I applaud anyone thinking of doing #readwomen2014, even as I’m not sure I’ll be doing it myself in any formal way. Making it a point to read books that emerge from a wide variety of human experiences will never be a bad thing. Everyone should do it. The end.
But I notice people seem in need of suggestions for what to read, in that case. As I’ve said before, my own bookshelves have been trending female for a long time now. So I have a fairly good handle on novels written by women in the last century or so, and if I were drawing you up a syllabus of what to read next by women, here are the top 50 books I would recommend. Since I could easily offer more than 50 suggestions, I tried to keep this manageable by sticking largely to fiction, with a few memoirs along the way. I also picked only one book per author, though in general I tried, where possible, to select a book you wouldn’t necessarily have encountered on a school syllabus. I tried to do a fair mix of older books and newer books, too, and emphasized ones which you could call overlooked or even forgotten. Really the only common denominator is that I own, and have loved, all of these.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
I just finished reading this novel, which tells the entwined stories of a writer named Ruth in British Columbia and a girl named Nao in Japan. Long after putting it down, I can’t stop thinking about it.