As we continue to celebrate Women’s Month, we put the spotlight on 15 women that deserve a place in your to-be-read list. There are stories of love and friendship, the struggle of a woman in a man’s world or of just getting out of bed, and there are some that are just really good stories you can’t miss out on. Check out our list below!
If you haven’t picked up A Little Life yet, add it to your to-be-read pile for 2017. Yanagihara’s prose is immersive and visceral — and by the end of the novel, it feels like you’ve known Jude, JB, Willem, and Malcolm your entire life. It’s a heartbreaking and beautiful story of love and friendship.
Also by Hanya Yanagihara: The People in The Trees. Read our review here.
Margaret Atwood has been writing for more than five decades but her stories of feminine struggle under the yoke of male dominance still ring true. The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood’s award-winning dystopian speculative novel, is being adapted for TV — streaming on Hulu this coming April.
Where to start: The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin
We all know her as General Leia Organa, the princess who fought the Empire. But Fisher has always been trying to make sense of her life and fame through words. And it seems like in The Princess Diarist, Fisher has finally come to terms with her legacy. We miss her deeply.
Though a self-proclaimed late bloomer, Nicola Yoon certainly shines when she writes. Her works are the result of handwritten drafts, empty pens, and a deep understanding of the complexities of growing up. If you haven’t yet, pick up her debut novel Everything, Everything, which is coming out in cinemas this May.
Also by Nicola Yoon: The Sun Is Also a Star
Women are carving their own place in the comic and graphic novel genre, and Raina Telgemeier is one of the must-reads. Her themes seem merely fun and lighthearted at first glance — drama club, family road trips, dental visits — but Telgemeier reveals deep insight and sisterly wisdom through her words and illustrations. We wish we read her growing up.
Where to start: Sisters, Telgemeier’s Eisner-award winning autobiographical comic on her relationship with her sister as they were growing up.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
L.M. Montgomery’s literary creation, Anne Shirley, is best beloved by girls and women all over the world. Anne — with her fiery hair and sharp wit — is an icon for kids who didn’t quite belong. A new generation will be acquainted with Anne Shirley soon, thanks to Netflix’s Anne, set to be released this coming May.
Where to start: Anne of Green Gables, The Chronicles of Avonlea
Batacan recently released an expanded version of her Palanca-winning novel, Smaller and Smaller Circles. Though written in 1999, the story of two Jesuit priests trying to solve the mystery of serial killings in Payatas still resonates today. A film adaptation is also set for commercial release soon.
Named in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2016, Ferrante remains an enigma. Her identity is unknown — though there have been recent serious attempts to uncover her. But beyond the riddle, Ferrante must be read for her unrelenting scrutiny and exploration on female friendships throughout the various upheavals of life.
Where to start: My Brilliant Friend
For the past few years, poetry has been standing in the spotlight again. Young readers are relating more and more to personal and intimate free-form poetry — the kind of which was revolutionary in Sylvia Plath’s time. Along with her contemporaries like Anne Sexton and Allen Ginsberg, Plath pushed confessional poetry forward, openly discussing issues not usually laid out for public consumption: suicide, mental illness, and dysfunctional relationships. More than 50 years after her death, Plath’s poetry is still a must-read for women and men alike.
Where to start: Ariel: The Restored Edition
Born in Nigeria and raised in London, Oyeyemi’s writing has been compared to that of Edgar Allan Poe. Her books evoke the dark oddness and mystery of fairy tales you grew up with while also dealing with issues like race, identity, and abuse. While many describe her style as “magical realism,” Oyeyemi rejects the categorization. Regardless of whatever genre you may think she belongs, Oyeyemi is a modern storyteller that you should be acquainted with.
Where to start: If you’re not ready to commit to a novel, check out Helen Oyeyemi’s short stories in What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
Elif Batuman has been writing for The New Yorker since 2010, the same year she released her first book, The Possessed, which explores her love for the great Russian writers. And like them, she demands more from literature than just form and craft. She’s been described as unpredictable and charming, but one of the best things about her is unpretentious love for literature.
Where to start: Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot
South Korean writer Han Kang received wider readership after her novel, The Vegetarian (translated by Deborah Smith), won the Man-Booker International Prize for Fiction in 2016. Hers is a fragmented but rhythmic style of writing — owing to her beginnings as a short story writer — that complements her themes of pain and trauma. If you want a writer to take you out of your comfort zone, pick up a novel by Kang.
Where to start: Han Kang’s newest novel, Human Acts. Read our review here.
If you have never given creative non-fiction a try, reading Joan Didion is a great way to begin. Didion blends her acute journalistic sensibilities and her natural storytelling instincts that makes even the most mundane walk down the street so meaningful. We can’t wait for South and West to be released so we can take a glimpse into Didion’s mind via her private never-before-seen notebooks.
Where to start: The Year of Magical Thinking
V.E./Victoria Schwab is the mastermind behind the fantasy worlds of The Archived, Vicious, and A Darker Shade of Magic. An exceptional world-builder and storyteller, she’s often named a favorite among contemporary authors, including Neil Gaiman. With ten books on her roster and more on the way, she’s definitely an author to invest in and watch out for.
Sarah Andersen won us all over with her cute and popular web comics. Almost autobiographical, her innocent-looking cartoons perfectly encapsulate how she — and practically this generation — deals with daily struggles of being a grown-up. If you want to take a break from the Real World, she’s definitely someone to go to.
Who are you reading this year? Share it with us in the comments!
Get a chance to win Human Acts by Han Kang, plus other great reads by great women! Join the giveaway below: