A stack of books

Celebrating 5 of my favourite female authors.

International Women’s Day 2021. 

How 5 female authors have impacted my life.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and I thought it might be a good time to highlight some leading women authors shaping the writing community. My steady reading habits developed very early in life, but I only recently recognised how female authors shaped my early years. This was partly due to the education I received, where they gave reading lists, and which I devoured in days. Sometimes in hours. I cannot assume that my school specifically chose that selection of books because they were female authors; however, I am grateful for them. 

In high school, we read and broke down each book, analysing the technique, language, style and theme. We deconstructed each character and behaviour methodically to its rawest form, often revealing female characters’ hidden strength. As a teenager, I do not believe I fully appreciated the roles some female characters played in breaking down women stereotypes. I also believe that the female authors themselves heavily influenced that. With that in mind, here are 5 books of leading female characters (and authors) to consider reading.       

  1. The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende.

A woven history of generational stories describing the Trueba family dynamics – hierarchy, gender, age, and politics. Isabel Allende’s magical realism novel captivates readers’ imagination on every page. 

  1. Sula, Toni Morrison.

A spellbinding novel that follows the lives of two African American women, Nel Wrights and Sula Peace, living in Ohio. As children Nel and Sula build strong bonds of friendships but eventually diverge when Sula leaves her community to pursue a university degree in the city. On the other hand, Nel chooses to stay and continue the life she knows – marriage and children. However, when Sula returns home after college, Nel’s life is disrupted and the simple life she always thought she wanted. 

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood.

The Handmaid’s Tale depicts the story of Offren, a woman who is subjected to forcibly try to produce children for an elite society of men who rule in the state of Gilead. The book explores topics of subjugation of women and the ways the Handmaids try to gain independence. The fictional story of relatable and disturbing issues question readers sensibilities.  

  1. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy.

Mostly set in Kerala, India, it shows two fraternal twins Rahel(girl) and Estha (boy) and the family’s generational history across India and abroad. The book was awarded the Booker Prize in 1997 and shows rich themes of India’s history, politics, caste and love. While there is no single main female character in this book, the women characters’ strong and deeply developed personalities raise thought-provoking questions. 

  1. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng.

A detailed story plot of human behaviour between two families. The Richardson family, the image of unity, hospitality in a planned society, largely held together by Elena Richardson. Across town, we find Mia, the single artist mother and her daughter who move into town. The intertwining lives of the two families disrupt the quiet community and question everything they know in life – identity, race, motherhood and the rules that govern their society.    

Female authors: Read wide. 

While I only highlighted five of my favourite female authors and books, there are many more to discover! Authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, Yaa Gyasi and more. So next time you decide to read the works from a female author, I always recommend reading wide! 

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