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Adult Books
...for the Heartless Bitch in all of us

Books with Heartlessly Bitchy Themes and/or Characters for Grown Up Heartless Bitches

(*T* -- denotes reviews/submissions by Tavia)

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Living With The Dominator - by Pat Craven
An excellent and easy-to-read book about 8 basic types of "Dominator" behaviors that abusive partners can exhibit, and the power and control tactics they use in relationships. It’s about how to see them for what they are, and what belief systems underlie and reinforce their behaviors. In many respects, I think the title might be more appropriate if it were, "Recognizing the Dominator", because really, that’s what this book is about.

Jacky Fleming has instructive and entertaining cartoons throughout the book that emphasize the points without being too flip or maudlin.

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Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century (Paperback) - by by Justine Larbalestier (Editor)

Women's contributions to science fiction over the past century have been lasting and important, but critical work in the field has only just begun to explore its full range. Justine Larbalestier has collected 11 key stories--many of them not easily found, and all of them powerful and provocative--and sets them alongside 11 new essays, written by top scholars and critics, that explore the stories' contexts, meanings, and theoretical implications. The resulting dialogue is one of enormous significance to critical scholarship in science fiction, and to understanding the role of feminism in its development. Organized chronologically, this anthology creates a new canon of feminist science fiction and examines the theory that addresses it. Daughters of Earth is an ideal overview for students and general readers.

Aurora: Beyond Equality - by Vonda N. MacIntyre and Susan Janice Anderson

This is a collection of feminist sci-fi from the 1970s. It includes two stories by the late, great Alice Sheldon. One, written under the pen name Raccoona Sheldon, is "Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Full of Light!" about a mentally ill woman who lives, in her mind, in a postapocalyptic, primitive world devoid of men (!) "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" was written under her other pseudonym, James Tiptree Jr., and is about male astronauts who travel through a time warp into a world where everyone is female and cloned.

Also in this collection: an essay by Ursula K. LeGuin on how she came to write her excellent gender-bending sci-fi novel "The Left Hand of Darkness," and an excerpt from Marge Piercy's "Woman on the Edge of Time," which you have already reviewed here, and which is one of my favorite novels.

Though it is currently out of print, you can find it through used booksellers. I highly recommend this collection.

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Why does he do that? Inside the minds of Angry and Controlling Men - by Lundy Bancroft

Bancroft is a therapist who specializes in treating male abusers. He really knows his shit - doesn't make any excuses, and doesn't let men make any either. He's heard every reason ever invented for abuse and doesn't buy any of them.

Reasons including, but not limited to "I was abused as a child" or other crap "My mother treated me badly, so I hate women", or "She is the one who's the control freak, not me. I have to slap her up to keep her in line." Alcohol, drug abuse and personality disorders also have no place in the excuse book for this author, as he places all the issues down to one thing - taking responsibility and doing for oneself, not expecting others to fulfill ones own needs.

It is all very black and white and in no uncertain terms tells exactly what emotional and physical abuse is and when it is happening.

He has even got in depth descriptives of the 'Nice, sensitive guy' in the book as an abuser - absolutely priceless! Stories about stalkers, whiners & cry-babies trying to get sympathy and then getting angry or claiming abuse themselves when their sappy love shit doesn't work.

Bottom line: The author makes it crystal clear that abusers have no plausible excuse for their behavior. The problem is they think they are 'entitled' to abuse their partners and get their way with everything. Their 'entitlement' makes them impossible to live with or have a productive, sharing relationship with.

This book is a definite must for anyone who is going through the ups and downs of an abusive relationship and thinks she is the one that can't do anything right. This is sure steer her in the right direction, turn her to a bonafide BITCH and get rid of the asshole!

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Games People Play - by Eric Berne, M.D., Grove Press, Inc., NY, 1964.

This book describes various types of daily social interaction we conduct amongst each other as "games". The book includes an introductory Analysis of Games, Thesaurus of Games including "Life, Marital, Party, Sexual, Underworld, Consulting Room, and Good Games", and concludes with a Beyond Games section.

The self-abusive behavior described in HBI's article is described by Dr. Berne in his "Party Game, Why Don't You - Yes But".

This book is somewhat politically incorrect being originally written in 1964, but I expect a true Heartless Bitch would fucking suck it up, and not let the style get it the way of the enjoyment or benefit of reading the book.

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The Big Fat Bitch Book - by Kate Figes

An interesting dual-book approach (at least the galley copy I read), it is at once a book "for girls" - meaning tween and teenage girls, and a book "for grown-up girls" if you flip it over. I'm not sure if the listed book is the same as the galley I received.

At any rate, I the book for "grown up girls" has some good content, though by and large, I think that Figes identifies as "Bitches" women who are simply manipulative assholes. She glorifies revenge in one chapter, and that's something I cannot condone. However, her chapter on "Sisters are doin' it for themselves" is a good analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing women today. The chapters on books and movie characters are weak, and seem like fluffy filler. More worthwhile content on ways to deal with the realities facing women would have been helpful.

