Throughout 2017, the only books of travel writing I’m reading are those written by women.
It’s a project borne of a realisation some months ago that all the travel literature I possess and have read is by men. In an age when good, probing questions are being asked about gender equality across various aspects of society from politics to the creative industries, the thought occurred to me that my limited reading experience was not a healthy state of affairs. So I asked around, gained some recommendations (thanks to those who contributed!), did some of my own research, and drew up a reading list.
As a keen reader and writer of travel writing, I’m therefore spending 2017 reading this list of only female-authored travel writing – one book a month. I’ve tried to approach this project with as few preconceptions as I can, but my aim is to to find out what I’ve been missing and to reflect on what women can and do contribute to travel writing as a genre.
Why not join me in the journey?
If you want to get involved – and I’d love you to – you can read some or all of the same titles as me, join in discussion on Twitter using the #ReadingFemaleTravelWriters hashtag, or read and comment on my related blog posts. Your company on this year-long adventure would be most welcome!
My reading list is below, along with links to my previews and reviews as I publish them.
It may not be a perfect list, perhaps there’s titles I’ve missed that you think I’m a fool for not including, and I confess that the selection process was fairly brief and unscientific (see each book’s preview for the rationale behind my choosing it). But hopefully the twelve titles represent a reasonable spread of eras, geographical locations, styles and interests, and is broad enough to enable me to draw some half-decent conclusions about travel writing by women.
If there are any obvious gaps in the list, then the errors are mine and I hope to address them as part of the much-improved gender balance of my future reading habits!
January – The Virago Book of Women Travellers, edited by Mary Morris with Larry O’Connor. [ preview | review ]
February – Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, by Dervla Murphy. [ preview | review ]
March – Travels With My Radio, by Fi Glover. [ preview | review ]
April – Skating To Antarctica, by Jenny Diski. [ preview | review ]
May – Among Muslims: Meetings at the Frontiers of Pakistan, by Kathleen Jamie.
June – Fabled Shore: From the Pyrenees to Portugal, by Rose Macaulay.
July – A Ride in the Neon Sun: A Gaijin in Japan, by Josie Dew.
August – Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia, by Rebecca West.
September – Ghost Trails: Journeys Through a Lifetime, by Jill Homer.
October – Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica, by Zora Neil Hurston.
November – Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria, by Noo Saro-Wiwa.
December – The Living Mountain, by Nan Shepherd.