Thursday, June 7, 2012

10 Books Every Girl Should Read in Her Twenties

I came across this post of 10 Books Every Girl Should Read in Her Twenties and, like many commenters, felt that I could make a much better list. Here is her list, and then my revisions. I tried to select replacements based on theme or category, but I wasn't always successful, so don't give yourself a headache trying to understand my logic if it doesn't make sense.
  1. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic, #1) by Sophie Kinsella
    DROP -- What a banal, frustrating book. Maybe, as someone who doesn't really lose her shit over designer scarves, I wasn't the target audience for this one, but
    reading this nearly gave me an anxiety attack. I just wanted to grab her and shake her and tell her stop spending all of her damn money. Anyway, I'm really not sure why this would appear on a "must-read" list, other than it's generally a go-to for chick-lit. But I think we can do much better: my suggestion? Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. I'll stick with the British chick-lit for this particular entry; without getting too much into it, Bridget Jones is superior in so many ways. The humor is funnier, the romance is more believable and better, the protagonist is more interesting, and the quality of the writing outmatches Shopahaolic completely.

  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    KEEP -- this is fine.

  3. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
    DROP -- I haven't read it, so I can't really recommend or caution against it, but the premise kind of sounds a bit like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, minus the pants. So, I'll pass. Instead, I'll recommend Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This also follows a group of friends throughout their lifetimes, but there is a heartbreaking and riveting twist. It's quality writing AND a page-turner.

  4. The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank
    KEEP -- also fine. Funny short stories.

  5. Bitches on a Budget: Sage Advice for Surviving Tough Times in Style by Rosalyn Hoffman
    DROP -- another one I haven't read, so I can't say either way. Again, though, the premise kind of makes me gag. It looks like someone turned the "Look for Less" section in Cosmo into a whole book. Sound financial advice is probably always a good thing, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that what women DON'T need is more recommendations about how to chase fashion, even frugally. Instead, I think women should give something new a shot and read more books that have nothing to do with fashion. Try Neverwhere or Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Both are fanciful and imaginative, with interesting female leads or co-leads.

  6. What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins
    KEEP -- I've never read this, but it sounds fine. A collection of letters from a variety of different professional women, espousing wisdom. Cool.

  7. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
    DROP -- this isn't a bad book, but it seems like everyone thinks women should read this so we can learn to get along better with our mothers, or something. Quite frankly, it's a suggestion I'm bored of! Instead, try The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. It's not an easy read -- it's a recollection of the period in her life following the unexpected loss of her husband. You'll gain a deep sense of appreciation for your living family through her beautifully-penned grieving.

  8. What Did I Do Wrong? by Liz Pryor
    DROP --This appears to be a guide to helping women understand why their BFFs suddenly drop them, and advice for how to move on from that. Well, I have a suggestion that doesn't need a whole book: get new friends! I'm kidding. Kind of. Anyway, I'm going to get kind of obvious with my replacement:

    How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Seriously! My dad read this to me when I was younger, and it's a lot less Machiavellian than it may sound. It's just good life advice for how to get along with people and all of their different personalities.

  9. 20-Something, 20-Everything: A Quarter-life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction by Christine Hassler
    DROP -- If I want to read about my quarter-life crisis, I'll look at any online news aggregate ever. It's free! Instead, if I want to read about getting older, I might look to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This was such an important coming-of-age book for me when I first read it, not because I particularly identified with much of it, but because it felt so real and so different at the same time. I've always been into fantasy, sci-fi, and off-kilter type books, but at the time I read this one, it was one of the first books to resonate with me that clearly could have been a real story about someone else's life.

  10. Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent by Judy Ford
    DROP -- I'm all about encouraging independence, but I like to do it with a side helping of examples of great independent role models. Why not cap this off with everyone's current favorite badass, Katniss Everdeen, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins? I'm not going to get into a lot of original territory describing THG here, so I'll just hope that everyone has read this by now! You totally fail at pop culture if you haven't.
What do you think about my suggestions? Obviously I like them. And! I managed to keep female authors in 4/7 of my revisions, for a total of 7/10 on this list. Not too shabby, I don't think!


  1. Thanks for the suggestions! Also, I LOLed at what you wrote about Confessions of a Shopoholic.... soooo true! I haven't read it, but I can just imagine how obnoxious it is by the movie.

  2. Not going to lie, I loves me some Confessions of a Shopaholic, but I definitely don't think it's a book that every 20-something girl should read. I sort of get the impression that the author of this list assumes that we're all one-dimensional, materialistic idiots. Even though some of us (me, hahaha) are like that, I appreciate that your suggestions would appeal to a wider (and likely, a more educated) variety of women. So, kudos!

    Also, I really loved The Joy Luck Club - I sort of had an "Aha! This is why I'm so fucked up!" moment while reading it. But I kinda don't think that I would have appreciated it if my mother wasn't Chinese.

    1. Yeah, what bothered me about the list was basically what you said -- it was written for one very specific type of girl (and there is nothing wrong with that girl!) but described as for "every girl." Once they called it that, it just seemed like stereotyping.

      The Joy Luck Club is a totally legit book and I have zero problems with it, it's just like I said, I feel like it's a kind of cliched recommendation to women at this point. So is something like Pride and Prejudice, but the list painted the Joy Luck Club as almost something like "self help" fiction, and I would rather just take it on its own merits.

      Glad you liked my suggestions overall :)

  3. I love reading all your book reviews/suggestions! I'm always looking for more books to read!

  4. I saw your comment on the original "10 Books Every Girls Should..." post and followed it here to see your list. Glad I did. I wasn't as flaming offended at the list as some of the other ladies, but it still made me roll my eyes. At the very least, it promotes reading books, which A LOT of people never do. And the thing I've come to realize is that it takes one easy, light book to draw a non-reader into the habit/addiction of reading. From there, they often expand their tastes. Anyways, as for your list, I'm interested in reading the Ishiguro, Gaiman and Didion books. Thanks for the suggestions. Have you read any Haruki Murakami? I've read many of his books and they're like crack--can't put them down.

    1. Thank you for checking out my list, and I'm glad you found some recommendations intriguing! I haven't read any Murakami -- any suggestions as to where I should start?