The chapters "Limiting the Damage" and "How Parents can help" offer some sound advice and insight into the mother-daughter teen relationship. My biggest complaint with the "How to be a Better Bitch" chapter, is that it lumps cattiness, vindictiveness and gossip into one big messy kettle called "Bitching". It tries to draw lines about when behavior like that is ok and not ok, and runs the risk of setting double standards. Intermixed with how to conversationally deal with different kinds of situations is advice on delivering backhanded-compliment insults. While this may be appropriate when trying to get rid of an asshole who won't take "no" for an answer, it really dilutes her other more worthwhile messages. And I don't agree with the advice on being self-deprecating. Women do that far too much as a way to get attention. Having a sense of humor about your failings and foibles is one thing, being self-deprecating is the antithesis of the Heartless Bitch.

As for the teen side of the book "for girls", I think it would be valuable reading for any parent of a teen or pre-teen, in order to be aware of the kind of behavior that goes on in schools, but as for helping girls themselves, it contains far too much "this is what happens" and not enough "Here's how to handle things, set yourself apart and not play the games". The last 30 pages have strong positive messages and advice for teens, but I wonder if they will get across given that so much of the book is devoted to describing how teens behave with one another? I think the book could have done with more scenarios of strong ways to handle difficult situations than the endless descriptions of bad behavior.

On the whole, it's worthwhile to pick up if you are a parent - and may be a real eye-opener for those who forgot or are not aware of the real pressures and verbal bullying affecting teenage girls.

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Woman's Inhumanity to Woman - by Phyllis Chesler

Ms. Chesler was discouraged from publishing this book for almost 20 years by feminists who didn't think a discussion of the negative aspects of women's behaviour towards each other would be helpful to "the cause". How wrong they were. This book should have been published years ago and should be required reading for all females. It discusses the indirect agression women use against each other in order to avoid expressing and discussing their anger and maintain the myth that "nice girls don't do bad things" (especially to each other) that all too often causes irreparable harm to their target. The reader will surely be reminded of every girl bully and backstabber they've ever had the displeasure of associating with as they read the various anecdotes offered as examples of the kinds of destructive behaviour that result from girlie women's insecurities.

Buy Son of a Witch now!

Son of A Witch - by Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire's Son of a Witch is the sequel to Wicked, his novel about the world of Oz told from the point of view of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Like Wicked, it is a story of adventure broad in scope told in an admirable style with touches of wry humor, but its focus is the development of the main character. When Elphaba went to live in the high castle at Kiamo Ko, she took a young boy with her, Liir, who might or might not have been her son; she herself didn't know nor much care, having spent several months in a coma when she would have borne him. When she died, Liir was a pliant, uneducated, neglected, cowardly boy of about 14. Son of a Witch tells the story of his maturing into a responsible, foresighted man against the backdrop of power politics, war, and brutality in Oz after the flight of the Wizard.

Liir begins by accompanying Dorothy to the Emerald City to try to find Nor, a girl he played with at the castle and possibly his half-sister. “He couldn’t think beyond that.” (118). He fails but comes into himself, and to bide his time joins the Home Guard, shrinking himself into the role of soldier and priding himself on its benefits: “Rectitude, for one. Propriety. Custody of the senses…Also…a capacity for respect…Precision, obedience, and rightness of thinking.” (144). All means to an end, and without a higher purpose an abjuration of responsibility:

"A capacity for interiority in the growing adult is threatened by the temptation to squander that capacity ruthlessly, to revel in hollowness. The syndrome especially plagues anyone who lives behind a mask. An Elephant in her disguise as a human princess, a Scarecrow with painted features, a glittering tiara under which to glow and glide in anonymous glamour. A witch’s hat, a Wizard’s showbiz display, a cleric’s stole, a scholar’s gown, a soldier’s dress sartorials. A hundred ways to duck the question: how will I live with myself now that I know what I know?"

His service ends in atrocity and he tries to withdraw from the world in revulsion, but the force of events draws him further into opposition to the new Emperor Apostle in the Emerald City and into adulthood. His refusal to face responsibility, his insistence that “it’s not for me to decide” (226), gives way as he learns to see the consequences of his actions (and inactions) not fading away at all but rippling ever more powerfully throughout Oz.

The end of the novel leaves the story in an unsettled, even desperate state, yet one in which a fully mature Liir acts wisely, which he would not have done earlier; he accepts the situation he was forced into by circumstance in full awareness of what he is able to do and what is right rather than resigning himself to what would have seemed decided for him. As a direct result, with the last sentence his last doubts are dispelled, a satisfying, modest ending that leaves a good taste in the reader’s mouth.

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Three Plums In One : One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly - by Janet Evanovich

Three Complete Novels, One for the Money, Two for the Dough, and Three to Get Deadly, from the New York Times#1 Bestselling Author, Janet Evanovich!

Here's where it all began -- the three novels that first brought us Stephanie Plum, that bounty hunter with attitude who stepped out of Trenton's blue-collar "burg" and into the heart of America.

One for the Money: Stephanie's all grown up and out on her own, living five miles from Mom and Dad and doing her best to sever the world's longest umbilical cord. Her mother is a meddler and her grandmother is a few cans short of a case. Out of work and out of money, Stephanie blackmails her bail-bondsman cousin Vinnie into giving her a try as an apprehension agent. Stephanie knows zilch about the job requirements, but she figures her new pal, el-primo bounty hunter Ranger, can teach her what it takes to catch a crook. Her first assignment: nail Joe Morelli, a former vice cop on the run from a charge of murder one. Morelli's the inamorato who charmed Stephanie out of her virginity at age sixteen. There's still powerful chemistry between them, so the chase is interesting.

