Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Women Only

At first it was accidental. I began the year finishing Lila by Marilynne Robinson, then moved on to Mansfield Park (which, I a devoted Austen fan, had somehow never gotten around to), then to Poisonwood Bible.

Then I realized: "I've only been reading women writers this year!" After proclaiming this to my friends, I made an effort to keep it that way. Books by men on my "To-Read" list on Goodreads were pushed aside. No C.S. Lewis, no Colm Tóibín, no Khaled Hosseini.

This was less a feminist statement than an exercise to find and read female authors, particularly those I might not have otherwise looked for. I liked both the limits and the challenge of this task. But I have begun to feel a little confined by it.

Is it really more women-empowering or woman-centric to (currently) be listening to The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin, which centers on a male physicist and is read by the voice actor Don Leslie than it would be to listen to Madame Bovary, which centers on poor Emma Bovary, and is read by the voice actress Juliet Stevenson?

I've always meant to re-read Madame Bovary (and read it someday in French), so I grabbed it when it was on sale on Audible.com the other day for $4.95.  Now I'm starting to feel bummed that I will have to wait until 2016 to listen to it if I keep this (informally made) woman-only vow.

It's been an interesting eight months of hearing women's voices. I'm not experiencing an absence of men. But I really would like to listen to Madame Bovary...