I first heard about the Australian Women Writers Reading and Reviewing Challenge on Twitter where several friends were signing up to the event, which seeks to address imbalance in the way many reviewers approach their assessment of works by female writers.
Such bias has, of course, been going on for many years, but the Internet offers even more opportunity for entrenched prejudices to flourish; and the organiser of the challenge makes special mention of social media news feeds as a particularly fertile site for such biases.
Thankfully, in Australia, women have the Internet too; we have the capacity to create thoughtful and considered assessments of writing by women, to foster a culture of respectful criticism where writing is judged on its own terms.
I mentioned the AWW challenge to my book club, wondering if we could somehow incorporate it into our reading for the year. One of the members was enthusiastic about the project and was willing to take up the challenge individually. Another had no difficulty with the reading aspect, but declared that she hated writing reviews.
For myself, I knew I believed in the importance of the project, but was less certain of even finishing any book I started, never mind delivering reviews. At that stage too, I hadn’t maintained a blog for a couple of years and the challenge requires some kind of dedicated on-line presence.
It was only as I was pursuing a recent hobby–recording audiobooks of works in the public domain with the US-based volunteer organisation, Librivox–that I struck upon the idea of combining the two projects.
Thus, my twist on the AWW 2012 Challenge will be to read works by Australian women writers that are in the public domain and use this blog to record notes about my progress and any observations I might make about the content of what I’m reading.
See how I tricked myself into reading books and writing reviews there?