Favorite Books by Women

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Favorite Books by Women

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Jun 14, 2014, 12:10am

A variation of my last question - what are your favorite books that are written by women?

Again, I have an eclectic mix, including:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Lady Vernon and Her Daughter by Jane Rubino
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Machinal by Sophie Treadwell
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Edited: Jun 14, 2014, 8:25pm

This is taken from my "Favorites of Recent Years" Collection, so it's organized chronologically with the most recently read first (except that I've grouped works by the same author). Since there are a LOT here, I'll star the ones that probably made my "best of the year" lists.

The Bird's Nest*, Hangsaman*, The Lottery and Other Stories, We Have Always Lived in the Castle* by Shirley Jackson
The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart*
Kristen Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset*
The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley*
Transit by Anna Seghers*
The Birthday Boys, An Awfully Big Adventure, Master Georgie*, Every Man for Himself* by Beryl Bainbridge
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga*
Moving Parts and In Red by Magdalena Tulli*
The Expendable Man* and In a Lonely Place* by Dorothy B. Hughes
Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman*
The Corner That Held Them, Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner*
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay
A Change of Climate, Vacant Possession, The Giant, O'Brien*, Fludd*, Beyond Black*, A Place of Greater Safety*, Wolf Hall* by Hilary Mantel
The Skin Chairs, Sisters by a River, The Juniper Tree, The Vet's Daughter*, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead* by Barbara Comyns
Once upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer
School for Love, The Balkan Trilogy* by Olivia Manning
Lord of Misrule, She Drove without Stopping by Jaimy Gordon*
Great House by Nicole Krauss*
A Visit from the Goon Squad*, The Keep by Jennifer Egan
A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom
The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah
The Straight and Narrow Path by Honor Tracy*
The Cost of Living, Paris Stories, Varieties of Exile* by Mavis Gallant
The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard
Don't Look Now: Selected Stories of Daphne du Maurier by Daphne du Maurier
The Condition by Jennifer Haigh
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Testament of Yves Gundron, Brookland by Emily Barton
Later at the Bar by Rebecca Barry
Desperate Characters by Paula Fox*

The Story of America: Essays on Origins, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History* by Jill Lepore
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander*
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacey Schiff
Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman*
Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum*
Just Kids by Patti Smith*
The Coldest March by Susan Solomon
The Proud Tower, The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman*
Borrowed Finery: A Memoir, The Coldest Winter: A Stringer in Liberated Europe, by Paula Fox
Them: A Memoir of Parents by Francine du Plessix Gray*

These are nearly all books I've read since I joined LT. It would be more difficult for me to identify favorites among the many books by women I read back in the 70s and 80s and even 90s.

Edited: Jun 16, 2014, 3:38pm

In my library, I identify "favorites" (rated 5 stars; usually no more than 5 a year) and "best books" (rated 4.5 stars). Here are the books by women that made the list, with the favorites being starred:

Atkinson, Kate: Life After Life*
Atwood, Margaret: Cat's Eye, The Handmaid's Tale*, Oryx and Crake*
Austen, Jane: Emma, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice*
Bronte, Charlotte: Jane Eyre*
Butler, Octavia: Lilith's Brood*, Parable of the Sower*, Parable of the Talents
Chopin, Kate: The Awakening
Du Maurier, Daphne: Rebecca*
Hegland, Jean: Into the Forest
Highsmith, Patricia: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Jackson, Shirley: The Haunting of Hill House*, The Sundial*, We Have Always Lived in the Castle*
James, P.D.: The Children of Men*
Kress, Nancy: Beggars in Spain
L'Engle, Madeleine: A Wrinkle in Time
Lamott, Anne: Bird by Bird
Le Guin, Ursula K.: Always Coming Home*, The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, The Left Hand of Darkness*, The Unreal and the Real, The Word for World Is Forest
Lee, Harper: To Kill a Mockingbird*
Morganstern, Erin: The Night Circus*
Niffenegger, Audrey: The Time Traveler's Wife
O'Connor, Flannery: A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories*
Plath, Sylvia: The Bell Jar
Proulx, E. Annie: The Shipping News
Russell, Mary Doria: Children of God, The Sparrow*
Sayers, Dorothy L.: Gaudy Night*
Tepper, Sheri S.: Grass
Walton, Jo: Among Others
Wilhelm, Kate: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
Willis, Connie: To Say Nothing of the Dog*
Wren, M.K.: A Gift Upon the Shore*

Jun 15, 2014, 10:17am

I'm not sure I could ever come up with a list of my favorite books, or favorite by women -- sometimes it seems like my whole life has been one of pursuit of favorite books! But here are some that come to mind just sitting here drinking my coffee. Tomorrow morning I would probably come up with other titles:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn -- this was my "Catcher in the Rye." It was so, so much better than Catcher in the Rye, actually.

Obasan -- a gorgeous story about a Canadian/Japanese family sent to an internment camp during WWII.

The Calligrapher's Night -- a novel about the author's grandmother, who became a famous calligrapher/artist in a culture that didn't allow women to be either.

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood -- a beautiful plea for the long leaf pine forest, but also for a never to be forgot account of a letter the author received from her father about his time committed to a psychatric hospital.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek -- no explanation needed

Song of the Lark -- I know most people think of My Antonia as Cather's best work, but this is the one that touched me.

Dust Tracks on a Road -- Zora Neale Hurston is at the head of the table in my fantasy dinner party

Story of an African Farm -- I think I have a thing for landscapes.

Jane Eyre

Persuasion -- my favorite Austen novel, because Anne is not a doormat and because she recommends books to people

Helen in Egypt -- my first encounter with this version of the Iliad, and one of my earliest encounters with a myth retold with a female eye.

Regeneration -- not exactly a woman's story, but one of my very favorite anti-war novels

Trash -- one of my early "coming out" books.

Truth: Four Stories I am Old Enough to Tell -- A semi-fictionalized series of stories about the author's early life, all held back until everyone in them had died and could not be hurt by her account.

Pentimento -- I know this gets a bad rap, and Hellman was a "difficult" person, but I loved the storytelling

Bury Me Standing -- a book that made my heart ache

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks -- ditto

...and so on. I'm sure if I shifted my seat to the other chair, so that I was looking at the other bookcases, I'd end up with an entirely different list.

Jun 15, 2014, 10:49am

I'm going to pick only three (this time):

The tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu --the waxing and waning cosmos of human life and love; its aesthetics and poetry appeal to me like no other.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren --an unusual little girl has marvellous adventures. Marked me at six forever.

Principles of uncertainty by Maira Kalman --a magical eye and sensibility revitalise and redeem the world in a unique mix of exuberance and melancholy. The joy is never stupid, the sadness is never depressing...

Jun 15, 2014, 11:16am

Jun 15, 2014, 11:59am

If I had the money, I'd go around replacing the Bibles in the hotels and motels with it.

Jun 17, 2014, 11:53pm

> 6 Between your assessment and the other reviews on LibraryThing, I decided I have to check out Principles of Uncertainty! sounds like something right up my alley ...

Edited: Jun 18, 2014, 7:18am

I first learned about Maira Kalman from her work in the New Yorker and for the New York Times, and that's what made me run out to get her books. I love her illustrated edition of The Elements of Style too.

Jun 27, 2014, 1:14pm

This question is too hard!

The best answer I can give is to refer all to my LT reviews and perhaps my profile page where some titles are given special recognition.

Warped Passages by Lisa Randall ranks very high. Natural Flights of the Human Mind by Clare Morrall is a favorite. Recently, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, and earlier, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall impressed me.

Casting back, Erdrich's The Master Butchers Singing Club and Proulx's The Shipping News totally engrossed me.

Anything by Dorothy Dunnett!

From the past, the diaries of Virginia Woolf; Wharton's novels of manners; all of Austen; Tuchman's histories; Ship of Fools by Porter.

New-to-me authors who have written a new favorite: Sonya Chung's Long for This World; Nicole Krauss' Man Walks into a Room; The Blue Book by A E Kennedy.

I'll stop there, or else you might think I'm incapable of discernment.

Jun 27, 2014, 1:22pm

>10 Limelite:

I've been meaning to read more fiction by Katherine Anne Porter since I read some short stories of hers--Flowering Judas I think it was.

Jun 27, 2014, 6:36pm

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (I also really like Mansfield Park, but P&P is perfect)
Lullabies for Little Criminals, Heather O'Neill
Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield
Book of Lies, Mary Horlock
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
Girl with the Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
Children's Book, AS Byatt
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Horse, Flower, Bird, Kate Bernheimer
Hiding Place, Trezza Azzopardi
The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
To the Lighthouse, The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf, Orlando, Virginia Woolf
Age of Innocence, House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West
A Complicated Kindness, Miriam Toews
Mosquito, Roma Tearne
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, Elizabeth Taylor

and for younger readers . . .
Awake and Dreaming, Kit Pearson
Voyage to the Bunny Planet, Rosemary Wells
No Flying in the House, Betty Brock
The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge

Jun 28, 2014, 12:41pm

Lola, you remind me -- years ago in my callow youth it was a ss by Porter that led me to read her novel -- "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall." Found this one online, "The Grave" from 1935. http://www.vqronline.org/fiction/grave