I didn’t want to miss getting up a post dedicated to Women’s History Month and sharing the numerous female authors I enjoy reading. I made sure to include a mix of authors/novels I’ve read on my own and for classes. Of course this list is only a short sampling of women I enjoy reading, but be sure to check out my Goodreads page where I keep track of what I’ve read and what I’m currently reading. (And feel free to add me–I love seeing what others are reading!)
Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade
I did read this for a Literature and Culture class while in college, but I remember absolutely loving the stories in this collection. Although the stories feature different characters and situations, they all seem to share a common thread of emotion that ties the collection together. From B&N: “Always hopeful, these stories chart the passions and obligations of family life, exploring themes of race, class, and coming-of-age, as Quade’s characters protect, betray, wound, undermine, bolster, define, and, ultimately, save each other.” Quade won the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35 Award” for this collection.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I’m a huge Tartt fan, and although I chose The Secret History to showcase in this post, you really can’t go wrong with any of her works. If I was pressed to rank them though: The Secret History, The Goldfinch, The Little Friend. The B&N description calls this book “a contemporary classic,” with which I wholeheartedly agree. There’s an epic nature to this story, which follows classmates during their classical studies at a New England college. They become so immersed in their studies that they end up becoming obsessed, and as the Goodreads description explains, “they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last–inexorably–into evil.” Born and raised in Mississippi, Tartt won a Pulitzer Prize for The Goldfinch and received critical acclaim for both The Secret History and The Little Friend.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This novel follows four friends from their graduation from a small Massachusetts-based college to their adult lives in New York City. All four friends have different quirks, personalities, and pasts/childhoods, but they all remain connected through the bonds of friendship. From the B&N description: “In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.” This novel is very dark at times but filled with emotions. I had to supplement my reading of this with a lighter novel just to pull myself out of the depths of grief that Yanagihara was an expert at conveying. This novel was a National Book Award finalist and short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
I read this novel a few years ago, but it’s extremely memorable and one that has stayed with me. From the B&N description: “In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.” I think my mom actually recommended this novel to me after she enjoyed it, and she’s always spot on with her recommendations. This is Brunt’s first novel, but she’s a powerhouse of a writer.
Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón
This is poetry collection that I was introduced to through a poetry class I took in college. From the B&N description: “Bright Dead Things examines the chaos that is life, the dangerous thrill of living in a world you know you have to leave one day, and the search to find something that is ultimately ‘disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.'” Currently splitting her time between California and Kentucky, Limón’s work has been published in The New Yorker and the Harvard Review.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
I couldn’t do a post on my favorite female writers without mentioning Virginia Woolf. I was first introduced to Woolf during a class I was taking while studying abroad in England. I think it helped that I was able to discuss Mrs. Dalloway and ultimately write a paper concerning its larger themes, as I garnered a deeper appreciation for Woolf’s modernist style. This novel has one of my favorite opening lines (and one I know by heart): Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
Who are some of your favorite female authors?