Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wrapping up the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge

Despite a late start and the requirement that all books for the challenge should be reviewed (for last year's Grand Master Reading Challenge it was only half that had to be reviewed) I finished with a few weeks to spare. It was more challenging to find reading material for this challenge. One of the rules was that it had to be a book by a female author I had not read anything else of before. Another  That rules out a number of my favourites and quite a few books by female authors I mean to review one of these days. It also meant I couldn't go nosing around in my bookcase for reading material. In the end I read two books that I already owned, borrowed one from my girlfriend, accepted one for review and bought seven specifically for this challenge. The remaining one is Gemsigns, my random read. I won that book in a giveaway over at Worlds Without Ends.

Here is the complete list:
  1. Grass- Sherri S. Tepper
  2. Sheepfarmer's Daughter - Elizabeth Moon
  3. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang - Kate Wilhelm
  4. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
  5. The Secret City - Carol Emshwiller
  6. Gemsigns - Stepanie Saulter
  7. Jaran - Kate Elliot
  8. Who Fear's Death -Nnedi Okorafor
  9. Palimpsest - Catherynne M. Valente
  10. Arslan - M.J. Engh
  11. The Best of All Possible Worlds - Karen Lord
  12. Debris - Jo Anderton
Eight of these reviews have also been posted on the World Without Ends blog where they did surprisingly well in the monthly polls. You should check out the rest of the reviews that the owners of the site have selected. There are quite a few very talented reviewers hanging around on that site, reviewing a wide range of books by female authors.

I tried to make my own selection it a mix of classic and more recent work, although I must admit I didn't go back very far. Engh's Alrslan and Wilhelm's Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang are both 1976 publications. Those are the oldest. The morst recent is probably either Lord's The Best of all Possible Worlds or Saulter's Gemsigns, both of which are released this year.

When you pick books from authors you haven't read before it chance of picking something that doesn't turn out to be to your taste is always a bit greater. This set of books is a bit of a mixed bag. I didn't like Moon's Sheepfarmer's Daughter at all for instance. Okorafor's Who Fear's Death was probably the most interesting book in terms in a literary sense. I had issues with it, but I it also had quite an impact. It's one of those books one has to admire for dealing with a number of very difficult themes unflinchingly. In terms of sheer enjoyment I probably liked Emshwiller's The Secret City and Lord's The Best of All Possible Worlds best.

There is going to be a new challenge for next year but Worlds Without End hasn't announced what it is going to be yet. I trust them to come up with something interesting so I'll likely be participating. In fact, I'm looking forward to it.

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