Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book List Challenge

I am an avid reader. As such, I am almost always intrigued by the "Best Book Lists" or, the, "Even though you like to read, this list will make you feel like you don't read enough!". Also known as the, "List that makes you feel terribly guilty for that Sophie Kinsella book you read last summer!". This time, the BBC Book List Challenge showed up on Facebook, where you could click the number of books you had read (21/100) from the list and show it to all your friends, hoorah for hierarchies! (One friend on my newsfeed had 63). Anyway, the list always leaves me itching to read, and I start searching my local library for each book, picturing the epic summer that lays ahead of me, full of literary genius.
This time, though, I was left wondering. After attending the book launch of Feminism: FOR REAL edited by Jessica Yee, I am left wondering what titles are missing from that list. Is this a list full of authors that are mainly White males, a sort of colonialistic standard existing out there telling us what is great literature? As I'm reading I'm looking for Three Day Road by Joseph Boydon, or anything at all by bell hooks.
This search draws me to a list of Best Feminist Books I found online. The list has many books with female leads (Carrie by Stephen King) and many books written by self-proclaimed feminist authors. But, it also has books like The Feminine Mystique (at number 3) by Betty Friedan. Betty Friedan was a leader of second wave feminism in the United States, head of the National Organization for Women (NOW), with a blatant anti-lesbian stance. She eventually left NOW as she felt the organization was getting too involved with "lesbian issues", resulting in distraction from the larger, more important, goals of pay and employment equity. This list, I think, is not altogether feminist after all.
I'm not stating anything new here, really, and you can find information about much of what I'm saying in other, more prominent, feminist blogs/websites all across the internet. What I'm really asking is what a list of great reads would look like if it included all of the incredibly important but less well-known books written by or about women of color, lesbian women, etc.
My summer goal has changed from reading every great book the BBC says I should read to reading every great book I can find that is NOT on that list, and is either written by a woman who doesn't typically get much air-time (read: is not White/straight/able-bodied, etc.), or is written about feminism (and not White feminism either!). I'm staring with Jessica Yee's book.

What book would you include?

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