A book review challenge that preferences women writers guarantees my interest. And, as it turned out, my participation also over a number of years. This is the tenth year of the Australian Women Writers Challenge.
Here’s a quote f rom their website. It explains this book review challenge better than I can.
‘The AWW challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women. The challenge encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female, living in or outside Australia, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year. You don’t have to be a writer to sign up. You can choose to read and review, or read only.‘
Feminism and reading
I’ve been an avowed feminist since I read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. Then I read her novels and other writing in the 1960s and 1970s.
During that time I learned to articulate my belief that my daughters and granddaughters deserved, and should expect, the privileges taken for granted by the boys and men in their lives.
The good women who taught me at school sewed the seeds of feminism. They were members of the French Catholic religious order of Notre Dame des Missions (Our Lady of the Missions). They knew the rightful place of women in society. Not only that, they also expected their students to attempt (and succeed) at whatever they chose.
Those nuns were strong, gutsy women. I’m grateful for their influence.
But de Beauvoir and the other feminist writers who followed her helped me to talk about feminism. I chose to encourage women and girls with whom I came in contact to take their place alongside their brothers.
Another piece of good fortune came my way when I completed a Bachelor of Social Science degree in 1978. I enrolled in a Graduate Diploma in Social Science (Women’s Studies) at Curtin University. The University was one of the first in Australian universities to offer such a course.
Women of the calibre of Dr Patricia Crawford, June Ogilvie and Dr Delys Bird provided knowledge, wisdom and expertise. They supported a handful of students to think deeply in a new area of study. The coursework included women’s history, sociology of the family and women’s work. But the units I enjoyed most embraced women’s literature.
We read women’s literature through the lens of feminism. New learning, breaking ground – I loved it!
Book review challenge
My patchy application to the Australian Women Writers Challenge needs to change! Last year, for example, when we had all the time in the world to read, I got waylaid.
Bags and boxes of books of different genres and by a variety of authors appeared. Carefully placed on our ‘plague stone’ by my older daughter and my step-daughter, they distracted me. I wanted to read, not to review books.
Although I’ve completed the book review challenge most years, I’d like to do better in 2021.
Australian Women Writers Challenge 2021
There are a number of levels in the challenge. This year, I challenge myself to read ten books by Australian Women Writers and review at least 6. This is the Franklin Level. I hope to read and review a few more non-fiction books than usual.
Anyone can join this challenge. It is fun and stimulating. It also helps to create a community of readers and writers. Just click here, and follow the prompts.
Some previous reviews
If you’d like to check out some of my reviews, here are three recent ones.