A Reading List From You, For Esquire [UPDATED]

by Akhlispurnomo (own work) [ CC BY-SA 3.0 ],  via Wikimedia Commons

by Akhlispurnomo (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, Esquire landed in the GenderAvenger Hall of Shame for their list "80 Best Books Every Man Should Read". Out of 80 books, only one was written by a female author: Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find.


Is a good book by a female author hard to find? Of course not. In just 48 hours, the GenderAvenger community sent us the titles of 40 books by women, the names of 50 can’t-miss women authors, and three additional lists of books by women (including one with "100 Books By Women").

After a significant flurry of angry and frustrated  tweets, Facebook posts, and book recommendations from GenderAvengers, Esquire still hasn’t responded or apologized.

The Esquire comments section starts with a question in all caps: WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Let’s tell them.

Leave a comment on Esquire’s "80 Books Every Man Should Read" and let them know what you think of their staggeringly terrible gender ratio. Share women authors and books by women that you would’ve added. Or use this sample comment:

One female author out of 80?! Dismal and disappointing work, Esquire.  GenderAvengers put together a list of 50+ female authors in two days. It’s not that difficult. Try harder: http://www.genderavenger.com/blog/how-to-read-books-by-women

As many of you pointed out, with 80 book titles, you have to try really hard not to include women.


Cormac McCarthy appears twice instead of including a second female author. The lack of women is so egregious, some of you wondered if Esquire was even aware of Flannery O’Connor’s gender.


Thank you GenderAvenger community for your hard work and awesome suggestions. Here’s the list of authors, books, and book lists that you sent us. Missing anyone? Leave us a comment and let us know who else you would add.

Special thanks to Amanda BennettRuth Ann HarnischSoraya ChemalyVIDACindy GallopLucy Drummond, Lex Peters, Stephanie Bodeen, Whitney Anne Postman, Melissa G. Stanton, and Gara LaMarche!

UPDATE: More titles recommended by the GenderAvenger community have been added below! 

Charles Dana Gibson [public domain],  via Wikimedia Commons

Charles Dana Gibson [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

51 Books By Women
Every Man Should

  1. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

  2. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

  3. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

  4. Beloved by Toni Morrison

  5. The World Split Open by Ruth Rosen

  6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

  7. The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell

  8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

  9. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

  10. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer

  11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

  12. Romantic Jealousy: Causes, Symptoms, Cures by Ayala Malach Pines

  13. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and Cornel West

  14. The Love Affairs of Nathanial P by Adelle Waldman

  15. Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin

  16. The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

  17. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

  18. Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior by Marimba Ani

  19. Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape by Susan Brownmiller

  20. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

  21. Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy Ph.D.

  22. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  23. Sign of the Labrys by Margaret St. Clair

  24. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

  25. The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat

  26. Surviving the Silence: Black Women's Stories of Rape by Charlotte Pierce-Baker

  27. The End of Men by Hanna Rosin

  28. Against Love: A Polemic by Laura Kipnis

  29. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

  30. Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

  31. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

  32. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

  33. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

  34. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

  35. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

  36. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

  37. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

  38. Caucasia by Danzy Senna

  39. Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

  40. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

  41. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

  42. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

  43. The Low Down on Going Down: How to Give Her Mind-Blowing Oral Sex by Marcy Michaels and Marie Desalle

  44. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  45. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  46. On Beauty by Zadie Smith

  47. The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr

  48. A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post

  49. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

  50. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

  51. Kindred by Octavia Butler

  52. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

  53. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

  54. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

  55. Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

  56. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undsett

50 Female Authors
Every Man Should

  1. Zora Neale Hurston
  2. Arundhati Roy

  3. Harriet Beecher Stowe

  4. George Eliot  

  5. Edith Wharton

  6. Alice Munro

  7. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

  8. Emily Dickinson

  9. Alice Walker

  10. Emily Bronte

  11. Anne Bronte

  12. Charlotte Bronte

  13. Margaret Atwood

  14. Maya Angelou

  15. Toni Morrison

  16. Doris Lessing

  17. Amy Tan

  18. Chimamanda Adichie

  19. Lorrie Moore

  20. Rebecca Curtis

  21. Amy Hempel

  22. Joyce Carol Oates

  23. Grace Paley

  24. Jhumpa Lahiri

  25. Annie Dillard

  26. Tillie Olsen

  27. Isabel Allende

  28. Andrea Lee

  29. Anne Sexton

  30. Louise Gluck

  31. Jorie Graham

  32. Lee Smith

  33. Sharyn McCrum

  34. Julia Alvarez

  35. Hilary Mantel

  36. Barbara Kingsolver

  37. Keri Hulme

  38. A. S. Byatt

  39. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

  40. Zora Neale Hurston

  41. Annie Proulx

  42. Flannery O'Connor  

  43. Wendy Wasserstein

  44. Ayn Rand

  45. Morgan Llywelyn

  46. Patricia Cornwell

  47. George Sand

  48. bell hooks

  49. Maya Angelou

  50. Alice Walker

  51. Virginia Woolf

Need more? 
Check out these three lists of books by women: