Posts Tagged Barbara Kingsolver

BOOKS: 25 Suggestions for #ReadWomen2014

As an English major at a women’s college (Simmons College in Boston), I didn’t read as many women authors as you’d think. I remember a Victorian Experience class with George Eliot as one of the authors along with Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens, naturally. I took a wonderful summer course at Emerson College that included Edith Wharton on the syllabus and I immediately fell for her. Upon graduating I’ve made up for not reading that many female authors and likely read more female than male authors. As with any business, I know that the literary world’s filled with many more big-name male authors and lesser-known female authors. More literary prizes go to men than to women. Female authors usually get pushed into the “women’s fiction” a.k.a. “chick lit” genre whereas men nearly always write literary fiction, mystery/thriller and nonfiction. There’s little parity. So I’m all for this #ReadWomen2014 movement.

Here are 25 of my favorite books by women, a mix of classic and modern, if you need some reading suggestions:

Glimpses vintage

1. Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton

song of lark

2. The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather


3. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

journal of a solitude

4. Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton


5. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers


6. Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker


7. The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud


8. Intuition by Allegra Goldman

ghana must go

9. Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi


10. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

portrait in sepia

11. Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende

good earth

12. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck


13. The Revolution of Every Day by Cari Luna


14. The Group by Mary McCarthy

bell jar

15. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


16. Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark


17. The Vagabond by Collette

education of harriet hatfield

18. The Education of Harriet Hatfield by May Sarton

agnes grey

19. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte


20. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver


21. Possession by A.S. Byatt


22. Don’t Cry by Mary Gaitskill


23. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

broken heart.singer

24. The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer

on beauty

25. On Beauty by Zadie Smith

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Great Books by Women

in no particular order:

Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton– truly revealing and inspiring
The Education of Harriet Hatfield by May Sarton– lesbian bookstore owner; funny and poignant
Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton– a down-on-their-luck couple pretends to be married and travels throughout Europe staying with wealthy friends; romantic
Old New York by Edith Wharton– both insightful and fun, you won’t be able to put it down!
A Backward Glance: an Autobiography by Edith Wharton– such a fabulous writer with an amazing life and circle of friends
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton– the travails of class and society
Twilight Sleep by Edith Wharton—fascinating story involving sex, drugs and jazz in the roaring twenties
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton– dark and thoughtful portrait of a woman who’s stuck between her place and the expectations of society and her own desires
The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman– important topic (anti-semitism) approached with Lipman’s typically witty, charming style
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath—the darkest depths of one’s emotional state
Song of the Lark by Willa Cather– memorable character, an independent woman who pursues her career in singing despite most women’s pursuit of marriage at the time
My Antonia by Willa Cather– awe-inspiring characterizations and scene setting
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel– we’ve all known sadness, few know true depression, yet most know someone or someone who knows someone on Prozac or another anti-depressant
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf– powerful and still true!
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte– edgy book about the Victorian Era
The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty– an essential classic
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison– brave, heart wrenching
The Girls in the Balcony: Women, Men and The New York Times by Nan Robertson– the early days of reporting and the challenges women face, some which still exist today
Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker– a really difficult and not often discussed subject, female circumcision, told with a tapestry of gentle, sad and poetic words
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen– domestic violence told with heart and solid writing
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver– four very different sisters in Africa
Nine Parts of Desire: the Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks—riveting stories about misunderstood lifestyles and passions

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