Last week, I signed up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014, which began on 1 January and will finish on 31 December. For this challenge, women and men readers and bloggers in Australia and elsewhere are invited to read and review books in any genre written by Australian women.
The challenge has run for the past two years, and each time I’ve thought of an excuse not to be involved. Laziness, perhaps. I mostly choose to read books by women and talk about some of them at the book club to which I belong. Reviewing is a logical next step.
Books by male authors in Australia are far more likely to be reviewed than those by women. The stated aim of this challenge is ‘to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women’. As a woman writer, I have to like that!
In the challenge, there are four suggested levels. The first three are named after Stella Miles Franklin, an Australian writer and feminist who is best known for her novel My Brilliant Career, which was published in 1901. The levels are:
- Stella: read four books, and if reviewing, review at least three
- Miles: read six and review at least four
- Franklin: read ten and review at least six.
- Create your own challenge, which could include reading and reviewing an unlimited number of books, or simply reading a few more books by Australian women and reviewing none.
I’ve been very gentle with myself and opted for the Miles level, which means that, in 2014, I’ll read at least six books and review four. Because I write memoirs and sometimes facilitate life-writing courses at Peter Cowan Writers Centre I tend to read more memoirs than books in other genres.
My plans could easily change, but for the challenge I’d like to read and review books from several different genres. Perhaps I’ll find some books written by and about older women. I’ll report my progress and include the reviews in my posts.
There are a few reasons why I’ve joined:
- The idea of being part of a community of people who are reading and writing about books by women writers appeals
- Accepting the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014 is an act of solidarity with women writers who are underrepresented in book reviews and on long- and short-lists for most writing awards
- I like challenges, even small ones.
Anyone reading this blog can join the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014 and read more books by women this year. I know some people would enjoy reviewing the books, as well. For those new to reviewing, there are guidelines on the AWWC website, and there are also numerous websites with information and tips on how to go about it. Perhaps members of book clubs and writing groups could encourage others to join the challenge and support each other’s review-writing.
ps. This is the first time I’ve tried to add links to one of my posts. I can’t find any way to check until I post this. If I haven’t got it right, I’ll try again. Learning curve!