Today is one of the best days because it is the start of my new project, What are Women Reading.
One of my favourite things in life is talking to people about books: getting recommendations, giving recommendations, talking about why books matter. This is because I fundamentally believe in the value of books. It is through books we are able to enter the thoughts of another person and roam through worlds vastly different than our own.
To me, it is through books and other forms of art that we develop our capacity for empathy and understanding. We are able to see things from another's point of view and contemplate how it is different from our own. We also might find in the process of engaging with literature that we are not the center of the universe, and there may be other belief systems out there worth considering. Books give us the opportunity to learn, and foster a more complex understanding of the world.
Along with believing in books, I also believe in women. I agree with Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie who argues in We Should All Be Feminists that in today's world, the most qualified person to lead is the most intelligent, knowledgeable, creative and innovative. Physical strength is no longer the most important attribute for a leader.
And so, there is no reason that men dominate global politics, corporate positions of leadership or jobs in science, technology, engineering and math. There is also no reason why misogyny and sexism are so prevalent in our society, when women are more educated and capable than ever before.
We would like to believe in 2018 that things are equal, but the reality is that they aren't. In my country, Canada, which is arguably fairly advanced and open-minded, women still earn 74 cents on the dollar, compared to men. Women of colour working full-time earn even less. I want to see women find equal footing and I think the only way this is possible if we support each other. As Madeleine Albright said, 'There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.'
I'm not a lawyer or a doctor or a human rights activist. I'm also not about to save the world. But, I do know something about books. It's for this reason that I decided to start the What are Women Reading Project.
The premise is simple: every few weeks I'll be speaking to a different woman, asking them if they could recommend one book to other women, what would it be? There are no rules: it can be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or prose, written in English or translated. The only requirement is that it makes a valuable read for women.
The goal of my project is to curate a book list for women, created by other women. Although I could go on forever with my own recommendations, I wanted to make this something larger than myself. And so, I decided to enlist other women who may be aware of fantastic texts I've never heard of before.
I'm really excited about this project and I'm also thrilled to have some excellent book recommendations coming my way.
Stay tuned for part 001 where I give my book recommendation to the What are Women Reading Project.