Friday, February 14, 2014

14 in ’14 on the 14th

Happy Valentine's Day!

In 2014, many readers are focusing on reading women writers, to help morally and practically support women in literature. 

Here’s a great list in the#readwomen2014 movement, by Sarah J. Sloat at her blog, the rain in my purse.

And here’s a list of 14 books (fiction and non-fiction) I recommend:

The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell*
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Home by Marilynne Robinson
Bossypants by Tina Fey (laugh out loud funny and very wise)
Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber (science writing)
The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought by Marilynne Robinson
My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro**
The People stories by Zenna Henderson (in whatever gathering you can find)***

*If you read The Sparrow, you’ll probably also want to read Children of God, the sequel. The Sparrow stands alone, but readers asked her to keep going.

**Despite its awkward title, this is one of my faves by Munro. (I recommend any book of her short stories; I haven’t read her two most recent books yet, so I should read those in 2014!)

***I discovered Zenna Henderson in 1972 when I was living in London, though she was from Tucson, Arizona. I was in my science fiction phase of adolescence and missing the USA. While I usually read “literary” fiction or mainstream fiction, I love that I have science fiction at the top and the bottom of my list, which came out in no particular order! Just favorites over time.

I love short stories, so I also recommend Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, and Edith Wharton, but above I was going for mostly contemporary writers. In the list above, the books by Strout, Munro, Henderson, and Lahiri are short stories (linked stories in Olive Kitteridge and in The People series, separate volumes or collected). I’ve read a jillion novels by Anne Tyler. I love her for her compassion and natural storytelling. Try Breathing Lessons, too. The Accidental Tourist.

Maybe I’ll do a separate list of books of poetry by women, or two lists—recommended and on a personal “to read” list. Likewise, I should do a “to read” list connected to 1) book group and/or 2) ambitious reading plans for 2014. One of my ambitions is to finish Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I love it, it’s just long!

I do recommend other books by these authors, and perhaps I shouldn’t have put Marilynne Robinson in there three times, but her works really stick with me. Gilead and Home are novels that look at the same community and characters from different perspectives, at a quiet, steady pace in a rich and thoughtful prose style. The Death of Adam shows Robinson’s profundity as a thinker and her scholarship. She is a great writer of our time.


Karen J. Weyant said...

Kathleen -- I have seen this movement around the blogging world, and because I am an avid reader, I thought wow -- 14 books by women, that should not be hard. Then, (because I keep a booklist of what I do read), I looked at what I have read this year. So far, in 2014, I have read 18 books (mixture of memoir, chapbooks, novels, nature writing, and poetry collections). Only four have been by women! That is surprising to me this means I have to get moving and read more women writers.

Kathleen said...

Hey, thanks for commenting and for tallying! It's good that we pay attention to these things. I am in a women's book group, and we began with the intention of reading fiction by women. We branched out into fiction and non-fiction by men sometimes but in 2014 I think we are going to stick with women again!

I read a lot of men writers, too, and probably writers whose gender I don't actually know.

SarahJane said...

Love your list and taking notes! I confess that I have not read a book by a woman yet this year, but the year is young.

Kathleen said...

I wish I kept better track of my own personal list, but I think I've read 10 books so far in 2014, all by women! Some were poetry, and some were for reviewing!

Kim said...

My new year's resolutions included reading To Kill a Mockingbird (seen the movie many times, hadn't read the book) and I did that in January. The rest of my resolutions won't be so enjoyable.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott said...

What a great list. I'm happy to say I've read most of the books on your list. I am realizing I need to be more international/multicultural. I haven't read anything by Lahiri yet; her new book is on my list.