Personal Reading Challenge for December

The year of reading womenIt’s very simple: for December, I’ve resolved to read only books by women authors. This did not start out as an intentional challenge. In fact, the first book I finished in December (which I had started on the last weekend of November) was written by a man. It was Mark Edwards’ stalker thriller ‘Because She Loves Me’.

However, all of the books I had borrowed from the library or that were waiting patiently from me on my Netgalley shelf seemed to be by women writers – or at least the ones that were calling out to me: ‘Read me next! Me!’

So here are the books I have read, am reading and will be reading for this month.

Nina Stibbe: Man at the Helm – I opened this instead of another book and could not stop reading

Françoize Boucher: Le livre qui fait aimer les livres (The Book that Will Make You Love Books: Even If You Hate Reading)

BelCantoAnn Patchett: Bel Canto – because I love her writing and I couldn’t resist the hook: ‘kidnappers storm an international gathering of opera lovers at the Vice President’s residence in a poor Latin American country’

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah – because, given my cross-cultural experience and profession, everyone is surprised that I haven’t read it yet (and it does sound like the sort of thing I would enjoy)

Jacqueline Saphra: The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions – when I first started writing poetry again, the wonderful poet Naomi Shihab Nye said that my (very modest) efforts reminded her of Saphra’s work, so I’ve been reading her work ever since and finally bought the whole first collection

Lauren Beukes: Broken Monsters – because Lauren is a life-force, unpredictable and irrepressible, and boy, can she write!

icecreammanKatri Lipson: The Ice Cream Man – because it’s a Finnish author, although the action takes place largely in Czechoslovakia of the 1940s/50s.

Alison Mercer: After I Left You – because it’s been on my Netgalley shelf for far too long and Cleo recommends it

Lily King: Euphoria – because it’s about anthropologists in the field caught up in a pernicious love triangle (based on Margaret Mead, who is one of the main reasons I studied anthropology)

Look how many varied and wonderful women writers there are just in this small sample!

Am I being a little over-ambitious? Am I not making any allowances for spontaneity? Well, we shall have to wait and see whether the home-made plans bear any semblance to the end result. But I do know that I have plenty more women writers to choose from…




25 thoughts on “Personal Reading Challenge for December”

  1. You’ve just reminded me I need to read Americanah, Marina Sofia and Susan! I loved Half Of A Yellow Sun, and her TED talk. Some great reads there.

  2. Good luck this month, Marina Sofia. I keep on getting recommendations for Americanah as well. BTW, I loved both Bel Canto and Broken Monsters.

  3. You do have a really delightful variety of books there, Marina Sofia! I’ll be very keen to see how you get on with this challenge. I keep hearing good things about Broken Monsters..

    1. I’ve been wanting to read Broken Monsters, but Shannon at River City Reading wrote a blog entry after reading it called, (I’m probably paraphrasing slightly) What Do You Do When You Love A Book But Hate The Ending? But if anything that’s made me more intrigued! Also, Bel Canto – I thought I knew this book, and that it was about the mistress of a plantation house and her slave – which it ISN’T!! So I’m clearly mixing it up with something else. If anyone could figure out what, it’d stop my brain going round and round!

      1. Am loving Broken Monsters so far, although each chapter switches from one POV to another, which I normally don’t like very much. But it’s done quite skillfully here. Could you be confusing Bel Canto with The Help? Bel Canto has a lot to do with opera and how music can overcome even the most sordid of circumstances. Also, quite funny.

      2. No, not The Help – I enjoyed it, and gave it to my daughter to read, as I thought it would be interesting for an older teenager….perhaps it’s a book I’ve invented in my head – now I just need to write it haha! Will do some detective work, and let you know if I figure it out…I think the opera stuff would be a bit daunting for a philistine like me!

  4. Best of luck with your plans for December, Marina. I hope you enjoy Americanah and I’ll be fascinated to hear what you make of it, especially in the context of all your other cross-cultural reading and experience. I loved Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, full of verve and fiesty writing.

    1. I met her at the Crime festival in Lyon this year and instantly felt she was a kindred spirit. Writes what she wants, regardless of genre, unafraid to be different.

    1. Well, we shall see how much reading will get done from the 19th onwards (holidays) – having everyone in the house all day will be a challenge. I just hope there will be snow and I can send them out to build a snowman occasionally!

  5. Been meaning to read Americanah for ages – I’ll be interested to see what you think of it. Will you be able to persuade me to try Bel Canto though? I wasn’t overly enthused by State of Wonder, but the consensus seem to be that Bel Canto is the better book…

  6. Americanah is excellent, I know I read Bel Canto several years ago but I can’t remember anything about it. Good luck with your challenge it sounds great.

    1. That’s what I keep hearing – that I’ve missed out if I haven’t read Americanah. My problem is that I like to read books AFTER the buzz has calmed down. I thought I was one of the last to read Gone Girl… and then the buzz started all over again with the film coming out.

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