Two for the Dough: Stephanie takes to the mean streets of Trenton, armed with attitude (not to mention stun guns and defense sprays), to find Kenny Mancuso, who recently shot his best friend and is on the run. Aided by the enigmatic Ranger, who knows a thing or two about bounty hunting, and by her irrepressible Grandma Mazur, Stephanie forms a shaky alliance with her favorite cop, Joe Morelli, for a tumultuous chase through back alleys and Grandma's favorite funeral parlors.

Three to Get Deadly: Stephanie is having a bad hair day -- for the whole month of January. She's looking for Mo Bedemier, Trenton's most beloved citizen, who was charged with carrying concealed and skipped bail. To help her, she's got Lula, a former hooker turned file clerk. Big, blonde, and black, Lula's itching to lock up a crook in the trunk of her car. And Morelli, the cop with the slow-burning smile, is acting polite even after Stephanie finds more bodies than the Trenton PD has seen in years. That's a bad sign for sure.

Funny and fabulous, Janet Evanovich is at her sparkling best in these three novels that launched a bestselling phenomenon.

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The Glass Castle : A Memoir - by Jeannette Walls
Jeannette Walls is a regular contributor to In this, her memoirs, she tells for the first time, of a life growing up in a severely dysfunctional family, where ultimately the children were left to fend for themselves. But instead of a story filled with bitterness and shame, she delivers a thoughtful and sensitive memoir of thriving and surviving.

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Fat Girl - by Judith Moore

From A nonfiction She's Come Undone, Fat Girl is a powerfully honest and compulsively readable memoir of obsession with food, and with one's body, penned by a Guggenheim and NEA award-winning writer.

For any woman who has ever had a love/hate relationship with food and with how she looks; for anyone who has knowingly or unconsciously used food to try to fill the hole in his heart or soothe the craggy edges of his psyche, Fat Girl is a brilliantly rendered, angst-filled coming-of-age story of gain and loss. From the lush descriptions of food that call to mind the writings of M. F. K. Fisher at her finest, to the heartbreaking accounts of Moore's deep longing for a family and a sense of belonging and love, Fat Girl stuns and shocks, saddens and tickles.

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Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes and More Ruthless Rhymes (Hilarious Stories) [UNABRIDGED] - by Harry Graham
For readers with an aversion to syrupy verse: a delightful, inexpensively priced collection of vintage verse with an amusingly irreverent mood. Forty-nine examples of rare 19th-century black humor—each accompanied by clever drawings—will delight readers with their stinging humor and outrageous wit.

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Creepy Susie : And 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children - by ANGUS OBLONG

Creepy Susie. Mary Had a Little Chainsaw. Milo's Disorder. Rosie's Crazy Mother. The Siamese Quadruplets. Emily Amputee.

Your mother never told you these stories.

She didn't want to scare you.

But Angus Oblong is not your mother.

If Edgar Allan Poe and David Lynch wrote a book, it might be as warped, wicked, and perversely funny as this treasury of twisted tales from childhood's Twilight Zone. So don't be alarmed if you find yourself screaming . . . with laughter . . . until the day you die. Which may be very soon . . .

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Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch : Tales from a Bad Neighborhood - by Hollis Gillespie

NPR commentator Hollis Gillespie's outrageously funny -- and equally heartbreaking -- collection of autobiographical tales chronicles her journey through self-reckoning and the worst neighborhoods of Atlanta in search of a home she can call her own. The daughter of a missile scientist and an alcoholic traveling trailer salesman, Gillespie was nine before she realized not everybody's mother made bombs, and thirty before she realized it was possible to live in one place longer than a six-month lease allows. Supporting her are the social outcasts she calls her best friends: Daniel, a talented and eccentric artist; Grant, who makes his living peddling folk art by a denounced nun who paints plywood signs with twisted evangelical sayings; and Lary, who often, out of compassion, offers to shoot her like a lame horse.

Hollis's friends help her battle the mess of obstacles that stand in her way -- including her warped childhood, in which her parents moved her and her siblings around the country like carnival barkers, chasing missile-building contracts and other whimsies, such as her father's dream to patent and sell door-to-door the world's most wondrous key-chain. A past like this will make you doubt you'll ever have a future, much less roots. Miraculously, though, Gillespie manages to plant exactly that: roots, as wrested and dubious as they are.

As Gillespie says, "Life is too damn short to remain trapped in your own Alcatraz." Follow her on this wickedly funny journey as she manages to escape again and again.

Buy "Confessions" now!

Confessions of a Slacker Mom - by Muffy Mead-Ferro

A breath of fresh air for expectant mothers or moms in any stage of life. The author shares her experiences with motherhood and in turn pokes fun at current trends in books about motherhood as well as over-priced educational toys and games. She stresses the importance of a child's ability to build their own character and not get lost in a world of silly and often useless hype. A very fun and hilarious look at being a mom in today's world.

Buy "Go West" now!

Go West, Young F*Cked Up Chick - by Rachel M. Resnick

The title alone - one of the first and only to sport an (albeit asterisked) F-word in the title to make it to the L.A Times Bestseller list. Protagonist Rebecca Roth leaves a swath of damage in her life in the underbelly of Hollywood, while shrugging off her own scars, and skewering everyone and every institution around her (including now governor Arnold).

