Today, I’m officially announcing my participation in the Australian Women Writers challenge. The what?, I hear you ask. Well, it’s a reading challenge that was established last year as a way to stop the gender bias that exists in so many book review pages, particularly in the established media. This bias isn’t necessarily deliberate, but it does exist, and so the AWW challenge is a way to help change that. You can read about the background here.
Now, to say that I’m taking part in this doesn’t mean that I’m ONLY reading Australian women writers. Heck, I read over 100 books in a year, and only a small proportion of those are going to fit the criteria. But some are better than none, and a lot are better than some. I’ve already read two books by Australian women this year so I don’t see it as being a particularly onerous idea.
Here are the categories (from the AWW challenge website):
- Stella – read 4 – review at least 3
- Miles – read 6 – review at least 4
- Franklin – read 10 – review at least 6
- Create your own challenge – do you plan to specialise in a particular genre or interest area, e.g. Science Fiction, self-published or Indigenous literature? Are you aiming for a high number, e.g. all the books you can read?
Last year I signed up for Stella, which was easy enough. This year, to push myself a bit, I’ve decided I’m going to go for the Franklin – read ten books, review at least six. With all the great Australian women writers out there, it should be a piece of cake, right?
And now, I am going to ask you to consider signing up to this challenge as well. Below I’ve listed a few common objections to participating, with my solutions.
- Not female? Well, who says you have to be a woman in order to read a story by a woman? I certainly read a heck of a lot of stories by male authors, Australian or not.
- Not Australian? Why should that be a problem? Is there a rule that says you can only read books by people you share a country with?
- No time? Hey, if I can do it, so can you. What’s the big deal in reading four books in a year?
- Don’t review books on your blog? No problem! If you have a Goodreads account you can just review on that site.
- Don’t know any Australian women writers? Well, luckily for you the people behind the challenge have set up a bookshelf on Goodreads for you to have a look at, with over 1000 books listed on it. That should be enough for anyone.
So, this is both my announcement that I’m participating, and my plea for you to consider it too. Just go to the AWW website and sign up. It’s free, it’s easy and you might just discover a new favourite author.
- Australian Women Writers Challenge Book Review (dionnelisterwriter.wordpress.com)
- Monday musings on Australian literature: Australian Women Writers’ Challenge 2012 Round-up (whisperinggums.com)
- Inaugural Stella Prize Longlist Announced (australianwomenwriters.com)
- Australian Women Writers’ Challenge (shawjonathan.wordpress.com)
- Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013 (woahmolly.com)