It’s been a tough year for women, but we’re convinced that the future is female, and that includes 2018. So in the spirit of sisterhood, supporting the work of more diverse voices, and in general, just discovering something new and wonderful to read right now. I’ve rounded up 10 incredible women authors who have put together incredible books of all kinds in 2017 that will hold up well beyond.
It’s so important to purchase books by women, because we let publishers know that that there is value in promoting their voices and their stories. Or, grab them from your local library. That works too.
So pick up a few right now to read over winter break; maybe even buy some extras to spread the love.
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Top Zinzi Clemmons | by photographer Nina Subin for The Atlantic
Related: A book club for girls that supports black women authors.
Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen
I’ve been so disappointed by the allegations against male chefs this past year, if not surprised. But it’s prompted me to seek out the voices of chefs outside the male-dominated mainstream who tend to get so much of the press. So I can’t wait to dive into Amy Thielen’s culinary autobiography, which follows this James Beard award-winner’s journey from a cabin in the Midwestern woods, to the high-end restaurants of New York — then back again.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay’s bestselling memoir absolutely rocked me. Whether writing about surviving sexual assault as a teenager, describing the pain of strangers removing food from her grocery cart, or deconstructing America’s obsession with “The Biggest Loser,” she spares the reader no detail, no matter how raw or revealing. Hunger will break your heart, Gay’s exquisite writing will leave you with a profound and important new empathy for people moving through the world in bodies that are different from your own.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Is growing up with money and privilege more important than growing up with your biological family? That’s one of the questions Ng delves into in this wonderful new novel about class, motherhood, and adoption. Like Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, Ng’s 2017 book starts with an accident, then rewinds to relate the story leading up to it. Some of Ng’s passages about motherhood are so gorgeous, I actually had to stop reading and email them to friends.
Related The top lists of the best children’s books of the year, all in one place
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
If you’ve read her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge (you may know the miniseries starting Frances and McDormand and Richard Jenkins), you will love Strout’s 2017 novel. It captures a similar snapshot of a small town and those wonderful details about just what makes each resident tick. The chapters are episodic and each features a different–slightly interrelated–character. If you love a novel with sharp psychological insights and brilliant character development (that’s why we read novels, right?), you’ll want to pick up this one.
Related: 7 books to help you feel fabulous in the new year.
Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
Fennelly is a new name to me, and I was caught off guard by just how much I loved this book from Mississippi’s Poet Laureate. She compresses so much humor and warmth into each micro-memoir, it’s easy to tell she’s a poet. Whether she’s writing about her inordinate attraction to the heating & cooling service man (not that we can relate to that) or the bittersweet ache of witnessing her babies become teenagers, you won’t be able to read just only one chapter at a time.
A Feminist Manifesto in 15 Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
You may know Adichie from her TED talk or perhaps as the voice of feminist reason from Beyonce’s song Flawless. And if you’re like me, you want to hear more. Adichie’s new book was born when a friend asked her how to raise a feminist daughter, which makes it a perfect gift for a new parent — or really, any woman (or man) looking for guidance in the age of #Metoo. We even included it among our 35 favorite feminist gifts of the year.
Related: What I Told My Daughter: The perfect book for new moms — and dads
Glass Houses by Louise Penny
If you’re looking for a new book from a woman author in 2017 that’s a little more snuggle-up-in-front-of-the-fire-with-cocoa, grab this book now. Glass Houses is the 12th in Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series — but don’t worry if she’s new to you; it also works as a stand-alone novel. It revolves around her Canadian protaganist and the quirky cast of characters living in Three Pine. While it’s a murder mystery, I’d rank it even higher on mouth-watering descriptions of Quebec food and gorgeous writing than your typical thriller.
You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano
This pick comes straight from our Editor-in-Chief Liz, so you know it won’t disappoint. You Play the Girl from the witty, insightful culture writer and film critic Carina Chocano deconstructs the limited array of roles foist upon women at a young age from books and film — seductress, princess, girlfriend, hot mess — and how those stereotypes can limit us even into adulthood. Liz calls it fun, clever, and incredibly thoughtful, and if you’re an entertainment fan in particular this is one that will stay with you. Whether you could write a dissertation on the Beschdel Test or you’re perfectly happy with your classic rom-coms (looking at you, Pretty Woman), this book is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to dig deeper into our entertainment, peel back the layers of patriarchy, and imagine what we can do to change it. Even if we’re not all Hollywood producers.
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
Loss has a way of forcing us to define ourselves, especially if we lose a parent. Zinzi Clemmons highly-lauded first novel is as much an autobiography in which the task is complicated by her biracial background and transatlantic upbringing. If you’re ever felt like an outsider (and isn’t that all of us?), you’ll want to pick up this original but highly relatable story which comes to life with photographs, graphs and other ephemera. If you’ve always felt like you fit in? Then all the more reason to move it to the top of your list.
One Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman
Not every book by women authors in 2017 deals with profound subjects and difficult themes. If you’re a YA fan looking for some light reading — maybe something you can share with your older kids — check out this classic tale of kids running away to…IKEA? Okay, so not that classic. But judging by how much we have all loved Catherine Newman’s blogging and books over the past decade (new parents all adore Waiting for Birdie) we can recommend this totally delightful YA romp. Because who wouldn’t want to live in the land of sleek Scandinavian design and bountiful cinnamon rolls? Count me in.
Got a favorite new 2017 book from a woman author that we missed? Add it in comments! We can never have too many books on our lists.
Ayobami Adebayo’s “Stay with me”. One of the year’s best
Ooh, I heard that one was good, too. Will check it out!
Glass Houses is the author’s 13th book.
Ha! Good catch, Wendy!
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is another incredible must-read
Thanks for the recommendation, Dori! I’ll have to check it out.