The Saga of Tuck - by Ellen Hayes

This is a free online book, found here: about the coming of age, in contemporary America, of a pack of heartless-bitches-in-the-making teenagers. The theme of this book is the crossdressing and transsexualism of the main character, but the virtuous reader need not worry, there is no description of icky porn within these pages. There are instead emotions (intense, realistic, sometimes violent), humour (lots of it), even romance (as seen by a true HB through a teen's eyes). The characters have real depth, realistic behaviors and feelings, and the dialogue rings true and packs a lot of punch. You wish and dread at the same time you had experienced such a childhood. Everything in this ongoing series has an extremely low political-correctness value and a very high intelligence content.

Buy Gumshoe Gorilla now!

Buy The Gumshoe, The Witch... now!

Gumshoe Detective series - by Keith Hartman

"The Gumshoe, the Witch, and the Virtual Corpse" and "Gumshoe Gorilla" defy classification: part detective story, part science fiction, part social commentary and all hilariously entertaining. Great strong female characters. Love, love, love these books! (BTW ­ Keith checked out the site and wants to know if you accept gay men as members!)

The Gumshoe, the Witch, and the Virtual Corpse: It's Sunday the 8th of September 2024. A Wiccan journalist investigates the disappearance of a member of her coven, while a black police detective races to solve a series of occult crimes, and a gay PI searches for his missing psychic partner. A Baptist teenager wonders about girls, video games, and why the CIA seems to be cloning him. A televangelist plans a run for the presidency, while a Christian Rock Star engages in Byzantine political maneuvering to block him, and a Cherokee Shaman tries to juggle the demands of the spirit fathers with the demands of the American legal system. And then there's the Artist, with his intricate, baroque plans for revenge.

Eleven points of view. Eight interwoven plot lines. Six days. One mystery. The truth has always depended on your point of view. (from

Gumshoe Gorilla: Set in 2025 Atlanta, this sequel to Hartman's first novel, The Gumshoe, the Witch, and the Virtual Corpse (2001), features gay detective Drew Parke, his Wiccan partner Jennifer Grey and a large supporting cast of strange people. Like its predecessor, it employs the same irresistible zaniness and wit, multiple viewpoints, high sexual content (both gay and straight) and cheerfully chaotic narrative technique. Jennifer is hired by a young deaf-mute named Skye, who wants to find out whether her boyfriend, Charles Rockland (an actor, and one of five cloned hunks), is cheating on her. Meanwhile, Drew's sidekick and sometime lover, Daniel, is in trouble with the law. In both cases, it turns out that there's extremely nasty blackmail behind the troublemaking what might be called a family feud in real life. Add to this a band of Cherokees trying to get back Georgia, while lurking in the background are dueling televangelists, each with his crop of the ambitious or the thuggish (you expected the devout?), and it's obvious that the author has produced another engagingly weird novel of the near future, satirizing everything he can get his word processor on and doing most of it extremely well. Nominated for a Lambda Award in both the mystery and SF/fantasy categories. (from Publisher’s Weekly via

Buy No Turning Back now!

No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women - by Estelle Freedman
This is one book to read for a concise yet complete history of feminism. It is particularly interesting because it doesn't victimise women: it discusses the anomalous situations in which they had power as well as the innumerable ways that women were limited. It explains possible reasons why women are frequently seen as "weaker vessels." The book supports continuing feminism and attempts to predict its future. Freedman's writing style is effective and direct. A must-read for anyone who wants to know more about what feminism is and how it originated.

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The Guide to Getting It On - by Paul Joannide of the Goofy Foot Press

"The Guide To Getting It On! covers all the bases in its examination of sexuality, from the mundane to the esoteric. It is humorous without being overly smarmy, smart without being clinical. It never takes itself too seriously and never judges. Nothing is sacred, thankfully. There is no blushing or knowing glances. It carefully treads that thin line between silly and necessary, casting a knowing glance on everything. And I mean everything." Mike Messaros/DAILY COLLEGIAN, THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS

"...Another great aspect of this book: the act most often encouraged is talking. The other thing that really makes this book work is that it is funny. It has a genuine appreciation of the idea that sex can be fun. It doesn't come off high-brow or antiseptic at all--instead, the writing is kind-hearted. The author and contributors sound like they are just regular folks, trying to enjoy what is, after all, supposed to be a good thing in life... What more could you ask for? (Well you could ask, but delivering probably would be illegal.)"


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Charms for the Easy Life - by Kaye Gibbons
Excellent book about three generations of strong women that live their lives however they choose. This book set during WWII. Main character is Charley Kate. She is a herbalist healer who trains her granddaugter to be the same. Unworthy men marry into this formidable tribe, but they cannot break the women's circle of strength and grace, so end up leaving or dying This is a perfect blend of humor, grace and spirit. It is a little slow and it does ramble, but the quips are great and they do not tolerate fools! I know that almost every man who has read it and hated it, I had to find out what was up. I was hooked from the beginning when the book begins with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, “Stupidity in a woman is unfeminine.”

Buy Against Love now!

Against Love - A Polemic - by Laura Kipnis
Witty and hyperbolic, Kipnis makes it clear in her introduction that a polemic is intentionally one-sided. With that she procedes to skewer the popular social construct of marriage and happily-ever after, revelling in and exhalting the taboo-breakers - those who would buck the societal norms. In reality this book isn't so much "against love" but the unrealistic romantic fantasies of long-term relationships, and the societal expectations that bind us to them.

Buy Dropped Threads now!

