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80 Books Every

Person Should
Read
We invited eight female literary powerhouses,
from Michiko Kakutani to Anna Holmes to Roxane
Gay, to help us create an updated list of books
everyone should read. Each participant made 10
picks. It's a new year, a new Esquire.com. We're
looking forward to reading and we hope you are,
too.
BY ESQUIRE EDITORS
JAN 5, 2016

What can we say? We messed up. Our list of "80 Books
Every Man Should Read," published several years ago, was
rightfully called out for its lack of diversity in both authors
and titles. So we invited eight female literary
powerhouses, from Michiko Kakutani to Anna Holmes to
Roxane Gay, to help us create a new list. Each participant
made 10 picks. It's a new year, a new Esquire.com. We're
looking forward to reading and we hope you are, too.

01 OF 88

Michiko Kakutani,
@michikokakutani
Chief book critic for The New York Times, Pulitzer Prize
winner, and perhaps the only person on earth with the guts
to call the work of Philip Roth "flimsy" and that of John
Updike "cringe-making."

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02 OF 88 The Great Gatsby. –MK . Scott Fitzgerald The author's darkly luminous masterpiece: the original novel about the American Dream—and the most beautifully written. ever. by F.

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–MK . by Toni Morrison The horrors of slavery are made harrowingly real in a remarkable novel that possesses the intimacy of real life and the epic power of myth.03 OF 88 Beloved.

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by Gabriel Garcia Marquez The master of magical realism conjured the town of Macondo. –MK . and in doing so.04 OF 88 One Hundred Years of Solitude. mythologized the history of an entire continent. where the miraculous and the monstrous are equally part of daily life.

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fierce book helped remake the modern novel and influenced generations of writers to come. by William Faulkner In recounting the story of one woman's death and her burial from multiple points of view.05 OF 88 As I Lay Dying. this short. –MK .

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by Don DeLillo The story of one man and one family that is also the story of what happened to America in the second half of the 20th century.06 OF 88 Underworld. –MK .

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prismatic tales about the lives of girls and women that possess the amplitude of novels. and the emotional precision of Chekhov.07 OF 88 Selected Stories Of Alice Munro Piercing. –MK .

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–MK . by Thomas Pynchon A buddy movie starring the British surveyors who mapped the boundary between North and South in pre- Revolutionary America and a dazzling post-modernist confection that emerges as the author's most affecting novel yet.08 OF 88 Mason & Dixon.

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09 OF 88 The Stories Of Vladimir Nabokov A glittering collection of tales animated by the author's fascination with the magical transactions of art and the indelible losses of exile. –MK .

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10 OF 88 The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao. –MK . by Junot Diaz A funny. street-smart portrait of a second-generation Dominican geek that unfolds into a vibrant meditation on public and private history.

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awkward. spirited girl named Meg Murry who travels through time and space to find her missing scientist father and save the universe. by Madeleine L'Engle A children's classic that—back in the 1960's—gave the world a science fiction heroine: a bright.11 OF 88 A Wrinkle In Time. –MK .

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12 OF 88

Lauren Groff, @legroff
Author of three novels, including President
Obama's favorite book of 2015, Fates and Furies.

13 OF 88

Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko
Ceremony is one of the great (and under appreciated)
American novels. Silko writes with tremendous power,
rage, and range of violence, Pueblo myth and a veteran's
recovery.
–LG

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–LG . there burns a great indignation and condemnation of the way the powerful prey on the weak in society. crisp and funny voice of Grace Paley.14 OF 88 The Collected Stories of Grace Paley Under the seductive.

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15 OF 88 Middlemarch. In a crowded field of novels about small towns and marriage and idealism. –LG . it remains the best. by George Eliot This novel has the most capacious vision of humanity that I know of.

