by Melodie Campbell (Bad Girl)
Yes, there really is a Bad Girl Book Club (although it might also be known as the Lazy Bookclub.)
Right here, in Southern Ontario, a group of gals meet twice a year (hence the ‘lazy’) to lay out a set of criteria for a year of reading.
Okay, yes, there might be booze involved. And possibly a pig-out of gargantuan portions. But reading’s supposed to be fun, eh?
Here’s the thing: Our ranks include two association CEOs and senior execs. We aren’t the sort of people who like to be told what to do. So we don’t all read the same book every month. Instead, we draw up a set of criteria that we agree to meet.
Want to try it yourself? Get together a bunch of reading mates (buds if you’re American) and try this list:
2017 Reading Challenge (We'll be devising the 2018 list this week)
Readers must read at least 12 out of 14
1. A book publisher this year
2. A book you can finish in a day
3. A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller
4. A book chosen by your spouse, partner, child or BFF
5. A book you preciously abandoned
6. A book that has won a major award within the last five years
7. A book that is based on or is a true story
8. A book that was made into a movie
9. A book that was translated from another language (forcing us all to leave North America)
10. A book in a genre you never read
11. A book about travel adventures
12. A book written from a non-human narrative perspective
13. A Giller Prize Winner
14. A book that starts with the same letter of your first name
Alternative criteria from the 2016 list:
A book published before you were born.
A book you should have read in school but didn’t.
At each meeting we compare books read, and make recommendations. This year, I added a new dimension to my list:
Increase the number of books that feature female protagonists written by female writers, to 75%. That is, 75% of the books I read this year should be written by women and should feature female protagonists.
How am I doing on that issue? I tried hard. I really did. I’m sitting at 68 books out of 101 read. Not quite 75%. Very simply, I’m having a hard time finding books that meet this criteria outside of cozies and romance, both of which I’m not keen on.
Female crime writers often write male protagonists. Even our bestselling author at Crime Writers of Canada – Louise Penny – writes a male inspector. We have secretly discussed among ourselves whether she would have been as successful if Gamache had been a woman. That’s a heated discussion for another day.
What is notable is that there seems to be a trend for male writers to write female protagonists. These may be good books, but they aren’t women’s stories, in my opinion. They are written with a different lens.
So I’m struggling to find 75 books in year that I want to read, that are by women telling women’s stories.
How did I do on the rest of the list? 14 out of 14, of course! And the wonderful thing – I forced myself out of the usual crime ghetto, to read an assortment of books that I never would have read otherwise. Some – like The Nightingale and The Alice Network – were terrific.
If you’re interested in the list of books I read to meet the above criteria, let me know and I’ll post it here.
Have a wonderful year of books in 2018!
p.s. The first 2018 meeting of the BGBC meets this Saturday. There will be Scotch.