As established in my StoryGraph Wrap-Up post, the Austin Feminist Science Fiction Book Club is responsible for just about 25% or so of my reading every year. Here’s me getting a head start on the first meeting of 2023, finishing Virginia Woolf’s Orlando right at the end of 2022.
As this selection might imply, the Austin Feminist Science Fiction Book Club applies a very generous definition of “science fiction.” This is only a good thing, in my opinion, because it keeps things fresh and varied. I have no complaints about Orlando being included and I think I even voted for it in our poll.
I just wish I could like Virginia Woolf.
I don’t understand what my problem is. I love Mrs Dalloway, enough that it’s one of the few books I’ve re-read in my life, but anything else I’ve ever attempted just leaves me cold. “Why aren’t you Mrs Dalloway?” I lament as I read, until I either finish the book (Orlando) or give up on it entirely (To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own). Is it a disconnect of time? Culture? Class? I’m reminded of my colleague’s complaint about Thomas Savage: “You love yourself too much, book.”
I won’t dispute Woolf’s place in the English canon, her role in feminist literature, or the esteemed reputation she enjoys today. My point isn’t that she’s Objectively Bad, Actually or Extremely Overrated (I save that hot take for Jane Austen!). I think she is, on balance, very well deserving of her posthumous success and reputation. I just lack the necessary receptors in my reading brain to actually enjoy her writing.