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In Giovanni's Room. a book so far ahead of its time that America is still catching up to it. it would have been a shoo-in. –LG . published in 1956.16 OF 88 Giovanni's Room. Baldwin wrote gorgeously of a homosexual relationship in Paris. by James Baldwin I could have chosen Baldwin's essay collections The Fire Next Time or Notes of a Native Son. if his absolutely great short story "Sonny's Blues" were a stand-alone book.

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It is also hilarious.17 OF 88 Autobiography of Red. profound Classical knowledge. She has spiny brilliance. a demon in love with Herakles. –LG . and an astonishing ability to slide between genres. Autobiography of Red is both a deeply affecting book-length poem about Geryon. by Anne Carson Anne Carson is my pick for greatest living writer.

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characters. by Leo Tolstoy In Anna Karenina. –LG . and political ideas than most shelves of books do. Tolstoy wrote one of the greatest works of synthesis in prose history: this novel pretends to be about a few braided love-stories but it contains more themes.18 OF 88 Anna Karenina.

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19 OF 88 The Complete Poems. wild. implosive things. She will always be relentlessly modern. and is one of the parents of modern American poetry. by Emily Dickinson Dickinson's poems are sharp. –LG .

20 OF 88

Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
If Dickinson, with her compression, is one parent of
modern American poetry, Whitman is the other parent,
working in the expansive, wild, roaming, explosive vein.
–LG

the longer one looks at it. and is told through the repeated reimagining of a murder the narrator knew of as a boy.21 OF 88 So Long. –LG . by William Maxwell This novel has the most stunning architecture. the more powerful and moving it becomes. a structure that. See You Tomorrow. The story is about loss and grief.

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22 OF 88 Tristram Shandy. by Laurence Sterne This was one of the first modern novels ever written. –LG . and remains one of the funniest and most experimental: there is almost nothing in the most out-there of modern prose that Sterne didn't do first.

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essayist. and one of 2015's biggest success stories.23 OF 88 Sloane Crosley. . @askanyone Novelist.

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or because it's illuminating about human depravity.24 OF 88 In Cold Blood. But I like to read it for the chilling bit when Capote notices the different types of handwriting in Nancy Clutter's diary and imagines her trying on selves. by Truman Capote You can read it to witness the beginnings of New Journalism. wondering: "Is this Nancy?" –SC . or because it's arguably Capote's finest work.

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just a little. there was this—and sure." –SC . I. She is the ultimate cool and keen-eyed observer of the human condition. she always leaves a gift for the reader. and of gracefully merciless self-examination.25 0f 88 Slouching Towards Bethlehem. by Joan Didion Before the Didion craze. Though. as ferocious and important as her topics are. of America. of her essay "Goodbye to All That. cannot eat a peach or turn on the air conditioning without thinking. there was a lot before this—but Slouching Towards Bethlehem is where to start with Joan Didion. for instance.

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26 OF 88

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
She's French but she doesn't have to be. She is any reality-
challenged newlywed. This first novel (Flaubert really
knocked it out of the park) is an absolute masterpiece
about what happens when humans feel bored and trapped,
when they emotionally chew off their own shapely legs.
–SC

27 of 88
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship,
Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro
Alice Munro is a national treasure, and technically that
nation is Canada, but philosophically it's The People's
Republic of Everybody. It's therefore difficult to pick out
her strongest collection or to have the gall to pick, but I'd
go with this one. They are about aging and love and
marriage and life itself. I can't envision a reader who
wouldn't be changed for the better by reading Alice Munro.
–SC

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28 0f 88 The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield Katherine Mansfield is not required reading to be a person—but passion and point of view are—and since Mansfield is one of my personal favorites. I am going to foist her on you. But clever. –SC . "The Doll's House" is one of my favorite short stories of all time and just to prove it. She's a bit like a New Zealand Edith Wharton with a sprinkling of Jane Austen and John Cheever. I named the heroine of my first novel after a character in that story.

