2014: The Year of Reading Women


With these colorful cards in the shape of bookmarks, British writer and illustrator Joanna Walsh has sparked a movement. Throughout social media, women and men are pledging to read more – or exclusively – women writers this year. Journals are promising to publish and review more women writers. Book lists fly back and forth across the Internet. The twitterverse is aboil with #readwomen2014, the hashtag Walsh started.

To this I say hooray! And congrats! And join the party – we’ve been waiting for you. After all, for 21 years I have been in a book group whose membership has changed but whose organizing principle has remained the same: we read books by and about women.

What all this means is thanks to Joanna Walsh, it’s possible that for the first time in my life I might actually be trendy.

 Not the year of reading white women

Let’s take a quick look at the card she designed. The bookmarks represent Walsh’s favorite authors, and it did not escape my notice that they are all white. But on the back of the card, in tiny print not discernible to anyone over 40, she provides a more diverse list of 250 women writers. Her goal is to help those who want to Read Women 2014 but don’t know where to start.

Collective reading decisions

In that same spirit, I’d like to share a list of some of the titles my book group has read. This list does not represent my own favorite books or authors, but rather the collective reading decisions – achieved with much discussion and red wine – that my book group has made over the years. And yes, in deference to Read Women 2014 I’ve left out the books that were about women but written by male authors.

The list is alphabetical by author. Let’s start with A – G.

  •  Allison, Dorothy – Bastard Out of Carolina; Cavedweller
  • Alvarez, Julia – How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accent; In the Time of the Butterflies
  • Anshaw, Carol – Aquamarine
  • Armstrong, Karen – The Spiral Staircase
  • Atkinson, Kate – Life after Life
  • Atwood, Margaret – Alias Grace; The Robber Bride
  • Austen, Jane – Emma; Lady Susan; Sense and Sensibility
  • Avery, Ellis – The Tea House Fire
  • Barbery, Muriel – The Elegance of the Hedgehog
  • Bloom, Amy – Away
  • Blum, Arlene – Annapurna
  • Boo, Katherine – Behind the Beautiful Forevers
  • Braddon, Mary Elizabeth – Lady Audley’s Secret
  • Brooks, Geraldine – March
  • Brooks, Gwendolyn – Various readings
  • Cather, Willa – Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • Chang, Jung – Wild Swans
  • Chase, Joan – During the Reign of the Queen of Persia
  • Chen, Pauline – Final Exam
  • Chevalier, Tracy – Remarkable Creatures
  • Conway, Jill Ker – The Road from Coorain
  • Cook, Blanche Weisen – Eleanor Roosevelt, Volumes 1 and 2
  • Cook, Karin – What Girls Learn
  • Danticat, Edwidge – Breath, Eyes, Memory
  • Davenport, Kiana – Shark Dialogues
  • DeRosnay, Tatiana – Sarah’s Key
  • Desai, Kiran – Inheritance of Loss
  • Diamant, Anita – The Red Tent
  • Didion, Joan – Where I Was From; The Year of Magical Thinking
  • Dillard, Annie – The Maytrees
  • Donaghue, Emma – Room; The Sealed Letter
  • Duke, Lynn – Mandela, Mobutu and Me
  • Dunn, Katherine – Geek Love
  • Egan, Jennifer – Look at me
  • Ehrenreich, Barbara – Nickel and Dimed
  • Eliot, George – Mill on the Floss
  • Feinberg, Leslie – Stone Butch Blues
  • Fischer, Erica – Aimee and Jaguar
  • Flynn, Gillian – Gone Girl
  • Fuller, Alexandra – Don’t Let’s go to the Dogs Tonight
  • Gardam, Jane – Old Filth
  • George, Elizabeth – Believing the Lie
  • Golden, Marita and Shreves, Susan – Skin Deep
  • Goodman, Allegra – Intuition
  • Grant, Linda – When we Lived in Modern Times
  • Grealy, Lucy – Autobiography of a Face
  • Greene, Melissa Fay – Praying for Sheetrock
  • Greenlaw, Linda – The Hungry Ocean
  • Gruen, Sara – Water for Elephants

Your must-read list of women writers?

What do you think about The Year of Reading Women? Which women writers should go on a must-read list? I’d love to see your suggestions.

One thought on “2014: The Year of Reading Women

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