Saturday, 14 November 2009

'Kathmeista Weekly' Top Ten

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


  1. I haven't heard of some of these--there goes my tbr list again!

    I just heard an interview on NPR with Zadie Smith; she's really an interesting lady.

  2. I need to read Wuthering Heights again. Never read On Beauty but loved White Teeth.

    I'm going to make a link to this post next Tuesday. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Lisa - Thanks for commenting :) Hehe oops sorry or adding to your TBR! Which ones had you not heard of yet? That's always happening to me - discovering another great book is so much fun :)

    Caroline - Thanks for the comment and link on Tuesday! Awesome! I totally recommend On Beauty - I enjoyed it more than White teeth (which was still great). AH Wuthering Heights.... I'm definitely due for a re-read of that. Perhaps a Christmas read? Mmmmm....

  4. Oooh. A Margaret Wood. I have to get my hands on one of her books.

    I also loved Wuthering Heights and The Color Purple for very different reasons. Haha.

    I definitely have to check out other books in your list.

  5. Hey Eternal Jade!

    Thanks for your comment. I love Margaret Atwood! Hope you find something you like from my humble pile. :)

  6. I love Wuthering Heights, too! On the other hand, I never finished The Time Traveler's Wife because I couldn't stand it :( I liked On Beauty by Zadie Smith, too, but I think White Teeth, her debut novel, was way much better.