Eva van Emden (she/her), freelance editor

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February 22, 2016

The Don’t Just Read Dudes Project

I read a lot. It’s what I do when I’m not doing anything else. And since 2001, I’ve been keeping a list of what I’ve been reading. Once in a while, I scan through this list, and it’s noticeable that a lot of the authors on my list have . . . Y chromosomes. It’s also noticeable that there are a lot of fantastic books by women on the list. I loved The Martian and of course I ripped through Seveneves, but now I’m ready to spend some time with a different focus. Lois McMaster Bujold, Dorothy Sayers, Octavia Butler, Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, Maggie Stiefvater, and Katherine Addison are all writers I’ve read recently who write (or wrote) masterful, insightful, gripping books that make me want to read more like them.

So I decided in January that I’m going out of my way to read more great books by women. I’m going to say twenty books in the first half of 2016. I’m counting rereads, but only if it’s been at least fifteen years since the first read. I’m also not sticking to this diet exclusively, because I wanted to finish Accidents in North American Mountaineering, and Fifty Degrees Below had showed up in the interlibrary loan queue (but I was a little frustrated with Fifty: as Frank burbles on about how logical it is to sleep in the park and hang out with homeless guys every night, I can’t stop noticing how unworkable that solution would be for most people with breasts). This isn’t going to be any effort to survey the great classics of female authors, by the way; I’m just going to read whatever seems fun.

Read so far

  1. What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton
  2. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
  3. Pride and Prejudice (reread) by Jane Austen
  4. The Left Hand of Darkness (reread) by Ursula Le Guin
  5. Ellen in Pieces by Caroline Adderson
  6. Over Sea, under Stone (again) by Susan Cooper. Book one of the Dark Is Rising series, which I read through except for The Dark Is Rising itself, which I reread two years ago.
  7. Greenwitch (again) by Susan Cooper
  8. The Grey King (again) by Susan Cooper
  9. Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper. I think this was the first time. The other books are very good, but this one I didn’t like as much. Too much magic, I think.
  10. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
  11. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold
  12. Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World by Lynn Hill and Greg Child. I’m very interested in motivation, and check out this one: “For me, the ascent represented a kind of performance art to demonstrate the values I believed in.”
  13. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
  14. Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin
  15. Merchanter’s Luck by C. J. Cherryh
  16. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
  17. The Just City by Jo Walton
  18. The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby
  19. Republic of Dirt by Susan Juby
  20. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Update, June 19

Earlier this month, I finished The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It makes twenty books, so I’m calling the project finished for now. Lots of pleasant surprises in that book list. There was a bit of a digression when I blew off a Pulitzer-prize-winning Anne Tyler book to read a long piece of Harry Potter fan fiction. After the Harry Potter fan fic I had to reread the first two Harry Potters for comparison; then after The Song of Achilles, I had to dip into the Iliad for comparison.

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