At Books that Matter, championing amazing women goes to the very core of what we do. Through reading and a shared sense of community, our aim is to uplift female voices and highlight fantastic work by women. Here are 10 books by women whose work has broken barriers, given voice to marginalised people and most importantly continues to inspire, entertain and inform us as readers. We hope you will add at least a few of these suggestions to your to-be-read list this Women’s History Month.
And Still I Rise – Maya Angelou
The original phenomenal woman, Maya Angelou is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the impact of the civil rights movement on black women in America. Most famous for her seven-part autobiography, Angelou was also an accomplished poet and the collection ‘And Still I Rise’ includes some of her best work in this genre.
Redefining Realness – Janet Mock
In this memoir Janet Mock relays her experiences of growing up young, multiracial, poor, and trans in America, offering readers accessible language while imparting vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of a marginalized and misunderstood population. Redefining Realness is a powerful vision of possibility and self-realization, pushing us all toward greater acceptance of one another.
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Considered by many to be a modern classic, The Secret History follows a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college who, under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
In this follow up to her acclaimed debut ‘Everything I Never Told You’, Ng combines issues of race, belonging, motherhood and the dangers of smug liberalism with the pace and fervour of a psychological thriller. It is a novel that shines a light on American suburbia’s dark undercurrents and now has its own TV adaptation starring the wonderful Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.
Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton
In her intimate memoir, Alderton vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out.
Talking to Women – Nell Dunn
In 1964 Nell Dunn spoke to nine of her friends over a bottle of wine about sex, work, money, babies, freedom and love. The result was ‘Talking to Women’ a book which spent more than 50 years out of print before being given a new lease of life by Silver Press in 2018. It remains as sparkling, honest, profound, funny and wise as when it was first published.
Becoming – Michelle Obama
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her-from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. There’s a reason this was the bestselling book of 2018 and continues to be widely read and loved.
The Driver’s Seat – Muriel Spark
Muriel Spark was a prolific writer with dozens of works attributed to her. If you’ve never read her before and would like to get a taste of her unique writing style without committing to a full-length novel, this novella might be a good place to start. We follow Lise who walks out of her office one day, acquires a gaudy new outfit, adopts a girlier tone of voice, and heads to the airport to fly south. On the plane she takes a seat between two men. One is delighted with her company, the other is deeply perturbed. So begins an unnerving journey into the darker recesses of human nature.
The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell
Science-fiction is typically a male-dominated genre and Mary Doria Russell adds a welcome female voice to this area of literature with this, her debut novel. The Sparrow takes us to an alternative 2019 where humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question what it means to be “human”.
Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up. It’s written as a graphic novel so the pages go by fairly quickly. Satrapi’s art style brings the text to life and provides an insight into the life of a young woman growing up during an important, historic time in Iran’s history.