Are you a sexist reader? Is it important to read an equal mixture of female and male authors? Is your bookcase groaning with tomes from male writers? Or does gender not play any part in the type of books you like to read?
These are important questions in the publishing world, according to organisation Vida: Women in Literary Arts, who conduct an annual round-up of exactly what percentage of new books being published are by women – and the results are surprising. It seems for every Jackie Collins or Ali Smith, there are many, many more male writers being printed.
Blogger Joanna Walsh issued a challenge for readers – #readwomen2014 – to consume more works by female authors, and I’ve decided to take up the baton and read only works by women for the following year.
I’ll be blogging both about the books I’ve read, and the effect of reading only one gender for a year – will it change the type of books I’m drawn to?
This month I’ve read…
Dolly, by Susan Hill
When it comes to ghost stories, The Woman in Black is hard to beat – since first reading it in school, and jumping at every slammed desk lid, my copy is dog-eared from my sweaty grip – so I always make a bee-line for Susan Hill’s latest works.
Dolly is another chilling tale, narrated by an orphan looking back over an unsettling event from his childhood, involving a petulant cousin’s temper and a fractured china doll.
It’s familiar territory from TWIB – with its eerie fenland setting, and remote house – but lacks the sheer terror of the central ghost. We know evil forces are at work, but it’s unclear quite where they’re coming from, and as such it doesn’t have quite the same bite.
I’m now reading…
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
I’m going to see the play in Stratford upon Avon next week, and desperately trying to finish it in time. Sadly it’s not one to be read late at night – you need to concentrate to follow the tangled narratives of Tudor court – but it’s doing wonders for my historical knowledge!