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75 Books

September 28, 2008
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Jessica at Jezebel recently linked to an Esquire article, “75 Books Every Man Should Read“, and proposed creating an equivalent list for women. Twenty books were offered as a starting point for the list, and readers contributed suggestions, resulting in “75 Books Every Woman Should Read“.

As I read through the list, I was amazed by the number of books I haven’t read. Amongst the “haven’t read” books are a couple that are on my bookshelf, with a when-I-get-around-to-it read date (e.g. Middlemarch, To The Lighthouse), as well as some that have been on my mental bookshelf for some time (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The God of Small Things, White Teeth, Love in a Cold Climate). There are also a surprising number that I haven’t ever considered (Cold Comfort Farm and I Capture The Castle – does seeing them as films count?), as well as some I haven’t heard of. There are, too, some I have no desire to read; Valley of the Dolls and The Golden Notebook do not appeal to me, for different reasons. I’m posting this here to see whether I am able to make some progress against this list (so will check back every now and again to update my strikethroughs) and then I will feel qualified to evaluate it as a representation of books women “should” read…

The Lottery (and Other Stories), Shirley Jackson

To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton

White Teeth, Zadie Smith

The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende

Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion

Excellent Women, Barbara Pym

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri

Beloved, Toni Morrison

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

Like Life, Lorrie Moore

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

The Delta of Venus, Anais Nin

A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley

A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories), Flannery O’Connor

The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx

You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down, Alice Walker

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Fear of Flying, Erica Jong

Earthly Paradise, Colette

Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt

Property, Valerie Martin

Middlemarch, George Eliot

Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir

Runaway, Alice Munro

The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

You Must Remember This, Joyce Carol Oates

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill

The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

Bastard out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison

The Secret History, Donna Tartt

The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley

The Portable Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker

The Group, Mary McCarthy

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi

The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag

In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez

The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck

Fun Home, Alison Bechdel

Three Junes, Julia Glass

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft

Sophie’s Choice, William Styron

Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann

Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin

The Red Tent, Anita Diamant

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

The Face of War, Martha Gellhorn

My Antonia, Willa Cather

Love In The Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Harsh Voice, Rebecca West

Spending, Mary Gordon

The Lover, Marguerite Duras

The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

Tell Me a Riddle, Tillie Olsen

Nightwood, Djuna Barnes

Three Lives, Gertrude Stein

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith

Possession, A.S. Byatt

So, that’s 20 read as of 28 September 2008.  Twenty out of seventy-five.

Edited 24 October 2009 – twenty one out of seventy five.  Great – in a whole year, I’ve taken one book off the list!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2008 11:20 am

    Great list I am printing it off both the male and female one. Unfortunately due to reality and internet obsession I don’t have much time as I used to read.

    However I will give the male list to my dad who is a former book seller and voracious reader.

  2. injera permalink*
    September 30, 2008 12:08 pm

    I know, I’ve really let reading “hard copy” media fall away recently. My subscription to the New Yorker is really backing up – I used to read every article (including dance reviews… really!) but now I cherry pick.

    My better-late-than-never-year’s resolution is to timetable some reading that doesn’t involve urls.

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