VIDA recently released “The Count 2010,” which sets forth the number of women reviewers at certain magazines and journals (like The Atlantic and The New Yorker), and also the numbers of women writers reviewed by these magazines. The results, displayed in a series of pie charts, are disheartening but ultimately not surprising. These publications have far more male reviewers than female reviewers, and they review far more male writing than female writing.
I started this blog a few months ago with no conscious feminist mission; I just wanted a record of what I have read and of my own thoughts on those books. But as I thought over my reading choices, I realized that perhaps I can help promote women’s writing in my own small way. For example, I have reviewed the following adult books:
- The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
- So Much For That by Lionel Shriver
- You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers
- The Metropolis Case by Matthew Gallaway
- Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
You might notice a trend here: of the five adult books I have reviewed, four are by women. Moreover, of my personal Top Ten Books of 2010, six of the ten books were written by women. And further, I don’t review all the books I actually read, and yet it turns out that many more of my recent reading selections, like Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand or Just Kids by Patti Smith or A Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry, are written by women.
For some reason, unlike many others, I am clearly drawn to women’s writing and I am interested in what women have to say. Now, I certainly can’t claim that my humble and few reviews are anywhere near as sophisticated or influential as those appearing in Granta or the New York Review of Books. However, I do think I can use this blog as a platform of sorts. I’m a woman who reviews women’s writing. This is apparently a rarity. Any little knock I can give to the system is fine by me. I’d like to show that busy, thinking women appreciate quality writing that reflects their own experiences. I guess that’s why I named this blog “Momreads” rather than “Personreads.” It says, hey! I’m a lady and a mom who, despite being knee-deep in poopy diapers and playdates, likes to read and wants to talk about books. People like me exist!
This does not mean I am not going to read and review writing by men. I read what interests me. If a man writes a book I want to read, I’m going to read it. Furthermore, I’m not going to read a book just because it is written by a woman. Nor am I looking to read books marketed specifically towards women and only women; call this chick lit if you like, but I’m just not interested in reading bodice rippers or books about shopping. I’m looking for solid writing and interesting subject matter. I’m looking for inspiration for my own writing.
Unfortunately, I do read book reviews (many from the publications studied by VIDA) for ideas on what to read, and since we know these reviews are skewed towards men, I’m afraid I am missing a lot. There must be so much quality writing out there by women that is totally passing me by. So please, share your thoughts on good books I should check out, especially those by women; and if you are a female writer, please draw my attention to your underappreciated work of literary fiction. I’m here to help!