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Thinking,  Writing and Reading

Speak Up! Favorite Books by Women

As part of Women’s History Month, a Cleveland, Ohio bookstore decided to turn all inventory of male-authored books spine IN, effectively “silencing” them for several days.

[bctt tweet=”Fewer than 40% of the titles were written by women.” username=”AndreaPatten”]

The project took ten people more than two hours to complete and, when they were done, fewer than 40% of the titles remained visible: 3700 of 10000 bookstore titles were written by women.  It reminds me of a recent conversation about museums: that it’s far easier for women to get into a museum as an artist’s subject than as an artist. It also wasn’t too long ago I learned that a certain fairly accomplished dinosaur – oops I mean editor just “won’t read” fiction by women. Excuse me? It’s as if seeing women’s words on a page is going to cost him $.22 on the dollar?

[bctt tweet=”Will seeing women’s words on a page cost him $.22 on the dollar?” username=”AndreaPatten”]

I don’t often pay close attention to such things but I recently watched an author promote his new non-fiction offering with a blog post about “life-changing books.” He had a long list –without a single female author on it. For some reason, it got under my skin.

I can’t imagine my reading history without all the amazing female authors who have been a part of my life. I was a shy kid who read a lot. My imagination was captured by Astrid Lindgren’s feisty Pippi Longstocking and, as a sometimes farm girl, I was intrigued by Marguerite Henry’s powerful horses. And as I grew older? Who could fail to be moved by Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath?

And as an adult? I’m all over the place. I’m fortunate to be connected with a wonderful group of local writers. Terri Clements Dean writes non-fiction that highlights the way people learn and grow. Start with Traveling Stories. If you’re trying to sort something out? You might want to pick up the companion journal.

[bctt tweet=”I can’t imagine my reading history without amazing women authors.” username=”AndreaPatten”]

Books have brought me a number of wonderful women as mentors. Almost anything by Anne Lamott speaks to me, especially Bird by Bird. Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way helps me take the space I need to write.

And, when I think of remarkable non-fiction by women? Don’t miss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot or Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

With such an amazing array from which to choose, can you think of any reasonable reason that women are so under-represented on library and bookstore shelves?

Let’s speak up. Please use the comment space to shout out about your favorite female authors.


This post was originally part of a “Favorite Books” blog hop with some author-sister-friends. The links below are other posts on the topic.

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