While works by Jane Austen, the Brontës and George Eliot are only to be expected on a list of essential female novels, the inclusion of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comes as something of a surprise. [Hey! Brenda says. What's surprising about it?] But a survey of 400 women from academia, the arts and publishing shows that women are as likely to cite Douglas Adams's comedy as the book that made a difference to their life as a novel by the feminist icon, Virginia Woolf. [Darn right, Brenda says. Sounds like some truly intelligent women were polled.]
The women were asked which novels had most changed the way they viewed themselves by the team behind the Orange Prize for Fiction, which celebrates women writers.
When I stopped to think about what I might have contributed to that list, I had to laugh. My life was materially changed by a novel I read only once and then threw out. It was awful, but Reeking Romance by Helena Handbasket* was an inspirational romance, and until that time I had no idea such things existed. I was so intrigued by my discovery that I read the book all the way through, then immediately sat down at my computer and started an inspirational romance novel of my own. I've read other books--good books--that changed my life, but none to the degree this seriously bad book did.
Go read the list of oft-cited books and then report back here and tell us all what novel changed your life. And since I'm sure the guys have been reading this even though I hinted it was a "women only" post, I guess we might as well let them participate, too.
*The book title and the author's name have been changed, obvs.