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Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  178 ratings  ·  44 reviews
I behave badly to set myself apart. To test myself. To push myself. To prove something. To shock someone. ... I behave badly because I can. Thats how Ellen Sussman describes her mischievous endeavors. In this anthology of personal essays, shes invited twenty-five other bad girl writers to share their stories. Ann Hood lies; Mary Roach confesses. Erica Jong, the original ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2007)
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Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Bless their lyin', cheatin' hearts, Bad Girls are everywhere.

There are some pretty good essays in this collection. From cussing to adultery, these gals seem to have covered the gamut of ways to be bad. (Alas, no one confesses to horse thievery or murder, but there seems to be an awful lot of lusting after clergymen among the female congregants.)

And speaking of confessing, leave it to Mary Roach to bring on the funny as she talks about going to confession in her younger days:

The trick was to find
Mar 28, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The one or two good pieces do not make up for the many boring ones.
3.5 stars.

This collection plays with and stretches the boundaries of what we think of as "bad". As Joyce Maynard says in her story A Good Girl Goes Bad: "And what is a bad girl, really, but a girl who doesn't always do the things people tell her she's supposed to? Sometimes, it's true, a bad girl may be someone who cheats or steals or hurts people or lies. And sometimes a bad girl is just someone who tells the truth."

Interesting as the journey was, I couldn't help but notice that it was an
I have no issues with women paying no heed to social expectations but this collection of essays felt more like titillation at its worst. OOOH she slept with lots of men. OH SHE'S SO NAUGHTY. Ignoring social norms. WHOAH THAT'S SO SHOCKING.

Because there's an overriding sense that Bad Girls are the opposite of Nice Girls, which is what women are "supposed to be". And that's where I felt a lot of the essays undermined the female cause that women can do whatever the hell they want without having to
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From Joyce Maynard's chapter, "A good girl goes bad":
p109 "I carried with me a deep shame at having failed to deserve the abiding love of the person whose love I had most longed to win."

The idea of 'deserving' love.

p114 "All my life I'd been afraid that if I were ever to be a bad girl, no one would love me anymore. But what does it mean, anyway, if what it takes to be loved is the denial of one's own story? And what is a bad girl, really, but a girl who doesn't always do the things other people
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This collection of autobiographical essays collected from women writers, some much more famous than others, was one I highly anticipated reading. I have had it on my wish list since it was published and reviewed in Bitch magazine. However, I guess I must have built it up too much in my mind, because I didn't find myself enjoying it as much as I had hoped. I had really hoped for some truly shocking revelations, but for the most part, the ladies admit to such things as driving really fast, ...more
Shonna Froebel
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful collection of essays by a varied bunch of writers. Each explores the "bad girl" in herself and the behaviours that brought into her life. We all have a bit of bad girl in us and I found I could relate to many of the experiences. Some talked about bad girl episodes in the past and how they changed now that they are older, and I can relate to that too. My bad girl impulses are less radical than when I was younger too. There is also discussion around the good girl versus bad ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was my ideal poolside read - a thinking woman's look at what it means to be a "bad girl," disguised as fluffy chick lit. The 26 different writers who contribute essays to the book explore, expand, and sometime discard altogether what it means to be "bad." Who writes the definition? Who makes the rules? They range in age, experience and level of bravado, but ultimately each essay leaves you thinking about yourself and other women in a different way. One of my favorite moments came late in ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been having a hard time finishing books without a cohesive plot recently, so it says something about the quality of this collection that I actually made it through to the end before the book was even due back at the library.

