For this year’s International Women’s Day we have compiled a list of books you need to read. Since there are many amazing women authors we decided to narrow our list down to books published in recent years. Enjoy!
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews – 2014, Novel, Psychological Fiction
This story offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. In her beautifully rendered new novel, Miriam Toews gives us a startling demonstration of how to carry on with hope and love and the business of living even when grief loads the heart.
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison – 2014, Literary fiction
“[Jamison] combines the intellectual rigor of a philosopher, the imagination of a novelist and a reporter’s keen eye for detail in these essays, which seamlessly blend reportage, cultural criticism, theory and memoir.” ― Los Angeles Times
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski – 2015, Self-help book
An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works–based on groundbreaking research and brain science–that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy.
All The Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister – 2016
Rebecca traister traces the history of unmarried and late-married women in America who, through social, political, and economic means, have radically shaped our nation
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – 2016, Historical Fiction
“After two half sisters are separated, we follow their family lines over the course of two centuries through a series of short stories. Some of their descendants are in Africa, some are in America; some are free, some are enslaved. In the end, the two separate family sagas merge into one, back in the place where it all began.” — NPR
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – 2017, Historical fiction
This novel chronicles the lives of four generations of a Korean family who immigrate to Japan. Owning pachinko parlors, a slot-machine-style game popular in Japan, is one of the only ways for the Korean immigrants to rise in economic standing.
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit – 2014, Humor
“Solnit tackles big themes of gender and power in these accessible essays. Honest and full of wit, this is an integral read that furthers the conversation on feminism and contemporary society.” — San Francisco Chronicle
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling – 2015, Biography
“With essays such as ‘A Starlet’s Confessions,’ which tackles Hollywood’s idea of beauty, and ‘How to Get Your Own Show (And Nearly Die of Anxiety),’ addressing the troubled course of her sitcom, Kaling once again applies humor and pop-culture savvy to topics like body image, career and finding love.” — Los Angeles Times
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem – 2015, biography
“My Life on the Road, Ms. Steinem’s first book in more than twenty years, is a warmly companionable look back at nearly five decades as itinerant feminist organizer and standard-bearer. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to sit down with Ms. Steinem for a casual dinner, this disarmingly intimate book gives a pretty good idea, mixing hard-won pragmatic lessons with more inspirational insights.” — The New York Times
Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam – 2015, Psychological Fiction
“Reckoning with the past leads to a more fully realized present. The novel is a sensitive and subtle exploration of the experience of gender nonconformity across cultures. Though Ella emerges as the most changed character, this is more than her story — it’s a transcontinental, transgenerational tale of a family and its secrets.” — Kirkus Reviews
The Mothers by Brit Bennett – 2016, Psychological Fiction
“If you read The Mothers, you will learn a lot. You will learn what it’s like to experience a mother-shaped absence at the center of your life, as well as what it’s like to feel your mother’s hot, judgmental breath on your shoulder every second. You’ll learn that men, even when they do the wrong thing again and again, have feelings about babies born and unborn. You’ll learn that rigidly cruel actions have roots in sad, earned wisdom. And you’ll learn that Brit Bennett is a writer to watch.” — The Washington Post
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue – 2016, Domestic Fiction
“Mbue is a wonderful writer with an uncanny ear for dialogue — there are no false notes here, no narrative shortcuts, and certainly no manufactured happy endings. It’s a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American.” — NPR
The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt – 2017, Literary fiction.
