This idea of reading only women for awhile, as a way to balance out gender inequity in the literary world, has been around for quite some time. I started doing it years ago, in college, when I noticed that all the books I was reading were by men. I no longer adhere to such a hard-and-fast rule, but it has inflected my reading life ever since. I don’t know about you, but I picture a reading life to be a kind of scavenger hunt, like, one clue in one book leads to another. And because I spent a little time focusing on women, I was led to other books by women more or less by osmosis. It stopped being something I had to deliberately seek out.
Joanna Walsh, a writer and artist, recently took up the call by making “cartes de voeux” — cards sent on New Year’s, a French tradition — that functioned as bookmarks. Each of the bookmarks has, on the front, an illustration of one of six women writers: Anne Carson, Marguerite Duras, Deborah Levy, Simone de Beauvoir, Gertrude Stein, and Djuna Barnes. On the back, she puts a list of women writers that you could consult should you be at a loss to know who to read next. Like so:
Click on to see the front of the bookmarks!