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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favorite Heroines From Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favorite Heroines From Books

Top Ten Tuesday Yay for this week’s awesome topic! It was a lot of fun to create this list and to consider why I like all these heroines so much. I think the main reason is that all of them forge their own path in life, one way or another, despite their circumstances.

Ten Favorite Heroines From Books

  1. Hermione from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
    Do I really need to explain this choice? Is there anyone out there who has NOT listed Hermione? Hermione has ingenuity, she’s loyal, courageous, and she knows exactly what she wants. She has a bit of trouble being flexible sometimes, but knows to give in when it matters. Being the main heroine of the most important books I read growing up, she was definitely a role model (even though I am very little like Hermione).
  2. Seraphina Dombegh from Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
    I love love love Seraphina. She is so human, despite what she believes about herself. She’s intelligent and brave and has amazing musical talent. She cares about others and always tries to do the right thing, despite her own feelings. She’s a bit hard on herself sometimes, and I definitely recognise myself in her.
  3. Marguerite St. Just from The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
    Marguerite is a clever, independent woman. She figures things out, and is then not afraid to act.
  4. Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
    Karou got dealt a rough card. But she copes, and she deals with what comes on her path (even if she has no choice sometimes). She’s brave and strong, and has awesome style to match!
  5. Zuzana from Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
    Zuzana looks cute but is so fierce. She’s really funny and kind, and I was so happy that Laini Taylor wrote a short story, Night of Cake & Puppets, dedicated to her and Mik.
  6. Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
    Beatrice (and Benedick) gave me such a laugh when I was reading this play! And my love for her only increased when I saw her acted by Catherine Tate (and David Tennant was Benedick, need I say more).
  7. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
    Elizabeth is most of all relatable. I’m sure we’ve all had our prejudice at some point, and we’ve all had to learn the hard way to adapt our views… On top of that, she’s funny and kind of snarky, haha.
  8. Sophy from The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
    Sophy’s hilarious (but extremely headstrong).
  9. Cameron Post from The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
    I love how Cameron quite early on figures out who she is. She doesn’t doubt herself, even if she isn’t always surrounded by supportive people.
  10. Holly Sykes from The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
    Holly might not always make the best decisions (especially when she is young), but the decisions are her own. And Holly, an ordinary girl, turns out to be so much more than she ever could have thought.
Classics Club Spin #8

Classics Club Spin #8

The Classics clubI skipped the previous Classics Club Spin (I just completely missed it), but decided to participate again this time.

I also decided to give this spin’s list a twist. I realised my previous CC Spin list consisted of just 6 women versus 14 men, and my full Classics Club list was also mostly made up of men. You may remember I wrote about wanting to read more women earlier this year. That’s why I decided to dedicate this spin to female authors. It was surprisingly difficult to find (popular) classics written by women, which just made me more motivated to go through with this. I am disappointed I wasn’t able to find much (translated) classic literature by Japanese women, especially… Alas. But I am very happy with my spin list!

If you have any other suggestions for classics, let me know 🙂 I don’t mind changing around my list (before Monday, of course)

The rules:

  1. Go to your blog
  2. Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club list
  3. Post that list, numbered 1 – 20, on your blog by next Monday
  4. Monday morning, we’ll announce a number from 1 – 20. Go to the list of twenty books you posted and select the book that corresponds to the number we announce
  5. The challenge is to read that book by January 5th

My list:

  1. Alcott, Louisa May – Little Women
  2. Austen, Jane – Sense and Sensibility
  3. Bronte, Anne – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  4. Bronte, Charlotte – Jane Eyre
  5. Bronte, Emily – Wuthering Heights
  6. Enchi, Fumiko – Masks
  7. Eliot, George – Middlemarch
  8. Frank, Anne – Het Dagboek van Anne Frank (The Diary of Anne Frank)
  9. Gaskell, Elizabeth – North and South
  10. Haasse, Hella S. – De Heren van de Thee (The Tea Lords)
  11. Hall, Radclyffe – The Well of Loneliness
  12. Jackson, Shirley – The Haunting of Hill House
  13. Lee, Harper – To Kill a Mockingbird
  14. Le Guin, Ursula K. – The Left Hand of Darkness
  15. Maurier, Daphne du – The Birds
  16. Mitchell, Margaret – Gone with the Wind
  17. Path, Sylvia – The Bell Jar
  18. Potter, Beatrix – The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  19. Shōnagon, Sei – The Pillow Book
  20. Wharton, Edith – The House of Mirth
Thursday Thoughts: Gender Bias & Sexism

Thursday Thoughts: Gender Bias & Sexism

Thursday Thoughts This week’s Thursday Thoughts.

What is your opinion on males reading books “geared towards women” such as YA contemporary, romance, most new adult, etc? In that same vein, what’s your opinion on females reading comics and graphic novels? Do you agree that sexism, or at least gender bias’, are apparent in today’s bookish world? Are you someone who “breaks” these bias’?

