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Words, Words, Words

A catalog of my comments and thoughts on books, reading, and writing as well as anything I come across that seems interesting. I used to sell other people's words at an independent bookstore but now I hope to get by on selling my own.

#ReadWomen2014 Seriously. Do it.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove - Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays - Zadie Smith The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. - Adelle Waldman The People of Forever Are Not Afraid - Shani Boianjiu The White Album: Essays (FSG Classics) - Joan Didion

I heard in a recent interview with one of the writers of the movie Noah explained that they cast all white males because they wanted it to be about the "everyman". It is a ridiculous justification for what probably amounts to a giant oversight. I bring this up because we all have our blind spots and when we are called out on them we could turn out awkward, self-serving justifications or we can take the opportunity to reflect and grow. Read Women 2014 gives us all an opportunity to make inroads on one of these "oversights".


I nearly wrote off this movement when it first came to my attention. I thought it was nice, something I might share on my wall, but I am a pretty modern reader. I followed female authors like Zadie Smith and Karen Russel, I am a pretty even-handed reader, I thought. Then I took a minute to actually look at my to-read shelf, aka, the Grand Order of Old White Guys. 


I could try to justify it, I do understand that so much of the Western Canon was developed during a period when white males decided they were the only ones that could do that sort of thing, and since they had all the powerful positions everywhere, it remains the vast majority of what was handed down to us. This is not to say that the works that we have inherited are bad, there is a reason my shelf is full of them, but that perspective is necessarily limited. Reading them is fine, but it becomes damaging when we hold on to that mode as the default; when they start seeing white male as the obvious iteration of the "everyman".


Read Women 2014 is a great moment to try to change that mode of thinking. It's a chance to throw off old stigmas, when I was a teen Jane Austen seemed to girly, a stance that was deservedly shed along with my Nickelback albums and baggy jeans. I am, as most of you surely are as well, far beyond that, but I still never got back around to reading any Jane Austen. I intend to fix that this year. 


It is a way to break the inertia. I have no compelling reason to have read Brian Jay Jones's biography of Jim Henson over Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove. They are both good books, but, in fact, the latter is much more interesting. I picked up Jim Henson because I like the muppets, but I could have easily picked something else, and that is where we can make a difference. If I take a moment, in every bookstore and library, and try to find something from a female author, then maybe something will sink in; maybe my future shelves won't look quite so much like Norwegian national hockey team. 


I know we're pretty far into 2014, but I am hoping to catch some new eyes, and keep the momentum going into the summer. Since we can make the biggest change going forward, I have tried to get living female authors. I will link some here.