29 OF 88 .

The Group is a seminal. Every woman should read it to know themselves. socioeconomic status and influencing whole genres of contemporary fiction — all while being a total blast to read. friendship. by Mary McCarthy Do you have to read a novel with a character named "Priss" to be a better person? Kind of.The Group. focusing on gender politics. yeah. massively vital book written ahead of its time (it was banned here and there) and yet very much of its time. every man should read it to know who they're dealing with. –SC .

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by Lorrie Moore If you're not in love with Lorrie Moore. "People Like That Are The Only People Here" is worth the price of admission alone.30 0f 88 Birds of America. as it's one of the most powerful and important short stories (about love and loneliness and motherhood and death) of this century. I worry for you. as if you've been in need of a hearing aid for years and you didn't know it. –SC . You will hear people speak differently after reading this book.

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And then another. I'd say this is a novel about having a family at all. Just that. But not in the Cormac McCarthy way. –SC . The God of Small Thingsreveals the beauty and grace possible in the darkness like no other novel I have ever read. about the motivations within the structured microcosm of society that is a family. by Arundhati Roy Peppered and pierced with tragedy. this book is a blow to the heart. And then another. If forced to boil it down.31 0f 88 The God of Small Things. I both envy and pity the early editors and reviewers who had the task of describing this novel for the first time.

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by Chinua Achebe I heard Chimamada Adichie speak about Things Fall Apartseveral years ago. her books were filled with bouncing blond British girls and that she "didn't know people who looked like me could be in books" until she read Things Fall Apart. –SC .32 of 88 Things Fall Apart. archetypical African novel will pale in comparison to that. She said that as a young girl in Nigeria. Whatever I say about this perfect.

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33 OF 88 Frankenstein. Which is depressingly telling about what we chose to latch onto. And at his gothic artificial heart. he represents a blank slate. –SC . by Mary Shelley What better way to learn how to be a person than to whip one up? Frankenstein's monster is the all-time most enduring image to cross from literature to pop culture and back.

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. @rgay Essayist. self-professed bad feminist. novelist.34 OF 88 Roxane Gay.

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35 OF 88 Citizen. by Claudia Rankine Rankine defies genre and writes honestly and relentlessly about being black in modern America. This book is necessary in every sense of the word. –RG .

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36 of 88 Balm. and a widow who can speak to the dead searches for solace. by Dolen Perkins-Valdez I am always looking for interesting and. In this gorgeously written novel. Perkins-Valdez writes of life after slavery and the Civil War as a man tries to find his beloved wife. –RG . a woman seeks a life for herself away from the mother and aunts who didn't know how to see her. more importantly. original stories about slavery.

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I forget time and place. It's thrilling to see how fearless Smith is. by Zadie Smith Whenever Smith writes London. –RG . taking all kinds of narrative risks throughout while also telling an unforgettable story about identity.37 0f 88 NW. That is no different in NW. an ambitious and audacious novel about four people as they grow up beyond the confines of the council estate where they were raised.

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and another sister who tries to mend the fractures in her family before it's too late. Catherine Chung writes of a displaced family.38 OF 88 Forgotten Country. by Catherine Chung In her debut novel. –RG . a sister harboring the kind of secret too many girls know too well.

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39 OF 88 Play It As It Lays. this would be it but then. Didion takes things further. by Joan Didion If there is a consummate Los Angeles novel. to a complex and dark place where a woman's choices are painfully constrained by the whims of men. as with all her writing. –RG .

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a butch lesbian trying to make a way through the world in a body few people are interested in understanding. this novel also reveals hard truths about working class America at the mid-century. Few books have stayed with me more. Feinberg explores the life of Jess Goldberg. by Leslie Feinberg In this moving novel. In addition to tackling sexuality and gender identity.40 of 88 Stone Butch Blues. –RG .

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deeply engaged storytelling. by Alice Walker Alice Walker manages to take on the very political issue of female genital mutilation while never losing sight of the power of fierce.41 OF 88 Possessing the Secret of Joy. –RG .

