Reading Roundup: Books to Highlight the Voices of Women
On the heels of Women's History Month, our latest roundup focuses on recent news about women authors in books and publishing to keep you reading in April.
It's no secret that women, especially women of color, have long been a minority in Western literature and publishing. Books by and about men still garner more awards than books by or about women, according to reporter Maddie Crum in a recent article in the Huffington Post. The 2015 VIDA Count shows that many of the leading literary magazines review more books written by men and commission more men than women to write about them. Further, only 14 women have won the Nobel Prize in Literature out of 112 total laureates since 1901.
The list of women authors who have written under male pseudonyms to combat publishing preference includes everyone from Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin (George Sand) and Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) to J.K. Rowling (Robert Galbraith). In 2015, author Catherine Nichols in a post on Jezebel described her experience of submitting her manuscript under a man's name. (Spoiler alert: Of her 50 inquires, a third received responses under the name "George," while she netted one response for every 25 letters under her own name.)
But many in the literary world are now turning their attention to publishing and reading diverse books, especially those by women. In recent years, #ReadWomen has become a prominent hashtag on Twitter encouraging people to choose books by women. The works of many female authors who were unrecognized during their lifetimes are now gaining broader attention, writes Anne Boyd Rioux, a professor at the University of New Orleans, in a recent piece for Salon. Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector and American short story writer Lucia Berlin, who both wrote during the 20th century, are two such authors who made bestseller lists in 2015.
Here are a few recent reading lists that caught our eye:
- Strand Bookstore in New York City compiled 14 books by women from around the world, including Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector, The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante, and the complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
- Powell's Books in Portland, Ore., organized a list of 25 women to read before you die.
- Literary Hub recommends 10 novels by women of color that were overlooked in 2015.
- The Brit + Co blog features feminist children's books for all ages, including Marjolaine Leray's Little Red Hood.
New March Reads Cover the Sexual Behavior of Teens and Social Media
Two recently released books tackle sexual relationships among teens and social media in the 21st century:
- According to a New York Times review of Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, author Peggy Orenstein spoke to dozens of teenage girls for a look at the mixed signals they receive from society about sexuality. In an interview with NPR, Orenstein stressed the importance of talking to girls about their sexuality and desires throughout their high school years.
- The New York Times also covered American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, in which Nancy Jo Sales interviews teenage girls ages 13 through 19 across 10 states about social media, arguing that the "sexual behavior of teenagers ... is being changed and shaped by thoroughly new technology."
YA Author Remembered for "Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging"
Louise Rennison, the author of the best-selling YA novel Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, died at the age of 64. The novel launched the series The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, which gave voice to a young girl navigating the world. Rennison also wrote and performed a one-woman show, "Stevie Wonder Felt My Face," about her life, London, and "what it was like being a girl."
Photo by Alice Fest