In honor of Women’s History Month in March, here are our picks for female writers you should read. At first, this task proved impossible, because there are so many female writers whose work you should read (it was really hard for us to pick just one author). Below, find our favorite empowered women, from classic reads to YA, and stories of female triumph:
Audre Lorde was a Caribbean-American writer, womanist, scholar, and civil rights activist. Her “biomythography” Zami: A New Spelling of My Name is a beautiful exploration of a young woman’s struggle to find her identity while growing up in Harlem. In 1980 Audre Lorde cofounded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first American publisher to give voice specifically to female writers of color including Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua.
Louisa May Alcott is best known for Little Women, an enduring classic about four New England sisters growing up into society and keeping their faith while their father serves as a chaplain in the Civil War. Alcott is known for her activism in the realms of abolition and women’s rights, and her biting wit. We recommend Hospital Sketches, which details her time as a Civil War nurse and is laugh-out-loud funny in addition to politically apt.
Jane Austen – there’s really nothing of Austen’s we don’t recommend. If you’re in the mood for a classic tale of love, propriety and the historical, go Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. Northanger Abbey is hilarious, and the most direct satire of the melodramatic gothic writing that had taken female readers by storm in the late 18th century.
Anne Brontë, although the least popular of the Brontë sisters today, was also the most progressive in terms of writing about women’s rights and independence. Her second and final novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, was controversial and ahead of its time for portraying an empowered female character who leaves an unhappy marriage.
Judy Blume – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is about 6th grader Margaret, a pre-teen trying to reconcile her mixed religious heritage, while also dealing with boys, moving to a new city, and PMS. This is a wonderful book for young ladies, as it deals with finding yourself and finding your faith, and all of the awkward pre-teen moments in between.
Toni Morrison was the first (and only) Black woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. All of her novels are beautiful and challenging examinations of Black female life in the United States and the Diaspora. Our favorite around GBHQ is Beloved, and her newest novel, God Help the Child, will be released this April.
Jhumpa Lahiri – Interpreter of Maladies
Jodi Picoult – My Sister’s Keeper
J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter. Of course.
Edith Wharton – House of Mirth
Lucille Maude Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables
Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre
Kate Chopin – The Awakening
Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird
Mary Shelley – Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus
Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse