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Feeling Nostalgic? The archives > Books by women that men should read

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 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Book list in "retaliation" to Esquire's "75 Books Every Man Should Read":

http://www.joylandmagazine.com/brian/...

Any titles you disagree with? Heartily endorse? Any to add? Or is this kind of list just stupid to begin with?


RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Sidebar...I get Esquire, but I'm starting to think it's the dumbest magazine ever. They're big into the "this is what it means to be a man" thing. Apparently that involves buying 300 dollar belts and going to the bars they say are good.


Sarah | 13811 comments I don't know the difference between "every man should read" and "everyone should read" and "really good book." Also, it's a strange "list" since some of those polled list one book, some twenty, some just the names of authors.
I think Kelly Link is awesome, but I don't know why every man should read her books. Every person who likes quirky surreal short stories should read her books.

Books on the list that I've loved: White Teeth, Interpreter of Maladies, Bastard Out of Carolina, Stone Butch Blues, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Left Hand of Darkness


Jammies It's a very confusing list, as I can't tell how the contributors were selected, what the purpose of the list is, how the books are grouped...

Also, why the heck did anyone feel the need to start a backlash against Esquire, when, as RA noted, it's the dumbest magazine ever?


Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments I think it's a reader-generated list. We could make our own here, and it would be just as valid, if not more.


Sarah | 13811 comments I think what they're trying for to some extent is "Female-authored books that would appeal to men who might otherwise only read male authors" but I think not everyone answered that same question.


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Sarah Pi wrote: "I think what they're trying for to some extent is "Female-authored books that would appeal to men who might otherwise only read male authors" but I think not everyone answered that same question."

Yeah, I think it ended up being a list of "female authors and their books that I know off the top of my head and liked."


Sarah | 13811 comments I'd be curious what books would be suggested if the question had been "What book would you use to convince a guy who says 'I only read books by male authors' to try a book by a female author?"


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Sarah Pi wrote: "I'd be curious what books would be suggested if the question had been "What book would you use to convince a guy who says 'I only read books by male authors' to try a book by a female author?""

I like that question better. We should start that list now.


Myles | 1312 comments Sarah Pi wrote: "I'd be curious what books would be suggested if the question had been "What book would you use to convince a guy who says 'I only read books by male authors' to try a book by a female author?""

Hmmm. Yeah, I was hoping that's what the list would be.

I have a couple books on the tip of my tongue (fingers?) but I'll think about it for a few minutes.


Brittomart Actually, I'm having a hard time coming up with a list of female authors that I've read. This makes me sad.


message 13: by Brittomart (last edited Jun 01, 2011 01:04PM) (new)

Brittomart Female authors I've read (excluding poetry and non-fiction):

Charlotte Bronte
Emily Bronte
Whoever wrote Nectar in a Sieve
Suzanne Collins
Jane Austen
Maya Angelou
Sojourner Truth
JK Rowling
Oh! How could I forget Dottie? Dorothy Parker
Toni Morrison

And I'm sure like, countless assigned short stories. Like, I know I've read something by Anna Quindlen and Alice Walker. I gotta get up on my female authors. 'cause most of that was assigned reading from like, high school.


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments I think we spent the entire semester of my college Intro to Literature course arguing over these points. Caonon! Dead white males! Life is unfair! Yes, yes it is and we really should do something about that.

Still, I would like to see my husband and my guy friends try more female authors from time to time. I think the only one I've spotted them reading so far has been JK Rowling.


message 15: by Sarah (last edited Jun 01, 2011 01:04PM) (new)

Sarah | 13811 comments I actually think we had this discussion a couple of years ago when a football coach was asked about books and said he didn't read female authors as a rule.

I can see how that might inadvertently occur - someone gets into action or political thrillers at a young age, for example, and just ends up reading Dennis Lahane and Tom Clancy because those are the big names in their genre. I'd like to think that sooner or later they'd pick up a book in their genre by a female author, but I can see how that wouldn't happen. I think a lot of people who buy their books in airports might have trouble coming across a female author.
And some schools taught Dead White Men pretty exclusively.
I guess what I can't imagine is someone who considers himself (or herself) a reader and then proceeds to read nothing by women.


message 16: by Brittomart (last edited Jun 01, 2011 01:08PM) (new)

Brittomart Just as a note, I glanced over the most wanted books for the week in the GR bookswap, and all of them are written by women.


Sarah | 13811 comments I don't know Nectar in a Sieve but the phrase has the same beats as "Whiskey in a Jar" so I'm having fun with it in my head right now.


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Someone wrote an essay or article a while back analyzing the audiences for books with male protagonists vs. female. As a rule, men and boys tend to stick to books with male protagonists (their assertion, not mine). Anyway, because of this, whoever wrote this asserted that His Dark Materials would have been a huge, blockbuster success like Harry Potter if the protagonist wasn't a girl. I don't know if I believe that, but I know that many men (or at least young and adolescent boys) tend to shy away from books with female protagonists. So, I wonder which is the bigger issue: whether the book was written by a woman or whether the main character is female.


message 19: by Myles (last edited Jun 01, 2011 01:16PM) (new)

Myles | 1312 comments BunWat wrote: "...I'm just freaked out that people apparently don't read female authors."

I don't think its a deliberate choice (or when it is, its a very rare one) against women so much as it against the type of books that women are perceived to write: romances (of even the Austen kind), sentimental mother-daughter stories, early Oprah's book club stuff...I'm having trouble thinking of what kind of books women are 'perceived' as writing but I think that's what happens.

I've known guys who won't listen to bands with female vocalists, but they were metal-heads with so I didn't take them seriously.


message 20: by ~Geektastic~ (last edited Jun 01, 2011 01:37PM) (new)

 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Myles wrote: "BunWat wrote: "...I'm just freaked out that people apparently don't read female authors."

I don't think its a deliberate choice (or when it is, its a very rare one) against women so much as it aga..."


It is really hard to get Austen through to people, even women. They just can't understand that it's not the romance that makes her so great, it's the comedy, the wit, the irony. Her writing is so sharp you could get a mind-paper cut.

On a different note, I think there's a general assumption that male characters/writers can appeal broadly while female writers/characters can only appeal to women. THAT is where I get irritated. Why does one gender get to be essentially neutral? I know a lot of research has already gone into this idea (it's been a biggie on college syllabi since the 1960s I'm sure), and yet it hasn't really gone anywhere.


Helena | 1058 comments I feel like a bad woman after reading that list... I think I’ve only read two or three of them.

I read whatever strikes my fancy- I don’t care who wrote it or what their sex its. I’ve honestly never really thought about it. It’s a bit surprising to me that there are people that choose a book based on the author’s sex. I’ve never really heard of that.


Charly I think there may be some who just assume that if a book is written by a woman then it falls into the category of "chick lit". This would be as far from the truth as we can get.

I have female authors among my favorites that my wife and daughters don't care for. I have always believed that a good book is just that, and that alone justifies the reading, not the sex of the author.

Didn't we talk about this whole thing just a while ago? In any case current female writers that I like are

Anita Shreve
Tracy Chevalier
Joanne Harris
Anita Diamant


Brittomart I've read Francine Prose too.


message 24: by RandomAnthony (last edited Jun 01, 2011 03:18PM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Here's another thread where we talked about a similar subject, yes...

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/3...


Lobstergirl | 21710 comments I knew this thread sounded familiar identical to another one.


Lobstergirl | 21710 comments I don't pay attention at all to gender when selecting a book. The majority of books I read happen to be by men; I think this is partly a result of the fact that I don't read chick-lit, romance, or fantasy.

If a man is horrified by the thought of accidentally reading chick-lit but wants to get his little toesies wet reading a woman writer, I'd recommend Death Comes for the Archbishop. Its characters are almost exclusively (exclusively?) men. And the writing is fabulous.

