Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Bernardine Evaristo, Olga Tokarczuk, Virginia Woolf and other women authors you should read
From important topics such as gender, feminism, mental health, body positivity to evergreen discussions pertaining to poetry, romance, erotica among others, the conversations are aplenty as much as the platforms - social media, podcasts, videos, blogs and more.Updated: Mar 08, 2020, 19:38 IST
It might be unfair to say that we should celebrate women on a particular day while on other occasions we question women’s safety, health issues, navigate around violence against women worldwide and more. March is also the designated month to celebrate the literary works of women around the world.
With the written word in the digital age and the growing platforms on social media, people are connected through a lot more than shared interests that might not have been able to be discussed until a little over a decade and a half ago.
From important topics such as gender, feminism, self-care, mental health, body positivity, environment, climate change, to evergreen discussions pertaining to poetry, spoken word, romance, erotica, relationships among others, the conversations are aplenty as much as the platforms - social media, podcasts, videos, blogs and more.
A popular quote that circulated on social media a few years ago read: When you see a person reading a book you love, it’s like the book is recommending the person. When it comes to finding the right gift to give, there’s nothing like a book in paperback or Kindle form or any literary gift which will remind you of each other everytime you recollect the memories in your mind. Gifting a book is not just a basic gift, it’s a gift of knowledge and something everyone will love and cherish. When you recommend and gift literature to someone, you’re bringing them closer into your inner circle and nothing can trump that feeling.
This International Women’s Day, we’ve compiled our list of women authors you must read, their popular books and why you should read them. The list can never be narrowed down into a handful and we’re glad about that, but this list is simply in order of the classic nostalgia factor, recent mentions, and popular voices extending beyond books:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Since her iconic TED talk which subsequently became a bestseller, We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written several other novels namely Purple Hibiscus, Americanah and others which have found a place in many hearts, bookshelves and night stands. As of today, Chimamanda is an important feminist voice and multitasks as a fashion influencer on Instagram, all while inspiring other women. In We Should All Be Feminists, she brought up oft ignored yet necessary discussions on being treated equal like the man whom she was entering a restaurant with, being presented the bill because she too had the purchasing power along with several other pointers highlighting what feminism means and should be rightly perceived as instead of being confused for a particular ‘kind’ of feminism. There is no variety, it just is.
Louisa May Alcott: Having written one of the most popular literary classics, Little Women, Louisa May Alcott changed perceptions about women back in the nineteenth century. Little Women was a coming-of-age story of a kind of four sisters who lived with their mother and waited for their father’s return from war. The story develops into more complex themes of falling in love, dealing with loss and an ailing parent and more. This book was followed by sequels on the March sisters titled Good Wives, Jo’s Boys and more.
Jane Austen: Through the six novels Jane Austen wrote, she created vivid fictional worlds, drawing a large part of her literary material from the lives led by the English country gentlefolk that she knew of or had met during her lifetime. Austen had a magical knack of transforming the stories of unremarkable people and situations into notable works of literature. Even in the present day, Jane Austen’s storytelling skills inspires awe and finds newer fans every day. The best part, her headstrong female characters who would always stand their ground.
Enid Blyton: One of the first reasons to begin reading, Enid Blyton has fed the imagination of many children across decades through her characters in The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Noddy and many more. The author’s literary works can easily be credited with taking you back to the carefree days of the summer holidays from school, waking up at leisure, enjoying great food at home and also learning about usually unheard of concepts such as ‘high tea’ and ‘supper’ in Indian homes.
J.K. Rowling: The seven-book-long Harry Potter series is J.K. Rowling’s most famous work to date and have been touted to be a children’s books when they first released a little over 20 years ago and became a sensation soon after. It is, however, inaccurate to assume that one of the most-loved authors in the world today, wrote only for children. A large part of the content in the Potter books is layered and dark - something you wouldn’t understand without personal experiences or learnings from around you as time goes by.
The Bronte Sisters: Charlotte, Anne and Emily Bronte originally published their poetry and literature under male pseudonyms. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, Emily’s Wuthering Heights, and Anne’s Agnes Grey came out in 1847 but after great trouble of finding a publisher. Emily Bronte is only credited with writing one of the greatest stories of love and loss in Wuthering Heights, however, Charlotte went on to write other titles in her lifetime.
Toni Morrison: The first African-American woman to become a Nobel Laureate in Literature, Toni Morrison wrote her books managing her job and single-motherhood. Her works, even though fictionalised accounts of the African-American experience, belonged to a world similar to her own but remained invisible from mainstream literature at the time. She was unapologetically flawed and broken from her experiences, but the characters she wrote into existence – black and mostly female – remained true to her cause. Their lives were woven together by love, pain, trials and triumph and can be seen in all her works beginning with the widely popular Beloved.
Bernardine Evaristo: The Anglo-Nigerian author, whose book, Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and strife of twelve contrasting characters from different walks of life tied for the coveted Man Booker Prize last year. Mostly women, black and British, the characters tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, through the years.
Olga Tokarczuk: The 2018 Nobel Prize in literature laureate, made her debut as a fiction writer in 1993 with Podroz Iudzi Ksiegi (The Journey of the Book-People). Olga Tokarczuk’s third novel Prawiek i inne czasy which came in 1996 was a breakthrough. Tokarczuk is the author of eight novels and two short-story collections and her books have been turned into plays and films and translated into more than 25 languages, including Catalan, Hindi and Japanese.
Virginia Woolf: A video by TED explains why one should read Virginia Woolf, saying that “if William Shakespeare had a female version, it would be Virginia Woolf”. The prolific author’s haunting language, her insights into a wide array of issues including historical, political, feminist and the non-linear approaches to the narrative which she adopted, exerted a major influence on the modernist genre. Through her popular books like To the Lighthouse and The Waves, Virginia Woolf became one of the three major English-language Modernist experimenters in stream-of-consciousness writing along with noteworthy names such as James Joyce (Ulysses) and William Faulkner (The Sound and the Fury).
Candace Bushnell: Sex and The City became a phenomenon on television with its six seasons that spoke about adult friendships, finding love after 30, getting married after 40, fashion weeks, open conversations about men, desire and so much more. Over two decades later, the show is a pop culture phenomenon with dedicated pages on social media. But it all started with Candace Bushnell’s genius chick-lit that took the world by storm. The author has since also written a prequel that talks about Carrie Bradshaw coming to New York City and working her way up the journalistic ladder, meeting her friends and more. A sequel also released last year and is titled, Is There Still Sex In The City?
Sophie Kinsella: She is the quirky brain behind the very popular Shopaholic series that also got made into an equally popular film, except on opposite shores. Madeline Wickham, who writes and is best-known by her pen name Sophie Kinsella, inspires young minds through the simplicity in her writing. It’s usually the simplicity one misses the most while dealing with the other complexities of life, and Kinsella’s writing fills that vacuum just fine. Aside from the Shopaholic series, Kinsella has written other interesting stories namely The Undomesticated Goddess, I’ve Got Your Number, an endearing story of a teenager dealing with depression in Finding Audrey among other titles.
Have you read any of these authors’ works? Tell us your favourite authors, titles and why you loved reading them.