Books / The Internet

A List of Books for [Most] Men [Who] Don’t Read [Enough] Books By Women

Today a friend shared the article – “Why Don’t Men Read Books by Women?” – from Feministing.com, and it got me thinking the same thing I’ve always thought – “Well, that’s surely generalizing, but ya, I can buy that Most Men Don’t Read Enough Books By Women.” There were two points in particular that caught my eye; the first about reactions – by both men and women – to the goal of reading only books by women for a year.

“I’m finding that when people recommend to me a book written by man and I tell them why I won’t be able to read it until 2016, the reactions are mixed. Like Marcus, I’ve had women who ask for recommendations — and men ask me why I’d “limit” myself in such a way, as though women haven’t produced enough gorgeously written works of literary importance to keep someone who reads at a slightly-faster-than-average pace busy for a whole calendar year.”

Well that’s just sad. If I I said I were going to read only classics for a whole year, or all modernist literature for a year, or only poetry for a year, or only nonfiction, or only science fiction, or only YA novels, or only LITERALLY ANY CATEGORY EVER, I, someone who [also] reads at a slightly-faster-than-average pace), could easily be kept busy. How could women be the exception?

The second, also fascinating, point I came across was this: “When I do online dating, I use the presence or absence of books by women on a man’s “favorites” list as a way to separate wheat from chaff, and I can tell you: if that’s the mechanism you’re using, you end up with a very low wheat-to-chaff ratio.”

All I can say to that is, Amen. Also, that’s why I don’t online date.

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So, in an effort to encourage all Dudes Who Read This Blog to also be Dudes Who Read More Books By Women, here’s a list of some of my favorite Books By Women, in no particular order, in case you’re in the market for a recommendation:

1. Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

This is my favorite novel of all time. All of my favorite books of all time are written by Joan Didion, except poetry because she didn’t write much poetry. At least not outside the prose form. I choose Play It As It Lays because it’s a Didion classic, written early in her long and prolific career, and easily recognizable. For those willing to dive all the way deep with Didion, I also recommend: Democracy (fiction), A Book of Common Prayer (fiction), Slouching Towards Bethlehem (nonfiction), and The Year of Magical Thinking (nonfiction) as good starting points.

2. Bossypants by Tina Fey

A hilarious memoir about Tina Fey’s comedy career, from the early SNL days to the glory of 30 Rock. If you can get through this book without laughing at least once, you are probably a dirty sexist with no sense of humor.

3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It’s like reading a novel and a blog about race at the same time! Adichie’s New York Times 2013 Bestseller is really relatable story about an African immigrant’s acclimation to America and the meaning of identity with a bonus look at racial politics and how we decide what defines us.

4. The Center Cannot Hold – Elyn R. Saks

The touching and inspiring memoir of a successful lawyer and defender of the mentally ill who has struggled with schizophrenia her whole life. From the descriptions of demons outside her window in her childhood, to her seemingly endless struggle with controlling voices throughout her Undergraduate and Graduate careers at Vanderbilt, Oxford, and finally Yale Law School – at all of which she graduated top of her class – to her determined, relentless battles against her own medication, Saks’s story is a powerful tale of a woman who conquered her own mind to build the life she wanted for herself. Um, can I say #UNBREAKABLE?! Cause females are strong as hell.

5. Harry Potter And The Six Books That Come After It by J.K. Rowling

Need I say more?

6. Dream Work by Mary Oliver

For the poetry fans out there. I received this book as a gift recently and accidentally tore halfway through it in a day before realizing I had errands to run. But no matter, I’ll read it again and again, as this is the type of poetry one keeps by a bed at night to soothe the soul before falling asleep. Favorites so far include “Morning Poem” and “Consequences.”

7. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

This is a trending topic book, and Roxane Gay is #ontrend right now. The prolific novelist and essayist writes about everything from her difficult relationship with Law & Order: SVU’s sexism, to Drake and Blurred Lines. Most importantly, she discussed some blurred lines I struggle to find a way to walk: is it ok to sing Robin Thicke at the top of my lungs in my car even though that song is like, really really sexist? Can I still call myself a feminist if I do that?

I’ll let you read it to find the answer.

8. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Young Adult Fantasy Series! Cool female protagonists! Teenagers fighting with weapons! And also figuring out the meaning of life and finding themselves and being premenstrual! A girl named September gets spirited away to Fairyland to overthrow an evil queen with the help of a marid, a wyvern, and a magic sword. Like The Hunger Games, but without the majazillion dollar movie franchise! …Yet.

8. Speedboat by Renata Adler

This is also one of Joan Didion’s favorites. And Joan is my everything, so.

Surely there are many I’ve left off this short surface-skimmer of a list. What are your favorite books by women? Trying to compile a reading list that will take a whole year here.

PS: For The Dudes out there – if any of you accept this challenge and report your content consumption to me for a year – work assignments excepted – I will pay you $100 in 365 days. Get at me if you’re game.

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