This, now famous, title by the award-winning Times journalist, Caitlin Moran, chided me somewhat in its presumption when I first heard it. It appeared to be saying: “Do you want to be a woman? Yes? Well, then read this book, because if you don’t read it, you can’t become a woman.” Yet, in a sense, I think it is not a case of presumption. If you are a young woman (or man) who still thinks that feminism consists of a bunch of 'man-hating lesbians', you need to read this book.
My first surprise on picking up a copy of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is that it is written by a man. For one reason or another, it seems automatic to assume that the ‘relationship bible’, described as the best selling book of the 1990s, is a mouthpiece for female psycho-babble. The kind of book Bridget Jones would buy and read, whilst sobbing into yet another pint of Ben & Jerry’s. In fact, it is written by relationship counselor, John Gray Ph.D. (note: the pre-nominal letters after his name), whose masculine perspective not only altered my original perception of the book, but made me pick it up and actually read it.
If you’ve ever pictured yourself living a life out of Country Living magazine, then this reading list is for you. Country-lit is the literary equivalent of a cup of tea and a hot buttered crumpet on a cold autumnal day. Unlike chick-lit, it is funnier, better written and doesn’t leave you feeling embarrassed when you’re intellectually-smug friend comes over and says, “You’re not actually reading this… are you?” Here are Owl Eyes’ hand-picked selection of our favourite country-lit books…
“I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it”, writes Paul Theroux in the opening of his travel book, The Great Railway Bazaar. This would initially seem strange to the modern 21st century passenger, in a time when train travel no longer holds the glamour it once did, of crisp tablecloths in dining cars and white-gloved stewards. Today, associations with delays, crowds and the smell of egg sandwiches spring to mind. For Theroux, however, writing in the early 1970s, the world was a different place. An era when distant lands still held the mystery of exotic adventures, undiscovered cities, untrammeled by rampant tourism.