“In The Dark Dark, Samantha Hunt has a knack for capturing the mundane, and more often painful or disgusting, inner thoughts of a woman — the fleeting fixations that haunt the body of the so-called fairer sex.” — HuffPost
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward – 2017, Thriller
“While the magical element is new in Ward’s fiction, her allusiveness, anchored in her interest in the politics of race, has been pointing in this direction all along. It takes a touch of the spiritual to speak across chasms of age, class, and color.”— The New Yorker
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado – 2017, Psychological Fiction
“A vibrant collection that presents women in their vulnerabilities and strengths in relationships with men, in relationships with other women, and in reflection upon their own bodies as they sort through the social conventions that have long stifled their full expression of self.” — The Seattle Review of Books
Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer – 2018, Autobiography
Kayleen Schaefer admits early on in Text Me When You Get Home that she is a reformed mean girl. As someone who used to view other women solely as competition, her book about the incredible, complicated bonds of female friendship is relatable, familiar, and subverts the false notion that women are predisposed to hating each other.
Good And Mad by Rebecca Traister – 2018, Self-help
In an era when women’s anger is pretty much at boiling point, this book is a timely and important read. Traister, one of the most eminent voices in feminism, traces the history of women’s rage in America and how women have historically harnessed their anger to bring about social change.
The Mars Room By Rachel Kushner – 2018, Crime Fiction
This dark novel tells the story of Romy Hall, who’s serving two life sentences in prison for killing her stalker. As she reflects on her life before prison, working as a stripper in The Mars Room, she battles to survive the everyday violence and hardship of prison life.
Rage Becomes Her By Soraya Chemaly – 2018, Self-help
If you’ve spent a good deal of time this year feeling an unshakeable sense of unbridled rage, you should read this book. Rage Becomes Her provides you with a framework for harnessing that rage and turning it into tangible change. The book delves into the racial and gender stereotypes that fuel the persistent dismissal of women’s anger.
Not That Bad by Roxane Gay – 2018, Autobiography
A hugely important collection of personal essays exploring rape, sexual harassment, and assault and its impact on survivors. The essays also deal with the routine dismissal of survivors’ experiences — hence the title. Anyone who’s ever shared their experience of sexual violence or harassment likely will have faced a degree of patronising, shaming, belittling, or blaming behavior.
Everything I Know About Love By Dolly Alderton – 2018, Humor
It’s not often that you read a book that makes you laugh, cry, and nod your head in extreme-sameness, but this book does all three of those things in abundance. Everything I Know About Love is a book for anyone who’s ever had their heart broken in their youth and lived to tell the (rather hilarious) tale. Alderton tells the stories of her personal heartbreaks and the lessons she’s learned along the way.
Vox By Christina Dalcher – 2018, Dystopian Fiction
Who doesn’t love a spot of Margaret Atwood-esque dystopian fiction? This time, America is being governed by the religious far right and women’s place is confined strictly in the home. Under this regime, women are limited to 100 words a day. If they exceed that limit, they get electric shocks. Given that most of us speak around 16,000 words per day on average, the very idea of being limited to so few is pretty damn terrifying.
Becoming By Michelle Obama – 2018, Biography
This book tells the personal story of one of the most inspiring women in the world, Michelle Obama. In this memoir, the former FLOTUS tells the story of her life — starting out with her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, all the way through to her years living at the White House.
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower By Brittney C. Cooper – 2018
An important feminist manifesto to emerge from the post #MeToo narrative. Brittany Cooper delves into the topic of black women’s anger — something that’s historically been dismissed and distorted with racist stereotypes. Here, Cooper calls for the reclamation of black women’s rage as something valid, worthy of listening to, and a powerful force for change.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation By Ottessa Moshfegh
A weird, hilarious, and touching book about a young woman’s year of “narcotic hibernation” — which is precisely what you think that means. The unnamed protagonist enlists the help of the world’s worst psychiatrist to prescribe her with enough medication to lull her into a medicated slumber for many months. When she finally wakes up, the city she lives in — and indeed the world — is a very different place.
Other recommendations from the Catharsis team:
The Last Samurai, Helen Dewitt – 2000, Domestic Fiction
The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood – 2000, Historical Fiction, Psychological Fiction
My Brilliant Friend (series), Elena Ferrante – 2011, Fiction
The Broken Earth Trilogy, N. K. Jemisin – 2015, Fiction
Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult – 2016, Fiction
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