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42 OF 88

The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
A young man grapples with his mother's rape in a most
unexpected, powerful and haunting coming of age story.
–RG

43 OF 88

The Age of Innocence, by Edith
Wharton
Edith Wharton is my favorite writer and I live for her
wicked social commentary wrapped in a torrid but well-
mannered story of forbidden love. You haven't seen
passion until you read how Wharton's WASPs stare
longingly at each other.
–RG

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Duras is simply exquisite from the first word to the last. –RG .44 OF 88 The Lover. She imbues her prose with the damp heat of Indochina and the fraught tension of forbidden love and never forgets how beautiful words can be when arranged just so. by Marguerite Duras There are few novels more sensuous and troubling and magnetic than The Lover.

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.45 OF 88 Lizzie Widdicombe. @widdikombe Staff writer and editor at The New Yorker.

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–LW . They devour them in all-night binges. They go down like a warm drink of crystal meth. sex. coming to work bleary-eyed and strung out.46 of 88 The Neapolitan Novels. class? To read them is to remember that the best books are a little harrowing. Start with the Neapolitan Novels. by Elena Ferrante An observation: People don't seem to merely read Elena Ferrante's novels. What's her secret? Is it that propulsive voice? The way she brings up thoughts you'd never dared to name—about friendships.

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it's about one of the prince's forebears. Set during the unification of Italy. It's a masterpiece. The book's most famous line is spoken by the prince's savvy." In this age of "disruption. –LW . by Tomasi di Lampedusa Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was a Sicilian prince who died in 1957. a wry nobleman who struggles to keep his household afloat while a new order rises.47 of 88 The Leopard. it seems even more apt. Tancredi: "If we want things to stay as they are. leaving behind an unpublished novel—the only one he ever wrote. things will have to change. gold-digging nephew." as the revolutions keep coming.

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the tattooed harpooner Queequeg. of course. Flask. by Herman Melville Like the whale itself. deranged adventure with a group of nineteenth-century sailors. And its reputation: the Leviathan of American literature! But crack open the first chapter (no CliffsNotes!) and you may be surprised by how fun it is to listen to the warm.48 of 88 Moby Dick. with its colorful crew: Starbucks." Yes. whom Melville describes as "George Washington cannibalistically developed. it's an epic about man's struggle with God and fate. but it's also a bawdy. –LW . Ishmael—and how fascinating it is to spend time in the lost world of Pequod. and. this book's sheer size is scary. chatty voice of Melville's narrator.

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–LW . but don't go through life without reading Heartburn.49 of 88 Heartburn. Lemons become lemon soufflé. by Nora Ephron Moby Dick it ain't. The whole book is funny. but the scene where Rachel's therapy group gets held up by a mugger is one of the most pants-peeingly hilarious in American literature. To the list of great narrators we have to add Rachel Samstat. Ephron's wisecracking cookbook author. who is seven months pregnant when her husband informs her that he's in love with another woman.

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the petty intrigues of the faculty. and the students' adolescent excesses. As you laugh at Miss Brodie's outrageous dictums.50 of 88 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. disappointing marriages. and the finer points of Fascism. by Muriel Spark Miss Jean Brodie. Renaissance painting. How can a book so savagely funny be so wrenchingly. etc. occasionally fast-forwarding to the girls' futures: fiery deaths. Putting aside the official curriculum. you may be surprised to notice a lump forming in your throat. Spark assumes a God-like voice. the fact that she is in her "prime" (whatever that means). heartbreakingly sad? –LW . has some unorthodox teaching methods. of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls. she tutors a hand-picked group of students on important topics like her love life.

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An independent thinker determined to marry for love. My parents liked her so much.51 OF 88 Pride and Prejudice. Darcy! –LW . Bring on Mr. by Jane Austen Has there ever been a more wonderful heroine than Elizabeth "Lizzy" Bennett? Witty yet sensible. fiercely principled yet vulnerable and kind. they named me after her.

