I have been scouring the internet looking for books to compile my quarter-life reading list. There have been some common themes that seem expected – Pride & Prejudice, Feminine Mystique, Eat, Pray, Love. Some common themes that were surprising to me, but make perfect sense – The Alchemist, Garden of Eden, The Great Gatsby. Most of the books seem to be stories of independent women or the journey of finding yourself. I’m not really looking to ‘find myself’ as I feel fairly well ‘found’, but learning more about me is never a bad thing. I also appreciate any independent woman story. As long as they don’t encourage me to burn my bras (I’m busty, I need my bra) or try to convince me that men are evil.
What I also discovered, however, is that all of these lists I found on-line – every single one – had at least one book relating to being single. Like, It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken or Girls in White Dresses or Seductive Delusions. Not that these aren’t all viable books for some women in their twenties, they are. They just aren’t good books for me. To contrast all the single books, there were a few books about married women. Such as, The Awakening and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Both tragic portrayals of a sad married life. Not exactly encouraging for a young, still relatively newly married woman.
So, I started to wonder. And I started to search. Where were all the married women in their 20s? Where was my representation? Here is what I found when I searched ‘married women in their 20s’:
- Why Women In Their 20s Get Hitched When They Should’ve Ditched
- Why women in their 20s rush into marriage – Hindustan Times
- Why women in their 20s rush into marriage
- Common Dating Mistakes Women Make In Their 20s | Madame Noire …
- First Person: Purchasing a Home as a Single Woman – Yahoo …
- Why women in their 20s rush into marriage – Yahoo! Lifestyle …
- Why women in their 20s rush into marriage
- Violence against married women in India—can the data tell …
Maybe you’ve noticed the common theme. Women who get married in their 20s were rash and are now doomed to fail. Apparently. According to a web search, which probably pretty accurately depicts society’s views on the subject. Or, at least, the way the media has decided society should view the subject.
I don’t begrudge them their viewpoint. A few years ago I could have written articles about why young marriages are rarely ever successful. I touted that same mantra. Being married at twenty-five with an almost 29 year old husband, I’m not sure if I fit the stereotype per se, but I was married in my twenties and, alas, it seems society is rooting for divorce court.
What I have surmised is that the vast majority of female twenty-somethings are dealing with being single and successful or married with children. Those seem to be the two camps. And the married with children camp isn’t seeking a book list to edify themselves as they don’t have time. But I exist. I am here, so I must be part of some camp. Or are married without children twenty-somethings destined to wander aimlessly through the wilderness until they conform to one camp or the other?
I’m okay with wandering. I’m good at it. I spent my young(er) adulthood jet-setting around the world fairly aimlessly. As luck would have it, along the way I found myself and my – now – husband. I promise you I wasn’t looking for either. We just kind of ran into each other. And yet, it still doesn’t seem fair that I don’t have a place to call my own. And I really like for things to be fair.
Being that I have no desire to conform by leaving my spouse or getting knocked up (people keep telling me I can’t call it this when people are married, but I disagree), and considering that the idea of creating a new camp seems beyond tedious, I have decided that my list will just be for women. Young(ish) women or perhaps young at heart. That are at least old enough to rent a car at regular rates, but not so old of spirit to be afraid of change and new experiences. For those women, you shall have your list.
I was going through old posts and discovered the following book list that was included in a list of books I planned to read in the year of 2007. It’s 2013 and I have yet to read many of these books. Okay, most of these books. And in reading over the list, I’m a little shocked that these are the books I was looking to read.
In fairness, I started The Alchemist and Lolita. I have seen and read parts of Hamlet, Pride & Prejudice, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And a long time ago I was supposed to read The Catcher in the Rye and Mythology for school, so I’ve read the SparkNotes. (Side note, this web-site does still exist and is so much more organized than it ever was when I was in school!)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Lost by Gregory Maguire
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
City of Glass by Paul Auster
I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Sight by David Clement-Davies
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
I’m not sure that I still want to read all of these books. In 2007 I can almost promise you I wouldn’t have turned down a book. Not because I just love to read and will read anything. That is a lie. Not because I was so open-minded and seeking knowledge from every source. That is an exaggeration. I had to play my part.
I was an English major. I needed to read all literature – great and small. I needed to expand my horizons as a writer by reading a plethora of authors and genres. Most importantly, I need to be better read than you. Or at least as well read as you.
Well, it’s six years later and I no longer need to impress you. I’m confident enough in my own intellectual abilities. And, if you’re an avid reader, I am certain I haven’t read all the books you have. I have been craving to create a book list of recommendations from real paper. Not scholarly articles or popular surveys. It’s time to compile my very own quarter-life reading list.