Buy Dropped Threads 2 now!

Dropped Threads (1 & 2) - by Carol Shields (Editor), Adrienne Clarkson, Catherine Shields (Contributor)

The idea for Dropped Threads: What We Aren't Told came up between Carol Shields and longtime friend Marjorie Anderson over lunch. It appeared that after decades of feminism, the “women's network” still wasn't able to prevent women being caught off-guard by life. There remained subjects women just didn't talk about, or felt they couldn't talk about. Holes existed in the fabric of women's discourse, and they needed examining.

They asked thirty-four women to write about moments in life that had taken them by surprise or experiences that received too little discussion, and then they compiled these pieces into a book. It became an instant number one bestseller, a book clubs' favourite and a runaway success. Dropped Threads, says Anderson, "tapped into a powerful need to share personal stories about life's defining moments of surprise and silence." Readers recognized themselves in these honest and intimate stories; there was something universal in these deeply personal accounts. Other stories and suggestions poured in. Dropped Threads would clearly be an ongoing project.

Like the first volume, Dropped Threads 2 features stories by well-known novelists and journalists such as Jane Urquhart, Susan Swan and Shelagh Rogers, but also many excellent new writers including teachers, mothers, a civil servant, a therapist. This triumphant follow-up received a starred first review in Quill and Quire magazine, which called it “compassionate and unflinching.” The book deals with such difficult topics as loss, depression, disease, widowhood, violence, and coming to terms with death. Several stories address some of the darker sides of motherhood:

- A mother describes how, while sleep-deprived and in a miserable marriage, she is shocked to find infanticide crossing her mind.
- Another woman recounts a memory of her alcoholic mother demanding the children prove their loyalty in a terrifying way.
- A woman desperate for children refers to the bleak truth as: "Another Christmas of feeling barren." Narrating the fertility treatment she undergoes, the hopes dashed, she is amusing in retrospect and yet brutally honest.

While they deal with loss and trauma, the pieces show the path to some kind of acceptance, showing the authors’ determination to learn from pain and pass on the wisdom gained. The volume also covers the rewards of learning to be a parent, choosing to remain single, or fitting in as a lesbian parent. It explores how women feel when something is missing in a friendship, how they experience discrimination, relationship challenges, and other emotions less easily defined but just as close to the bone:

- Alison Wearing in "My Life as a Shadow" subtly describes allowing her personality to be subsumed by her boyfriend's.
- Pamela Mala Sinha tells how, after suffering a brutal attack, she felt self-hatred and a longing for retribution.
- Dana McNairn talks of her uncomfortable marriage to a man from a different social background: "I wanted to fit in with this strange, wondrous family who never raised their voices, never swore and never threw things at one another."

Humour, a confiding tone, and beautiful writing elevate and enliven even the darkest stories. Details bring scenes vividly to life, so we feel we are in the room with Barbara Defago when the doctor tells her she has breast cancer, coolly dividing her life into a 'before and after.' Lucid, reflective and poignant, Dropped Threads 2 is for anyone interested in women's true stories.

Buy Exorcising your EX now!

Exorcising Your Ex: How to Get Rid of the Demons of Relationships Past - by Elizabeth Kuster
One of the funniest break-up books ever. The perfect book for those still suffering at the hands of the abusers and manipulators. Laughter is the greatest revenge for any Bitch and this book will do the trick.

Buy Ferocious Romance now!

Ferocious Romance: What My Encounters With the Right Taught Me About Sex, God, and Fury - by Donna Minkowitz

Intrepid Village Voice reporter Donna Minkowitz thought she knew what she was getting into when she set out to go undercover among the religious right. She was going to observe "the enemy" close up, on its own turf. But Minkowitz, a feminist, lesbian, and "sex radical" who has won awards for her coverage of gay issues, found something else entirely -- a guide to some of the stormiest contradictions within her own soul.

Buy Kitchen Privileges now!

Kitchen Privileges - by Mary Higgins Clark
From Publishers Weekly:
Clark, author of 27 bestselling novels, has shifted gears and written a memoir that speaks directly to readers. The touching collection of anecdotes begins with a Depression-era childhood in the Bronx lacking in money but rich with love. The author's mother, who told everyone, "Mary is very gifted... [she's] going to be a successful writer," supplemented her income by renting out rooms with "kitchen privileges," and raised her children with selfless heroism, proving a shining example when Clark became a young widow, left to bring up five children on her own. The book proves particularly engaging when Clark tells of her writing group and the professor, William Byron Mowery, who taught her to think "what if" and "suppose" as a way of devising interesting plots. She conveys her courtship with her first husband sensitively and humorously, and writes of his death in honest, understated prose. Clark charts her literary road frankly, pointing out the numerous rejection slips and the failure of her first book, Aspire to the Heavens-the love story of George and Martha Washington-due to a misleading, uncommercial title. It's typical of her optimism that she considered it a triumph ("I knew... I had what it took to actually write a book"). Ranging from stories of illness and struggle to her happy 1996 marriage to Merrill Lynch CEO John Conheeney, this memoir shows what can be done when someone pursues her dreams, remains action-oriented and fights to overcome enormous obstacles.

Buy Dress Codes now!

Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoods--My Mother's, My Father's, and Mine - by Noelle Howey
A warm (but never maudlin or saccharine), humorous and couragous account of Noelle's years growing up in suburban Ohio. Struggling with her own identity, and longing for the attentions of her father, she discovers that her father likes to wear women's clothes. As he steps further and further out of the closet, Noelle has to come to terms with what gender, identity and normal REALLY mean.

