500 Great Books By Women discussion

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message 1: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments This is where you post questions/concerns/suggestions/etc regarding the group's administration/infrastructure/etc.


message 2: by Samadrita (new)

Samadrita (fictionista01) | 34 comments I saw your updates on the Kristin Lavransdatter page. So I was wondering if it is okay to post updates in the individual threads created for the entries as well? (I was under the impression those were only for reviews)


message 3: by Aubrey (last edited Oct 03, 2014 08:42AM) (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments Individual threads for books are for whatever, Samadrita. Reviews, updates, related news bits, anything users like to discuss in some relation to the book/author, or even an unrelated response to an evolved discussion. The rules will be outlined further if any thread veers off dramatically, but that will be dealt with on a case to case basis.

This is why I maintain the first post as a master post for submitted reviews, actually. It keeps the beginning up to date while allowing the rest to roam.


message 4: by Sandy (new)

Sandy  | 22 comments I apologize that I haven't been active in the group yet. I am overloaded with all the challenges that I took on for 2014 and, for the moment, am focusing on finishing them. Reading books from 500 Great Books By Women is one component of my personal challenge for 2015, so I hope to spend a bit more time in the group come January.


message 5: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments Be active when you can be, Sandy. This group is more a resource than a hub of activity, so it'll survive the quieter times with ease.


message 6: by Sandy (new)

Sandy  | 22 comments I will, Aubrey. And thank you!


message 7: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments When our dear comrade Aubrey first created this incredible resource in response to her reading of the 500GBBW anthology I was very impressed and excited. I spent a long time going through the books, creating a shelf, being more generous and optimistic about whether I would like the books than I ordinarily would in deciding whether to shelve. I found this task tedious but felt it necessary, the bare minimum I could do to thank Aubrey for her endeavour

Immediately the list began to grow as goodreaders added their own selections. I felt panic. I suffer from an overactive craving to control, to limit, to keep one thing separate from another, a destructive socialised drive to atomise, categorise, discipline and reify. I did not participate in the extension work, and I did not afford indulgence to the added books. Let this place be for the 500, I said, and the rest of the great universe be for the other books we love. Let me keep these boundaries in place.

But then came 2015: Year of Reading Women. I was excited, again, I began to participate, I revelled. By the end of February I had not read a single male-authored book. Well, let's make it a rule for the year, I said to myself: women authors only. And so far I have kept to it. I have even told a few people about it, and the responses of some: confusion, anger, disdain, have caused me to rethink my response to the extension of 500GBBW.

In short, being admonished by men for 'taking feminism to far' for 'ignoring men' and being told to 'remember that the goal is equality' in response to my boast that I was only reading women in 2015 reminded me why I was doing just that: because most people read far more male authored books, because a kind, self-professed feminist friend felt comfortable telling me he 'doesn't rate any female author', because women have been prevented from writing by illiteracy, by heavy demands on their time, by poverty, by sexist and racist publishers, by the lack of private space, by the language of creativity ('seminal') by imposter syndrome, at all times and in all places.

And so I returned here and I made a new shelf to keep things separate in a way that eases my anxiety and I am writing in this thread to thank everyone who has added to 500GBBW, has given their time and energy to honouring the work of women writers, has put a little weight into the light side of the balance.

May the garden grow tall and wide and fragrant and wild and beautiful from its good roots in all of us.


message 8: by Leajk (new)

Leajk Zanna wrote: "When our dear comrade Aubrey first created this incredible resource in response to her reading of the 500GBBW anthology I was very impressed and excited. I spent a long time going through the books..."

Beautifully written appreciation post! As to the 'taking feminism to far' thing, I experienced something similar in my book club. We were discussing what book to read during the summer and one of the guys suggested 'Infinite Jest'. As we had already read Thomas Pychon and Kurt Vonnegut that semester (for me they all belong to the same 'white 20th century dudes hipsters read') I proposed reading something a bit more exciting, like The Tale of Genji. It backfired with the guy calling it the most 'hipster' suggestion he'd ever heard.

"So we can only read Japanese women from the 1100th century now? That's so hipster."

