Title: A Room of One’s Own
Author: Virginia Woolf
Read it if: You want a reminder of how far we’ve come
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
A Room of One’s Own is an interesting read because it borders fiction and non-fiction. Essentially, the story is Woolf’s thoughts on women writing fiction (“a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”) yet told through a neutral narrator, Mary, in order to keep critics at bay (during this time – and still today – fiction was a way for people to say things that need to be said while distancing themselves from it).
What I find like about this narrative is that it shows (some of) the juxtaposition of then and now. Mary begins her story commenting on how women aren’t allowed in universities. As of 2008, 62% of university grads were women. Mary then comments on prominent women writers (Jane Austen, Emily Bronte) and compares them to their male counterparts (George Eliot, Shakespeare). The bottom line is, women can write just as well as men (something widely believed now that needed proving then). At the end, Mary implores women to take up the craft of writing for themselves. And it seems they have – a quick search uncovers countless women published in Canada alone.
Though A Room of One’s Own isn’t as riveting as, say, Sawkill Girls, it’s still an important piece of literature both men and women should read.