For as far back as I can remember, reading has been more than a past time for me. Reading is breakfast; it is a hot shower; it is sleep on the perfect pillow. Sure, I could go a day without it. But why on earth would I?
Throughout the years I have set myself with various reading goals or projects, often arbitrarily decided and then voraciously pursued. Reading all of the fiction Pulitzer Prize winners, followed by all of the Booker Prize winners, gave my reading direction and focus for several years. It also introduced me to voices I may not otherwise have heard and will now never forget.
Much as I loved many of those works and felt a sense of accomplishment upon completing these “assignments”, something nagged at me then and nags at me still. Why were a mere quarter of these works written by women? And why, as an avid reader and a ardent feminist, do works by women comprise less than half of my reading list year in and year out?Women make up 78% of graduates in education and 59% of graduates in humanities and the arts. Yet women make up 19% of the congressional body; 36% of legislators, managers, and senior officials. So where are women’s voices? Why are they not what I hear and read above all else?
Numerous readers have privately and publicly broached these same questions. As Maddie Crum wrote so poignantly in an article for the Huntington Post, though “[men’s] stories may accurately reveal some of life’s sad realities, […] they shouldn’t drown out the voices telling us how women think about women. … Because whether I like it or not, gender is in everything I read, trumpeted loudly or tucked quietly between the lines” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/a-life-of-reading-women_55c26542e4b0f1cbf1e37e86).
So here I sit, anticipating 2016, approaching 40, and agonizing over the status of women in the world. It is time. I will dedicate my bookwormitude to one year of reading only women. Let their voices wash over me. May the project be more than an empty gesture.