People will always find away to avoid leaving the well known and comfy space they inhabit.


message 9: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments hahaha! thanks for replying Leajk! You made me happy xxx


message 10: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments Zanna wrote: "When our dear comrade Aubrey first created this incredible resource in response to her reading of the 500GBBW anthology I was very impressed and excited. I spent a long time going through the books..."

Bravo, Zanna! Bravo! A marvelous personal reconciliation with the expansionary goal of this group indeed. I will be sharing this in today's daily Random 500 GBBW email for all who need this breed of inspiration.


message 11: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments Leajk wrote: "Zanna wrote: "When our dear comrade Aubrey first created this incredible resource in response to her reading of the 500GBBW anthology I was very impressed and excited. I spent a long time going thr..."

Ironic, considering IJ was on that GR flowchart of hipster lit a while back and TToG was not. The boy probably needed to disguise his intense desire to shit himself at the suggestion with blowhard pomposity.


message 12: by Dustin (new)

Dustin | 84 comments Thank you, Aubrey, for bringing this wonderful thread to everyone's attention.:)


message 13: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments Aww thanks Aubrey :-) :-)


message 14: by Sue (new)

Sue | 56 comments Wonderful Zanna. I am reading both female and male writers this year, but I'm quite certain that the proportion of books written by women has risen substantially. I too am also so pleased to have so many more options introduced for future reading.


message 15: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments Thank you Sue <3
Although in 2016 I plan to read authors of all genders I will have my eye on the ratio as structures of domination tend to 'spring back into place' if we don't keep up the pressure pushing them back!
In 2017 I think I will read only authors of colour...


message 16: by Sue (last edited Jul 29, 2015 11:25PM) (new)

Sue | 56 comments Zanna wrote: "Thank you Sue <3
Although in 2016 I plan to read authors of all genders I will have my eye on the ratio as structures of domination tend to 'spring back into place' if we don't keep up the pressure..."


I decided to check the books I've read so far this year, being curious, and 38 of the 78 I've read were written be women. At least a couple more were collections so can't be classified. So I guess I am being somewhat gender neutral as I'd hoped. At the moment I have books of all types going so it will be interesting to see how my year goes.

I am also trying to read more internationally and culturally too (and I'm using my NetGalley membership to find some very interesting works there too.)


message 17: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments Good work! I was pretty disappointed when I found the 'most read authors button' and looked at my stats. I've got a long way to go...


message 18: by Leajk (new)

Leajk Zanna wrote: "Good work! I was pretty disappointed when I found the 'most read authors button' and looked at my stats. I've got a long way to go..."

Where do I find the most read authors button?!?


message 19: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments on my books down left below your shelves = )


message 20: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 120 comments Oh dear! All our dirty secrets!


message 21: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments Yes, very embarrassing!


message 22: by Leajk (new)

Leajk Thank u! :)))


message 23: by Sue (new)

Sue | 56 comments I never noticed that button. I actually counted the books.


message 24: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments You have to count if you want anything more detailed, it only shows over your whole reading history. Just to really flaunt my drawers I've read 21 Terry Pratchett books (teen binge) and I'll probably read a couple more in the future. Top woman is Ann M Martin author of the Babysitters Club books (pre teen binge) with 20. Next up is Doris Lessing: 11 books, but otherwise it's mainly blokes I've read 3 or 4 books by. Haha I wish there were more stat tools. For some reason I find them endlessly fascinating


message 25: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments Zanna wrote: "You have to count if you want anything more detailed, it only shows over your whole reading history. Just to really flaunt my drawers I've read 21 Terry Pratchett books (teen binge) and I'll probab..."

My top 10:

1 R.L. Stine 61
2 Stephen King 45
3 Piers Anthony 31
4 Mary Pope Osborne 27
5 Katherine Applegate 24
6 Brian Jacques 23
7 Darren Shan 19
7 Anne Rice 19
9 Debbie Dadey 17
9 Garth Nix 17

I've got all my books in, including the ones I read as a child. I have no reason to obfuscate.

