50 books that didn’t make the ‘cool’ list but should have


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Last night I stumbled across this list of the 50 coolest books ever. I’m not really sure how the website Short List defines ‘cool’ but from the list of titles, I’m going to say the ‘cool’ books are the ones you read in your late teens and early twenties that (at the time, at least) seem a little bit edgy and definitely make you feel smart and literary. They’re the books you tuck under your arm instead of carrying in your backpack because you want everyone to know you’re reading them.

As far as arbitrary internet lists go, this list isn’t a bad one. Some of my favourite books made the cut. Except that 47 of the 50 are by male authors. The other three are The Secret History by Donna Tartt and The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, both by Ayn Rand. I know it’s just a stupid list that some low-level content producer probably spewed out in a panic on deadline, but only THREE books by female authors in a list of 50?! Really?! Lame.

To prove just how lame, and how easy it is to make a whole list of so-called ‘cool’ books by only female authors, I went ahead and did it. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and there’s probably a whole bunch of really obvious titles I’ve forgotten. But from a quick scan of my real and Goodreads bookshelves, here are 50 books by female authors that I carried around hoping people would notice the titles and think I was cool. Also, unlike the first list, I didn’t cheat—these are 50 books by 50 different authors.

Unknown1. The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas





ripley2.The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith





the little friend3. The Little Friend By Donna Tartt





Pessl_Night-Film4. Night Film By Marisha Pessl





rockaway5. From Rockaway By Jill Eisenstadt





light gets in6. How the Light Gets In by M J Hyland





oryx7. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood





red spikes8. Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan





toyshop9. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter





ntkg10. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham





tampa11. Tampa by Alissa Nutting





the end of alice12. The End of Alice





theinterestings13. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer





prozac14. Prozac nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel





prep15. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld





Rebecca16. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier





witch17. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice





on beauty18. On Beauty by Zadie Smith





good man19. A Good man is hard to find and other stories by Flannery o’connor





notes on a scandal20. Notes on a scandal by ZoË heller





poisonwood21. The Poisonwood bible by Barbara Kingsolver





girl interrupted22. Girl Interrupted by Susanna kaysen





rehearsal23. The rehearsal by Eleanor catton





girl half formed24. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride





flamethrowers25. The FlameThrowers by Rachel kushner





loud earth26. The Loud Earth by Elisabeth murray





summer book27. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson





shipping news28. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx





god of small29. The God of Small Things by arundhati roy





ghosts child30. The Ghost’s Child by sonya hartnett





written on the body31. Written on the Body by jeanette winterson





frankenstein32. Frankenstein by mary shelley





bold as love33. Bold as Love by gwyneth jones





kevin34. We Need to Talk About Kevin by lionel shriver





strange35. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by susanna clarke





duncker36. Hallucinating Foucault by patricia duncker





no one belongs here more than you37. No One Belongs Here More Than You by miranda july





virgins38. The Virgins by pamela erens





oleander39. White Oleander by janet fitch





wide sargasso sea40. Wide Sargasso Sea by jean rhys





spirits41. The House of the Spirits by isabel allende





wuthering heights42. Wuthering heights by emily brontË





fingersmith43. fingersmith by sarah waters





just a girl44. just_a_girl by kirsten krauth





dalloway45. mrs dalloway by virginia woolf





moth diaries46. The moth diaries by rachel klein





room47. room by emma donoghue





yellow48. The yellow wallpaper by charlotte perkins gilman





picnic49. picnic at hanging rock by joan lindsay





mockingbird50. To kill a mockingbird by harper lee