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Why Women Read Fiction Reviews

Why Women Read Fiction by Helen Taylor (Emeritus Professor of English, University of Exeter)

Why Women Read Fiction

The Stories of Our Lives

Helen Taylor (Emeritus Professor of English, University of Exeter)

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1 review

Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 16 Jan 2020
ISBN: 9780198827689

Written by a leading academic and broadcaster and drawing on interviews with readers, writers, reading groups, bookshop owners, librarians, and figures from literary publishing, reviewing, and festivals, this accessible volume offers an overview of the contemporary scene of women's novel-reading.

4 stars out of 5
Daisy Goodwin
5 Jan 2020

"Our young women need literary heroines to teach them how to be heroines of their own lives"

So why do women — who after all make up the bulk of the fiction-reading public, as well as most of the editors, and a good proportion of the commercially successful authors — feel guilty about something that is cheap, calorie-free and enjoyable, and has no unwanted side effects? Taylor suggests that the idea of women reading fiction has always produced unease in a patriarchal world, and to prove her point she includes an illustration of The Reader, by the 18th-century painter Pierre-Antoine Baudouin, which appears to show a woman who is masturbating while reading a novel. One of her interviewees sums it up: “Having an affair is dangerous, masturbation requires privacy, reading a book offers both without anyone noticing. I can live a different life through books.”