2015: The Year I Read Books By Women

Image stolen from here

Image stolen from here

A friend asked me to put together a reading list for her. I did, and in the process realized how few books I’ve read that were written by women. It’s shameful. I’ve been considering some sort of reading project for 2015. I think I just found it. Now I need your recommendations. Please note: I have read books by women and I’ve heard of women authors. I work in a bookstore, after all. What I’m looking for are specific book recommendations. Thanks!

  • Louisa Smith: Tana French writes terrific mystery novels. Good literature as well as good mysteries.
  • Irene Jaglowski: I loved Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat stories. (They’re YA novels) Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Short stories by Grace Paley. Also: Maria Semple’s Where’d you go Bernadette?. I couldn’t put it down. Hilarious. Semple was a writer for Arrested Development.
  • Tina Tatum: Barbara Kingsolver, Isabel Allende, Bobbie Ann Mason, Sheri Reynolds, Fannie Flagg, and Ellen Gilchrist are a few for starters. I will give you more suggestions later. Thanks for asking!
  • Louisa Smith: I would definitely second Kingsolver and Octavia Butler.
  • Scott Goulding: Seth Speaks by Jane Roberts
  • Will Yurman: ‘Come, Thou Tortoise’ by Jessica Grant is a book that has stuck with me
  • Jenn Weinzierl Binus: The Legacy of Luna
  • Nadje Noordhuis: The God of Small Things. White Teeth.
  • Jason Parker: The goldfinch was great. And my cousin Molly Antopol wrote a great book of short stories
  • Martin Porter: Amy Tan Toni Morrison Maya Angelou
  • Terri Hinte: Doris Lessing was hugely important to me in my 20s. Haven’t read “The Golden Notebook” in a very long time but that is a classic and IMO her masterpiece.
  • Jason Parker: Here’s my cousin’s book: http://mollyantopol.com/
  • Jason Parker: I also love many of Grace Paley’s stories.
  • Terri Hinte: I LOVE Edna O’Brien: Country Girls, A Fanatic Heart. … Read just about everything by Jean Rhys.
  • Martin Porter: Flannery O’Connor is a personal favorite too
  • Jack Wright: “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. I have worn out my copy. Too mainstream?
  • Carmen Staaf: If you haven’t read Mrs. Dalloway yet, that’s my recommendation! One of my favorite books. Also, My Antonia and The Professor’s House by Willa Cather.
  • Carmen Staaf: And A Journey With Elsa Cloud by Leila Hadley, a beautiful book. And this is not a novel, but I love If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland.
  • Camille-Yvette Welsch: A.S. Byatt (really anything) Louise Gluck The Wild Iris (life-changing), Jhumpa Lahiri Interpretor of Maladies, Fun Home Alison Bechdel (hey, she’s a local!), Sharon Olds, The Dead and The Living; and Stag’s Leap. I could really go on, but you have quite a list already.
  • Terri Hinte: Tillie Olsen “Tell Me a Riddle” (also “Silences”). Beryl Markham “West with the Night.”
  • Bradley M. Stone: Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Don Levy: Carmen Staaf, My Antonia is one of my favorite books. I loved Lahiri’s The Namesake. I love The Group by Mary Mc Carthy, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
  • Vince Wilson: any book at all by Anne Lamott
  • Ron Mohring: What a great thread. I would add a small book, Author & Agent: letters between Eudora Welty and her agent. Also everything by Flannery O’Connor.
  • David Pulizzi: “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston. Also, if you’re looking for a great work of non-fiction, consider “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Also in the non-fiction realm, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” by Annie Dillard is a lovely book.
  • Terri Hinte: Zora Neale Hurston: yes!
  • Terri Hinte: No mention yet of Toni Morrison. “Song of Solomon” is the one for me.
  • Sylvia Barnard: Lots of British choices. AS Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Margaret Forster, Kate Moss, Sarah Dunant, Zadie Smith, and on and on forever.
  • Lejla Ovcina: Nervous conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwean author and filmmaker)
  • Jim Macnie: Toni Morrison: Sula.Beloved. Song of Solomon.
  • Jim Macnie: Jayne Anne Phillips Black Tickets Machine Dreams
  • Liva Judic: A good man is hard to find. Google the author and get the whole book of short stories! I think it’s Flannery O’Connor
  • Liz Ball: May not interest you, but A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass is a short coming-of-age story about a girl with synesthesia. Also, the Outlander series about to be turned into a starz show is apparently pretty good and is written by a woman, Diana Gabaldon.
