I read more books by women than men. In 2009, according to my book journal, I read 100 books by women and 74 books by men. Well, 74 is pretty good: ten years ago, before I started keeping a book journal, I read almost exclusively novels by women. The fiction preference is typical of my sex: women read more fiction than men, according to a 2007 study by the National Endowment for the Arts. In fact, women account for 80% of the fiction market. But do they read more fiction by women than by men? I’m not sure.
The purchase of the Sony Reader has given me the means to download free out-of-print books, many of them rare, by public domain sites like Gutenberg. As you might expect from my reading habits, many of my choices are forgotten women’s classics. One of my more pleasurable recent discoveries is Girlebooks, a publisher of ebooks by women. The charming description of its genesis is:
“This website is the work of one woman with the help of her mom and some contributing bloggers. Much more than a simple ebook resource, Girlebooks aims to make classic and contemporary works by female writers available to a large audience through the ebook medium.”
Laura McDonald, publisher of Girlebooks, contacted me yesterday to say she has published Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic, The Shuttle. She learned about The Shuttle from my old blog and I’m very excited that this book is available free to e-readers. Burnett, best known for her children’s books, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and Little Lord Fauntleroy, also wrote adult novels. And this beautifully written novel about the consequences of a young American woman’s marriage to a greedy impoverished English lord is “as good as anything Edith Wharton ever wrote,” or so I wrote when I read it!
You can read more about it here (yes, that’s my review). And you can download the book for free. Girlebook editions are beautifully designed: the format is more sophisticated than that of the Gutenberg ebooks and the art is gorgeous.