Buy Wise Women now!

Wise Women : A Celebration of Their Insights, Courage, and Beauty - by Joyce Tenneson

An incredible compendium of the lives, wisdom and beauty of women aged 65-100. Tenneson travelled throughout the US photographing and interviewing 80 women, from the famous, to the ordinary, producing a wonderful work of poignancy and power. A great gift for your mother or sister, and a positive portrayal of aging with vitality, dignity and passion.

Buy The Good Women of China now!

The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices - by Xinran Xue
Based on her experiences as a broadcaster on state-run radio, Xinran gives voice to the harrowing experiences and difficult lives of many women in China. Her ground-breaking radio program, "Words on the Night Breeze" provided a much-needed forum for women to discuss their problems and experiences in modern China. In 1995, she left the program to try and help women directly, but she burned out in 1997 and moved to England to teach. While there, she produced this memoir, including some of the most painful stories from her "Night Breeze" program.

Buy Promised The Moon now!

Promised The Moon - by Stephanie Nolen
Book Description In 1959, the doctor who supervised the selection of NASA's first astronauts (all men) concluded that women—smaller, lighter and more tolerant of pain and isolation—might actually be better for the job. That doctor, Randy Lovelace, put 25 of the top female pilots in the United States through his tests, and finished with 13 superb candidates—many of whom had outperformed male astronauts such as John Glenn and Alan Shepard. Lovelace launched a secret woman-in-space program, and the 13 women started to believe they might lead their country into space.

But in 1961, the program was abruptly and mysteriously canceled. The women put up a fight, and won themselves a hearing before Congress. But John Glenn showed up to mock their efforts—and at the crucial hour, the women were suddenly betrayed by Jackie Cochran, the country's top female pilot and an influential politician in her own right.

Journalist Stephanie Nolen has tracked down the 11 surviving members of the "First Lady Astronaut Trainees," many of whom are still flying. Their leader, Jerrie Cobb, flies humanitarian aid missions to remote parts of South America. Janey Hart, 82, the wife of a key US Senator and a founder of the National Organization for Women, lives on a boat she sails solo in the Caribbean. And Wally Funk has trained at the Russian space centre and plans to go into space on a private charter.

Nolen tells the story of the secret program, the political and cultural climate that led to its cancellation and the remarkable women who were prepared to give their lives in the tense years of the early space race. Once promised the moon, some of the women still cling to the hope they will make that journey, even as they continue to live extraordinary lives on earth.

Buy Nickle and Dimed now!

Nickle and Dimed : On (Not) Getting By in America - by Barbara Ehrenreich
Rather than sit in a library and cite statistics about poverty in America, Ehrenreich actually went out and experienced it firsthand. This book is a report on her three months as a single woman working for minimum wage in various parts of the country. It really opened my eyes, and I was shocked not only by the complacency of the "haves," but also by the way the "have nots" viewed their own situation. Reading this book will definitely change the way you think about the maid who vacuums your living room every week, the waitress in your local diner, and the woman stocking the racks at Wal-Mart.

Buy Kiss my tiara now!

Kiss my tiara. How to rule the world as a smartmouth Goddess - by Susan Jane Gilman

Absolutely hilarious backlash-to-"The Rules" commentary of the world as seen through the eyes of a pragmatic woman with a twisted sense of humor and incredible way with words. Like The Rules, it's based on wisdom the author received from her grandmother--except her grandmother was a feisty, gin-drinking feminist.

Here are few chapter titles: If you can't order dessert, you can't ask for a raise; Marriage ain't prozac; and Give us that ol' time religion-so we can clobber sanctimonious morons with it.

Buy It's My Body now!

It's My Body and I'll Cry If I Want To - by Sharleen Jonasson
Beth Middleton, lapsed feminist, is recently separated from her husband and the custodial parent of their frequently hostile 14-year-old daughter. An investigative journalist in a career slump, she's wary of the offer, from an unconventional source, of an exceptional assignment: Will she infiltrate an elite beauty clinic to uncover details of a state-of-the art treatment soon to be unleashed on an unsuspecting market? The anti-beauty guerrilla who briefs her claims the treatment could expose millions of women to possibly mortal danger.

Beth decides to do her bit to help loosen the hold an increasingly unrealistic beauty industry has over women including, potentially, her own daughter (and also perhaps resolve the ongoing contest between herself and her bathroom mirror). So she signs on as a client at this institution devoted to improving appearances - and finds many things are not what they appear to be at all.

Buy The Fresco now!

The Fresco - by Sheri S. Tepper

Benita Alvarez-Shipton is an ordinary woman who works in a bookstore, supports a lazy drunken husband and two children. Her life is turned around when she is approached by two aliens to be their representative to the peoples of earth (they don't like to deal with politicians or other religious/government leaders - they argue and complain too much).

Earth has 2 choices: learn the way of Tassifoduma, translated as Neighborliness, and become a member of the Confederation; or be walled off from leaving the planet, although the several predatory races will be able to use Earth as a hunting ground (they hunt humans). As a demonstration of their abilities they perform two acts, one of which is an ugliness plague which infects all the women of Afghanistan. The men cover and punish their women because they apparently cannot control their own lust, so until they can do so, and the worse their women are treated, the uglier and smellier they will appear to the men. The lustful who punish beauty would be wiser to control lust. Any violence against a woman will be felt by the men perpetrating it. The more freedoms women are given, the more they will revert to their normal appearance.

