International Women’s Day was on the 8th of March and The Big Read returned for its second year for day five of the xChange festival.
From 9:30 am to 5:00 pm participants read an excerpt from their favourite female authors. With a new person reading every 15 minutes throughout the day, each wearing the ‘Votes for Women’ sash.
With a total of 25 participating, they shared their most inspirational and diverse female authors. With each one bringing something new, there was a lot to take away with you.
The first to read was Rosemarie Short with a non-fiction novel called “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf. A compelling read for any woman and man to understand the potentially toxic nature of the pursuit of beauty in the lives of women.
Kathleen Maitland went on to read an excerpt from an autobiography about a man transitioning into a female and the rewarding but difficult journey. The novel, “Unashamedly Me” by Teraina E. Hird shows a different side to what International Women’s Day can represent.
Further into the readings, a different kind of novel again, with a book called “All City Queens” by Syrup. Being an insight into female Mexican graffiti artists, talking about their lives in a male-dominated industry. Emma Love who read the excerpt spoke of her love of the book.
“There are lots written by men, not women,” said Emma Love.
A more recently published novel “The Five” by Hallie Rubenhold was read by Diane Kemp. This novel is about the five women killed by Jack the Ripper; their lives, stories, and struggles. Surprisingly, this novel is the first of its kind to speak of the women killed in a compassionate way.
“They were not just victims, it’s about how they lived and that they were not just five prostitutes,” Said Diane Kemp about the dismissal history put on these women.
Roshni Paul brought poetry into the mix with three American female poets; “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver, “Travelling Onion” by Naomi Nye, and “Otherwise” by Jane Kenyon. Roshni spoke of the poems inspiring her with their subtlety and simplicity.
“None of us think of these little things, do we? We only blame it for causing tears, but it was worshipped,” Roshni said, talking about the poem “The Travelling Onion” and how onions originated in India and worshipped in Egypt.
A classic or two also made the list with Martin Drury reading from “Cat’s Eye” by Margeret Atwood and Gemma Jennison read from “Anne of Green Gables” by L. M. Montgomery.
While there was so many more read during the day, these were just a few to show the diversity of novels and poems that had enough impact of the participants that they wanted to share it with everyone. The Big Read is open to everyone to participate in the reading or just to listen and jot down the next book to buy.
Here is the list that was read for The Big Read 2019:
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
Unashamedly Me by Teraina E. Hird
All City Queens by Syrup
By Candlelight by Sylvia Path
The White Album by Joan Didion
Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
The Five by Hallie Rubenhold
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
Travelling Onion by Naomi Nye
Otherwise by Jane Kenyon
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend
Let Them Drown by Naomi Klein
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Attwood
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Housework Issue (The Other One) by Cath Holland from Know Your Place
Términos Teroriás Y Transiciones En La Peosía Afrocolombiana by Patricia Rodríguez-Martínez-Jones
The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
The Emperor’s Babe by Bernardine Evaristo
Extracts from her own work Analysis – A One Woman Show.
Grey is the Colour of Hope by Irina Ratushinskaya
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Geisha of Gion by Mineko Iwasaki
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf