My last post was about gender bias in reading. I was responding to a list put out by Esquire, 75 Books Every Guy Should Read. The list included one woman, which is utterly absurd.
Even more absurd were the recent comments by VS Naipaul. In an interview with the Royal Geographic Society, Mr. Naipual said there are no women writers who he considers his equal. Apparently female authors are too sentimental for Mr. Naipaul. In fact, Ol' VS insists he can tell if a book was written by a man or a woman in the first one or two paragraphs. Try this little quiz and see if you can too. Full disclosure, I took it this morning and got 5 out of 10.
All this talk of gender and reading this week got me thinking about my favorite books. I admit that many of my favorite books are written by men. Let those of us free of bias throw the first stone. I have read many great books written by women, and I will continue to search out female authors. I am, after all, a work in progress. It seems fitting that this week's Fast Five be my top five books written by women.
5) Case Histories by Kate Atkinson: This is a literary detective novel. The detective, Jackson Brodie, deals with his own family troubles as he investigates three gruesome crimes that ripped families apart.
4) Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison: We follow the protagonist, Milkman, on his journey to find his identity as a black man in 20th-century America. As the title of the book implies, Morrison's writing is truly lyrical.
3) The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri: Immigration is a central theme of this book. A Bengali couple moves to the US, and the story focuses on the religious, social, and ideological conflicts that arise between the parents and their son.
2) Geek Love by Katherine Dunn: This book is twisted, and I mean that in the best way possible. Al and Crystal run a traveling circus. When business goes bad they start breeding their own freak show. As social commentary, this book feels more relevant to me now than it did the first time I read it.
1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This isn't just my favorite book written by a woman, this is my favorite book, period.
Alright people, let's hear it. What are favorite books written by women? Doesn't have to be a full top five, could be just your favorite, whatever works for you. If you happen to take the quiz, I'd also love know how you did.