Editor's Note: We want to help our readers understand the mind of a woman. In our continuing series, Laura Brautigam-Anderson tells us guys about books that women enjoy. Enjoy...and learn. The more you know, the better off everyone is.
Before Bridget Jones had a diary…before walks were remembered…before sex was in the city…there were good stories about women.
Let’s face it - if your girl has never heard of Elizabeth Bennett, Jo March, or Laura Ingalls, you’re probably dating Snooki. Most of the girls I know (and all of the girls worth dating) have at least one classic chick lit book on their list of favorites. I’ve taken the opportunity to de-code some of the most popular for you, making your job of “perfect boyfriend” a whole lot easier:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
What it’s about: A family of girls in regency England find husbands in a variety of ways. No, really. That’s what it’s about. And almost every girl I know loves it.
Who she wants to be: Elizabeth Bennett! Lizzie is smart, witty, brave, and principled.
What you can learn from the hero: Don’t insult the girl you want to marry during the proposal. She will reject you. In that case, the best way to make it up to her is to save her family from social ruin. You are then forgiven and may live happily ever after!
Most recent movie: Kiera Knightley starred in a version made in 2005, although most fans adore the BBC’s 5-hour version featuring a young Colin Firth.
Impressive factual tidbit: There is a critically acclaimed spin-off book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith in which all of the girls are zombie killers.
The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
What it’s about: A spoiled young girl is orphaned and sent to live with her scary uncle. There, she discovers her hidden invalid cousin and a secret garden (like the title!). She, her cousin, and a servant boy bring the garden back to life, restore her invalid cousin’s health, and change the heart of her scary uncle.
Who she wants to be: Mary... after she becomes nice. It’s good to remember, fellas, that no girl wants to be known as “Mary, Mary, quite contrary.”
What you can learn from the hero: Dreamy heroes are reserved for girls older than 10.
Most recent movie: 1993 production by American Zoetrope, although your girl may remember the 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame one just as well!
Impressive factual tidbit: The same author wrote A Little Princess.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
What it’s about: Loosely based on Alcott’s own family, the March sisters grow up in Civil War Massachusetts. Their sisterly ties bind them through hardships, marriages, and even the death of one sister.
Who she wants to be: Jo March is a creative tomboy! She is smart and blustery and has a hard time keeping her temper. Notable moment: She cuts and sells her hair in order to get money for her ailing father.
What you can learn from the hero: When the girl of your dreams rejects your proposal, keep an open mind- maybe you’ll actually marry her younger sister!
Most recent movie: 1994, starring Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon.
Impressive factual tidbit: The set for the movie was actually inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s real house in Concord, MA.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery
What it’s about: A dreamy red-headed orphan (girl) is adopted by an elderly brother and sister (who were expecting a boy), and proceeds to try their patience.
Who she wants to be: Anne (with an “e”) of course! Anne is smart and precocious and, like all red heads, has a temper. If your girl uses the terms “kindred spirits,” or “bosom friends,” or often quotes The Lady of Shalott, she is an Anne fan.
What you can learn from the hero: Don’t call a red-headed girl “Carrot.” She will freak out. But later, when you’re dashing and charming (and apologetic), she will fall for you.
Most recent movie: Nothing will ever top the 1985 CBC mini-series.
Impressive Factual Tidbit: Popular in Japan, Japanese couples are often married at the Anne of Green Gables House on Prince Edward Island. Sometimes, the brides even dye their hair red and put it in pigtails!
Little House on the Prairie (the whole series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
What it’s about: A girl’s family growing up as pioneers on the American frontier. Throughout the series, there is action, adventure, romance, and a little practical know-how.
Who she wants to be: Laura! Laura got her story-telling start by describing things to her blind sister. She is sometimes contrary, usually well-intentioned, and always “strong as a little French horse,” as Pa likes to say.
What you can learn from the hero: If you really want to catch a girl’s eye, own some pretty horses. Also, save the town from starvation during one of the worst winters ever to hit South Dakota. It helps if your nickname is “Manly.”
Most recent movie: I don’t know if there was ever a movie, but the tv series was popular from 1974-1983. It’s not accurate to the books, but it’s good family entertainment!
Impressive factual tidbit: Everything in those stories was real. Everything. From the locusts eating their entire harvest to the black doctor who saved their lives when they had malaria. It all actually happened.