  • Eric Ian Farmer: I enjoyed reading this thread. I second If You Want to Write (B. Ueland) and the coming of age story Nervous Conditions (T. Dangarembga). Also, if you’re interested in recent Native American history, two that I like are Lakota Woman (Mary Crow Dog) and All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (Winona LaDuke). Both nonfiction. Oh, I also like Where We Once Belonged (S. Figiel), a coming of age story of a girl in Samoa.
  • MsLaurie Pepper: I second Terri Hinte. Song of Solomon is Morrison’s masterpiece. Anything by Eudora Welty, &, light & delightful, The Tree of Hands by Ruth Rendell, and all her grisly books written as Barbara Vine. Oh, Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor, Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver! These are all books I’ve read more than once. Jerusalem the Golden by Margaret Drabble & To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.
  • MsLaurie Pepper: PS Thanks for this post! One more, Reading Lolita in Tehran! Non fiction.
  • Terri Hinte: Jeanette Winterson “Written on the Body.”
  • MsLaurie Pepper: The Guns of August Barbara Tuchman
  • Robin Yukiko: Jane Eyre is one of my favorites but you’ve probably already read it.
  • Carly Zimmerman: Looks like these have been mentioned, but I will second them: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Also, if you just want to laugh, the memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson made me laugh out loud. Oooh and Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle. Oh, and I know it’s become trite somehow, but Eat, Pray, Love is a great one. Oooooh and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (she’s married to Jonathan Safran Foer – what I wouldn’t give to sit down to dinner in that house). Ok, I’ll stop here.
  • Jasmine Lovell-Smith: From New Zealand authors, I recommend ‘The Bone People’ by Keri Hulme. You could also check out Eleanor Catton’s ‘The Luminaries’ which won the booker prize in 2013, though I haven’t read it yet, and/or her first novel ‘the rehearsal,’ which I did read and really enjoyed.
  • MsLaurie Pepper: Wait! Jason. What about Why I Stuck with a Junkie Jazzman? By Laurie Pepper?
  • Matthew Silberman: “Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo” by Ntozake Shange
  • Gregg-Lion Hands Symons: Laurie: You should see the film of Wise Blood by ‘Jhon’ Huston — it was financed by the friends and family of O’Connor who worked with Huston to create an adaptation that was not only a great underrated movie, in my opinion, but one that makes me think of the author when i watch it: (criterion collection version with interviews with friends of family of Flannery O’Conner, Huston, the actors, etc.)
  • Gregg-Lion Hands Symons: Carson McCullers “Reflection in a Golden Eye”, Katherine Dunn “Geek Love”, All of the first 4 or 5 Barbara Kingsolver novels/comps, Dorothy Allison “Bastard Out of Carolina”, Ursula Hegi “Stones in the River”, Miranda July “No One Belongs here More Than You”, …also, Harriet Lerner “The Dance of Anger” (nonfiction), PLUS the entire gender studies section of Websters is full of great woman non-fiction authors …..
  • Chris Kelsey: Candace Millard’s “River of Doubt” (about Teddy Roosevelt’s Amazon misadventure) and “Destiny of the Republic” (about the assassination of James Garfield) are two excellent works of popular history.
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Magnetic poetry


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POEM: a lake as large as the sea

Digital Photos of Niagara Falls and Buffalo New York by T. Nathan Mundhenk

a lake as large as the sea

I’m standing on the southern shore
of a lake as large as the sea

shrinking and expanding
like that movie trick

where the shot zooms in while the
cameraman pulls the camera back

that might not be how it works
but you get the idea

I realized this week that
there’s no going back

some bridges have been
too thoroughly burned

instead I write letters in the sand
listen to the gulls overhead

strain to see the outlines
of approaching ships

but even as the water
washes my words away

I wonder whether you’ll
be on the deck of one of those ships

straining to catch sight of me
here on the southern shore

of a lake as large
as the sea

/ / /
Jason Crane
12 December 2014
State College, PA

photo source

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POEM: the moon in a circle


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