I absolutely love this article, and not only because it has the tag “the canon is shaped like a dick” at the bottom. It is hard to narrow the discussion of what is wrong with Esquire‘s list of 80 books men should read down to one quote, but to lure you in to reading the essay, here’s a great example of what is right about this rebuttal of Esquire‘s list:
There are good and great books on the Esquire list, though even Moby-Dick, which I love, reminds me that a book without women is often said to be about humanity but a book with women in the foreground is a woman’s book. And that list would have you learn about women from James M. Cain and Philip Roth, who just aren’t the experts you should go to, not when the great oeuvres of Doris Lessing and Louise Erdrich and Elena Ferrante exist. I look over at my hero shelf and see Philip Levine, Rainer Maria Rilke, Virginia Woolf, Shunryu Suzuki, Adrienne Rich, Pablo Neruda, Subcomandante Marcos, Eduardo Galeano, Li Young Lee, Gary Snyder, James Baldwin, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez. These books are, if they are instructions at all, instructions in extending our identities out into the world, human and nonhuman, in imagination as a great act of empathy that lifts you out of yourself, not locks you down into your gender.
I literally laughed out loud several times while reading it, which is nice, because a lot of the truth Rebecca Solnit tells would make me want to cry or scream otherwise.
(And while I fangirl over Rebecca Solnit, let me recommend another essay every person should read, just in case you haven’t. . .)