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strange novel about two orphaned sisters being raised by a "drifter" aunt in a forgotten town called Fingerbone. it rings in your ears. she wrote this short. –LW . by Marilynne Robinson Twenty-five years before Marilynne Robinson won a Pulitzer Prize for Gilead (and acquired a superfan named Barack Obama).52 of 88 Housekeeping. We're all drifters. A hypnotic meditation on the transience of life and love.

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Along with the unforgettable characters—Scout. by Harper Lee The publication of Go Set a Watchman. Sound familiar? That's why it's a national treasure. or is it a rough draft?—sowed confusion about everyone's favorite 8th grade reading assignment. –LW . But it also drew attention to uneasy mixture at the heart of this book. Boo Radley—it depicts a small-town South where tenderness.53 of 88 To Kill a Mockingbird. last year— Mockingbird's sequel. humor. and charming eccentricity flourish alongside vicious racism.

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–LW .54 OF 88 To the Lighthouse. by Virginia Woolf A book about an accomplished London family on vacation in the Scottish Hebrides who plan to make a trip to a nearby lighthouse. and time—and what comes after. consciousness. And the obliterating forces of war. But it's by Virginia Woolf. death. so it's really about life. and the problem of rendering them in art.

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pressed to answer this question. Certainly not most French women writing in the 1950s. from diet to governance.D. by Marguerite Yourcenar What's the world's greatest love story? Most people. –LW . would probably not point to a fifty-eight-year-old Roman emperor's passion for a Greek boy. And more: She collapsed time.55 of 88 Memoirs of Hadrian. with The Memoirs of Hadrian. Yourcenar made exactly that case. And yet. circa 175 A.000 years ago thought and felt just as deeply as we do about big and little subjects. showing how a man who lived 2.

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@annaholmes New York Times columnist and founder of Jezebel. .56 OF 88 Anna Holmes.

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and a sobering reminder that the war on women is as characteristic of the future as the past and present. by Margaret Atwood Margaret Atwood's classic of dystopian fiction may be some 30 years old but its depiction of a society driven apart by terrorism and reconstituted as an ultra- conservative Christian theocracy where women have little to no rights at all feels as relevant today as it did when it was published back in 1985. –AH .57 of 88 The Handmaid's Tale.

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58 of 88 The Liars' Club. elegant. Mary Karr's The Liars Club is an important work that is at turns personal and political. alcoholism and thwarted artistic ambitions. funniest memoirs of the late 20th century. One of the most brutal. –AH . and a potent combination of toxic masculinity. by Mary Karr This book was a bestseller for a reason. the story of a Texas childhood marked by anguish. and yes. adventure.

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by Toni Morrison My favorite of Toni Morrison's books. grace. this 1977 masterpiece is possibly the most powerful and moving contemporary American meditation on family. and better than Beloved. –AH . and humiliations of American history.59 OF 88 Song of Solomon. masculinity.

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–AH .60 of 88 Parting the Waters.000+ page Parting the Waters marries the seriousness of scholarship with the power of great storytelling to tell the tale of a group of principled and courageous men and women who make one proud to be an American. the 1. by Taylor Branch The Civil Rights Movement was much more than just boycotts of buses and lunch counters and confrontations with white supremacists. The first in Taylor Branch's 3 volumes on the life and work Martin Luther King.

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corruption and domestic politics in early 20th century New York City. Love. class. –AH .L..L. by E.61of 88 Ragtime.. race. Doctorow's 1975 work of historical fiction set in and around the corridors of power. Doctorow Past becomes present in E. war. economic mobility. gender. sex. immigration. Doctorow's ambitions with this work are no less than explaining the very idea of America to itself.

