November 14, 2009

The Subjective Ten

Publisher's Weekly created a list of the top 2009 books, and there's a lot of uproar about it because their top ten includes nary a woman. My initial reaction was, "Really? Not one woman? I'm dubious."

Then again, I don't really prefer to read books by men-- just check out my "Quite Incomplete List of Favorite Books." I could say more about this, but I'd probably just manage to insult a lot of men with my broad generalizations, when really my taste just is what it is. I do have to say, though,The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of my most favorite books of all time and one I probably wouldn't have read if Monkey Mama hadn't suggested it, so I know I need to work on that bias.

Also, I tend not to read much in the way of non-fiction, with the exception of parenting books and my recent foray into Buddhism, so if I were going to make my own 2009 top ten list, I wouldn't be likely to include the non-fiction genre, whereas PW included five non-fiction titles (six if the graphic novel is included). It made me wonder how many non-fiction books were published by women in 2009. Where does one find that list?

Plus I am certain I would have included one book of poetry, probably Jennifer K. Sweeney's How to Live on Bread and Music and not just because she is one of my most favorite people.

As much as I want to get all riled up about PW's list and create my own, I haven't read a single book published in 2009 (with the exception of poetry) because hardbacks are too expensive, and the reserve list at the library is too long. I imagine a lot of folks are on this page with me. Even my friend L, who is Diana Gabaldon's original and biggest fan, did not run out and buy An Echo in the Bone upon its release. It's the stinky economy.

The cynical part of me thinks that PW came up with this list and decided to run with it because controversy sells. The lit-loving side is glad it's selling. I'm thrilled that so many people are talking about, and buying, books in response.

Right now, though I may change my mind, I'm going to err on the side of generosity and tell myself that PW is not evil; their taste just is what it is, too, and if I had the time and money to read the books they read, I'd probably find that our taste isn't compatible.

On that note, I'm off to buy Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger, which we're reading for my bookclub. I was enduring the long wait for a library copy, but now I feel compelled to support a woman writer.


Anonymous said...

I buy poetry books, borrow fiction from the library, so I'll have to continue my wait--but how I long to read that book!

Yay, Jennifer Sweeney's coming to read in our Collected Poets Series next fall! Very much looking forward to that. You'll have to come!

Patricia Caspers said...

Marie, I just finished the book. I could send it to you if you'd like.

I can't wait for Jennifer's visit! I haven't seen her since I moved to MA and she moved to MI.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Patricia, that's so nice of you! But I'm still making my way through the Mark Helprin 1000 page tome, so I'm good with waiting. Fiction just takes longer for me these days, and that's okay.