Books on that list that I've read and can highly recommend:
The Journalist and the Murderer - Janet Malcolm is a great writer.

Several authors on the list I haven't read yet but are on my to read list. Annie Dillard's and Doris Lessing's memoirs.


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments BunWat wrote: "As for the notion that wasp male characters and writers appeal more broadly, well its silly. But I expect to the extent that it holds it does so because of the issues involved in maintaining the b..."

You say it so much better than me, but this is what I was thinking.

I just saw an interview that expresses this notion this morning:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/...
I shouldn't have read it so early in the morning, now I'm grumpy-face today.


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Right!? And how dare he drag Austen into his ego-mania, it's practically blasphemous. She can write circles around just about anyone I can name; "narrow sentimentality" my ass.


Gus Sanchez (GusSanchez) Esquire was a great read when it took its subject matter on being a man seriously. When it decided to compete against Maxim and FHM, it took a massive swan dive in the credibility department. With that being said, I would agree that the majority of the books on Esquire's lists are must-reads for everyone, not just men.

And I've also read a lot of the books on the 250 Books by Women" list.

For me, it's about the writing, not the gender of the author. Flannery O'Connor, Margaret Atwood, and Zadie Smith will always be a few of my favorite authors.


message 30: by ~Geektastic~ (last edited Jun 02, 2011 09:08AM) (new)

 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Here we go, take the "VS Naipaul" test and see if you can "immediately tell" if something is written by a man or a woman.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/quiz/...

I got 6 out of 10 and it told me it was "sloppy thinking" and I "clearly need to read more books by men." Ha!


Barb | 11244 comments Mod
I got 6/10 ... but most of were blind guesses, and resisting what I thought to be trick questions. I don't think my result means anything at all. lol


Myles | 1312 comments You scored 3 out of a possible 10

Awful. What are you, a girl or something?


Sarah | 13811 comments I recognized a couple of them, so I don't know if it counts. Still, the point is you only got half because he's wrong.


Kevin  (KSprink) | 11469 comments i read lots of books by women authors. some of my fav ones are. i just finished http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/94... which was outstanding. also i love anything by haven kimmel especially http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15.... both books make my top 15 all time


message 35: by Barb (last edited Jun 02, 2011 10:04AM) (new)

Barb | 11244 comments Mod
I'm gonna try again without trying to trick the system.

* ha ha ha ... I got 6 again.


Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments Well, I am much less likely to read any V. S. Naipaul now than I was before I read his ridiculous views on women authors. He must not have much empathy.

I wonder how he writes women characters in his books? There's a scary thought!


Sarah | 13811 comments I don't remember much in the way of female characters in Mr. Biswas. Mostly I remember asparagus pee. Did I say I hated that book? I think I got in trouble for it. I know I read it with my least-favorite high school English teacher, the one who marked people down for having opinions that differed from hers. We actually had a fight over it that took the department head's intervention.


Jim Sarah Pi wrote: "I'd be curious what books would be suggested if the question had been "What book would you use to convince a guy who says 'I only read books by male authors' to try a book by a female author?""

I do like the way you phrased the question. When I read the original question, I thought I would begin to see some "male bashing". Yes, we guys have our faults, as do most humans.

And as a guy who has a preference for male authors, I would suggest "Sarah's Key" and "Suite Francaise". Both are remarkable books addressing a time troubled by both war and fanaticism.


Sarah | 13811 comments Welcome, new Jim. I'm not familiar with either of those books, but I'll look them up. If you don't mind a momentary non-bashing spotlight, do you have a preference for male authors because your favorite authors happen to be male, or do you feel like there is a specific something that draws you to male authors?


Jim | 6485 comments Yes Welcome my namesake - hope you enjoy it here.


Jim Sarah Pi wrote: "Welcome, new Jim. I'm not familiar with either of those books, but I'll look them up. If you don't mind a momentary non-bashing spotlight, do you have a preference for male authors because your fav..."

