Women & writing

I started the year by reading Nisha Susan’s The Women Who Forgot To Invent Facebook and Other Stories which was hilarious.

Published: 09th March 2022 06:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th March 2022 06:50 AM

Express News Service

BENGALURU: When I relocated to a new house and was arranging all my books, I realised that I had an unintended bias. Most of my books were by male authors. So I decided that in 2022, I would read mainly women authors, preferably those I hadn’t read before, and in as many genres as possible. I realised that magic happens when you leave your comfort zone!

I started the year by reading Nisha Susan’s The Women Who Forgot To Invent

Facebook and Other Stories which was hilarious. I could relate to it because many stories were based in Bengaluru and Kerala — both places that I have lived in. Similarly, I related to Letter from New York by Helene Hanff, which my bibliophile friend Pradeep Sebastian gifted me, since New York is a place that I visit at least thrice a year; descriptions of the city resonated in me although they were from 1978.

Looking for the Good War by Elizabeth D Samet is one of the best military books I have ever read. The book reexamines the literature, art and culture that emerged after World War II. It looks into American beliefs about the use of military force throughout the world, and our inability to accept the realities of the 21st-century’s decades of devastating conflict.

I have been fortunate to have worked with two outstanding co-authors Sudha Menon and CK Meena. So, it was obvious that I read their books. Sudha Menon’s most recent Recipes for Life recreates the memories of the foods we have grown up with. CK Meena’s Seven Days to Somewhere is a reflection of our education system that does not allow children to follow their hearts.

I also realised that most of the popular women authors wrote fiction, my least favourite  genre, and that those who veer towards non-fiction seem to write mostly personal essays or memoirs — the most recent ones being Kiran Bedi’s Fearless Governance and Indra Nooyi’s My Life in Full. In contrast is a book I look forward to reading: 1619 Project by Nicola Hannah Jones, a long-form journalism endeavour developed by Hannah-Jones, writers from The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine. It aims to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative”.

As one would guess, there are plenty of books on feminism written by women. My reading list for 2022 includes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All be Feminists. One of my favourite genres being the graphic novel, which has long been dominated by men, I picked The Story of My Tits by breast cancer survivour Jennifer Hayden. Friends have recommended to me books by writers as divergent as Jan Morris and CS Lakshmi (Ambai).

One of the highlights of my last visit to London was visiting the bookshop, Persephone Books. This independent publishing house specialises in reprints of forgotten fiction and non-fiction from the mid-20th century mostly by women writers like EM Delafield, Diana Athill and Frances Hodgson Burnett. Each book is reprinted with a dove-grey cover and beautiful endpaper inspired by vintage fabrics. After spending a happy hour browsing, I purchased Fidelity by Susan Glaspell, An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-43 and Few Eggs and No Oranges: The diaries of Vere Hodgson 1940-45. Now that I have decided what to read in 2022, I have cleared my desk and kept these books in front of me. They are now calling out to me to be read!

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