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The White Album harnesses Didion's skill at capturing the tensions and obsessions of mid-to-late 20th century California and amps up the existential ennui another notch as she tries to make sense of the chaos of everything from politics to contemporary consumer culture. Though less-celebrated than 1968's Slouching Towards Bethlehem." the essayist and critic chronicles what life felt like after the center fell apart." In "Album. in "Bethlehem. "The center cannot hold. quoting Yeats. –AH . by Joan Didion "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Didion wrote." begins this 1979 collection of Joan Didion essays.62 of 88 The White Album.

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by Charlotte Perkins Gilman Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1892 classic is less book than short story but it remains a devastating must-read. political and physical restraints imposed on women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. emotional. And also for the manner in which it depicts the ways in which mental illness so often goes hand in hand with lack of liberty.63 of 88 The Yellow Wallpaper. not least for the way in which it outlines the spiritual. artistic. economic. –AH .

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an exploration of gender politics and female independence at a time in which the freedoms of women were intimately. as always.64 of 88 Sense and Sensibility. constrained by the ways in which they depended on males for economic assistance and security. but Austen. approaches these and other issues with an acute sensitivity and ear for comedy that elevates an explication of the frustrating social and economic constraints of one half of the population to a work of art. Sounds like sad stuff. and often tragically. and like so many of her others. –AH . by Jane Austen Austen's best book.

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the American spirit.65 of 88 The Warmth of Other Suns. by Isabel Wilkerson One of the finest works of American history published in the 21st century. Told through the stories of three Southerners who left the Jim Crow South to make new lives elsewhere. –AH . Midwest and and Western states over the course of about six decades of the 20th century. meticulously researched and beautifully-written epic that should be on the shelf of anyone who loves. Isabel Wilkerson's 600+ page book chronicles the massive migration of African-Americans out of the American south and into the Northeast. it is a sweeping. and wants to further understand.

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and this. admittedly. opinionated. by Louise Fitzhugh Children's books are not just for children. anticipates and reflects second wave feminism with its loving depiction of a loud. curious. –AH . the greatest chapter book about a young girl ever written. sometimes off-putting—self.66 OF 88 Harriet the Spy. tomboy living on New York's Upper East Side who rejects the performance of femininity in favor of an authentic—and.

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67 OF 88 Camille Perri @camilleperri Cosmopolitan's at-large books editor and writer of the forthcoming The Assistants. .

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by Patti Smith It's already the stuff of legend: A rock star's uniquely lyrical first book of prose that went on to win the National Book Award for its honest and moving depiction of youth and friendship and its remarkable illustration of New York in the sixties and seventies. why the heck not? –CP . If you haven't already read Just Kids.68 OF 88 Just Kids.

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but I don't think we should entirely dismiss the novel that helped fuel the Civil War by making the political personal. by Harriet Beecher Stowe It has obvious flaws and must be considered in context by the modern reader (James Baldwin's essays make an excellent critical companion).69 OF 88 Uncle Tom's Cabin. –CP .

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part Gothic horror story. by Charlotte Bronte Part Bildungsroman. –CP . Jane Eyrerevolutionized the novel. the struggle to strike a balance between love and freedom never gets old. social class. featuring then-radical opinions on religion. Plus.70 OF 88 Jane Eyre. and gender.

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" published in Ms. –CP . American Southern literature. social.71of 88 Their Eyes Were Watching God. "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston. Magazine in 1975) and how the novel has contributed to countless literary traditions (Harlem Renaissance literature. American feminist literature)—the real reason everyone should read Their Eyes Were Watching God is that it's a damn good book. by Zora Neale Hurston Put aside the historical. and political issues surrounding this novel (check out Walker's essay.

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pared-down prose and characters you won't soon forget.72 OF 88 A Thousand Years Of Good Prayers. –CP . by Yiyun Li The stories in this stellar collection document China's turbulent history and transformation from a Marxist dictatorship into one of the world's fastest growing economies using beautiful. Everyone should be reading Yiyun Li.

