I have really fallen short with my devotion to Women’s History Month. My goal was to feature one woman per day on my blog, but alas! I set my bar too high, and could not meet my own standard. It has been a busy month as I’ve been working extra shifts because I have a large tax bill to pay next month, I’ve also had to make multiple trips to the dentist and now I’m battling a small bout of illness. No matter, I shall take this time to resume my dedication to recognizing admirable women. Reader, you are in for a treat today as I will provide you with commentary on 5 of my favorite women writers and why I love their works.
J.K. Rowling is a woman who needs very little introduction. As the author of the much beloved Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling has been a monumental influence in my life. Her works and her actions make the world a better place, and I credit her for inspiring a love of reading and a love of books for me personally, and I’m sure for many other people, too. I always loved reading, but I wasn’t really a reader before Harry cleverly stole my heart. By crafting such an intricate and welcoming world within the pages of her 7 Harry Potter novels, Rowling has welcomed generations of young readers into the literary landscape.
I rediscovered Lauren Groff this past fall, and she quickly became one of my favorite authors. I had a stack of advance reader copies of various books left over from my days as a bookstore employee, and one day I randomly picked up a copy of her most recent novel Fates and Furies. Released in September of 2015, it was one of the most moving novels I have read and her prose is elegant and precise. I realized that I had read her first novel The Monsters of Templeton one summer many years ago while I was still in college, and I remembered that I had also loved that novel. Still curious about her, I checked out a copy of Arcadia and I still think about it constantly. I highly recommend reading her work. Here’s a link to her website for further information: http://laurengroff.com/
Gillian Flynn’s novels have become so popular during the past few years that she is now a household name. Her work has even been lauded by Stephen King. Also notable, is that when her best-selling novel Gone Girl was adapted for the big screen, Flynn wrote the screen play. As a fan of the novel that was something I really appreciated. Readers often lament bad adaptations of their favorite books, but with Flynn at the helm her readers were not disappointed. She is a master of suspense, her mysteries are clever and haunting and rendered with beautiful, sophisticated prose. Frequently, friends and co-workers ask me to recommend books, and I almost always recommend Dark Places. One of my favorite novels, it is a mesmerizing maze of the macabre, layered with suspense and rich in twists and turns.
Linda Hogan is a Chickasaw poet, essayist, novelist, environmentalist and academic. I included her deeply moving, eco-feminist novel Solar Storms on my Women’s History Month reading list because of its powerful female protagonists, and the rich, complex relationships portrayed between the characters. She is the current writer in residence of the Chickasaw nation, and her works have won numerous awards. Her works include indios, Power, Solar Storms, People of the Whale, Mean Spirit, Rounding the Human Corner, Sightings -the Mysterious Journey of the Gray Whale, and Lowak Shoppala.
And where would I be if I forgot to write about Harper Lee? Like many bibliophiles, I have a deep love for To Kill a Mockingbird. I would argue that it is one of the most influential and widely-read American novels. Lee’s wise southern voice gently shapes the tender American psyche. Teaching lessons of patience, tolerance, inclusiveness, and understanding. It is a book that has remained relevant since its’ publication in 1960.
But Harper Lee herself was a recluse. She had an apartment in New York City, and a home in Monroeville Alabama, and for many years split her time between the two residences. However, Lee said very little on record and made only a few public appearances that waned as she aged. In the summer of 2014 a book about her life came out entitled The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills. There was some on-line controversy surrounding the book’s release, as it was first billed as the only authorized biography of Harper Lee, then it was speculated to have been un-authorized after all. Regardless, it is an interesting read and I recommend it for lovers of Harper Lee.
In July of 2015 Lee’s readers got a shock when they learned that she would be releasing, after 50 years, a second novel. Go Set a Watchman was also somewhat surrounded by controversy. At the time, Lee was elderly and many questioned why she had waited 50 years to release a second novel, and suspected that she was suffering from dementia and had been swayed by her publishers. Regardless of this controversy, the book’s sales did not suffer and Lee had published a second best-selling novel.
This is not by any means an all-inclusive list, I have written more extensive posts about other authors I admire as part of this same series, and there are many more authors I love that I’m not writing about this month. But the 5 women here have each created outstanding and deeply compelling bodies of work. Works that help cement places in the literary world for other women writers, and for women readers. They also serve as reminders that women authors are relevant and not to be discounted or dismissed.