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The Berkeley Women’s Canon in 27 Landmark Books

September 28, 2020
by Laura Smith
Image source: Jane Mount

From Joan Didion to Jenny Odell, peruse our annotated bookshelf.

An impressive number of women authors have come out of Berkeley—so many that it was daunting to select titles to include on this ideal bookshelf. Here you’ll find groundbreaking journalists and sociologists, beloved children’s book authors, and some of the country’s sharpest critics. They were on the campus in different eras, some for just a short time (can you guess which author was here only for a semester?), but they all left their mark on our campus and the literary world.

The Bookshelf:

1. The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

2. Desert Exile: the Uprooting of a Japanese American Family by Yoshiko Uchida

3. Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

4. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

5. Mrs. Dumpty by Chana Bloch

6. Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag

7. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

8. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell

9. O and Other Poems by Leslie Scalapino

10. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

11. Anywhere But Here by Mona Simpson

12. The Middleman and Other Stories by Bharati Mukherjee

13. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

14. Cannibal Cafe: Open All Night by Julia Vinograd

15. The White Album by Joan Didion

16. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

17. The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home by Arlie Hochschild

18. Coming to Terms by Josephine Miles

19. Ishi In Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America by Theodora Kroeber

20. Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

21. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

22. A Paradise Built in Hell: the Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit

23. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

24. I Lost It at the Movies by Pauline Kael

25. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

26. Certain People of Importance by Kathleen Thompson Norris

27. Civil Wars by June Jordan

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

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