Sarah,
It would be the former. I have certainly read (and enjoyed) and will read books by authors regardless of the sex of the author. I believe the individual often transcends a group identification whether that group is sex, race, or nationality. But that is not a reason to devalue the group. Thus, when thinking back over the many books I've enjoyed, I do note a preference for male authors. But, that is not to imply that I haven't enjoyed works by female authors. I think the preference may well be influenced, in part, by my taste in genre. Also, a male author, in my opinion, can more closely identify with male thought patterns. I believe the same is true for female authors. It is important to understand that a preference is just that - a preference. It is not meant to be exclusive. each of us to have much to learn by understanding the other. It is what makes us whole.


Lobstergirl | 21710 comments I got 5 out of 10.

There's another thread somewhere where we posted our test results of some program where you pasted in text and the program would tell you what gender wrote it. Everything I pasted in came out male.

Anyway, I don't think for a second that Naipaul would routinely guess correctly if we administered a test like this to him on a regular basis. Even if we suppose for the sake of argument that women writers tend to be "sentimental" - some men writers do too. Hello, shit writers like Nicholas Sparks and Robert James Waller?


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "I got 5 out of 10.

There's another thread somewhere where we posted our test results of some program where you pasted in text and the program would tell you what gender wrote it. Everything I pas..."


Don't forget Mitch Albom.


Lobstergirl | 21710 comments Right, him too. I've actually never read any of the three, but I hear they publish sentimental tripe.


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "Right, him too. I've actually never read any of the three, but I hear they publish sentimental tripe."

Pretty much. Albom and Sparks make me want to barf. I don't know anything about Waller.


Sarah | 13811 comments Quote of the day:
Robert Olen Butler
"Part of the reason artists are who they are is so they can reassure the world that the things that seem to divide us - race, gender, culture, ethnicity, religion - are not nearly as important as the things that unite us. We never question the artists' ability to do that in realms that I would suggest require a greater leap of imagination than leaping over matters of gender and race and so forth. For example, I am a middle-aged white male, born in the midwest; I am an only child. A year ago last December, my parents celebrated their sixty-eighth wedding anniversary. And not a day has gone by when we have not been in contact with each other, and most days the word love is freely and sincerely exchanged.

It is a greater leap of imagination for me, I would suggest, to write in the voice of a middle-aged white male from the Midwest who came from a large family which suffered an early divorce and where the word love was never used, than the voice of a ninety-year-old Vietnamese woman who is an only child whose parents stayed together forever and was in a family where love was overtly expressed. We never question the artist's ability to leap over all those other kinds of issues, the deeper issues."


Jane Amber wrote: "BunWat wrote: "As for the notion that wasp male characters and writers appeal more broadly, well its silly. But I expect to the extent that it holds it does so because of the issues involved in ma..."

Kind of a low blow to diss a dead author who can't defend herself.


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Jane wrote: "Amber wrote: "BunWat wrote: "As for the notion that wasp male characters and writers appeal more broadly, well its silly. But I expect to the extent that it holds it does so because of the issues ..."

I have a feeling Austen could write circles around this guy from the grave.


 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments Response from his former editor and female author Diana Athill. Apparently Naipaul is a crotchety old thing.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/...


Lobstergirl | 21710 comments I've read two of Diana Athill's memoirs, and neither one was "feminine tosh," whatever that is. I think her response is absolutely on target. He is a very good writer, we shouldn't dismiss that, but we should still ignore his idiocy. My review (linked below) of one of her memoirs, in which I say, "The chapter on Naipaul is equally fascinating. If you had no interest in Naipaul before, you probably will after reading it." Of course I've forgotten now most of what she said about him.

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


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Stone Butch Blues (other topics)
White Teeth (other topics)
Interpreter of Maladies (other topics)
The Left Hand of Darkness (other topics)
Bastard Out of Carolina (other topics)
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Robert Olen Butler (other topics)