As for more stat tools, Zanna, you could always try LibraryThing. I joined during the GR censorship fiasco for the broader range of data tools, but I haven't been on for a while due to the lack of socializing tools,


message 26: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 120 comments Gee, I have lots of reasons to obfuscate, but I haven't! On the other hand when I joined Goodreads I only listed books I had a good memory of, so there are tons that never even got listed - so all my embarrassments are fully adult ones! Still I can proudly say that the first man on my list doesn't show up until there's a 9-way tie for 39th place, Tolkien with 5 books.


message 27: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments That's awesome Alexa!

My top ten since we're doing that!

1 Terry Pratchett 21
2 Ann M. Martin 20
3 Doris Lessing 11
4 Roald Dahl 9
5 Virginia Woolf 7
6 A.S. Byatt 6
6 Neil Gaiman 6
6 Jane Austen 6
6 Alain de Botton 6
10 George Orwell 5
10 Michael Palin 5
10 Franz Kafka 5
10 Chuck Palahniuk 5

Wish I'd read more books, still I'm hoping to live long and read many more (in part by not wasting more time than I do already playing with the stats)


message 28: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments I think reading everything of Woolf's will put me five for five in regards to male/female in my top 10. Le Guin and Lessing are also possibilities for sizable female authored bibliographies of eminent quality.


message 29: by Sue (last edited Jul 30, 2015 09:29PM) (new)

Sue | 56 comments I just checked my most read authors and it reflects my past history of reading mysteries--my fall back position for years when I was working and even now when I'm tired and want a relaxing read. But even with that bias, my top ten authors are split evenly 50/50 female and male. Have to admit even I'm surprised at this except for the fact that some of my favorites are women who have lasted with wonderful mature characters.

When I checked the entire list, there are 49 women represented in the most-read authors. I'm amazed at my reading balance.


message 30: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments That's awesome Sue. I think the male heaviness of my list reflects my desire to read 'serious' lit fic earlier in my life, because if you ask for important you get pointed towards male


message 31: by Sue (new)

Sue | 56 comments I guess that will "teach" you. :) I'm finding it interesting that I am increasingly drawn to a very diverse group of authors and my GR friends and experience has helped greatly with this. There is just so much to choose from. To be honest, I've rarely, if ever, searched using your criteria. I look for genre, subject, authors I've read before, etc. and branch out from there. And then there's the vast area of books recommended by friends or book reviews or picked up on impulse at the library after reading a few pages. I'm not a "great minds" reader. I like to suss it out in other reading. (and avoid the heavy lifting)


message 32: by Leajk (new)

Leajk Now that I've looked at that shelf I realize that I most certainly have not added all of my books read. When I think about it I'd say that Agatha Christie is my most read author without any competition :) Other than that it is clear that I read a lot of comics as a kid and that they all were written by French/Belgian guys...


message 33: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments I have tried to totally disregard the criteria I formerly used in recent years, since I began to recognise at last the toxic wasteland (Aubrey's phrase haha) of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy that defines and polices aesthetic and political worthiness...


message 34: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 120 comments It sounds like you came to reading women as a political decision, while for me it was a more personal one. As a teenager I can clearly recall reading "classic" science fiction male authors and realizing that they had absolutely nothing to say to me about the experience of being female. (And that they had a lot of really distasteful things to say about men's thoughts about women!) I needed more personal connection with my reading material and I simply realized that I was far more likely to find it in women authors. So ever since then, I haven't exactly avoided male authors, but whenever I'm given a choice I'm just more interested in the female voice.


message 35: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments The personal is political, more often than not.


message 36: by Story (new)

Story (storyheart) Alexa wrote: "It sounds like you came to reading women as a political decision, while for me it was a more personal one. As a teenager I can clearly recall reading "classic" science fiction male authors and rea..."

This is true for me as well, Alexa.


message 37: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments Alexa I relate strongly to what you say, but I was prepared to devalue my own experience in response to its absence from the literature I was reading :-( I'm glad others have more conviction. I started to change my mind when I was about 19. I remember reading On the Road I was like 'how can everyone love this sexist, mindless junk?' For me this whole subject is a perfect illustration of how the personal is political as Aubrey says, and I can't separate them here.


message 38: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) Hm. Is there no general "chat" thread around here? I thought members of this group might appreciate articles like this one :http://www.brownpoliticalreview.org/2...


message 39: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments Traveller wrote: "Hm. Is there no general "chat" thread around here? I thought members of this group might appreciate articles like this one :http://www.brownpoliticalreview.org/2...-..."

