The Browser had a fantastic interview with Erica Jong who discusses and contextualizes 5 books she would recommend on Women, Feminism and Life.

Making this list are 2novels and 3non-fiction:

A Woman Born, by Adrienne Rich
The Female Eunuch, by Germaine Greer
The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley and
The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir.

It’s worth reading the interview to get a sense of why these five were selected. Frankenstein, for example, is suggested as a reminder of the role a woman played in launching the Gothic Horror genre: “we never give credit to the fact that women have started whole genres of fiction”, but Jong also reflects on the book in the context of all the babies Shelley lost and some of her struggles as a woman.

Clearly these aren’t the only 5, nor does Jong ascribe them faultless status- she disagrees with Simone de Beauvoir’s take on the made woman (as opposed to being born woman) and with some of Germain Greers more recent contributions to debate. But I have decided to get these on my look out list for the next visit to a second hand haven. In discussing Lessing’s book Jong refers to the historical absence of female heroines that are both intelligent and sexual- full characters, as it were. And this reminded me of a quote by Joss Wheddon:


How true is it that we still lack strong female characters in mainstream literature? For my own part, the fantastic female characters in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, played a big role in my enjoyment of the books, you could even even add Kay Scarpetta from Patricia Corwell’s crime novels. These weren’t roles that came at the expense of male characters but rather added richness and texture to often one-dimensional portrayals of women in fiction, and that made everything more interesting. Any other suggestions for books along this vein?

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