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.