Tag: ToniMorrison

a scene from the trojan women (1971 film)

9 Books that Represent Women Better Than Female ‘Lord of the Flies’

 

The recent news that William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is getting an all-female remake has, predictably, infuriated a large swath of the internet. Though we maintain our neutrality in this trying time, we do suggest that it never hurts to get lost in a book that honestly explores what women trapped in the throes of war and abandonment truly go through. This is for all you TV and film executives out there–call us! 

 

  1. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

 

the dovekeepers cover

Image Courtesy of amazon.co.uk

 

During the first century of the common era, a war between the Jews of Judea and their Roman overseers broke out, with one group of rebels holding out for years on the sparse mountain of Masada until the bitter, bloody end. Hoffman find her way into the lives of these long dead people by inhabiting the minds of four women—spurned daughters, grieving mothers, fearless warriors, crafty magicians—who forge a path to survival by leaning on each other and themselves.

 

  1. The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich

 

the unwomanly face of war cover

Image Courtesy of Penguin Random House

 

Alexievich, born and raised in the former Soviet Union, has won vast acclaim (and a Nobel Prize) for her intimate oral histories of  critical moments during the long years of communist rule. This 1985 history—only recently translated into English—covers the experiences of the Soviet women who went to war against the Nazi invaders in the brutal days of WWII. They went in girls, mothers, wives; they came out forever marked by what they saw, who they lost, and the camaraderie they had to form to pull through.

 

  1. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn

 

Y: The Last Man cover

Image Courtesy of DC Database

 

Don’t let the title fool you: The Last Man is practically all about the ladies. After a mysterious affliction wipes out virtually every living thing with a Y chromosome in one night, women from all walks of life must find a way to remake a planet newly bereft of half of its population. Some play nice, grabbing the baton of leadership or hunkering down for a scientific solution to the extinction; others play mean, embracing radical violence and cold militarism in the vacuum left by the men. In any case, they do not lose their minds and start worshipping a rotting pig’s head.

 

 

  1. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

half of a yellow sun cover

Image Courtesy of Penguin Random House

It’s the early sixties, and twin sisters Olanna and Kainene represent the new Nigeria: newly independent, vibrant, and endlessly complicated. But when their beloved country is torn apart by a vicious civil war, the sisters must tap into reserves of strength they never knew they had in order to sustain their families and save their own lives. But how much can be lost before the war is over?

 

  1. Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly

 

ten days in a mad house cover

Image Courtesy of AbeBooks

 

Nellie Bly was already on her way to becoming trailblazing reporter in 1887 when she decided to feign insanity in order to investigate the rumored inhumane conditions at a New York City’s women’s mental asylum. The ruse worked perfectly, and Bly was forced to endure the spoiled food, busted sanitation and icy baths that were the norm for unlucky patients. Bly’s exposure of these practices led to a public outcry and brought the brave reporter lasting fame.

 

  1. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

 

the mists of avalon cover

Image Courtesy of AbeBooks

You’ve probably heard of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table: strong, gallant men who went on gallant quests and lived by a strict code of chivalry. But there were women then, too, and Bradley takes pains to make their stories known. Queens, priestesses, and harpists, they influence the prominent men around them while charging their own way into the annals of mythic British history.

 

  1. The Trojan Women by Euripides

 

trojan women cover

Image Courtesy of AbeBooks

 

This one’s an oldie—it was first produced in 415 BCE—but we swear it’s a goodie. While the boys of The Lord of Flies flee a nuclear war created by a patriarchal society, the titular women of this play must pick up the pieces of their city after its total devastation by the Greeks, mourning lost loved ones and fighting through ongoing horrors like slavery and rape. Walking on bare ground when the rug’s been snatched underfoot is never pleasant, but these women, royal and commoner alike, do what must be done .

 

  1. Eclipsed by Danai Gurira

 

eclipsed cover

Image Courtesy of AbeBooks

 

The Second Liberian Civil War was a true hell on earth, especially for the vulnerable women whose bodies were commandeered for the purposes of either sexual slavery or deadly militia service. Eclipsed, by Walking Dead actor/noted playwright Gurira, follows 5 women (4 of them “wives” of a Commanding Officer) wedged between these two unsavory choices. With no good options in sight, the only certain outcome is devastation.

 

  1. Paradise by Toni Morrison

 

paradise cover

Image Courtesy of Amazon

 

In an abandoned mansion in an isolated part of Oklahoma, a group of women form a society completely at odds with the male-dominated town of Ruby not too far away. The two communities quickly clash, sometimes violently. All the while, an even greater threat lurks, threatening to consume them all.

 

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Best Friends Reading

12 Books About Adult Friendship to Read with Your BFF

Originally posted on Early Bird Books

Being a kid is tough, being a teen is tougher, and being an adult is perhaps the toughest of all. But getting through life’s difficult times—and remembering the past—isn’t quite so bad when you have a friend at your side (who is preferably offering dessert and The Golden Girls boxed set). Whether you still keep in touch with your middle school lunch buddies or you’ve just found a pal at the office happy hour, these 12 books pay tribute to the crazy roller coaster rides we take with the families we choose.

 

Summer Friends by Holly Chamberlin

Summer Friends

Delphine is nine-years old when she meets Maggie Weldon, whose cosmopolitan je ne sais quoi couldn’t be more different than her own tomboy flair. They become fast friends despite their differences, growing from young girls to young women before adulthood drives a wedge between them. Both set off on divergent paths—Maggie to marriage and a lucrative career; Delphine, to her family and a quiet independence—until their reunion twenty years later. And after so much time apart, they must reconcile with the women they’ve become and rekindle the bond between the girls they once were. Summer Friends rings with the rosy nostalgia of old friends and old times, making it the perfect read for the sunny days ahead.

 

Hot Flashes by Barbara Raskin

Hot Flashes

Diana, Elaine, Joanne, and Sukie have always been spirited women, but middle-age has swapped their inner fires for old regrets, fading friendships—and unbearable hot flashes. The group is finally brought together by Sukie’s funeral, where they rehash their messy divorces and glamorous careers before finding their late friend’s journal. The discovery leads them down a revelatory path into Sukie’s troubled life, and compels each woman to reflect on the choices they’ve made since girlhood. At times hilarious and poignant, Barbara Raskin’s landmark novel is “a surprisingly jaunty trek through drugs, divorce, diets, drink, leftist politics, sex, stretch marks, station wagons, and wasted talents” (Los Angeles Times).

 

Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym

Jane and Prudence

We’ve all had friends with horrible dating histories, just as we’ve all been pals with well-intentioned meddlers. The protagonists in Jane and Prudence fit both molds. Jane, an eccentric and married 40-something, decides to play matchmaker for her younger, unlucky-in-love bestie, Pru. But while Jane strings her cupid’s bow, Pru wrestles with her growing (and entirely NSFW) feelings for her boss. Often referred to as “the thinking woman’s romance writer”, Barbara Pym’s funny and searing novel about life, love, and friendship will be a new favorite for Jane Austen fans.

 

Now You Know by Susan Kelly

Now You Know

Libba Charles is the brash New Yorker to Frances’ proper Southern gal, and their college friendship has withstood over four decades—and now, even death. Though Libba has achieved literary stardom, she doesn’t exactly have her life together, and so Frances’ dying wish is to have someone watching her back. Bound by their promise to their mother, Frances’ grown daughters join Libba on a mountain sojourn…And three weeks in such close quarters reveals 46 years of secrets—and more about Libba and their mother than they were ever prepared to learn.

 

The Group by Mary McCarthy

The Group

Now that college has come to an end, 8 best friends—known as “The Group” among Vassar’s student body—must bid their farewells. In the years that follow, each of them experiences her own joys and triumphs, mistakes and failures, before reuniting to grieve a sudden tragedy. The Group’s unflinching look at controversial women’s issues like birth control and sexuality made it something of a phenomenon back in 1963, where it spent two years on The New York Times bestseller list. “Juicy shocking, witty, and … continually brilliant,” it’s like the historical equivalent of HBO’s Girls (Cosmopolitan).

 

Female Friends by Fay Weldon

Female Friends

Much has changed since Marjorie, Chloe, and Grace were girls in 1940’s London. Marjorie hides behind her high-powered career instead of facing the demons of her past. Chloe is stuck in a toxic relationship, and Grace, newly widowed, has dived headlong into the arms of a younger man. Fay Weldon doesn’t shy away from the uglier sides of friendship—it isn’t always fun-loving, gossipy lunches—or what it’s like to be a woman in a patriarchal society. But no matter what, the three friends know, that when push comes to shove, they can lean on each other for support.

 

Talk by Linda Rosenkrantz

Talk

Nowadays, there are social media accounts like Overheard New York dedicated to sharing bits of overheard conversations—and if Talk were published today, it’d have no problem making the cut. Linda Rosencrantz’s novel is a “hilariously irreverent” dialogue between three best friends in 1965 (Flavorwire). And for Emily, Vincent, and Marsha, nothing is off-limits. Though the novel spans a single day at the beach, the girls’ biting commentary on sex, drugs, shrinks and art give a well-rounded view of them as individuals, while capturing the uncensored honesty among close friends.

 

Small Changes by Marge Piercy

Small Changes

Small Changes “speaks to the totality of a woman’s experience” during the rise of second-wave feminism, as its protagonists, Beth and Miriam, navigate womanhood during the 1970’s (Washington Post). Reeling from failed marriages and dashed careers, the pair become outspoken activists, protesting the Vietnam War and championing women’s rights. What results is more than an exploration of female bonds, but of femaleness itself. Like her novel Woman on the Edge of Time or her poem “Barbie Doll,” Small Changes crackles with Marge Piercy’s strong feminist voice to ultimately pose questions about marriage, sexuality, and the true differences between men and women.

 

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

The Interestings

“The Interestings” were bright, young things when they first met as teenagers at a performing arts camp. Fast forward several years, and they’ve come to realize that their so-called “specialness” hasn’t carried over into adulthood. Only two have made it big since their art camp days, while the others have given up their dreams for more practical careers. Meg Wolitzer’s New York Times bestseller spans 40 years of friendship—touching on modern history like the AIDs epidemic and 9/11—as it explores the roles of money, power, and envy in our dearest relationships.

 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life

Don’t let the page count discourage you! Hanya Yanagihara’s Man Booker Prize finalist was voted one of the best books of 2016 by The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and more. It’s little wonder—no book in recent memory has captured the beauty of brotherly bonds quite like the story of Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm. Their struggles with sexuality, race, addiction, and personal trauma is an ode to the redemptive powers of love and “a wrenching portrait of the enduring grace of friendship” (NPR).

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns

In his bestselling follow-up to The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini “shows us the interior lives of the anonymous women” in war-torn Afghanistan (USA Today). Among them, are Miriam and Laila, whose unexpected but unique bond is a source of strength amidst constant danger. As it unfolds, A Thousand Splendid Suns becomes a multi-generational story of sacrifice and friendship anchored by two stunning female characters whose love survives impossible odds.

 

Sula by Toni Morrison

Sula

Sula and Nel grew up in a small Ohio town, poor but dreaming of brighter days. Though they shared everything as children, their lives run different courses when Sula manages to escape their struggling black community, “The Bottom”, for big-city life. By the time Sula returns, she’s become an outsider, scorned for her independence by everyone she’s ever known—even Nel. Toni Morrison’s “extravagantly beautiful” novel portrays the evolution of Sula and Nel’s community over the course of 40 years and charts their friendship against the backdrop of family, race, and social class (The New York Times).

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