5 Books Written About Women By Women
About two years ago, I began reading female authors in earnest. After reading a succession of woman-penned works from a variety of genres, it was clear that books written by women tend to sing to me more.
I’m not saying this to start some sort of “women are superior writers” conversation. I don’t think sex or gender determines who excels at writing.
Rather, I’m saying that, more often than not, the words of women resonate with me because in their writing I can see myself. I can see shared experiences, shared insecurities, and shared successes. It’s a little light that turns on and says, “Oh, that [wonderful, bewildering, terrifying, maddening, fantastic] thing happened to you? Me, too!”
So, today, on International Women’s Day, I’m sharing 5 books written by women about women that sparked that light for me. I hope they speak to you, too.
I have never encountered a book like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
It’s a little bit of everything perfectly melded within one story. It has moments of seriousness and bursts of humor. The plot line twists and turns. There’s even romance! But, most importantly, this book approaches mental health in a way I’ve never experienced with fiction.
It doesn’t shy away from darkness, but it doesn’t stay there. It takes mental health seriously but leaves room for light. I loved it so much, I’m going to read it again. (Want to read it with me? Leave me a comment below and we can book club it!)
Find Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine on Amazon, here.
It’s important for you to know that I’m not a stalker. We should begin there.
That being said, I think Lindy West might be my neighbor. And yes, that’s exciting, but also I’M SO NERVOUS THAT ONE DAY I’LL RUN INTO HER IN MY UGLY SWEATS WHILE WALKING IZZY AND JUST RANDOMLY BLURT OUT MY UNDYING LOVE FOR HER AND HER WRITING AND IT WILL BE WEIRD AND SHE WILL THINK I’M WEIRD (AND A STALKER) AND THEN I’LL WALK AWAY, DEJECTED, TRYING TO HOLD BACK UGLY TEARS IN MY UGLY SWEATS.
Nightmare daydreaming aside, Lindy West could write about phone books, or how to tie difficult knots, or a multitude of other boring things, and I would read it. As a woman who grow up as the chubby kid, her memoir, Shrill, made me say, “YES, ME TOO!” more than I can count. She has a knack for finding clear, specific words to describe feelings, and thoughts, and experiences, that I’ve encountered but could never verbalize. Anything she writes is worth reading.
Find Shrill on Amazon, here.
I drive a Mini Cooper, and her name is Harriet.
She is, as you might have guessed, named after Harriet the Spy. (A spy car needs a spy name!)
But spy car aside, Harriet is the girlhood friend every grown woman needs. A lot of books speak to womanhood-experiences, but Harriet speaks to those girlhood experiences that we never truly age out of. If you’re feeling left out, or different, or need someone to commiserate with about how BORING Monopoly is, go visit Harriet. She’s there for you.
Find Harriet the Spy on Amazon, here.
Biographical non-fiction writing looks difficult. I haven’t done it, at least not to any high degree, but from the outside, it has always appeared like a tightrope act. Go too far one way, and the piece is dry and academic. Go too far in the other direction, and the writing feels salacious and gossipy.
Michelle Dean’s writing in Sharp is perfectly balanced. I was never bored but never felt like I was scanning TMZ, either.
I particularly appreciated how she emphasized the friendships that the women had amongst each other. Often, in historical retellings, it feels like the relationships women had with men are given center stage, while female friendships go unacknowledged.
Find Sharp on Amazon, here.
If this is that book that you heard about in its heyday, always intended to read, but then didn’t, I’m here, yelling a reminder to freaking READ THIS BOOK.
Americanah made me contemplate experiences of womanhood that I’d never considered or encountered myself.
And then, when you’re done, go read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s little manifesto of a book called We Should All Be Feminists.
Then, after that, go watch any interview of her on Youtube. She’s incredibly poised and cool under pressure.
Finally, after all of that, come back here! Let’s talk about it!
Find Americanah on Amazon, here.
Now it’s your turn! Which female writers have spoken to you? I’m always looking for new books to read, and would love to hear about your favorites!
Happy Happy International Women’s Day, friends! Though today is our official “day”, I’m so excited to be celebrating women all month here on Costume Parade!
And, just in case you missed it, throughout March, there will be three posts per week, instead of two. I’ll be posting every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Have an idea for a woman you’d like to see featured, or a fashion rule you think I should break? Leave me a comment below, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or slide into my DMs.
See you on Sunday!