“The list made me think there should be another, with some of the same books, called 80 Books No Woman Should Read, though of course I believe everyone should read anything they want. I just think some books are instructions on why women are dirt or hardly exist at all except as accessories or are inherently evil and empty. Or they’re instructions in the version of masculinity that means being unkind and unaware, that set of values that expands out into violence at home, in war, and by economic means. ”
i love how she’s responding to esquire’s ‘the 80 best books every man should read’ as if these books are defining masculinity and instructing men on how to be men. and if these books are to be read as ‘instructions’ or as ‘definitions’ of masculinity then there are books that no woman should read. some books are instructions on why women are pieces of shit that only deserve to be seen as objects or as flat empty characters representing evil. or some books are instructions to men on how to be unkind and unaware as if that is a version of masculinity that needs to be embraced if you’re a real man. if you’re a woman and feel like reading a book to figure out what it means to be a woman, to figure out how to be, then there are certain books that can’t be read in that way because they’re going to make you feel awful and anxious and worthless.
here are some books that i’ve read and re-read over the years that have given me ideas of how humans, and especially women, can be strong and awesome and clever and analytical and vulnerable and emotional and fucked up all at the same time.
Hard Laughter – Anne Lamott
Home Cooking – Laurie Colwin
A Ring of Endless Light – Madeleine L’Engle
Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
I Love Dick – Chris Kraus
The White Album – Joan Didion
“Day-old Baby Rats” – Julie Hayden
A Room with a View – EM Forster
Inferno – Eileen Myles
All the books by Elena Ferrante
The Master and the Margherita – Mikhail Bulgakov
I Remember – Joe Brainard
‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ – Nathaniel Hawthorne