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
THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton
I always have a bit of a weird time choosing our November reads, since October and December have such defined aesthetics. As much as I wanted to build on our discussion of women's health, female autonomy, and voicelessness from our Gothic discussion, with the U.S. presidential election happening on November 3, the recent appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, and the protests happening in Poland against the recent abortion ban, I personally needed an escape.
Which brings us to Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and an iconic writer whose work exposed the intricacies of high society New York during the Gilded Age. She is a successor to Jane Austen in many ways, and this particular novel of manners reminded me quite a bit of Gossip Girl's Serena van der Woodsen. This month, we'll explore the glamor and darkness of high society New York to hopefully find a moment's reprieve in someone else's problems.
Check back in at the end of November 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!