Sunday, September 19, 2010

List: Erica Jong

In response to the publication of the Modern Library’s list of Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century, Erica Jong wrote an article for The Nation in which she discussed the relatively few number of books written by women that made it to the Modern Library’s list.

She also included a list of the Top 100 20th Century Novels by Women, compiled from votes cast by those “250 or so distinguished women writers and critics” and “about thirty male novelists, critics and poets” who Jong solicited directly and participants in “the rather lively writers’ forum” on Jong’s website. The results, while not scientific, would provide for some good reading. The list is in order of the number of votes received.

Those I have read are in red. Those on my TBR shelf are in blue. As always, if anyone has undertaken to read all the books on this list, I am happy to post a link to your progress reports. Just leave a comment with the link address.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer

The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (reviewed here)

Fanny by Erica Jong

Obasan by Joy Kogawa

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

The Grass Is Singing by Doris Lessing

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Her First American by Lore Segal

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (reviewed here)

Anya by Susan Fromberg Shaeffer

Trust by Cynthia Ozick

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan

Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion

Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion (reviewed here)

The Group by Mary McCarthy

The Company She Keeps by Mary McCarthy

The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

Anywhere But Here by Mona Simpson

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (reviewed here)

Mr. Fortune's Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter

Progress of Stories by Laura Riding

Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (Booker winner)

The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

Possession by A.S. Byatt

The Ghost Road by Pat Barker

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (reviewed here)

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (reviewed here)

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

Things Invisible to See by Nancy Willard (reviewed here)

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson

Disturbances in the Field by Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Civil Wars by Rosellen Brown

Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr

The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford

Novel on Yellow Paper by Stevie Smith

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

The Mind-Body Problem by Rebecca Goldstein

The Children of Men by P.D. James

Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi

The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

Collected Stories by Katherine Mansfield

Life in the Iron Mills by Rebecca Harding Davis

The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O'Brien

Realms of Gold by Margaret Drabble

The Waterfall by Margaret Drabble

The Locusts Have No King by Dawn Powell

The Women's Room by Marilyn French

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch

Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai

The Drowning Season by Alice Hoffman

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend

The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer


Updated on July 18, 2016.


If you would like to be listed here, please leave a comment with your links to any progress reports or reviews and I will add them here.


  1. Well I must admit I'm rather short on Jong's list. Still I did read every PD James detective story and thought they were wonderful. Didion and Proulx also suited my taste. :)

  2. I loved seeing this list! It's the first of its kind of seen (with all women authors). I'll have to bookmark this. Sadly I've only read four on the list. Looks like I have some catching up to do. :)

  3. I just re-posted this list because when I tried to clean up some of the code, it imploded and I had to do a cut-and-paste of the whole thing and start over.

    So I apologize to anyone who left comments on the original posting. They are in an internet wormhole now.

    troutbirder -- There are a lot on this list that I have never heard of. I am working my way through it pretty slowly.

    Alyce -- I adopted the list after I read Jong's Fear of Flying. I absolutely loved it.

  4. I re-read the list and realized that I have read five. I'm planning to put a post together with the list (linking to you and Erica Jong) later this week. I want to be able to have it on my blog as a resource so I don't forget about it. :)

  5. I've read a dozen of these but certainly need to do better!

  6. Alyce -- how cool! Let me know when you get your post up and I will add a link to mine.

    Kristen -- There are a lot of book on this list that are new to me. A couple of the books I read I chose based on this list and I wasn't disappointed. Play It as It Lays, for instance is an incredible book that I read because it was recommended on this list.

  7. I have read 26 of these, which feels pretty good. That's probably a fair number. I own another dozen or so. Good list!

  8. Always interesting with these lists. I had a look at your two lists and the outcome you can see here:

    There is much more to read, that is for sure!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...