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16 August 2011 @ 11:57 am
books about the world  
I'm looking for recommendations of books that are well-written and engaging and where all or most of the main characters are women, but casually, with no special big deal made about it. Examples of the sort of thing I'm looking for: Slow River and The Blue Place, both by Nicola Griffith, or, differently but in a similar category, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.
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Blue Gargantuabluegargantua on August 16th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)

I can think of several where women are the protagonists and other characters are split about even. However, I think you might find that God's War by Kameron Hurley more closely fits your request. There are men, there's a patriarchy that faces off against a matriarchy, but there are tons of women in strong, active roles.

Here's the review so you can check it out.

later
Tom
ruthless compassion: iris portraitaroraborealis on August 16th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
I'll take a look! Thanks!
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ruthless compassion: pouncearoraborealis on August 16th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
Yes, pls!
fanwfanw on August 16th, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
Interesting you list those as examples. I found Prodigal Summer to be particularly blatantly mys-andro-nistic, with a female-centered storyline where every male character was a fool or a threat. At least Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible had the evil man role be a single character instead of a blanket judgment.

If you are into Sci-fi, the Vorkosigan saga is pretty good or Mists of Avalon. If not, then I would suggest something like Little Bee.
ruthless compassion: martini handsaroraborealis on August 16th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
I found the relationships more complex, and I liked that the storylines were all told from the women's points of view. It read to me not that the men were exclusively fools or threats, but that the people in the main characters' worlds/experiences were colored by the main characters' perceptions and fears. Which is always the case, but those people are usually men.
Beahbeah on August 17th, 2011 12:20 am (UTC)
I recommend just about everything by Kingsolver for these and other reasons.

If you're willing to read nonfiction, I highly recommend Boys of My Youth by Joanne Beard and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on August 16th, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride would be my top pick. I recently enjoyed Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. I love Jo Graham's Numinous World books, which work either as a series (starting with the female-protagonist Black Ships, but to really satisfy your crteria I'd just jump straight to Hand of Isis, which stars Cleopatra and her handmaids/counselors/sisters) or stand-alone novels. And I think that if you haven't read Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss, you would really like it--it's a novel about a woman horse-breaker in rural Oregon in the WWI era that reads like the old folks telling local stories on the porch after supper.
Beahbeah on August 17th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
Oh! Speaking of Cleopatra, the new biography of her by Stacy Schiff, simply called Cleopatra, is extraordinary. There are many men in it, but it's her book, and utterly engaging.
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born from jets!!!catness on August 17th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)
I read/have read a lot of Sheri Tepper. Back when I started reading her stuff, I thought her earlier work was cool, but that she'd gone right off the deep end later in her career with what I deemed her militant feminism. Now I see the extremes she portrays as fiction having echoes in my own day to day life, and it depresses the hell out of me. Before it seemed so alarmist, and now it seems... disturbingly prophetic.

I do like, however, that Tepper's illustrations often demonstrate that turning the table 180 degrees isn't always the best solution (for instance, a matriarchal society can be exactly as fucked up as a patriarchy). Also, she can write some pretty horror-laden pages, right in the middle of a story that you didn't think was in that genre. Creepy as hell, sometimes, but I have liked almost every single one of her books rather a lot. I like her "Mavin Manyshaped" character, and perhaps I will go re-read her stories this week. :)

Rora, in case you're interested, the True Game series books about Mavin and Jinian are female protagonist stories, but the first set of books has a male lead, Peter. All of them are sci-fi/fantasy-ish journey tales, but easy reads.


Edited at 2011-08-17 05:12 am (UTC)
Medyanimedyani on August 17th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Complex. Speculative fiction. Female lead. I'm not through it yet, but liking what I've read so far, and heard from others that it's great (sequels get mixed reviews).
DancingWolfGrrl: booksdancingwolfgrrl on August 17th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)
I just read Anne Lamott's novel Imperfect Birds and it is beautiful and centers around a woman, her best (female) friend, and her teenage daughter. There are interesting men, but they are in supporting roles.

Monica Ali's Brick Lane has a female protagonist operating in a significantly-male world. Ditto Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, which is a mindblowingly good book.

Famously, Jane Austen, and also Middlemarch.

In the possibly-not-serious-enough category, I admit to affection for The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Jennifer Weiner's book Little Earthquakes.
Martha42itous on August 21st, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
In case your reading queue isn't already full enough, I recommend:

Half-Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls
Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks
The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
Little Bee, by Chris Cleave
The Love Wife, by Gish Jen
Mona in the Promised Land, also by Gish Jen
Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden

I remember liking The Gate to Women's Country, by Sheri S Tepper, but now I don't remember anything about it, so I don't know that I can recommend it. Same goes for Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison. Time for me to do some rereading, I guess.