Two years ago, I had a long, hard look at how, and who, I read
. I was rather disappointed. Reading is at the heart of my identity, both in that I am, to my core, someone who reads
, but also in that the books I have read have had a major impact on how I see the world. Alongside this, I have identified as a feminist since I was a kid. Finding out that I fairly consistently read only 20% women was therefore both surprising and dismaying. To make matters worse, the same percentages were present both in my library as a whole and in my list of books to read. Clearly something needed doing.
Last year, at this time, I had spent a year reading 50% women, an experiment which would have been a tremendous success, were it not for the fact that nearly all the women (and men, for that matter) on my list were distinctly of the white & Western persuasion. I resolved to do better
I decided to keep reading 50% women while also reading 50% non-western authors. I limited "non-western" to the world outside of Europe & the Americas, and likewise excluded authors of Western descent (so no Coetzee, Camus or Kipling in this group).1
The purpose was to break out of my rather insular way of reading. I believe in literature as a political agent, and the choice to have my world described and shaped almost exclusively by Western European voices is one ...