Tuesday, January 3, 2012

CHALLENGE: The Heroine's Bookshelf Challenge

The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore, 197 pages

Remember all those great books you read when you were younger? Anne of Green Gables? Little House on the Prairie? Little Women? What did they all have in common - strong heroines, and strong woman authors. Erin Blakemore has gathered these ladies, plus nine more famous books, with female authors and heroines, and written a tribute - to the characters, the authors, and the trait that she identified with each. Then, each book gets a recommended 'literary sister' and an offer of when to read each book. For example, Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, is in a chapter about "Compassion". Read it when you get tired of being yelled at by cable news or with your own little girl. Scout's literary sisters include Lily Owens from The Secret Life of Bees or Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time.

I liked everything about this book. I thought it would be more about the books and characters, but the biographies of the authors where often more fascinating. None of them had an easy life, what with being women authors and artists. Even women today don't have an easy time of it - think of the Jonathan Frazen debates, or the Carol Shields' novel, Unless. Having read a majority of the books, I enjoyed reading the most about the author, and the lessons learned in each book. Granted, everyone will get their own lessons from each book, but the ideas Blakemore wrote about, for example - Self (Lizzy Bennett), Dignity (Celie in The Color Purple) or Steadfastness (Jane Eyre) made a lot of sense. It makes you want to re-read all these great books, and search out the literary sisters, because the ones I'd already read seemed like perfect matches. More strong heroines by female authors.

Bibliophibian hosted this last year, but I got the book for this Christmas, and now I have some more books I want to read because of it. Most of these are ones that I've wanted to read at some point, and then having them recc'd in this wonderful book might be the tipping point. Let's call this a long-term project.

1. Emma by Jane Austen (Lizzy's literary sister)
2. The Wreath by Sigrid Undset (Janie's (Their Eyes Were Watching God) literary sister)
3. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibson (Anne's literary sister)
4. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Francie's (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) literary sister)
5. Claudine by Colette
6. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (Claudine's literary sister)
7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
8. All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (Laura's literary sister)
9. Rebecca by Daphne DeMaurier (Jane Eyre's literary sister)
10.The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart (Jo's literary sister)
11. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (Mary's  (The Secret Garden) literary sister)