Publisher's Weekly released their Top 100 list this month and as a result have created quite a stir due to a complete and total lack of women writers in their Top 10 list. This despite Hilary Mantel winning the Booker for Wolf Hall, A.S. Byatt being nominated for the same award and literary giant Margaret Atwood releasing a new novel in September. They claim a lack of bias, gender or otherwise. I raise my eyebrows in a skeptical manner and say "Oh really."
After listening to Books on the Nightstand last night I decided that it would only be right and fair, given my skepticism, to have good look at my shelves and see what, if any, bias lurked there. Actually, its more to measure the extent of the bias as I know right off the bat that I have a strong preference for women writers. Just how strong was what I wanted to know.
As it happens, my bookshelves comprise (currently) 125 books - not a huge number but then I live in a not-huge apartment in Taiwan, so bear with me. Of those books, 39% were written by men, 60% were written by women and 1% were written by women under male pseudonyms. A strongly biased sample, yes - because frankly, I don't think it's possible to avoid bias in literature. It all comes down to taste after all and if mainly men are picking the lists, then I'm not surprised if male authors are winning the top spots. If it were up to me, I'd end up picking an almost all-female cast. Perhaps the gender balance of the judging panel should be re-examined.
In any case - it's just a list after all. It's a matter of opinion. My Top Ten is below.... what are your top ten books on your shelves?
'Kathmeista Weekly' Top Ten from my shelf (not just 2009):
1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
4. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
5. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
6. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
7. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
8. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
9. Look at me by Anita Brookner
10. Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor