Earlier this year we posted about the dearth of women in literature both as strong leading characters, and even more so as the authors of our narrative. As far back as the 1800’s women have gone to such lengths as to adopt male pseudonyms or gender-neutral initials. Over time, this bled into the literary review circle, with The Stella Count statistics revealing that state newspapers (in Australia) continue to review more books by male writers than female writers. The result is a staggering underrepresentation of women’s voices.
So following on from our January list, which you have no doubt already burnt through (remember to let us know what you thought of them), here are six more books we think all women and men should read in 2016.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
Written by French novelist (hello, land of champagne!) and philosophy professor Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog will pull you into the ‘movement of the world’ as experienced by twelve year old Paloma, and into the delightful secret world of the main character, concierge Renee Michel. I love the ‘realness’ of this book – life is not all pretty packaging and happy endings, but rather rich, unexpected, awkward and delightful all at once.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
Recommended to me by the good people at Indigo bookshop in Banff, Canada this is the tale of a man who pops out one day to post a letter and walks the length of the country to make amends – and of the woman he left behind vacuuming the house. A seriously beautiful novel about people who unwittingly become leaders, those that willingly follow and those that wait.
Still Alice – Lisa Genova
There’s no way out of it, this novel is devastating and beautiful. The story of a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University who comes face-to-face with a devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. There are no short cuts in this novel, it is honest and raw. A box of tissues and a glass of champagne close by are absolutes – just as reading it is.
And when you’ve finished reading it, tune into my favourite podcast – ABC’s Conversations with Richard Fidler when he chats with Lisa Genova and hear how it all started.
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
I don’t know how it is that I came to be in my mid-40’s and had never read this delightful tale of a small town and the tapestry of lives of those residing in it. If you want to be inspired, to know that there is good and courage and wonder – add this to your list. Harper Lee’s language is like laying face up in a bubbly creek on a hot summer’s day and staring at a wide blue sky.
The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
I re-read the Colour Purple every five or so years. Strangely enough it feels new each time, with aspects that had previously passed me by stepping out of the landscape and asking to be understood. This book has become for me about the fight for women to be women, to have the courage to support each other, to love openly and without fear of judgement, and to be who we were born to be.
P.S. I also love Alice Walker’s ‘What Feels Like Crazy on an Ordinary day’.
The Lake House – Kate Morton
I’m going to admit it, I have yet to read this… but, hello! Unsolved mystery! What’s not to love?! Plus Kate Morton is a Queenslander, with degrees in dramatic art and English literature, and her novels have sold over 10 million copies in 33 languages, across 38 countries.
I’ll race you to the end!
Do you have any books to add to the list? We’d love to hear from you about your favourite female authors! Together let’s change the face of literature and ensure that women’s narratives are part of our future libraries.