Please give me suggestions!
I have been on a memoir-kick lately. I think I find the idea that I’m reading a real person’s story more compelling than fiction at present. Or perhaps it’s to satisfy my longing for travel vicariously. Either way, my Kindle is riddled with them.
I’m currently reading Three Cups of Tea which, while Greg Mortenson is listed as an author, really seems to be written primarily by David Oliver Relin about Mortenson. I’m not finished the book and not yet ready to pass judgment or delve into the criticism and accusations Mortenson has received as a result of this book, but I read a portion today that I wanted to share.
You must make time to share three cups of tea…to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects.
How often do we forget to take the time to truly build relationships over three cups of tea? In a world where we are always on a schedule or a deadline. In a generation where some of our most intimate relationships are communicated through social networking sites.
I am so guilty of not always taking the time. Of stretching myself too thin in relationships rather than focusing in. And at other times at focusing too much on one or two relationships that the rest are compromised.
So the next time I am able to sit down and chat with a friend, I’ll make sure that I have a lot of time and a big pot of tea.
I have had the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy sitting on my Kindle for months and months and months. A friend was kind enough to e-mail them to me, but now I’m sort of regretting her kindness. I was intrigued by the books, to be honest. A sadomasochist sex novel hits the Bestseller list? Interesting. I had a basic premise of the book and thought, at the very least, I might remember how prudish I can sometimes be and how vivid my imagination inevitably becomes when engaged in a book.
My imagination was not satisfied. Mostly because I stopped just after our crazy leading man deflowered our useless Anastasia. (Anastasia? Really?) I swear to you that I went into this book series knowing exactly what I stated and now I’ll tell you in explicit detail why no one in this world where compelling novels are published every day should ever spend a moment reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
Immediately after starting the book I became suspicious. I am always suspicious when books feature a young, awkward female who is innocent and inexperienced, but all the boys on the block want to get a piece of that. (A la Twilight.) I have read enough fan fiction in my day to spot a Mary Sue from a mile away. And when you’re trying to live vicariously through your characters, it is an immediate set up for a disappointing read and a sure sign of a sorry author.
After finally deciding I could not continue with the very first book after a few chapters in, I did some research on this E.L. James. (Wouldn’t we all use a pseudonym if this was our namesake?) Her real identity (Erika Leonard) is all over the internet, so any hope of keeping her children from learning her sexual fantasies is out the window. After reading the Wikipedia write-up on her I know exactly why her book made me want to punch babies. It was originally a piece of fan fiction. And it gets better. It was a Twilight fan fiction!!
I think the books should have a disclaimer that reads something like: If you prefer to read authors who can actually write, then don’t waste your time on this Twilight knock-off that doesn’t even have a fantasy aspect to keep you interested. Oh, but there’s lots of kinky sex. That would do. That would have satisfied me and, let’s be honest, millions of other readers who might have stumbled into attempting to read these books.
Moving on. More reasons why you should never read this book. Do you remember the Thesaurus feature on Word? We’ve all used it at least once. Particularly when you were thirteen and wanted to sound so intelligent. And usually you weren’t being true to the word’s proper usage. If you had a nice teacher, they didn’t tell you. If you had a good teacher, you lost points. Well, Leonard’s editors should have removed that feature from her computer. The book is written as an interior monologue from a twenty-one year old. And I don’t care how advanced her Bachelor’s in Literature is – no one uses the word phlegmatically in their head. No one. Ever. Never. Most people don’t even know what it means.
By the way, did you catch that she’s twenty-one? I knew the basic premise of the book, but I never dreamed that the main character had barely graduated from college. That’s just messed up. And how many middle aged women are reading these books getting their jollies out of it. Would you want someone whipping your barely-legal-to-drink daughter? I get that he’s not yet thirty, but it still gave me immediate pause. Page one. Excuse me? Seriously? She’s only twenty-one?
Oh. And she’s a twenty-one year old virgin. Virginal virgin. She’s never even kissed anyone. So, our main man that so many women are in love with does the compassionate thing: he takes her virginity. Actually, I believe in the book he tells her he’s going to “f*ck her hard.” And then sends her to a separate room to sleep. Yes, absolutely, when my future hypothetical daughter has her cherry popped, please let it be like this!
Needless to say (at this point), this book was not for me. If it did it for you, then that’s great. If you think Christian Grey is the bees knees, then I feel sorry for you. I know that people who loved these books will tell me something like, “You should read all three before you pass judgment.” Well, for those individuals I tell you that I heard the same thing about the Twilight series. Four books later I still think Stephanie Meyer is a sorry excuse for a writer and never should have been published.