Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Well, Read Women

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  • Emma Hart, in reply to Andrew Stevenson,

    She’s reading the Percy Jackson series now – any suggestions an advanced reader the twelve year old range?

    Diana Wynne Jones, Karen Healey, Emily Roddha, Tamora Pierce.

    I’ve found it interesting that I have never judged book by the gender of the author, and that people actually do this??

    If you look at that gender-flipping covers thing Neil posted, you can see one of the many little signs you get, whether this book is 'for you' or not. Makes me think that maybe the black 'adult' covers for the Harry Potter books also told older guys they were okay for them to read.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    In the self-help genre, I think the best book I ever read was by Barbara Sher. I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was. One of the few in the genre where the author seemed to understand clearly that everyone is different, and in particular, everyone has different problems. So she approached it by a big basket of common problems, with her take on how to turn it around. Very practical, and just tasted so much less of snake oil than the countless self-help books that line the shelves and make their authors absolute fortunes. Instead of just trying to pump you up with false confidence, it's about tackling head on your actual blockers. Kind of book in which only one chapter might really be relevant to you, but for that it was worth every cent. It's up there with What Color Is Your Parachute? in terms of self-help books that actually did help me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Dava Sobel. Longitude and Galileo's Daughter. There are a couple of men who come close, e.g. Tim Flannery and the underrated Colin Tudge, but her knack of making epic science stories uncompromisingly accessible is about as good as that kind of thing gets for me.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    When I was 12 I loved Maurice Gee's O trilogy, and Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar books. Both male authors, but ones that write well from a female POV (although in hindsight perhaps there's scope for argument about that in the case of Maurice Gee). Terry Pratchett's female protagonists are also great, and something a 12 year old could grow into.

    The Hunger Games books have a strong YA following, but I'm not sure I'd recommend them for a 12 year old, unless they're the sort of 12 year old who's been reading their friends' older siblings' battered copies of Stephen King or VC Andrews or Jean M Auel on the sly.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to B Jones,

    I was probably reading Duder as much as Gee for my 12 year old NZ fiction tastes. Night Race To Kawau was one I read a number of times – I could really relate to the trial they went through which made it a great segue to a novel that’s entirely full of women and girls talking to each other about things that aren’t just men. Great wakeup call to me about the dangers of cavalier masculine attitudes in an environment as dangerous as the sea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Diana Wynne Jones, Karen Healey, Emily Roddha, Tamora Pierce

    All seconded. DWJ rocks. Also, Diane Duane.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    Attachment

    Early childhood trash I couldn't put down - Enid Blyton. Just in case you thought women couldn't write sexist racist homophobic stuff (most of which I can't say I noticed). No better or worse than similar period children's fiction.

    Grabbed this a while back, I reckon Ronald Searle nailed her.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Oh, and for the 12 year old, Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books, especially the first three.

    And the Mary Poppins books. Fabulous fantasy – entirely unlike the movie – and I admire PL Travers editing them to get rid of the racist tinges in more recent years.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson,

    Just remembered – mil/SF that I really enjoyed the last couple of years are Rachel Bach’s Paradox series – power-armour-wearing-badasses for the win.

    ETA: Oh, also Eli Monpress for the fantasy category (same author). Great series.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

    The idea of not reading women writers is about as absurd to me as not liking bacon.

    Bad analogy?

    After Ursula Le Guin, Angela Carter probably had the strongest impact on me as an early reader. It was a long time ago now, but reading The Passion of New Eve at an impressionable age... left an impression.

    More recently friends at Time Out Bookstore (plug) recommended Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Series, and I read the first three in quick succession, and am eagerly awaiting the 4th and final one due in translation later this year.

    Ferrante seems to me to have one of the strongest female (strangely I wanted to say 'not male') voices in any fiction I've read, and I loved it.

    If you are interested, there is screeds of stuff about her on the Guardian, and also an exclusive interview from the Paris Review, which I made it half way through - with the intention of going back.

