In the past, many female writers adopted male or otherwise gender-ambiguous pseudonyms for several reasons. Whether to publish without prejudice in male-dominated circles or to encourage male readership, there are plenty of women who have paved their way through literature under a male pen name. Fortunately, the last few centuries have finally made the necessary space for women authors to write using their names, and in celebration of Women’s History Month, here are 10 wonderful books written by women to read.
“The Terrible” by Yrsa Daley-Ward
“The Terrible” is a memoir where Yrsa Daley-Ward narrates her life as a queer girl, growing up in the north-west of England. She shares the moving and heartbreaking story of her journey from childhood to adulthood, in which she discovered the power and fear of sexuality.
“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
Told through a series of letters written to God, “The Color Purple” documents the traumas and gradual triumph of Celie, an African American teenager raised in rural isolation in Georgia, as she comes to resist the paralyzing self-concept forced on her by others.
“Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee
“Pachinko” follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.
“The Magical Language of Others” by E.J. Koh
After living in America for over a decade, Eun Ji Koh’s parents return to South Korea for work, leaving 15-year-old Eun Ji and her brother behind in California. “The Magical Langauge of Others” is a powerful and aching love story told in letters, written from mother to daughter.
“Blue Flowers” by Carola Saavedra
In this short novel, a man reads letters meant for the previous tenant of his new apartment, revealing the end of a tempestuous relationship. As he reads, the man can’t help but reflect on his own failed relationships with women.
“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi
“Children of Blood and Bone” is a fantasy novel inspired by Nigerian mythology, specifically focusing on the Orisha. In this world, magic is forbidden and those who are descended from the maji are called “maggots” and systematically oppressed, if not killed outright.
“Where Reasons End” by Yiyun Li
In “Where Reasons End”, Yiyun Li imagines a fictional conversation between a mother and the teenage son she lost to suicide. Li confronts grief and transforms it into art, in a book of surprising beauty and love. The aching feelings of grief at the center of this novel are made all the more intense knowing that the author herself lost a child to suicide.
“Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado
“Her Body and Other Parties” is a short story collection featuring a woman recounting her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity, a salesclerk in a mall who makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses, one woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest, and many more thrilling tales.
“Sabrina and Corina” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
This collection of 11 short stories centered on the lives of different Latina women of Indigenous ancestry who live in Denver, Colorado. Each narrative focuses on different issues, from abandonment to death to love, family, and more.
“Little Gods” by Meng Jin
“Little Gods” is a story about a woman running from her past, trying to recreate herself and by doing so, her daughter had to travel to her past to figure out exactly who her mother was. This novel shows us a complex woman through the eyes of her husband, her daughter, and her daughter’s nanny, all of whom see different and sometimes contradictory sides of her.