Jezebel has posted a list of 75 books every woman should read. It’s a list compiled by Jezebel editors and readers. It’s response to Esquire’s 75 books every man should read.
I think Jezebel did a good job with the list, though I wish they would have explained some of the selections like Esquire did. I was overjoyed to see Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior and Lorrie Moore’s Life Like on the list.
The inclusion of Jhumpa Lahiri’s abysmal and boring The Namesake does have me scratching my head. From what I remember it’s a story about a guy trying to figure out his place in the world. Not sure what it has to offer women other than the fact that the novel is written by a woman. Hrmmm. . . I mean if you’re going for that kind of theme, dude searching, then you could include just about everything F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote on the list.
One that doesn’t surprise me on the list is Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying. This book is always held up as some sort of feminist-pinnacle of literature and I’m exactly sure why. I can see how the book would have been ground-breaking in the 70s but it’s horribly dated. Plus, from what I could tell by my reading Isadora slowly comes to the conclusion that she is nothing without a man. In fact, we never even see her without a man. Maybe it’s the first literary novel to say fuck, who the hell knows. As far as I am concerned Fear of Flying is the grandmother of chick lit. Blah.
A book that really should have made the list but didn’t, is Elizabeth McCracken’s beautiful, inspiring, and ultimately heartbreaking The Giant’s House. Of course, I am of the belief that this is a book every human should read. It’s a tender portrait of loneliness, desperation, and friendship and it will make you cry as long as you are not made out of stone.
I didn’t see Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. That’s one I’d absolutely have on the list.
but don’t you think, i mean really, that every woman should read Portnoy’s Complaint? Just to get a man’s insight on how despicable men can be?
(Just like maybe all men should read, I don’t know. Something womanly. Something Lorrie Moore, probably.)
Max, as much as I hate to admit this I haven’t read Portnoy’s Complaint yet. In fact, there’s quite a bit of Roth that I haven’t gotten to. I’ve only read eight of his eighty kabillion books. However, after re-watching the Book TV tribute to him and listening to Nathan Englander go on and on about Portnoy, I really need to move it up to the top of the to-be-read pile.
For the record, I don’t think (and I don’t think any Roth fan thinks) that Portnoy is actually his best…though maybe it makes the most lasting impression. Really I guess I wouldn’t call it required reading for most lists…just the woman’s list specifically…weird. That doesn’t make sense, I’m pretty sure.
If you’re looking to hop on the Roth train, I also warn against beginning with ‘American Pastoral,’ which is so tempting to do. To my mind, it’s his most impressive book, but I feel like it’s something that needs to be worked up to (the view’s nice up here in my ivory tower, yes). Go with ‘The Counterlife’ – which also won a huge award (NBCC) if you’re looking for credentials. For what it’s worth, my favorite is ‘Goodbye, Columbus’ because it’s so damn sweet and easy, and a good Roth primer, too.