/flips table

Gender bias and sexism is the dumbest thing ever, period. It frustrates me so much. And it frustrates me when it comes to books, too. I talked about female authors before and my stance on that. And that’s just about authors, so I don’t even know where to start on the greater topic.

What is my opinion on men reading books ‘geared towards women’, and the other way around? Read whatever you like. Sexism is dumb, genres are just genres. It’s like the big toy question: is this a toy for boys or girls? Do you operate it with your genitals? No? (Obviously not.) Then it’s for boys and girls. Simple as that. And the same goes for books in my opinion. They’re just books.

I’m sad to see book genres separated in ‘for men’ and ‘for women’. Even though it might not always be said in so many words, reading books from the ‘wrong gender’ is often frowned upon. Although in practice, it seems women are less reluctant to let these labels stop them and they read whatever they like. But (and this is just my impression) men are less likely to read something if the stupid ‘for women’ label is stuck on it.

A little while ago, my colleague showed me a wonderful blog post about female characters in children’s books (read it here). I love what she’s doing. Did anyone ever notice it seems more acceptable for girls to read books with male protagonists than the other way around? It actually seems that women at any age (from childhood on) seem to read books with both male and female protagonists whereas men read mostly books with male protagonists. And, if there is a female protagonist, there is usually also a male protagonist?

And this is why labels are stupid. Because people are made to feel stupid for picking up a book. Whether it is the little girl who is told she shouldn’t read about superheroes because they are for boys, or the grown man who is ashamed to pick up romance novels because they are for women. Everyone will have preferences, of course, but can we please do away with the labels and read whatever we like without it being stamped ‘for men’ or ‘for women’? Great, thanks.

/breathes in, breathes out

I’m sure you understand I could say so much more on this topic.

On a happier note: Don’t forget to enter my giveaway! A little over 2 days left to enter!

Discussion: I’m going to read more women

Discussion: I’m going to read more women

I have decided. I will read more books by women. I will consciously pick up more books by women. This is actually something I decided at the start of the year.

You may wonder why. You may ask why it matters. You may ask if it matters.

I think it does. So why am I suddenly writing about this? Actually, it’s not so sudden. This post has been in my drafts since January. I know! Somehow, it’s such a sensitive topic.

There are many, many reasons why I’ve decided this. Long story short: in an ideal world there would be no gender bias, but this is not an ideal world, and there is gender bias.

For example, the yearly Dutch Book Week gift novella will be written by a man for the 13th time in a row (and out of 90 authors so far, only a little over a dozen were women). J.K. Rowling’s name is a pen name because the publisher was afraid young boys would be wary to read a book by a woman. We see more men than women translated into English or almost every other language. Follow any course on literature anywhere, and literature written by men will almost definitely outnumber that written by women (unless you are following a class on ‘Women’s Literature’). And while people – both men and women – keep suggesting male authors are more successful because men ‘simply write better’, we’ve got a problem.

Now, why am I going to read more books by women? I felt unable to explain this – I wish there was no need to consciously do this – until I read a wonderful piece titled Women in Fantasy: Thoughts on Disrupting the Circle. Seriously, read it!

I want to disrupt the circle.

Essentially, if I read more books by women, I can talk more about books by women, I can review more books by women, and I can inspire more people to read these books. To read these books not because they are by women, but because someone is talking about them. Someone needs to be talking about them.

Anyway, I also figured I’d examine my own reading stats. I went into this not really knowing what to expect, but my suspicion was sadly true.

In 2012, I read:
21 books by female authors versus 38 books by male authors
16 different female authors versus 31 different male authors

In 2013 I read:
16 books by female authors versus 37 books by male authors
14 different female authors versus 25 different male authors

Not happy with the results. This year is somewhat better, so far I’ve read:
19 books by female authors versus 25 books by male authors
18 different female authors versus 23 different male authors

Why still more men than women this year? Remember that MOOC that I’m taking? Yep… For this year I am aiming at 50-50 though.

Now, not all is bad out there in Bookland. Lately there is – thankfully – a lot of attention going out to the topic of gender bias, but also diversity in books (both author diversity as well as character diversity). We get beautiful hashtags like #WeNeedDiverseBooks, and reading events like LGBT Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. The book community on the whole is pretty amazing, if you ask me! And thanks to a colleague I am stumbling into articles such as the aforementioned Women in Fantasy, and this round table discussion. The two articles focus on sci-fi & fantasy but are relevant to almost every genre imho (read them, they are good!).

Finally, let me say: I don’t think anyone should feel forced go around picking female over male authors in order to ‘set things right’. And I don’t necessarily think the reason for this gender bias is because people consciously choose NOT to read female authors. But I do think it’s important to at least be aware of what’s happening.

So, what do you think? Do you notice any bias? Do you think there should be a distinction, like with special ‘women’s prizes’? Do you consciously pick what you are reading, and do you read more male or female authors? 🙂

(Disclaimer, in case anyone is having doubts: I am not against books by men, I am not avoiding books by men and men are not the devil. I have to state this silliness because I’ve had this discussion before.)