Top twenty novels by the This Book campaign

After three months of social media blitzing, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has finally announced its Top 20 This Books chosen by women around the world.

After three months of social media blitzing, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has finally announced its Top 20 This Books chosen by women around the world.
The Campaign
For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for the past few months, the This Book hashtag on Twitter became an international campaign, to discover which books written by female authors, have had the greatest and most life-changing impact on their readers.
Baileys enlisted the help of nineteen inspirational women, including Dawn O’Porter and Mary Beard, to help launch the campaign, and asked them to reveal which female-authored books had most impacted their lives.
Kate Moss, for instance, praised Wuthering Heights for being the inspiration behind her own writing career, whilst actress Saffron Burrows said that I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by the late, great, Maya Angelou, made her fall truly in love with storytelling for the first time.
The results
Following the campaign launch, thousands of women across the world began tweeting about the books that had effected their lives the most and why.These votes were collated together, and today the Top 20 has been announced.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, with its tale of justice, prejudice and redemption, topped the list, but there were also a number of surprises.
For instance, J.K. Rowling’s astonishingly successful Harry Potter series has nestled itself comfortably into fourth place, between the well-established classics Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
It also seems that our penchant for thought-provoking literature over lightweight chick-flicks is still going strong well into the 21st century, with the likes of Margaret Atwood, Daphne Du Maurier, and Jane Austen dominating the Top 10.
Further down the list, however, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife makes a rather surprising appearance, alongside Lionel Shriver’s well-deserved placing with the uncomfortable story We Need to Talk About Kevin – the tale of a mother’s worst nightmare if ever there was one.
What does it mean?
It may seem on the surface to be a well-managed publicity stunt by the Baileys Prize, but arguably this campaign means much more than that. It is still the case that fewer women than men achieve international acclaim as writers, and This Book has proved, if nothing else, that this is not because they lack the talent.
Commenting on her own reading and writing career, the incomparable Caitlin Moran said: “Every time you read a book, it’s like you’re eating someone’s life – the more books you read the more lives you’ve absorbed and, theoretically, the wiser you should be.”
The result of the Top 20 has also received praise from Shami Chakrabarti,the Director of Liberty and the new Chair of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2015. 
She chose To Kill a Mockingbird as her most life-changing novel, and in response to its poll position commented: “With human rights under attack the world over, the enduring appeal of Harper Lee’s great tale gives hope that justice and equality might yet triumph over prejudice.”
What we read shapes us as human beings, and this new list shows us, once and for all, that female writers have had a profound impact on the ways in which many of us view the world.
And for now, at least, the written word still keeps a grip on a very special place in our hearts, and still has the power to influence the way we live our lives.
What do you think of the list? Have your say in the comments section below.
Image: Bruna Ferrara/Flickr