500 Great Books by Women (1994)
edited by Erica Bauermeister, Jesse Larsen, and Holly Smith
I don’t review reference books here on 1330v, but I love this book and wanted fellow bookworms to know about. If you liked Book Lust by Nancy Pearl, you will love 500 Great Books by Women.
Edited by Erica Bauermeister, Jesse Larsen, and Holly Smith and compiled with the help of thirty contributors, 500 Great Books gives the reader a collection of short reviews of lesser-known books of all genres written by women writers from different races, ages, sexual orientations, and countries. Many of the featured books were first published in a language other than English.
The reviews are divided by theme such as Growing Old, Choices, Families, Ethics, Observations, and many more. I used post-its to mark all the books I wanted to read and I ran out of post-its! My book now looks like a rainbow.
Many of the books featured here I have not heard of and less than twenty of them I’ve read. The editors included many well-known writers like Angela Carter, Louise Erdrich, Alice Walker, and Barbara Kingsolver but you are not going to find every book they wrote in this collection. Instead every writer only gets one book featured to leave room for other writers. I thought the idea was thoughtful and fair.
The only thing I didn’t like about the book is that there’s no table of contents though you can find out what books is featured by going to a theme’s page. Included in the back of the book are many indexes such as by title, subject, country, and others.
I loved the beginning of the book’s preface,
We read to learn, to feel, to stretch beyond our own lives, to escape, and to understand. A book has the power to reach back toward us and let us know we are not alone. Up from a flat page of type comes joy or anger or sadness, a sentence that soars, or an image that surprised like a photograph long forgotten. For a few hundred pages we can feel new rhythms, see new images, learn about ourselves, and become someone else.
The contributors and editors did an amazing job with this book. With so many books published every year in the United States let alone other countries, 500 Great Books is not meant to be comprehensive but to recommend to the reader some of great books the editors have read. Highly recommended.