One of my professors in college talked about how she had once challenged herself to read only women authors for an entire year and how it altered the way she choose books in the future. And from that moment I knew that at some point I wanted to try it as well and see if it changed my relationship with reading and authors and the content I seek out. So last January when I set my Goodreads Book Challenge goal for the year I made a conscious decision to read almost nothing but women authors. Out of the 35 books I read in 2016 just two of them were by male authors (and one of those was a book all about Lois Lane so still strongly female focused) and I feel great about it.
A big chunk of those 35 books were also memoirs or non-fiction and that is something new to me as well. I’ve lived in a bubble of lots and lots of young adult fiction for a few years and I ain’t mad or sorry about it, but I did want to feel challenged to read something outside of that comfort zone. I started with a book I saw someone recommend on social media called ‘Find the Good’ by Heather Lende because it felt like a really great way to start the year. It is a collection of essays by a journalist from Alaska who writes obituaries and how it has helped her to find the good in life. I highly recommend it for both an easy and enjoyable read.
From there I just went on a binge of memoirs and “self-improvement” books and it’s been some of the most interesting and fun reading journeys I’ve been on in a while. I really enjoy hearing about peoples experiences and what they take away from simply living their life and what they can then share with people because of it all. I read a ton of books from and about fat women and let me tell you; it was amazing. To see more fat women characters in fiction that I would identify with and love to pieces makes my heart happy, growing up it was not all that often that I found those types of characters in books and I didn’t realize how much it hurt until I started seeing them more and getting to experience that feeling. Not to mention it was even more magical to hear experiences from real life fat women who have lived this life and know it better than anyone. Special shout to ‘Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls’ by Jes Baker because it was so many things; hilarious, heartbreaking, helpful, cathartic, and inspiring.
Other categories some of my books dived into where inspiration and creativity and just nerdy things that make my fangirl heart so dang happy. I can’t think of any of the books that I downright hated, a couple weren’t my favorites and were less enjoyable that I thought they might be, but I don’t regret reading any of these at all.
Now wither reading a majority of female authors changed life as I know it I can’t speak to. I do feel like it has altered the way that I search out new books and what the content of the books of those is. There was a connection I felt to the authors that I don’t think comes as naturally with male authors, but it doesn’t make me want to read nothing but female authors. I think this is a great challenge to put oneself through because it reminds you how saturated the literary world (among most worlds) is with male dominance. We take for granted how male is the default for so much and we just go with it without giving it too much thought. To stretch just a bit outside our usual haunts and the generic field we’ve been told is the norm is always good for us.
Most of all I am just proud of the fact that I met my reading challenge goal and that I have gotten back into a groove of reading a lot of books in a year. I grew up reading a ton and have always treated reading like an escape but I think with college and reading being required I got a little out of the habit. Being back in that realm makes me feel better and more at home in my own skin, so I am excited to keep it going into 2017.
But what about you guys? What did you read in 2016? What do you look forward to reading in the new year?