A Year ofFemale Authors

Aug 30, 2016

Walk out of college with a BA in English and you’ll have read a lot of books by a lot of dudes. I’ve got plenty of Faulkner and Hemingway on my shelf, but I found the number of books on there by female authors somewhat lacking. So, I thought I’d spend a year reading only books by women. It’s like a reverse version of these silly manly man man book clubs.

This is a working list, and I’d ♥️ some good suggestions. The only things I won’t read are My Ántonia and any book which has a parody version of the “and Zombies” pattern.


  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard.

    My feelings about this book are all over the place: some slim sections are transcendent (“I couldn't unpeach the peaches”), others feel like an adult trying to find some universal understanding of reality from my childhood. I grew up near a pond, I spent days chasing dragonflies. I’ve seen muskrats, and honestly they weren’t that hard to find.

    Still, a thousand times better than Walden. That book is four good quotes between a hundred pages of Thoreau writing about the cost of lard.

  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion.

    I’m kind of pissed that this wasn’t assigned reading in the literary non-fiction class I took. Also I’m an instant fan of any writing that makes California seem depressing.

    What struck me most interesting is how the positive takes on the 60s (John Wayne: A Love Song) seemed so foreign, while the negative ones (Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream, Slouching Towards Bethlehem) seemed like with a few details switched around, they could be taking place in the present day.

    I also loved the honesty of Goodbye to All That, it’s the experience of city living that city dwellers seem so reticent to admit to.

  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

    This book is about Buddhism, quantum physics, suicide, dealing with disaster, cats, garbage in the Pacific Ocean, maid cafes, writing... honestly it’s about everything. How much you appreciate it probably comes down to how much you appreciate the title. It‘s revealed early on (and, on the back cover), that the title has a double meaning. It's a tale for the period now, but it’s also a tale for time beings:

    “A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

    I would also add that the narrative structure in this book is fantastic. The alternation between Nao and Ruth and the intermingling of Nao and Ruth's realties makes you feel like a character in the book, watching the novel unfold as Ruth watches the diary unfold as Nao watches her life unfold.

  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith

    Loved the writing, but in the end I sort of wished that the story was about all of the characters it wasn't about.


  • Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins

To Read

  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson