A couple weeks ago, I happened upon this article at the Huffington Post. In summary, the author of the article interviewed two popular novelists – Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner­ – about literary fiction and the critically praised novel, Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen. Both Picoult and Weiner criticize publishers and reviewers alike for exalting a novel about a broken family while avoiding similarly-themed novels by female authors. Simply put, when men write about family, their books are considered literary fiction; when women write about family, their books are labeled romance.
Looking at my library, it is extremely male dominant. My library coupled with Picoult and Weiner’s revelation makes me particularly troubled. I want to read well-written books no matter the race, creed, or gender of the author. Yet the way publishers promote their books, I have subconsciously gravitated to the “literary fiction” genre which is dominated by men. When I observe my tendencies in music, my tastes are much more evenly divided highlighting both men and women artists. I believe the equal division is a result of music being marketed to a broad audience instead of being promoted to a targeted audience. Thus I believe that novels written by women sparsely populate my bookshelf not because I have no desire to read them, but because I am unable to differentiate between a crappy romance novel and a well-written novel.
Thus, I believe it is time to change my tactics. What are your favorite books written by female authors? I would love to put them on my wish list.

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  • Jessie

    I took a course in college called Women and Literature. Fitting, I should think for your question. I adore Zora Neal Hurston (“Their Eyes Were Watching God”), Dorothy Parker, Eudora Welty (“The Optimist's Daughter”), Virginia Woolf (“To the Lighthouse”), and Kate Chopin (“The Awakening”). Of course there is always Jane Austin. Melba Pattillo Beals wrote a moving book called “Warriors Don't Cry” about the integration of Little Rock Central High. Finally, Betty Smith's “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. Just to name a few. Sorry to ramble.

  • Monkey in a Spacesuit

    When I was younger, I devoured Madeleine L'Engle and Ursula K. Le Guin, but keep in mind I was a SciFi/Fantasy buff.
    I just attended a bookreading by Catherynne M Valente, and she was very funny and charming, and though I purchased (2010 Hugo nominated) Palimpsest, I have not read it.

  • Donovan Richards

    Thanks for the recommendations. I enjoy L'Engle very much. Is Le Guin a similar style? I have heard good things about Palimpsest. Would love to hear your thoughts when you finish it.

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