The true heartless bitches in this story are the aliens, especially the Inkleozese, the all-female traditional monitors and peacekeepers of the Confederation. Due to the nature of the emergency on earth, which has been invaded by the man-eating aliens, the only Inkleozese available were in a state of parturition that would soon require a host. Their traditional hosts are certain animals on their home planet. Inklit eggs are implanted in hosts and, upon maturation, burrow or eat their way out. Most of them survive. The only suitable hosts on Earth are male persons. But once informed by the Pistach of the pro-life position of many of Earth's leaders, who do not espouse reproductive choice even in the case of rape, they agreed to come. Though the impregnation will be done without their permission, in a legal sense permission is inferred from the stand they take on the issue of rape. Each man on the list was on record as refusing to allow choice to women who have been raped, pointing out that the infant is innocent and must therefore take precedence.

This is an enjoyable story, and the growth and transformation of Benita is an important part of it. Written with a devious wit, it sends a message without preaching.

Buy Dance of Anger now!

Buy Dance of Intimacy now!

Buy Dance of Connection now!

Buy Dance of Deception now!

Dance of Anger - by Harriet Lerner
Harriet Lerner has put together an excellent series of books that talk in practical terms (with examples of real situations and real relationships), ways for dealing with difficult situations in relationships. She teaches how to have healthy boundaries using non-blaming, language and attitudes. While Lerner's books are directed at women, the communication techniques and focus on personal responsibility and honesty are universal. Other books in the series include:
  • The Dance of Intimacy : A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships
  • The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate
  • The Dance of Deception : A Guide to Authenticity & Truth-Telling in Women's Relationships - (less a self-help book, and more a look at truth, authenticity, and the ways in which women can approach authenticity and truth-telling in a society that sometimes makes it dangerous to tell the truth.)

By Snow White Now!
The Colors of Fantasy Series - edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

6 Volumes of Short Stories written by authors popular and obscure

The stories in these volumes are re-tellings of popular fairy tales, usually from a Heartless Bitch perspective.

One of my favorite stories from the series is about a woman in medieval Japan who is married off to an unsavory man. She becomes posessed by a wild fox and brings ruin to his household.

Another story is about what would happen after the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy Grew up. It deals with her irresistable attraction, one could say, addiction, to the ruby slippers, legalities of Oz, and her troubled friendships with the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow.

The stories in these anthologies tend to be deep and reflective as well as amusing and twisted. All of them are about women discovering themselves and/or triumphing over the male dominated world of fantasy.

Buy Sweet Potato Queens now!

Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love - by Jill Conner Browne
The Sweet Potato Queens are the Southern embodiment of Heartless Bitchiness. They don't need a man, that's what chocolate stuff was made for. All the Tammy's pack up for trips, riding in style and out of pocket across the US, any old time that they damn well please. Green sequins, majorette boots, hair up-to-here, and tiaras! Every real woman should be a queen!

Also check out the second SPQ's book, God Save the Sweet Potato Queens.

Buy Moghul Buffet now!

Moghul Buffet - by Cheryl Benard
How to deal with the woman-hating Taliban? Cheryl Benard, an Austrian sociologist, told us in her 1998 murder mystery, a side-splitting (and beautifully written) revenge story. Too bad no one paid attention before the bombing started. In this story, the emerging Taliban look like Boy Scouts helping little old ladies across the street compared with their vicious predecessors, the bad guys of that moment. A tiny band of women, Muslim and Western, finds a Heartless Bitch way to get rid of the worst of them. Who can tell who's under those burqas, or what they might be hiding? Benard knows these men; she's married to Afghan-born Zalmay M. Khalilzad, the lead U.S National Security Council official dealing with the region, a scholar of both the Middle East and military affairs.

Buy Woman Hollering Creek Now!

Woman Hollering Creek and other stories - by Sandra Cisneros
This excellent book written by young Chicana writer Sandra Cisneros gives voice to the harsh and unforgiving lives of women on both sides of the border with Mexico. Sandra Cisneros leaves little pieces of her soul in each of her characters with quotes such as:
"I'm amphibious. I'm a person who doesn't belong to any class. The rich like to have me around beca- use they envy my creativity; they know they can't
Buy THAT..I don't belong to any class. Not to the poor whose neighborhood I share.. Not to the middle class from which my sister Ximena and I fled."
Each story in this book tells of a woman who has lived a tumultous life and who, like the Phoenix rising out of the ashes, reinvents herself as a woman draped with infinite and intimate wisdom. The most impressive story in this collection is, in my opinion, "Never Marry a Mexican" which is a story about a young woman who wishes to never marry and instead has an affair with a married Mexican man, and after he scorns her, she has an affair with his son.

"I slept with this boy, their son. To make the boy love me the way I I love his father. To make him want me, hunger, twist in his sle- ep as if he'd swallowed glass...I can tell by the way he looks at me, I have him in my power. Come, spa- rrow. I have the patience of eter- nity. Come to mamita. My stupid little bird. I don't move. I don't startle him. I let him nibble. All for you. Rub his belly. Stroke him. Before I snap my teeth."

