The differences between the sexes is well-trodden ground for book publishers.

Self-help sections are lined with hundreds of variations on Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, each one purporting to explain the pertinent points where the male and female of our species diverge, each one promising to deliver us to a holy land of mutual compassion, understanding and trust.

Well, we say poppycock to them all.

Great fiction has always told us as much about reality and truth than any book of science, and so it is with the ancient dilemma of trying and fathom the inner workings of the opposite sex.

Here, HuffPost Culture's lead writers each offer 5 novels that help explain men, and help explain women. Scroll down for both, and add your own suggestions at the bottom.

For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
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From extensive reading of Hemingway, women can come to understand one hugely influential and important aspect of the male psyche: self-delusion.

The Hemingway hero - none more so than Robert Jordan in his Spanish civil war epic For Whom The Bell Tolls - is the ultimate fantasy all men indulge about themselves. Brave, hard, operating cooly outside the tangle of messy emotions, it's what Papa described as 'grace under pressure'.

Jordan is how we're imagining ourselves to be, whether it's speaking up in a tense marketing meeting or taking two hours to fix a bathroom cabinet. You ladies may see a laughable incompetent, but in our heads, we're always sparring with the bulls.

On Beauty, Zadie Smith
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Smith's award-winning third novel depicts womanhood in many forms, but you'd have to be brave to call it girly.

Read to learn about Christian girls gone bad, burgeoning sexuality, deeply-rooted and ever-doomed crushes, as well as how women in middle-age can act with just as little sense.

Plus, if you know about all that already (ha!), there's plenty of race relations, class politics and hip-hop references in there to clue up on.