Read if your a real women

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This week, Salon published a great interview with Meg Wolitzer whose just-released novel The Interestings is currently being enjoyed by more than one Flavorwire staffer. Though I won't disparage any of the books that made the list, I will offer my own—as an attempt to work towards ameliorating the problem laid out by Wolitzer and neatly exemplified by GQ. After all, though there are three books by women on their list, only the Munro could really be said to be primarily about them.

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Below are 21 books by and about women that every man should read. The Handmaid's TaleMargaret Atwood. Margaret Atwood is essential reading no matter your gender, and this chilling depiction of a dystopian future is one of her best. In the Republic of Gilead, women's rights have been completely eradicated, and the country is ruled by a racist, homophobic, misogynist, ultra-conservative cult. As Flavorwire editor-in-chief Judy Berman quipped, "This is every woman's worst nightmare that men have never thought about.

Bad BehaviorMary Gaitskill. Gaitskill's incredible collection is filled with women walking the borderlands—of sexual experience, of self-actualization, of family. This book digs under your skin, titillates, forces you to re-evaluate everything you ever thought about sex and love and what it means to be a person in the world.

This book is terrifying. This one doesn't come out until May, but I'll recommend it now for good measure. Ausubel's luminous collection is organized around the origins of life—that is, the stages of love, conception, gestation, and birth—but her stories aren't as simple as all that. Men may never be able to feel the fetus in their stomach and be sure that it is a three-headed giraffe, but with this collection, they'll at least get a taste. BossypantsTina Fey. Everyone likes Tina Fey, so this shouldn't be too hard a sell.

The comedian's memoir is obviously hilarious, but also filled with reflections on being an awkward girl, a woman in show business, and a mother. You bros will be laughing so hard that you won't even realize you're learning about what it's like to be a real-life lady. SpeedboatRenata Adler.

In her aforementioned interview, Meg Wolitzer laments, "Something nebulous and thought-based—a book of ideas—people seem much more willing to have that from a man than a woman. The Bloody ChamberAngela Carter. The modern fairy tale, whether in retelling or creation, has become a ripe area for feminist thought, for explorations of sexuality, for wit and irony and vulgarity to seep out of what was once a prim little moralistic package. No one does this better than Angela Carter, whose rich retellings of the classic tales thrum with blood and language.

The FlamethrowersRachel Kushner. Here's a special lure for all you male readers: girl racing motorcycles across salt flats. Past that, the book is gritty and searing and immediately essential, a subtle novel about art and love and truth and a woman on a knife's edge. Read it. Self-HelpLorrie Moore. No one does wry brilliance better than Lorrie Moore. In this collection, she will teach you everything you need to know: how to talk to your mother, how to be an other woman, how to become a writer, how to live.

Darkly comic and dazzling, it's a way inside the head of all the smart women you've ever known. HeroinesKate Zambreno. In HeroinesZambreno traces the impact—or rather, the exiling—of the female experience Read if your a real women and from literature, untangling the stories of "the mad wives of modernism" both historical and fictional, "who died in the asylum. Locked away, rendered safe. Forgotten, erased, or rewritten.

KindredOctavia Butler. In this novel, a year-old modern black woman is suddenly and then repeatedly transported back in time to a slave plantation in the antebellum South, where she is subjected to all the harshest parts of slavery as she protects the son of a slaveowner. Rarely does social criticism come with such incendiary storytelling.

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Le Guin. All right, I'm cheating with this one a little, since it can't be properly said to be about women at all—instead, it's about a human man who travels to an alien planet populated by a race of beings who are genderless, or rather unisex, able to assume either binary gender during reproduction.

The novel is beautiful and filled with timeless philosophical insights as to the nature of humanity and society—a definite classic I'm happy to make an exception for here. Dora: A HeadcaseLidia Yuknavitch.

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Yuknavitch's protagonist, the year-old Ida, is a modern reincarnation of Freud's famous bisexual case study Dora, whom our most famous shrink deemed "hysterical. She's raunchy, irreverent, filled with the desire to strip naked in the middle of "Nordfucks" or shave her head, sidekicked by a beautiful gang of weirdos.

I think everyone should read them. The Second SexSimone de Beauvoir. Enough ink has flowed over the quarrel about feminism; it is now almost over: let's not talk about it anymore.

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All else aside, it's one of the most classic feminist texts in the language. And men should of those. Maxine Hong Kingston's take on the memoir blends her personal experiences with traditional Chinese folktales, examining the Chinese-American experience as well as the female one, taking on the cultural source of oppression, something we could all do to think more about. She writes: "There is a Chinese word for the female I—which is 'slave.

When I had to wash dishes, I would crack one or two. Isn't a bad girl almost a boy? The Bell JarSylvia Plath. It's pretty much a given that everyone should read The Bell Jarbut I'll just drive the point home again—it's a look into the conflicted mind of a tortured genius snuffed out too soon.

The House of MirthEdith Wharton. There is so much in this book that carries over perfectly to the modern era. Sure, maybe not the idea of tableaux vivants as party diversions, but the double standards for men and women, the vicious social games women play with each other, the perils of depending on another person—these issues are all alive and well. Plus, the novel is phenomenal. Can't go wrong. Excellent WomenBarbara Pym. John Updike, male of all males, called this high comedic novel "a startling reminder that solitude may be chosen and that a lively, full novel can be constructed entirely within the precincts of that regressive virtue, feminine patience.

The Complete ClaudineColette.

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Though Colette's frisky stories aren't nearly as scandalous today as they were when they were first printed, she is still a giant of French literature, and her writing is just about as daring, sexy, gorgeous, and smart as she. As this book's introduction describes it, Colette is "[a]ccessible and elusive; greedy and austere; courageous and timid; subversive and complacent; scorchingly honest and sublimely mendacious; an inspired consoler and an existential pessimist -- these are the qualities of the artist and the woman.

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Drinking With MenRosie Schaap. Men love bar stories, right? Funny, smart, and insightful, Schaap's memoir as a drinking buddy will make you a better person. InfernoEileen Myles. Some men might be put off by a "poet's novel," but we bet they'll be on board once they read that killer first line: "My English professor's ass was so beautiful. Take note. PersepolisMarjane Satrapi. I maintain that Satrapi's beloved graphic memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution is a must-read for absolutely everyone, so including it here is a no-brainer.

What does it mean to be a tough little girl into rock music in a country that suppresses their women? What does it mean to be a tough little girl? Satrapi will tell you with grace, humor and delightful illustrations. This post also appears on Flavorpillan Atlantic partner site. Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword. In Subscribe. Little, Brown and Company.

Read if your a real women

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Must-read books by women, as chosen by our readers