A few months ago, I talked about one of my very first books of 2022: Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. It wasn’t a review, for how can I review a book of that stature? As it stands tall and stands up for women through time and space? As it calls out the misogyny and sexism that we have come to take as ‘normal’? As it shows us why Virginia Woolf is a much-loved figure in English literature? How could I have done all that? No, never in a thousand lives! I merely took my favorite quotes from the book and wrote a piece about why Woolf is so relevant. A book discussion/thoughts of sorts. That was part 1.
Earlier this year, I had the extremely transformative experience of reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. I didn’t think it would affect me the way it did, especially since Woolf’s To the Lighthouse was a disappointing one for me. But as I progressed with A Room of One’s Own, I was consumed by it. I read in awe as Woolf detailed the sexism that women writers face in a time when women didn’t have the freedom to do as they wanted. So many scathing points written sometimes with detached politeness, other times with undisguised annoyance, and at yet others narrated stoically – they sit with you for all of eternity, like they’ve settled down in my mind.
And what a way to condense the book into one sentence:
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
When I read Jhumpa Lahiri’s memoir, In Other Words, in which she shares her journey of learning Italian, it was as if she was echoing my deepest, darkest fears. With the themes she tackles throughout the book, of immigration, of even sexism and colorism, she brings so many relatable concepts to the fore. Because when you start learning a new language, you not only discover how the different parts of the world are different. You also learn more about yourself, the grit and determination that constitute you, what your actual goals are, what you want to do with life, where you want to be at any given moment in time, and why you want to do whatever it is you want to do.