New Year, New Reading List

Here, finally, is my list of female Bildugsromane to read this year as part of the Classics Club’s Women’s Classic Literature Event 2016. I have only read the first before, and I’m reading the rest as part of my research for a chapter in the book I am writing, tentatively titled Reading Little Women: The History of an American Classic. Many of these are books for girls, but some are written more for adults.

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (1868)

Susan Coolidge, What Katy Did (1872)

Louisa May Alcott, Rose in Bloom (1876)

Kate Douglas Wiggin, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903)Rebecca-of-Sunnybrook-Farm

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908)

Gene Stratton-Porter, A Girl of the Limberlost (1909)

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1940)

Maude Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy (1940) and Betsy-Tacy and Tib (1941)Betsy-Tacy and Tib

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)

Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)

H.D., HERmione (written 1927; first published 1981)

Ellen Glasgow, The Sheltered Life (1932)Sheltered Life

Dorothy West, The Living Is Easy (1948)Living is Easy

Lucille Fletcher, The Daughters of Jasper Clay (1958)

Judy Blume, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970)

I would like to read one book a month, but I’ve got fifteen here. And I would like to read them in chronological order, but I will probably read The Diary of a Young Girl earlier in the year, since my daughter will be reading it in school. So this isn’t a blueprint but a starting point. The list may change as I discover new books to add to the list.

I am starting now with Little Women, reading it in the annotated edition just published by Norton. I will be meeting with some friends to discuss the first part on Jan. 22. These are all women who read the book when they were young and would like to read it again. I can’t wait to hear their stories about what they remember about the book and what the experience of reading it now is like. We’ll be meeting again in February to discuss the second half.

If you would like to read any of these books along with me or discuss them, please drop me a note. I would love to have some conversations about them.

I have created a list of Female Bildungsromane in Goodreads. Stop by and vote for your favorites, and feel free to add to the list.

Happy reading for 2016!





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  1. Girl of the Limberlost is underrated. A shame it’s disappeared from (or never made it to) the canon. CFW would have loved it.

    Wishing you and yours a tremendous 2016. (What a year it will be for you and Woolson studies!)

    XO, Cheryl

  2. Great list, here and on Goodreads. It is interesting all the people there who voted for Girl of the Limberlost: now that my mother in law has passed on, I don’t think I know of one other person who read it. Kind of a shame, though we’re used to a quicker style that is there with those novels that have stayed on more. I think I’ll add To Kill a Mockingbird to your Goodreads list. I’m partial for many reasons, but like Anne Frank’s diary, and sometimes Jane Eyre, it’s a book that young teen boys also like. (not that there’s anything wrong with a female audience, but I’m thinking about school reading).

  3. I’ve read a lot of those (and at first I thought you were only reading children’s books). It’s a great list, but I think my greatest delight among them all was “I Capture the Castle.” What a lovely, lovely book. You’ll enjoy it.

    1. Hi Camille! Thanks so much for visiting. I would be delighted to have you read Little Women along with me. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about it! I will try to post here a few times as I am reading it.

      1. Hello Anne! I shall ba glad to share thoughts but I am not as clever and educated as you. I am only 22 and because of various difficulties (health problems, my parents’ deaths, my being the guardian of my sister and a cousin who suffer from DownS and our living in the country), I did not pass many exams. You may find me and my thoughts over simplistic. Please, do not hesitate to tell me so if I bother you. Otherwise I like your list of books and the inclusion of “girls books” as “Bildungromans”. They are too often denigrated with only a shrug. The same for the French girls stories of about the same period. I would be glad to go on a diet of them to study the mechanisms and the meaning. They are not, at least I think they are not, as black and white as the gender studies would let us believe. ‘Little Women/Good Wives” in the OUP edition is besides me with a notebook and a pen.
        Thank you for your kindness.

        1. As I tell my students, Camille, everyone’s views are important. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. And I couldn’t agree more that girls’ books are unfairly marginalized. That is something I want to write about in my book about Little Women. Hearing it from people like you gives me courage to talk about. So thanks!

  4. Anne, you might find Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (1921) interesting for your bildungsroman project. It reads like a novel from the Victorian era trying to find space within the modernist era, if that makes sense. I think you’d find it interesting as a feminist. I wrote about it here if you’re interested, but I include spoilers.

    All the best.

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