always known that there is a distinction in the voices of men and women when they write. We share the same world but we live our lives by a different set of norms, governed by our gender. It is but natural that our gaze toward the world is different.
I have my voice that goes into my work, and it is a feminist one indeed, but it feels so good to know that there are so many others who share your views, and have different insights to offer in arguments you may assume yourself to be well-versed in.
Reading more women is a way of balancing your understanding of the world that literature creates, in fact, it widens it. I am not ashamed to admit that despite being part of the fraternity, reading more women brought a fresh perspective my way across genres. Yes, I have my voice that goes into my work, and it is a feminist one indeed, but it feels so good to know that there are so many others who share your views, and have different insights to offer in arguments you may assume yourself to be well-versed in.
This is why I think it is important that not just men, but women themselves need to read more women writers. Their works will infuse you with a sense of sisterhood that is both comforting and inspiring. Here’s to reading more, and reading more women in 2020 too!
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