Incredible Female Authors to Explore on International Women’s Day
Incredible Female Authors to Explore on International Women’s Day
In 2021, I challenged myself to read 12 books by renowned feminist authors. I actually didn’t read all 12 books, but I succeeded in reading some incredible pieces of work and now have more women writers on my radar that I have promoted to my family, friends, and the BooknBrunch community.
The Current State of Gender Equality in Literature
Women make up 52% of the world’s population. However, we are still not recognized equally across many industries, including literature and writing. Data from NPD Bookscan shows steady progress in this area, with women responsible for 42% of unit sales for the top 100 printed books in 2019, up from 30% in 2010. Additionally, 39 of the top 100 bestselling authors were women in the same year, up from 33 in 2010. However, when you turn your attention to the classics, you’ll begin to see the disparity. In Battle of the Authors, Wordery concluded that the vast majority of the most popular titles of all time were written by men. What’s also interesting to me is that even in the list voted by women, you will find only two women authors. We still have some way to go to have adequate representation of women authors, and I have made it my goal to chip away at gender disparity wherever I can.
My Top Five Female Author Picks
We Should All Be Feminists, based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s TED talk of the same name, highlights the boxes women can be put into. The book explores how you can escape from that box – and even blow the box apart. When I read Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanada’s debut novel, I was transported to Nigeria and felt the pain and joy experienced by 9-year-old Kambili. Inspired by Chimamanda’s passion and enthusiasm, I read two more of her novels, Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun, and often revisit her essays and TED talks, and I even wrote about her here.
At the beginning of 2021, I hadn’t read any work by Virginia Woolf. By the end of the year, I had completed A Room of One’s Own and made significant progress with Virginia Woolf: The Complete Collection. If you’re interested in sampling her work, The Complete Collection is a fantastic purchase; a compilation of novels, biographies and short stories that’s perfect for dipping into when you have the urge. Her writing style, often described as military, does not suit everybody. Personally, I find it somewhat hypnotic and believe that she is one of the most progressive female writers of her time.
Speaking out publicly on behalf of girls and their right to education in her hometown of Swat Valley, Pakistan, caused Malala Yousafzai to become a target for the Taliban. They ambushed her school bus and shot Malala in the head, and she was lucky to escape with her life. Many people would have chosen to hide away; instead, Malala was driven to continue her fight for every girl’s access to education. Now an Oxford University graduate and tireless activist for girls and women across the world, Malala leads the Malala Fund, ensuring girls are given the rights they are entitled to. I Am Malala, written by Christina Lamb and Malala, answers the question posed by the gunman who stormed her school bus on that fateful day in October 2012: who is Malala? I was blown away by Malala’s story and inspired by her tenacity and enthusiasm to continue what she had started.
The American novelist Harper Lee is one of only two women to make the Battle of the Authors top 10, being voted in first and second place by female and male participants, respectively. She published her most famous and most loved work, To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960, winning the Pulitzer Prize the following year. It would be a further 55 years before she released her second and final book, Go Set a Watchman. Despite publishing only two books, she is still recognized as one of the world’s best-loved female writers. Considered semi-autobiographical and reflecting some aspects of her youth growing up in Monroeville, Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird remains a bestseller, with some 40 million copies in print. It has been my favourite book since I was a teenager, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you have never opened this book, probably the most widely read novel that deals with race in America, it should be at the top of your “must-read” list for sure.
Of course, my top five would not be complete without referencing Margaret Atwood‘s legendary writing talent. The first of her books that I read some 20 years ago was Alias Grace, which was made into a TV mini-series. Published in 1996, it won the Canadian Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Atwood has published 17 novels, in addition to many short works of fiction and children’s books, and is the winner of many prestigious awards, too numerous to mention here. I was reintroduced to her work through my 2021 Reading Challenge, which contained The Testaments, a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale that I read in the early 2000s. Inspirational and thought-provoking, she is arguably one of the finest writers of our time.
How to Support Women and Other Female Authors
Promoting women authors in your reading group or book club is a great way to raise the profile of women writers. Consider the work of Hello Sunshine, a media company founded by Hollywood actor Reese Witherspoon that puts women at the centre of everything they create. Its mission is to “change the narrative for women” by promoting books written by women and exploring the female experience. Many of the book club’s picks have appeared on the bestseller lists. Many have been purchased for development into TV and movies. Women promoting women and driving success. Why not encourage women or female-identifying authors amongst your own book club and your friends and family?
Check out the women authors profiled and reviewed in The Journal, and let’s recognize and promote their talents.
Do you have any favourite women authors? If so, share them and tell us why you admire them here!
With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel. A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications. Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli
With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.
A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications.
Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.