Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Erica Jong's Top 100 20th Century Novels by Women -- LIST

Erica Jong's Top 100 20th Century Novels by Women

At the turn of the Millennium, there was a flurry of "Top 100" book lists. The Modern Library’s list of Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century, started the craze (and led to this blog). Erica Jong wrote an article for The Nation criticizing the Modern Library’s list for including relatively few books by women.

She titled her article "I've Got a Little List" and included her own list of the Top 100 20th Century Novels by Women. Jong explained that she had compiled the list from votes cast by those “250 or so distinguished women writers and critics” and “about thirty male novelists, critics and poets” whom she solicited directly, as well as participants in “the rather lively writers’ forum” on Jong’s website. The list is in order of the number of votes received. 

Jong's method for creating the list was not scientific. But the results provide excellent reading. 

Here is Jong's list. I've noted if I've read a book, if it's on my TBR shelf, or if it is available as an audiobook from my library. 

See any favorites?

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell FINISHED

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice ON OVERDRIVE

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf FINISHED

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf FINISHED

The Waves by Virginia Woolf TBR SHELF

Orlando by Virginia Woolf FINISHED

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes TBR SHELF

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton FINISHED

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton FINISHED

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton FINISHED

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall ON OVERDRIVE

Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer TBR SHELF

The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood FINISHED

My Ántonia by Willa Cather FINISHED

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (reviewed hereFINISHED

Fanny by Erica Jong 

Obasan by Joy Kogawa FINISHED

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing FINISHED

The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

The Grass Is Singing by Doris Lessing TBR SHELF

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee FINISHED

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy ON OVERDRIVE

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley FINISHED

Her First American by Lore Segal FINISHED

The Color Purple by Alice Walker FINISHED

The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley FINISHED

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark FINISHED

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark FINISHED

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison FINISHED

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (reviewed hereFINISHED

Anya by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer TBR SHELF

Trust by Cynthia Ozick TBR SHELF

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan FINISHED

The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan FINISHED

Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie TBR SHELF

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston FINISHED

A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion TBR SHELF

Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion (reviewed hereFINISHED

The Group by Mary McCarthy FINISHED

The Company She Keeps by Mary McCarthy FINISHED

The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley TBR SHELF

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath FINISHED

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers FINISHED
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen FINISHED

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor FINISHED

Anywhere But Here by Mona Simpson TBR SHELF

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison FINISHED

Beloved by Toni Morrison FINISHED

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (reviewed hereFINISHED

Mr. Fortune's Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner TBR SHELF

Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter FINISHED

Progress of Stories by Laura Riding

Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (Booker winnerFINISHED

The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald FINISHED

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende FINISHED

Possession by A.S. Byatt FINISHED

The Ghost Road by Pat Barker TBR SHELF

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown ON OVERDRIVE

Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner FINISHED

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter TBR SHELF

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (reviewed hereFINISHED

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn DNF

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

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym FINISHED

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko TBR SHELF
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler FINISHED

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler FINISHED

Things Invisible to See by Nancy Willard (reviewed hereFINISHED

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson FINISHED

Disturbances in the Field by Lynne Sharon Schwartz TBR SHELF

Civil Wars by Rosellen Brown TBR SHELF

Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr

The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford TBR SHELF

Novel on Yellow Paper by Stevie Smith

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx FINISHED

The Mind-Body Problem by Rebecca Goldstein

The Children of Men by P.D. James FINISHED

Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi FINISHED

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

Collected Stories by Katherine Mansfield TBR SHELF

Life in the Iron Mills by Rebecca Harding Davis TBR SHELF

The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich TBR SHELF

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin DNF 

The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O'Brien TBR SHELF

Realms of Gold by Margaret Drabble TBR SHELF

The Waterfall by Margaret Drabble FINISHED

The Locusts Have No King by Dawn Powell

The Women's Room by Marilyn French

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty FINISHED

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields FINISHED

Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid TBR SHELF

Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen TBR SHELF

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein FINISHED

A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch FINISHED

Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai

The Drowning Season by Alice Hoffman FINISHED

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend ON OVERDRIVE

The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer TBR SHELF


This is a repost of a list I first posted in 2009. So far, I've read 57 of the 100 and gave up on two others, so I have 41 to go. Of those that I read because they were on this list, my favorites are Play It as It LaysThings Invisible to See, and The Children of Men

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