Friday, April 07, 2006

All angst and Orwell?

"The novel that means most to men is about indifference, alienation and lack of emotional responses. That which means most to women is about deeply held feelings, a struggle to overcome circumstances and passion, research by the University of London has found." (The Guardian)

Oh, dear. After reading that yesterday I didn't know whether I should laugh or go hide under a rock somewhere (preferably in Utah).

Here I was, two days after finishing Suttree, a novel about a man clearly alienated from his family and lacking in the appropriate emotional responses department, unable to let go and move on to another novel, engrossed in all the literary criticism about the novel that the library had on its shelves. Should I just chalk my tastes up to being an INTP or should I commence a program of chick lit and romance to modify my sensibilities?

But then I found the women's list, which came out in late '04, and I realized I wasn't "all angst and Orwell" all the time: two of the top women's watershed choices would definitely be on my own personal top ten list as opposed to a mere one from the men's.

Men's Top Twenty (with the ones I've read bolded)

The Outsider by Albert Camus
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Ulysses by James Joyce
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
1984 by George Orwell
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Women's Top Thirty (with the ones I've read bolded)

Angelique by Sergeanne Golon
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
Game Of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Precious Bane by Mary Webb
Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Unless by Carol Shields
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
The Women's Room by Marilyn French

Another Guardian article on the differences here.

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