My favorite quote in the entire book comes from the story "Little Miracles, Kept Promises" where the main character, Chayo, has a conversation with the Virgin of Guadalupe:

"I wanted you bare-breasted, snakes in your hands...I wanted you swal- lowing raw hearts and rattling vol- canic ash. I wasn't going to be my mother or my grandma. All that self- sacrifice, all that silent suffering. Hell no. Not here. Not me."

Buy The Bad Girl's Guide now!

The Bad Girl's Guide to Getting What You Want -by Cameron Tuttle
While the author doesn't exactly call herself a Heartless Bitch, she does have a very light hearted, whimsical approach to how to take control of your life and treat yourself right. Tuttle has a very wry sense of humor, and covers many subjects from jobs and careers to love and sex to how to steal sips of alcohol drinks from people at bars. It includes lots of tips on what to do with things like trendy impulse
Buys and pantyliners. To find out about road trips, though, you'll have to consult her previous book, The Bad Girls Guide to the Open Road.

Buy A Thosand Acres now!

A Thousand Acres - by Jane Smiley
This amazing book is basically an update of King Lear, set in present day Iowa. Without revealing too much, the basic premise is a farmer's daughter discovering herself and finding the courage to ditch her shit life and all the bastard MEN who have screwed her up. The best thing is that it's not self-pitying at all, there's no 'look what they've done to me' bullshit that would actually be expected, given what's happened to her. It's really inspiring and uplifting, but also incredibly dark as well.

Buy Holding Out now!

Holding Out - by Anne O. Faulk
When the Chief of Criminal Justice, one of the most powerful men of America, gets away clean after his wife whom he's been beating for years, kills herself, the women of America are VERY angry. One of them, the main character, a particulary heartless bitch, has an idea that will soon turn into a revolution... and she's the one stuck leading it. She asks women to go on a sex strike until that wife-battering asshole is removed from the court and punished, the way Lysistrata persuaded the women of Athens to withold sex from their husbands to end a war. She instantly becomes very popular to the media, and incredibly unpopular to men. She faces many challenges, but stays strong. This is a book I am sure any feminist will enjoy.

Buy Eternally Bad now!

Eternally Bad: Goddesses with Attitude - by Trina Robbins
rina Robbins is a well-known feminist who works with Conari Press publishers of books on "topics ranging from spirituality, personal growth, and relationships to women's issues, parenting, and social issues."

Trina Robbins is also the author of books such as "From Girls To Grrrlz," "The Great Women Superheroes," and "A Century of Women Cartoonists."

If you are tired of reading about gods and goddesses as either pathetic primitive anthropomorphic personifications or gallant, noble anthropomorphic personifications, then you'll find "Eternally Bad" an uproarious change of pace. In "Eternally Bad," the dieties are presented as squabbling, bitchy sisters who didn't take any shit from men and who used their assets to plow over any men who got in their way. The dieties include Kali, Pele, Morrigan, Circe, Inanna, and even some biblical ladies who never got put into the Good Book because they were just too bitchy (namely, Lilith and Judith).

Buy Confessions now!

Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady - by Florence King
Despite the conflicting expectations of her southern-belle grandmother, hoydenish mother, quietly intellectual father and 50's values of feminity, Florence King manages to be her own person.

King is most famous for her politically conservative essays, but this autobio shows her to be as UNconservative as possible!

The Future and Its Enemies - by Virginia Postrel
by the former Editor of Reason Magazine, "The Future and Its Enemies" is a libertarian manifesto on the future of economic prosperity, technological progress, and cultural innovation. Ms Postrel eloquently explains how bargaining away individual freedom and allowing big government to run rampant is destroying society and our chances at a successful future.

Buy Lummox Now

Lummox, the Evolution of a Man - by Mike Magnuson
What can I say about this unusual memoir of an obviously bright but socially malajusted young man trying to figure out how to mature into a responsible adult? Mike Magnuson details the exploits of the kind of boorish, lazy, alcoholic oaf that Heartless Bitches rarely give more than a passing sneer. Unfortunately, it appears that this child-prodigy in music suffered from an affliction common to many highly intelligent people - a dearth of social skills combined with a lack of any kind of ambition beyond self-gratification. His answer to this was self-indulgence, alcohol and drugs with sporadic forays into genuine compassion and insight into the human condition.

The book itself is engaging, and the characters written with an insight into the human condition and style reminiscent of Kinsella, even if the protagonist isn't particularly likeable most of the time. You'd think that someone with that kind of insight into others, could have figured himself out a little more quickly... I'd wonder if the young Mike found Zen, with his apparent self-acceptance of his "lummoxness" except that in Zen principles, one usually moves to a more enlightened place where "character flaws" that are the result of self-hate, fall away.

Clearly, Mike drags himself up from living one step out of the gutter, and figures out *something* beyond bars and following his dick, because he now teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University, is married and has a family. (Something one wouldn't expect from a man who once thought (as an ADULT male) that trying to fart (intentionally) after sex was charming or funny).

While an excellent read - humorous, strange and occasionally poignant, I found the end of the book disappointing in that Mike's "transcendence" from lummoxness to a life less obnoxious seems to have been glossed over in the last few pages. Sure this book describes his "lummox" behavior in sometimes excruciating detail, but other than Mike returning to school, I didn't seem much "evolving" in the pages of this book - perhaps that's why the title seems to have been changed (at least on Amazon) to "the Autobiography of a Man"...

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