Posts Tagged Mary McCarthy

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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Women’s History Month: focus on Mary McCarthy and Virgina Woolf

Mary McCarthy [1912-1989]

–grew up as an orphan in Minnesota
–graduated from Vassar College in 1933
–worked as drama and literary critic
–married to Edmund Wilson, literary critic, from 1938-1946 [like many women’s college graduates/feminists she kept her own name]
–married four times

–best known for The Group [1966]– the postgrad experience of a group of Vassar women–and The Birds of America [1970]–Americans abroad, based on McCarthy’s life in Paris in the sixties

Virginia Woolf [1882–1941]

–born in London
–daughter of model Julia Prinsep Stephen and editor, critic and biographer Sir Leslie Stephen
–home schooled by her father
–when Virginia was 13, her mother died which led to Virginia’s nervous breakdowns
–her father died in 1904 and Virginia was institutionalized briefly
— in 1912 she married writer Leonard Woolf
–her novels:

The Voyage Out [1915]
Night and Day [1919]
Jacob’s Room [1922]
Mrs. Dalloway [1925]
To the Lighthouse [1927]
Orlando [1928]
The Waves [1931]
The Years [1937]
Between the Acts [1941]
–Virginia Woolf drowned herself March 28, 1941

my two favorite books by Virgina Woolf:

Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of a man at twice its natural size.
from A Room of One’s Own (1929)

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