I'm jumping into the list craze here and starting a list of 100 great books by Ladies. I know, it's possible that I'm only contributing to the ghettoization of Lady Writers, and so I'm interested to know what you all think of the categorization of literature by gender and race. Segregation or separation? Necessary or not?
Since so much was made in 2010 and early 2011 about the paucity of women writers who a) win major prizes, b) get reviewed in major places by major reviewers and get praised and Great Writers and c) get big stories in highbrow magazines, so I thought I'd at least take a stab and encouraging more thought and action in this area. I do think that lists have their place in consciousness raising and in helping us to examine our assumptions and actions. I know I get thoughtless and lazy pretty quickly after I resolve to change and be more aware, and I use lists to help me set intentions and to focus my attention on Important Things. And while many bloggers are discussing this same issue currently, I'd love to hear what the readers and writers I commune with think, and what books they recommend as well.
(Also, in my New Year's spirit of reformation and retrenchment, I'm trying to broaden my reading to include some novels that aren't detective novels, reading I use to soothe myself and relax at the end of the day, lazy reading I've been trapped in since I haven't been writing papers or studying for exams. I only read Literature lately when I'm teaching it. Detective novels have their beautiful place in my life. But I'm trying to Reform a bit, and Improve. So help. Please.)
This is an off-the-top-of-my-head stab at ten books that I think are important to read, written by Ladies. A lot of the texts, but not all, chosen this week explore mother/daughter themes, domesticity, and reproduction, and these themes seem especially prone to being labelled and dismissed as "women's writing". This list is also comprised of many texts that were on the bandwagon of works that treated these subjects seriously, literarily, and as such, are pretty well known.
Each week I'd like to look at some different themes/areas of Women's Lit (again, your suggestions are greatly appreciated!) and add ten more titles to the list, using your suggestions. I think I will do a separate poetry list, unless you have a better idea.
1) Beloved by Toni Morrison
2) The Book of Margery Kempe by Margery Kempe
3) Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
4) To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
5) The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
6) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
7) The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook by Gertrude Stein
8) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
9) Wide Saragasso Sea by Jean Rhys
10) Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen