This is apparently my week to plan ahead for posts and then change my mind every single day. I was going to share my "elevated envelope" with you (a fancy way of saying mail art), but I don't feel like messing with resizing photos to make them fit in this space. Also I am nearly finished reading Adriana Trigiani's The Shoemaker's Wife and I have passed the point of no return and must finish it tonight. And as it's a library book that is officially overdue and the fines are multiplying each extra day I have it out. It's a long book and I will say that about midway through I wasn't quite sure what I thought, but she roped me back in when I was beginning to fade. More about it later, however.
You know me and mood reading, right? I tend to be very predictable in my reading choices. Women authors, usually British, first half of the twentieth century or maybe cozy mysteries. And usually British, too. Well, reading Trigiani, who is an American author with a US setting (primarily anyway) for this story, I've been thinking how few books I tend to reach for by US authors with contemporary settings (the Trigiani, however is set in 1920s America) and maybe I should read more of them. When this happens it is usually list time. Everyone loves a good book list, right? And while I have loads of unread books on my shelves, it is always nice to get suggestions from readers who have read and loved an author/book--besides I'm all for expanding my reading horizons.
I think I opt for stories not set in the US because it is so familiar to me. I live here, see it everyday up close and on the news, and and interact with other Americans, so in my reading I want something different and maybe a little exotic. I think, however, I am missing out on some good books, and my mood has shifted just a tiny bit at th moment. So here are thirteen North American women authors (I think I'll expand it a little to include Canada, too, as a number of excellent Canadian women authors come to mind) I've read and liked or want to read. Please tell me who your favorite women authors are from the US/Canada, and maybe we can keep the books to any published after 1950? Just a quick and dirty list--these are the first dozen or so that come to mind.
1. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler -- On my list to read this year.
2. Joy School by Elizabeth Berg -- Read this one ages ago--went through a big Elizabeth Berg phase and may have to reread some of her work.
3. Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons -- Love this one and have read it about three times.
4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood -- Loved this one, too, and must get around to rereading it. Pretty much think anything by Atwood is exceptional.
5. The Good Mother by Sue Miller -- Am told this is a loose retelling of Anna Karenina?
6. Anywhere But Here by Mona Simpson -- This one has been on my shelves for years... (Heard that refrain before?).
7. Body Surfing by Anita Shreve -- I've read a smattering of her books and this is the most recent one I bought. It looks like a good summer/beach read.
8. Ferris Beach by Jill McCorkle -- Another book I like to reread when looking for a good coming of age story.
9. The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence -- A favorite book with a hugely curmudgeonly character, but still strangely sympathetic as well--keep meaning to read more of her books.
10. Disturbances in the Field by Lynne Sharon Schwartz -- I seem to be collecting her books and now must get around to reading her.
11. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver -- I've not read any of her books for ages, though I read a few maybe a decade ago and enjoyed everything I picked up by her (like her essays, too).
12. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison -- I read quite a few of her books in college but nothing recently, though I recall she is quite amazing.
13. The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro -- Her only novel? I read it in college, too. I want to read her short stories and wouldn't mind rereading this as well.
Obviously this is a hugely idiosyncratic list and in no way comprehensive in the least, but maybe with your suggestions we could come up with something respectable? Who would be on your list of good American/Canadian (contemporary--more or less) women authors?
Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson
Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley
Bobbie Ann Mason
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall
Unless by Carol Shields
Earth and High Heaven by Gwethalyn Graham
Leaving Home by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
Intertidal Life by Audrey Thomas
Ana Historic by Daphne Marlatt
Jean M. Auel
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
Ursula Le Guin
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
A Thousand Acres and Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley
Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
My Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber