I’ve been thinking about the Classics Challenge which I read about on Eva’s blog. I immediately loved the idea, partly because I have easy access to so many classics at my parent’s house (where I am still staying despite my serious intention to decamp at the earliest opportunity). Casting my eyes along the bookcases scattered around the house, I can’t help noticing the lack of Classics (or any books for that matter) written by women. There are the usual Jane Austens and also some Margaret Atwoods but the bulk of the books on display are by men. My dad has about three whole shelves of Anthony Trollope and probably the entire works of Dickens but I’m looking for four books to go with Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People, which I note was written in 1980 and could therefore qualify as a modern-day classic.
I’m not sure how I came to this gendered reading realisation but now that it’s in my head, it’s colouring my reading selection. I realised that much of my reading this year has been by men and while it’s perfectly natural that I should be more drawn to male authors, of course this limits my reading input in a big way. So I set out to remedy this in quick time.
Having a quick scout around, I find a few excellent candidates: Anne of Green Gables by LM Alcott; Mill on the Floss by George Eliot; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’m not sure how many of these qualify as classics and two of these books are also children’s books but no matter. I’m doing this challenge my way.
I’m excited to begin my reading challenge but I can’t help wondering if I’m reading these books for the right reason. In other words, am I reading them because I really want to read them or am I hoping to please my female blog-readers with my gendered reading awareness? LOL. But then I think that that’s nonsense and that there doesn’t need to be a right reason for reading. Isn’t reading alone reason enough? And if you choose to read books by Irish authors one month and then Australian authors the next, who cares? The main thing is to read, and then to read some more. And then to reflect on the reading, and to note which ones I enjoyed the most and which ones made me think the most and which ones I just couldn’t get into and why.
I’ll let you know how I progress. Incidentally, and purely by chance, I picked up a John Mortimer in the library today and the first Rumpole story I’m reading (Rumpole and the Model Prisoner) has a few funny digs at Gender Awareness (and the Sisterhood of Radical Lawyers). It’s nice to see that not even Rumpole is immune to gender awareness. And how is it that Rumpole’s chauvinism is part of his charm?