    Also, because I'm not above blowing smoke (cough), Emma, your writing 'voice' is one of my favourites. :-)

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2448 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to JacksonP,

    Angela Carter probably had the strongest impact on me as an early reader.

    Sadly I never discovered her until around a decade ago. Some of her stuff reads like backstory for something she seemed to be working up to, which only adds to the sense of her being cut off as she approached her prime. As inventive in her own way as Margaret Atwood.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    cut off as she approached her prime

    I agree. With the works she had produced, at 51 you’d think the world was ahead of her. Fuck cancer.

    If we’re making lists, some perhaps not mentioned above:

    Janette Turner Hospital ( Due Preparations for the Plague, The Claimant)
    Lionel Shriver.

    Téa Obreht, who has yet to follow up the amazing debut The Tiger’s Wife, but apparently is working on something.
    Rachel Kushner, although The Flame Throwers wasn’t quite as good as the hype suggested, IMO.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2448 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    'Tis pity she's a hua...
    I hear that Eleanor Catton has a coupla good books under her belt, too...
    ...I enjoyed them
    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Any other fantasy readers ever get into Julian May?

    I read and re-read 'Saga of the Exiles' half-a-dozen times as a young teen.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Just remembered a couple of others:

    Anyone mentioned Cynthia Harnett or Joan Aiken yet?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to JessicaRose,

    How about people not whining 'why won't she go out with me?', 'why won't he go out with me', and perhaps focus on how you can be someone that another person would want to go out with. Get a hobby, learn a useful skill, contribute to society, create something ..or yes, read a book. This is useful for whichever gender you identify with.

    Yeah, this.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Asinius,

    Colleen McCullough (the Masters of Rome series, haven't read any of her other stuff)
    Sharon Penman
    Lindsey Davis
    Jacqueline Carey

    +1 for Julian May and Mary Gentle

    and, um, Anne Rice...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2009 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    More SFF:

    Gwyneth Jones, especially the Aleutian stories, one of my favourite authors.
    Elizabeth Hand
    Suzy McKee Charnas (__The Vampire Tapestry__ offers an alternate Dr Lecter...)
    Lisa Tuttle
    Vonda McIntyre
    Hope Mirlees
    Anna Kavan
    C(atherine) L Moore
    Suzette Elgin
    Elizabeth Lynn
    Elisabeth Vonarburg
    Ellen Datlow
    Nancy Kress
    Melissa Scott
    Kate Wilhelm
    Octavia Butler

    etc.

    Newer authors getting noticed

    Kij Johnson
    Catherynne Valente

    Try http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/ for precis of each and see if you're interested.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Asinius,

    Colleen McCullough..."A Creed For the Third Millennium"

    Anne Frank..." I want to go on living after my death. And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift....of expressing all that is in me."

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    Oh, and Alice, as in "Go Ask Alice"

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Kracklite,

    Hope Mirlees

    Memorable here for the remarkable Lud-in-the-Mist. Are you familiar with anything else she's written?

    Another one-off author, Theresa Whistler, for The River Boy. I hope to live long enough to find another copy.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    This 'Go Ask Alice'?

    As long as they know it's a work of fiction written by Mormon youth counselor Beatrice Sparks, and not an actual diary written by 'Alice', which it's often presented as.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Yep. I have somewhere a copy circa 1974...and we all knew at high school it was not actually a real diary, by a real girl called Alice.

    It was a VERY popular book...in the school library, and containing some really interesting language and themes.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Theresa Whistler, for The River Boy. I hope to live long enough to find another copy.

    Eeek! Been looking on & off for yonks, either no luck or hugely pricey. Just looked again on eBay, got one for 99p. Thanks Emma et al for providing the kick in the arse.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Anyone out there got a spare copy of The House That Beebo Built (1975)
    by Janine Ast (Author), Alain Gree (Author), Philippe Fix (Illustrator)?
    or any other Beebo books?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

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