20 Great Books Written by Women

March was Women’s History Month, a month in which people celebrate women and all of the incredible things women have done throughout history. At first I was skeptical about what this would actually mean. It seems like celebrating minority groups for a month at a time leaves a lot to be desired. What happens for the rest of the year? And how exactly do you celebrate a group of people who have been ignored throughout history? Yet, during this time I was able to learn about so many of those women who had not gotten the recognition they deserved. This attention lead me to the #readwomen trend, where bookish people read and recommended books about and for women for an entire month. Through these lists I’ve nearly doubled my To Read list, and found so many authors I hadn’t heard of before. So, inspired by the #readwomen trend happening on Tumblr and Instagram, I’ve complied a list of my favorite books written by and about women. If you have any books you’d recommend, or any books that would show up on your #readwomen list, leave them in the comments below.

-Bethany Olson

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“In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.” The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros

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“Like a tropical storm, I, too, may one day become ‘better organized.” The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis – Lydia Davis

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“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another–physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.” The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

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“She was learning, quite late, what many people around her appeared to have known since childhood—that life can be perfectly satisfying without major achievements. It could be brimful of occupations which did not weary you to the bone.” Family Furnishings – Alice Munro

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“She had the perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very, dangerous to live even one day.” Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

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“Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is the way you can both hate and love something you are not sure you understand.” Bastard Out of Carolina – Dorothy Allison

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“A room is, after all, a place where you hide from the wolves. That’s all any room is.” Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys

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“She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes and that is very frightening.” The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter

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“No matter how happy I had been in the past I do not long for it. The present is always the moment for which I love.” Autobiography of My Mother – Jamacia Kincaid

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“Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring and if you’re not careful it will drown you.” Breath, Eyes, Memory – Edwidge Danticat

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“They had nothing to say to each other. A five-year age gap between siblings is like a garden that needs constant attention. Even three months apart allows the weeds to grow up between you.” On Beauty – Zadie Smith

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“Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.” Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe.” The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

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“Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms, the steadfast tranquility of the evenings. The promise that she would find things where she put them, that there would be no interruption, no surprise. It greeted her at the end of each day and lay still with her at night.” The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri

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“Because, once alone, it is impossible to believe that one could ever have been otherwise. Loneliness is an absolute discovery.” Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson

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“How can I explain to anyone that stories are like air to me, I breathe them in and let them out over and over again.” Brown Girl Dreaming – Jacqueline Woodson

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“I was doing well enough until you came along and kicked my stone over, and out I came, all moss and eyes.” Nightwood – Djuna Barnes

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“Just as when we come into the world, when we die we are afraid of the unknown. But the fear is something from within us that has nothing to do with reality. Dying is like being born: just a change” The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende

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“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.” The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood 

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“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.” The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

 

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1 Comment

  1. So many of my favourites on this list! I’d add Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Ceremony, Annie Dillard’s The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for nonfiction, and Louise Gluck’s poetry collection The Wild Iris.

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