Thanks for sharing this!


message 40: by Traveller (last edited Sep 19, 2015 09:23AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) You're welcome :) - as I say, I couldn't really find an appropriate thread - this one looked the most likely.

Zanna wrote: "That's awesome Alexa!

My top ten since we're doing that!

1 Terry Pratchett 21
2 Ann M. Martin 20
3 Doris Lessing 11
4 Roald Dahl 9
[...]..."


Since y'all mentioned this, I thought I'd do a quantative analysis of my supposed top 30, and I got that women constitute 48% of my most-read authors, but I blame school for the high amount of male authors. (I'm guessing it would have been closer to 50/50 if left to my own devices.)

I wouldn't have read so many Charles Dickens, for example, if we didn't have him as a 'set' author. Also, my early-teen love of action thrillers also show up there. That list is more a reflection of my child and teen reading than my mature reading, the latter which tends to be spread out a lot more.

Tanith Lee 31 f 31
Susan Howatch 17 f 17
Alistair MacLean 13 m
C.S. Lewis 12 m
Helen Wells 11 f 11
William Shakespeare 10 m
Roald Dahl 8 m
Lyall Watson 8 m
Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez 8 m
H.G. Wells 8 m
J.R.R. Tolkien 7 m
L.M. Montgomery 7 f 15
China Miéville 7 m
Arthur Conan Doyle7 m
Gene Wolfe 7 m
T.S. Eliot 6 m
Stephen King 6 m
Jack Higgins 6 m
James A. Michener6 m
Jean Plaidy 6 f 6
Agatha Christie 6 f 6
Daphne Du Maurier6 f 6
Jean Estoril 6 f 6
Anya Seton 5 f 5
Ursula K. Le Guin5 f 5
Lewis Carroll 5 m 5
Charles Dickens 5 m
Oscar Wilde 5 m
W. Somerset Maugham 5 m

239 113


message 41: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments Wow I think I read my first Tanith Lee story in Don't Bet on the Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England. I wasn't even aware of her before.


message 42: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) I discovered her as a young girl, and she remained an obsession throughout my teens. There came a point where I got a new Tanith Lee, started reading it, and then just put it down again and decided I -must- break away from her.

Oh gosh! She died in May this year! I didn't even know- oh no- now i feel very shocked and sad....

Anyway, she was HUGELY prolific, this gives you an idea... http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?105


message 43: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments Traveller wrote: "Hm. Is there no general "chat" thread around here? I thought members of this group might appreciate articles like this one :http://www.brownpoliticalreview.org/2...-..."

The closest to that would be here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

I'll revise the board title to General Chat so as to update it to the current needs of the group.


message 44: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 180 comments Well the story I read, Wolfland, kinda reminded me of Catherynne M Valente (I'm NOT a fan but I see the attraction) and was a pretty cool idea. Amazing how some writers can come up with so many good plots! I'm hopeless at it


message 45: by Jean (new)

Jean I am trying to add a book to my 2016 YoRWC challenge but it won't accept it. Can someone tell me what I'm doing wrong. This is a book that I just read.


message 46: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 120 comments Have you marked it as "read?" Have you added the date read as sometime in 2016? Have you placed it on the shelf you designated for the challenge? Getting all those things working together can sometimes be confusing, I know!


message 47: by Jean (new)

Jean Alexa wrote: "Have you marked it as "read?" Have you added the date read as sometime in 2016? Have you placed it on the shelf you designated for the challenge? Getting all those things working together can somet..."

I just this second finally got it correct. I had left a (-) out of the title. Thanks


message 48: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 120 comments Oh, don't those little things just drive you crazy?! Glad you figured it out.


message 49: by Ishita (new)

Ishita | 8 comments I didn't know where to post this so here I am! Um, could someone please tell me if The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith a part of this list?


message 50: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2004 comments Ishita wrote: "I didn't know where to post this so here I am! Um, could someone please tell me if The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith a part of this list?"

It is not, Ishita. Her The Talented Mr. Ripley is, thanks to the group submissions.


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