I liked the idea of thinking through "bad" as a feminist issue, and who gets to decide if a particular behavior or a person herself qualify as bad or not. I liked the explorations of the opposite of bad, too. There was, unsurprisingly I suppose, a fair amount of
Jan 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Hilarious stories about youth and the many ways we try to "put one over" on someone (usually our parents, teachers, or law enforcement officers). The only thing that sort of bothered me was that most of these writers felt the need to highlight their accomplishments/claims to fame in their pieces (see: ego-stroking?). One woman's father is John Cheever (and personally knew E.E. Cummings), another slept with J.D. Salinger (and was being published in high school.....which sickens me!). Makes for an ...more
Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The whole concept of the "bad girl" is ripe to be explored and so I was mildly hopeful. Personally, I think the "bad girl" is a load of tripe and should be thoroughly debunked. It seems to me the term is typically used by drunk women at bars while spanking each other and giggling "we're so bad" while watching everyone look at them. Many of the essays read like the embarassment page from Cosmo which is probably where this book was listed as a read. Sadly, many women still seem to transmit badness ...more
Feb 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's an interesting read. It's an essay collection from different authors so it runs the risk of being wildly uneven, and unfortunately it is that. Made me want to read more Joyce Maynard and I loooove me some Kim Addonizio but a few were real duds and one essay I couldn't even finish because it felt so technical compared to the personal revelations of some of the other essays--it was boring and it was about penises, so I'd say boring is a problem.
May 12, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
More prep reading. "Bad" -- surprise, surprise -- is frequently synonymous with "dirty" and almost never with "subversive." There were a few pleasant pieces (Susan Casey's "Skipping Christmas," Elizabeth Benedict's "The Thrill of a Well-Placed 'Fuck'"), but the scope felt fairly narrow. Mostly, maybe, this is because all (or almost all?) of the pieces were written as reflections, the "bad girl" a mostly-buried personality aberration. Not for me.
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite stories: Lying, Bad Dancer, The Thrill of a Well Placed 'Fuck', Laura the Pest, Skipping Christmas, Author Questionnaire, The Thrill of the Spill, Turn It UP!
These are the best written, imo, but they ALL felt so cathartic to read. I like being bad!!!!!'d never know it on the outside.
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found myself guffawing out loud on airplanes, at the pool and just about everywhere! I related to just about every essay in here on some level; if not by action...certainly relating by emotion. Ellen Sussman the editor even e-mailed me back when I sent her gushing fan mail thanking her for compiling such a clever collection.
This is decent overall, not spectacular (and no one's really that "bad")--but I was knocked out by Katharine Weber's story of a friend sneaking her into the World Trade Center when it was under construction. If there's ever a literary anthology of urban exploration (they've got them on almost everything else), it'd be perfect.
Margaux Laskey
Jul 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i totally dug it. picked it up at work on the free table, so i wasn't sure, but lots of good essays in here (erica jong, susan cheever, joyce maynard) about being a "bad" girl in a world where only "good" girls seem truly valued or taken seriously. "bad" is, of course, relative in this book, but we all have a different compass to travel by.
Jun 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting collection of essays; but, nothing that would have shattered my world had I not read it. Some of the essays were very good (Jong), some of them, not so much. It was interesting to see the different ways that each writer defined or viewed "badness." There is a good mix of authors and viewpoints here so, you are likely to find at least one or two essays that appeal to you.
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend reading this one over time. Great premise and most of the writers really come through. A little hard to take, however, reading them back to back. Interesting to read what they each thought about "misbehaving".
Dec 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
A good bus read, as it's a collection of short stories. I think the stories got better in the later chapters - some of the early ones didn't shock me enough. I did feel silly carrying this book around because of the name & cover photo. Oh, well!
Nov 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With a variety of stories on being a "bad girl", this anthology was quite funny, and thought-provoking as well. Stories ranged from tales about attending an abusive father's funeral, to one called "Penises I have Known."
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was delightful. From essays on adolescent sexual fumblings, to Mary Roach talking about the naughty thrill of the confessional, to an essay on why women don't talk more about penis attributes, I enjoyed this heartily and was inspired to write my own "bad girl" essays.
Shannon Barber
May 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Overall I enjoyed this collection quite a bit. I did miss more queer content, perhaps needed a bit less I had sex and was bad type stories. The writing was solid but I wasn't entirely moved by any of the essays unfortunately.
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The collection of essays was uneven. Some were good; others were terrible. But it might be worth picking up at the library just to read Daphne Merkin's "Penises I Have Known." Now that's one you can really sink your teeth into. No pun intended.
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun, quick read. For the bad girl in all of us. Actually, I think Amy would probably like it, for just that reason. I don't know, something to do with all the bars she has frequented lately makes me think of it for her.
Jul 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bad girls, want to be bad girls, good girls with time
Some of the essays were awesome. I did feel like the repeated themselves a bit though How many times do I need to hear the "I was a good girl until..." story. A good read, but I'd suggest reading it in parts instead of straight though.
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was a really easy, fun read. I liked how it was short stories and that I could easily put it down for a week or something if I was busy and pick it back up and not skip a beat or have to backtrack to remember what I read a week ago.

Very cute, fun and hilarious!
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Far better writing than the cheesy title and cover promise - the "bad deeds" vary far more widely than you would think. Breezy but not shallow.
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: for all the bad girls out there
This collection reveals the bad girl in the writers. I found myself loving each writer and all the essays.
May 05, 2009 marked it as to-read
This is the kind of anthology I'd want to compile...
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Ellen Sussman is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This. She is the editor of two critically acclaimed anthologies, Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave and Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex. She teaches through Stanford Continuing Studies and in private classes.

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