Sunday, February 19, 2012

Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge

I once moved house because there wasn’t room for all my books. When I came home from living overseas a few years ago, a good friend took charge of unpacking my books from storage, knowing that if left to me, all my worldly possessions would languish for weeks, while I sat on the floor surrounded by piles of books, re-discovering old favourites.

I usually have two or three books on the go at any one time, and if you visit me you’ll find books stacked on my coffee table and bedside tables waiting to be read. There are fewer pleasures greater than finding a book that grips you so much you have to keep reading, even though it’s two in the morning and you have to be up for work in a few hours.

So although I hardly need another reason to stick my nose in a book, I’ve signed up for a challenge that gives me the perfect excuse to sequester myself away with the written word.

I’ve signed on to take part in the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge, and just as it says in the title, for the rest of the year I’ll be reading and reviewing works for Australian Woman Writers.

The challenge is the vision of Elizabeth Lhuede, in response to concerns that newspaper and social media literary reviews are disproportionately of male authors. The challenge is a chance for anyone, female and male, to read and then write about what they’ve read.

It’s pretty straightforward, you sign up for the challenge by registering on  Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge, (I’m Reviewer Number 273), and after that you can read as many books in as many or as few genres as you like. So whether you’re a devoted fan of comedy, drama, sci-fi, memoir, non-fiction, fantasy, romance or poetry or you prefer to mix and match, you can take part. All you need is an ability to read (or listen to audio books) and an opinion to share.

I’m aiming to read and review at least six novels by the end of 2012. That’s one every two months, and for someone of my reading appetites it doesn’t sound onerous. But I also have to review what I’ve read and I want to give more than a simple “Yep I loved it” or “What a waste of time!”, I’m using this year as a chance to exercise my critiquing muscles.

And here’s where I’m asking for your help, I’m calling out for your suggestions. All it has to be is a work by an Australian female writer, it doesn’t have to have been published in the last year, it can be from any period.

There are certainly some names that immediately come to mind, Elizabeth Jollely, Kate Grenville, Helen Garner, all great alumnae of course. But I’m also looking forward to authors I haven’t read before, this is the chance to dive into the Apricot Colonel mystery series by Canberra’s own Marion Halligan. I’ve been meaning to read them for years and I don’t quite know why I haven’t got to them yet.

That conundrum is the reason why I’m taking part, I love reading, I’m the epitome of a voracious reader, and my bookshelves are full of works by my favourite women writers, Jane Austen, AS Byatt, Audrey Niffenegger, Lindsey Davis. Yet Australian writers, both men and women, don’t feature heavily in my personal library, so I’m using this year to challenge myself and find some new favourites closer to home.

All suggestions are gratefully received!

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