To all my readers, regardless of gender/lack thereof, Happy Woman’s Day! In celebration, I’ve compiled my own top five lists of amazing female authors whose work I love or who I’m excited about reading or hearing more from. In no particular order, they are…
The Best Women Out There
JK Rowling – “Who?” I hear you ask (ha ha). Do I even need to say anything? Just the best stories, the best characters, books that we’ll still be reading in 100 years time. I aspire to write like her. Fun fact: Did you know Jo called herself “J.K.” because it’s a gender neutral name as it was thought that young boys wouldn’t read her books if they knew they were written by a woman?
Caitlin Moran – If I could be anyone for a day I think I might be Caitlin Moran. She is the epitome of a no fucks given attitude. She’s talked about a range of formerly taboo subjects, she’s spearheaded the recent resurgence in feminism, she’s hugely inspirational…oh, and she comes from Wolverhampton which is just down the road from me. I love hearing her accent (usually derided and seen as “thick”) because it’s a bit like mine and because she hasn’t tried to cover it up like pretty much every other famous person from that area. If you haven’t read “How to be a Woman” then you really should.
Daphne DuMaurier – What a phenomenal author. I’ve loved everything that she’s written. A lot of her books have great female characters and the way that she creates atmosphere is amazing – no one does it like Daphne.
Patricia Highsmith – I love the way that Patricia Highsmith creates the most appalling, detestable characters and yet still manages to get you to be on their side. Her mastery over language and the way that she builds a sense of dread and foreboding is really unsurpassed. There’s often a sexual ambiguity to her characters which is really interesting considering the period that her books were written in (and even more fascinating when you read about her personal life). A great author I can’t recommend highly enough.
Gillian Flynn – Unless you’ve been in a coma or living under a rock I’m sure you’re aware of the phenomenon of Gone Girl, but her other books are just as good. In a way, I see Flynn as the spiritual successor to Daphne DuMaurier and Patricia Highsmith – that sense of tension and atmosphere is a common theme. I love how she tackles the darkest themes and I can’t wait for more of her work.
Female Authors I’ve Missed and I’m Not Sure How it Happened
Zadie Smith – I watched a TV adaptation of NW and I was blown away by the quality of the story. I loved the complexity of the characters and their interactions with each other, plus the gritty realism of living in the UK today. I must prioritise her!
Margaret Atwood – I have literally no idea how I missed Margaret Atwood. I’m currently listening to The Heart Goes Last as an audio book and it’s soooo good! The Handmaids Tale is on my immediate TBR.
Donna Tartt – So a couple of years ago I downloaded The Goldfinch to read because everyone was telling me how great it was and I saw the size of it and thought “I’ll clear some space on my TBR and then I’ll get stuck into it…and unsurprisingly that just never happened. Another one for the immediate TBR.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Her work pops up on my various recommended reading lists everywhere but for some reason (usually because it doesn’t fit into a reading challenge category) I just haven’t clicked the download button. Why, Lucinda?!? I’ve heard nothing but good things and I’m excited to get stuck in to her work but it just hasn’t happened yet. It will though!
Jean M Auel – Again – how has this happened? Maybe because I was too focused on Judy Blume (honourable mention) as a teenager or maybe because of the woefully small selection of books in my local/school library (I read them all at least three times) but somehow I haven’t read any of her work. I have the Clan of the Cave Bear downloaded and ready to go!
Women I want to hear more from (Who Unintentionally All Happen to be British Comedians):
Sue Perkins – I just love her. Everything. About. Her. Is. Awesome. Spectacles is one of the best books that I read last year. I really hope she writes more. She’s so talented and clever and is a brilliant writer. I’ll say again – I love her.
Sara Pascoe – If you own a vagina, you need to read Animal (you should also read it if you don’t, but you’ll have a more immediate connection with the book if you’ve experienced vagina ownership first hand). I’ve never learnt so many facts from a book which is ostensibly a memoir. I was left amazed that I didn’t previously know half of what she’d written and angry that no one has ever taught me this stuff about my own body. Really brave, open and most importantly, funny, this is an amazing book. I need more!
Sarah Millican – I think Sarah Milligan is one of the best comedians currently out there (close your ears Sue Perkins) and her no bullshit women’s magazine Standard Issue is a fabulous enterprise which focuses on pro feminist, positive attitude journalism. She has a book out this year which I have high hopes for.
Emma Kennedy – The Tent, the Bucket and Me is honestly the funniest book I’ve ever read. I burst out laughing on a silent train because of it. I love the way Emma writes and although I didn’t like the follow up book quite as much, I’d definitely like to see more from her.
Meera Syal – Meera could easily have gone on to the “how has it taken me this long to read her stuff list”. Like Caitlin Moran she’s a local girl who really captures what it’s like to live in the West Midlands (for better or worse). I always enjoy her books and would love to see a new one out soon.
So there we go! Do you agree/disagree? Who would you include? Who did I forget? Let me know!