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–CP . and masochism— without ever moralizing—better than Gaitskill. addiction. It started with this debut short-story collection and has continued in all her work thereafter.73 OF 88 Bad Behavior. by Mary Gaitskill Nobody writes about the abhorrent things men and women do to each other. about sex.

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74 of 88 Bastard Out Of Carolina. –CP . Read it because Allison is a rare and special talent. do yourself a favor and watch any interview with her on YouTube. A story about family violence and incest. If you've never had the pleasure of hearing her speak about writing or literature. it's understandably intense and surprisingly funny. You will be moved and reminded of why you like books in the first place. by Dorothy Allison This semi-autobiographical first novel was a bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award.

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75 OF 88 The Ballad Of The Sad Café. but Ballad depicts the irrational nature of love and an ill-fated love triangle better than any story I've ever read. –CP . by Carson McCullers The go-to McCullers is usually The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Also: it's quite possibly the best-titled novella of all time.

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–CP . willful young women who will likely turn out to be writers.76 OF 88 Little Women. She's the ideal early blueprint for strong. by Louisa May Alcott In a word: Jo-Effing-March.

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77 of 88 The Best Of Everything. see if you can catch Don reading this book in an effort to better understand the desires of young American women. And later in season one. by Rona Jaffe Before The Group. For kicks. there was this iconic novel about ambitious career women in New York City. before Valley of the Dolls. You will be amazed. and way before Sex and the City. read it and then watch the Mad Men pilot. –CP .

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ELLE. and others. @iSmashFizzle Contributor to BuzzFeed. .78 OF 88 Ashley Ford.

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by Jo Ann Beard In this one collection.79 OF 88 The Boys of My Youth. I found the rhyme and reason for why I choose to write in this genre. –AF . is utterly life-changing." just one of these essays. "The Fourth State of Matter.

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by Lidia Yuknavitch You've never read a memoir quite like this.80 OF 88 The Chronology of Water. Yuknavitch's prose is stunning and vibrant. even as she tackles tough moments. and the uglier facts of life. –AF .

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81 OF 88 Fun Home. trust me. –AF . by Alison Bechdel Even though it's been adapted into a hit Broadway musical. you want to read the story of Bechdel's childhood in book form first.

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friendship. –AF .82 OF 88 Sula. and what women are routinely asked to carry in their bodies and on their backs. by Toni Morrison The renowned story of convention in direct opposition to independence.

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83 OF 88 The Color Purple. and what we mean when we say "sister. by Alice Walker This is a necessary read." –AF . If you've never read The Color Purple. you're missing out on some of the greatest literature of our time. not to mention a uniquely black look at poverty. beauty.

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–AF . by Roxane Gay This novel is brutal in its telling. It makes every emotion you already experience a little more real. especially women. and forces empathy and understanding for those who have experienced trauma.84 OF 88 An Untamed State. This isn't another sad story.

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and enduring courage to live a full life of authenticity as a trans woman of color. brilliance. –AF .85 OF 88 Redefining Realness. by Janet Mock Reading Mock's book is like taking her hand and allowing her to guide you into a world where you have intimate access to her pain.

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by Tayari Jones This gorgeous novel provides a gracious look into the not- so-distant past. and gives us a full view into life. and secrets that ultimately define our lives.86 OF 88 Silver Sparrow. love. –AF .

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87 OF 88 Shadowshaper. but when you add the fantastical elements from authoer Older's imagination. you have a masterpiece that defies the status quo in surprising and pioneering ways. by Daniel José Older The existence of a young adult novel with an afro-latina teen girl for a protagonist is already reason to cheer. –AF .

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womanhood. it will. by Sharon Creech Say what you want about literature meant for children. –AF . and grief is more nuanced than most books meant for adults. but the way this book deals with girlhood.88 OF 88 Walk Two Moons. If you allow it to blow your mind.

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