Reading List

50 Books You’ll Want to Read by Women Authors



I love it when someone I trust tells me about a new book they’ve read that they think I would like.  It’s better than a new restaurant, better than a new movie.  In fact it’s even better than a new coffee shop opening in town.


Living in Portland, Maine means all of these things happen a lot – restaurants opening, movies coming, new coffee shops – and it also means that there are going to be many months of indoor activities.


We have a good bookstore, Longfellow Books, and we have a good bookclub, Maine Women Write.  But what I couldn’t find was a good list of “new” books by women.  So I made this one up from my life here in Portland and I share it with you in hopes that you trust me and that it will give you as much pleasure as it has given me.


I give you 50 of my favorite books written by women in the past 50 years:


Tales of Burning Love – Louise Erdrich

Gilead – Marilynne Robinson

Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

The Autobiography of My Mother – Jamaica Kincaid

Grace Paley: The Collected Stories – Grace Paley

Break It Down – Lydia Davis

Dance of the Happy Shades – Alice Munro

The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing

A Girl Named Zippy – Haven Kimmel

The Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

The Bottle Factory Outing – Beryl Bainbridge

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard

A Swiftly Tilting Planet – Madeleine L’Engle

Kindred – Octavia Butler

The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan

A Thousand Acres – Jane Smiley

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

White Teeth – Zadie Smith

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barberry

Stones from the River – Ursula Hegi

The Tiger’s Wife – Tea Obreht

The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan

The Solace of Open Spaces – Gretel Ehrlich

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Against Interpretation – Susan Sontag

Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joan Didion

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret – Judy Blume

Wise Blood – Flannery O Connor

The Dispossessed – Ursula LeGuinn

Speedboat – Renata Adler

The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch

The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter

The Warrior Woman – Maxine Hong Kingston

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Beloved – Toni Morrison

Bad Behavior – Mary Gaitskill

Geek Love – Katherine Dunn

Possession – A.S. Byatt

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

The Shipping News – Annie Proulx

Birds of America – Lorrie Moore

Journal of a Solitude – May Sarton

Magic for Beginners – Kelly Link

The Liars Club – Mary Karr

A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

The Flame Throwers – Rachel Kushner


I’ve shared mine.  Now it’s your turn.  Send me your suggestions and I’ll post it here.


Happy reading.




I compiled a reading  list last year when I started my website. I posted my 50 current favs and asked other people to send in theirs.  Here they are, gathered up and along with a few more I ‘ve read this year.  In keeping with getting women authors out into the public eye, I will simply add to the list of books by women. Some time soon, I look forward to creating a list of some of the fabulous books I’ve read by men.

So here’s the current update:


From readers far and wide –

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous

Persian Girls by Nahid Rachlin

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Skloot

Late Wife by Claudia Emerson

Black Milk: On Writing, Motherhood and the Harem Within by Elif Shafak

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Almond by Nedjma

The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy

Operating Instructions by Ann Lamott

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett

The News from Spain by Joan Wickerhsam

A Little More About Me by Pam Houston

The Edge of Marriage by Hester Kaplan

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman

The Last Uncle by Linda Pastan

Wanderground by Sally Gearhart

The Dyke and the Dybbuk by Ellen Galford

Burning Questions by Alix Kates Shulman

The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

Come to Me by Amy Bloom

Where You’ll Find Me by Ann Beattie

The Collected Stories by Amy Hempel

The Whole World Over by Julia Glass

I Am No One You Know by Joyce Carol Oates

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos

Wounds of Passion by Bell Hooks

Pages For You by Sylvia Brownrigg

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

Into the Forest by Jean Heglund


And if that is not enough to keep you busy, here are the best I’ve read this year:


The Round House by Louise Erdrich

White Dog Fell from the Sky by Eleanor Morse

Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

The Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carolyn Chute


Okay, so get reading.  And keep us posted on what you’re finding out there.  It’s a juicy world for writers and readers.


December 31, 2014


Hot of the Press – The New Yorker Readers Best of 2014 (considering Edith Wharton is on this list I am going to assume this means the best of what they read this year versus the best of what was written this year.)  Anyway, I intend to dig into this list as soon as I finish the stack I have already bought which includes “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan and “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers both of which are clearly not new but were at Bookman’s for cheap when I was in Tucson last and I grabbed them with pleasure along with “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht which I had been meaning to read for ages and finally got around to in November.

The Zone of Interest – Martin Amis

The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses – Kevin Birmingham

The Custom of the Country – Edith Wharton

My Struggle – Karl Ove Knausgaard

In the Light of What We Know – Zia Haider Rahma

Outline – Rachel Cusk,

H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald

To Each His Own – Leonardo Sciasci

Confessions of an Italian – Ippolito Nievo.

Nobody Is Ever Missing – Catherine Lacey

Collected Poems – Mark Strand

The Ballad of a Small Player – Lawrence Osborne

Little Failure – Gary Shtenyngart

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami

An Emerald Light in the Air – Donald Antrim

10:04 – Ben Lerner

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay – Elena Ferrant

The Lost Book of Mormon – Avi Steinberg

The Book of Strange New Things – Michael Faber.

Can’t and Won’t – Lydia Davis

Citizen: An American Lyric- Claudia Rankine









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