In celebration of International Women’s Day, this month’s book club is a spotlight on some of the most powerful and inspiring reads we’ve come across by female authors in recent years. From fiction to autobiographies, our list is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the vast array of brilliant books written by females.
If you haven’t read them already, then prepare to set some time aside.
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Behind the Scenes at the Museum is the first novel by British author Kate Atkinson. It follows the story of Ruby Lennox, a middle-class girl from York. Ultimately a novel about identity, the book is an exploration of Ruby’s discovery of her own past, whilst tying in the lives of six generations of her family. Witty and sharp, Atkinson’s first offering won her widespread praise and the Whitbread Book of the Year 1995. Of her novel, Atkinson explained, “It’s a book about women […] I think it is ultimately a triumphant book because it’s about the self triumphing over all the terrible things that happen to any one individual in life”.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
The book behind the recent film adaptation, Wild is a memoir by Cheryl Strayed documenting her 1,100 mile hike across the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mojave desert through California to Washington State. In a state of crisis, separated from her husband and grieving for her mother, a then 26 year old Cheryl embarked on the three month hike completely alone. Uplifting without being cliché, Wild is an inspiring true story of the journey from lost to found.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Based around the lives of four university friends, A Little Life is based in New York, and follows the careers and lives of the recent graduates. As the novel progresses the focus shifts to its main protagonist, the mysterious and troubled Jude. Revealing more about his past as it goes on, A Little Life delves deeply into his difficult childhood and its impact of the past on shaping the present. Not a light read (the length itself is somewhat daunting at over 700 pages), it’s worth investing the time as the result is a harrowing insight into love and friendship, as well as the enduring effects of the past. This is one novel which will undoubtedly stay with you.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Bossypants is an autobiographical comedy by American actress and screenwriter Tina Fey. Arguably the most influential female comedian of today, Fey’s foray into literature is everything you would expect; witty, well-written and with a no-holds-barred attitude to feminism and female talent. Rising to the top of what was previously considered ‘a man’s profession’, her observations are both witty and poignant. Even if you’ve never heard of 30 Rock, Bossypants is one to add to your bookshelf.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The debut novel of Indian novelist Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things was first published in 1997 and won the Booker prize the same year. It is the story of two fraternal twins growing up in India and the impact of childhood events on shaping their futures; both as individuals and a pair. The novel explores several important and often taboo themes including forbidden love, class relations, and betrayal, set against the backdrop of Indian history and politics.
And because we couldn’t limit it to just five…
Modern Women: 52 Pioneers by Kira Cochrane
Modern Women is an anthology of some of the most inspiring women of recent times. Among its pages are suffragettes, artists, authors and scientists, all of whom have helped pave the way for gender equality. Through their individual stories, bigger stories are also told; the civil rights movement (Audre Lorde), the push for artistic freedom (Frida Kahlo) and the changing perspectives of women in the public eye (Oprah Winfrey). This is one for when you’re in need of some inspiration from some of history’s boldest women.