If you follow Olivie Blake is Not Writing, then you're probably already aware that Aurora Sinclair and I accidentally started a book club by virtue of insisting people listen to our excited bursts of rambling as we explored literary erotica, beginning with Anaïs Nin. After realizing there were a number of women interested in reading along, we decided to create a monthly book recommendation along with guided discussion questions.
The idea behind this particular thought experiment is that each book focuses on an aspect of the female experience. While not every book is necessarily erotica (some definitely are, but not all), each one has a feature of sex positivity along with a contribution to the collective understanding of womanhood in literature.
If you'd like to follow along, check in on any of my social media! We start reading on the first of the month and discuss during the final week.
March 2019: Henry and June by Anaïs Nin
April 2019: The Awakening by Kate Chopin
May 2019: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure
June 2019: Seductress by Betsy Prioleau
July 2019: Chéri by Colette
August 2019: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
September 2019: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
October 2019: Jane Eyre / Rebecca by Charlotte Brontë, Daphne du Maurier
November 2019: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin
December 2019: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
January 2020: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
February 2020: The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
March 2020: Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
April 2020: Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf
May 2020: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
June 2020: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
July 2020: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
August 2020: You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
September 2020: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
October 2020: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
November 2020: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
December 2020: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
January 2021: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
February 2021: The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan
TOO MUCH: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today
by Rachel Vorona Cote
Happy Women's History Month! We're going to take a little jaunt into the past to cover Victorian literature (featuring bangers like ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, JANE EYRE, and THE YELLOW WALLPAPER) and pop culture with this vulnerable analysis of the female experience via one woman's "too much"-ness. With the popularity of the "Free Britney" movement and the analysis of misogyny in celebrity culture, this is one way to view the subjects that are otherwise treated with stigma: sex, infidelity, self-harm (TW for that chapter, which admittedly even I sort of skimmed in places), grief, and body image.
A caveat: while this book provides a great lens to view the beloved female-authored classics of the past, it is from the perspective of a white woman. (It's about 50% literary analysis, 50% memoir.) We will cover more inclusive history in future months.
Check back in at the end of March for discussion questions and links for further reading. If you'd like to follow the discussion, send me an ask on Tumblr or reply to this month's S.P.E.L.L. post to be tagged!