Jennifer Weiner Recommends 5 Books By Women
The author of "Mrs. Everything" contributes to our Read More Women series
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Bestselling author Jennifer Weiner was calling out biased books coverage before it was cool. (It’s cool now! We made it cool.) In 2010, she took a lot of heat for criticizing the media’s obsession with Jonathan Franzen, saying “I think it’s a very old and deep-seated double standard that holds that when a man writes about family and feelings, it’s literature with a capital L, but when a woman considers the same topics, it’s romance, or a beach book—in short, it’s something unworthy of a serious critic’s attention.” She was right—and remains right—that reviews and coverage are slanted towards white men, and that books about women’s lives and concerns tend to be treated as less inherently literary. But at the time, she garnered criticism and caviling, including an accusation of “fake populism” from then-Paris Review editor Lorin Stein.
Nine years later, we have a whole series focused on authors who aren’t men. In Read More Women, presented in collaboration with MCD Books, we feature prominent authors, of any gender, recommending their favorite books by women and non-binary writers. Twice a month, you’ll hear about the five non-male authors who most delight, inspire, and influence your favorite writers. Jennifer Weiner’s picks are a range of recent books, from nonfiction to dystopia, plus one old fave.
Queenie by Candace Carty-Williams
Imagine Bridget Jones, only now it’s 25 years later, she’s British-Jamaican, her boyfriend has dumped her, and she’s dealing with online dating, a damaged mother, a bratty cousin, invasive grandparents, and every bad man in the world. The book gives you all the laughs and all the sexy fun of Bridget Jones’s Diary, but has a raw, honest edge when it considers how Queenie’s been impacted by her traumatic childhood. A book for any single lady who needs a reminder that, as RuPaul put it, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you going to love somebody else?”
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
A family of Korean immigrants opens an experimental medical treatment facility that holds out hope to everyone from autistic children to infertile couples. A tragic explosion leaves a mother and child dead. A courtroom showdown reveals that everyone has secrets, from the dutiful wife to the rebellious teenage daughter to the doctor being treated for his own health problems to the saintly mother of a special needs child. A twisty, timely thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page.
Almost Paradise by Susan Isaacs
Jane and Nick meet in college, fall in love, and move to New York City to pursue their dreams of acting. Jane puts her career on hold and ends up an unhappy housewife, while Nick becomes a movie star, rich and famous beyond his wildest dreams. The story of a marriage, and the story of how our families and our history shape and mold us, and whether anyone can escape his or her past.
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Have you ever looked across the room at your therapist and wondered what she was thinking? In this compulsively readable book, Laurie Gottlieb takes you into the therapist’s brain, describing her own post-breakup despair, and her own stint on the other side of the couch, as well as sharing the stories of some of her patients, including a young woman with a cancer diagnosis, a frustrated artist who’s estranged from her children and at the end of her rope, and a type-A Hollywood writer who hates everyone he meets.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
In dystopian, not-too-distant America, where abortion, contraception, and fertility treatments are all illegal, four different women struggle with their lives, and the babies they either desperately do or desperately do not want. A terrifying and timely look at what happens when women lose agency over their own bodies.