The perfect literary way to celebrate Women's History Month. 💁🏽 📚
Women published some pretty outstanding books in the past year.
Women published some pretty outstanding books in the past year.

Historically, women artists have rarely gotten their due. But there’s no time like the present ― especially this Women’s History Month ― to change that, and to make sure that we’re appreciating all the genius work women writers are doing.

In the past year, we read dozens of brilliant books by women. We read insightful essays that cut to the heart of the human experience, and we read lyrical short stories that moved us to laughter and tears. We read epic novels that contained unimaginably capacious worlds.

Here are 23 of the most unforgettable books by women that we read recently:


Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

“It’s a quick read that’ll leave you in a sweat, if not a panic. If you like your endings happy, or at least conclusive, the journey will be futile. But Fever Dream is worth reading for its inventiveness alone. Schweblin gives us memorable characters and a haunting parable, all in fewer than 200 short pages.”

Random House

The Girls by Emma Cline

“As full as the book is of clearly articulated notions, paragraph-long observations on the paradox of feminine power and girlish powerlessness, it’s not a creed; Cline carefully treads along a well-paced plot, drawing characters with heart along the way. She manages to reflect on the tension between the selves we perform and the selves we feel we are — “affected” is a favorite alternative to “said” — without getting mired in commentary. The result is a book as fast-moving as a van on the run, as dark and atmospheric as the smog it cuts through.”

Blue Rider

Little Nothing by Marisa Silver

Silver’s book is magical and parabolic, but it doesn’t have the stark, curious language of a fairy tale. Instead, she adorns her fable with earthy imagery, crafting a rich setting and lovable characters.”

Farrar Straus and Giroux

Virgin and Other Stories by April Ayers Lawson

“A refreshing take on desires both taboo and repressed, Virgin and Other Stories is a promising debut.”


The Mothers by Britt Bennett

“At 17, Nadia Turner and Aubrey Evans worried about the usual teenage concerns: which Kanye West song to put on, which tight-fitting dress to wear out, which guys were worth their time, which childhood secrets were too taboo to reveal. But beneath the veneer of youthful ease, each harbored her own private pain, hoping that time, eventually, would bury it.

That’s the sad beauty of Brit Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers. The characters’ pasts and deeper desires may be obfuscated by time, like sheets of translucent ice, but eventually they resurface, painfully fracturing the lives that’ve been built up around them.”


Intimations by Alexandra Kleeman

“In her first short story collection, Kleeman’s breadth as a writer is on display. She writes surreal scenes that are emotionally resonant and realistic stories that are affecting in their strangeness.”

Penguin Press

Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

“The unpleasant, even grotesque behaviors of her characters seem amplified thanks to Moshfegh’s cool, matter-of-fact prose. [...] In much fiction, writers draw us in by painting the relatable, lovable vulnerabilities within even their most nominally unsympathetic characters, complicating our impulse to divide the world into ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ Moshfegh’s stories do the reverse, confronting readers with the squicky, selfish, and sociopathic inner selves of even outwardly decent people.”


Human Acts by Han Kang

Human Acts [...] isn’t a book about forsaking or repairing violence; it’s about the inescapability and deathlessness of violence in humanity. Every effort to paper over the horrors of what these protesters suffered, at the hands of their own nation’s soldiers, whether through time or literary censorship or personal forgetting, fails. The violence of the past rises up again; it was never really past.”

Random House

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

“In Idaho, a literary novel about a horrific and baffling crime, the tension between what author Emily Ruskovich will reveal and what readers long to know can be excruciating. Told from the perspectives of Ann, the loving younger wife of a man who tragically lost his family; Jenny, his ex-wife; and Jenny’s cellmate, Idaho obsesses obliquely over the horrifying moment that tore apart Jenny and Wade’s family.”


Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins

“Nearly 30 years after her too-early passing, this author’s powerful debut collection manages to perfectly embody the existential torment of her country. The lingering question of whether we really understand each other and what’s happening around us, or whether we’re getting it catastrophically wrong, looms over Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? ― and it’s a question we’re likely to continue grappling with for many years to come.”

Penguin Press

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

“In a first-person twist on her buoyant, bustling London narratives, Smith examines the trouble of combining the personal and political, and captures the thrills of girlhood, dance, and first friendship.”


Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin

“Until the 19th and 20th centuries, women didn’t typically go on walks in urban areas, and those who did were presumed to be ‘street walkers.’

Elkin celebrates the historical exceptions, such as George Sand, who found freedom from societal expectations by cross-dressing. She also devotes a chapter of her book to protest, an act made more radical by its oppressive history.”


A Separation by Katie Kitamura

“Kitamura [...] gives us a book that’s worth reading for its inventive cadences alone. And there’s more to it than that: surprising turns and honest thoughts on the complexity of loss.”


O Fallen Angel by Kate Zambreno

“SUVs, red meat, Jesus. If a dissenter’s view of Middle America were turned into a Bingo card, Kate Zambreno’s debut novel O Fallen Angel ― recently reissued by Harper Perennial ― would win the game a few pages in.”


Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce

No one at Chizuru Akitani’s school saw it coming. Quiet, bookish, the butt of bully jokes, her coping mechanisms were the usual methods of disenfranchised 12-year-olds. She sought solace in her teacher, Miss Danny; she turned inward, binge-eating sweets after class.

[...] She’s picked on, particularly by her classmate Tomoya Yu. Until, once day ― shortly after she learns that her mother has committed suicide ― she stabs him in the neck with a letter opener, landing her in a juvenile detention center for the next eight years.”


The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky

“Leah does not like to fight. In fact, not fighting is one of the few firm stances she’s able to take in Marcy Dermansky’s new novel The Red Car, a spare and funny story about regaining your footing after coping with grief.

The character will look familiar to fans of Sheila Heti, Vendela Vida or Lena Dunham; she’s an intelligent young woman who’s navigating a budding life of art-making and unfulfilling relationships with men.”


The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs

The Art of Waiting explores negative portrayals of childless women and families in popular culture (as sinister, resentful). It manages also to delve deeply into the scientific and political processes of IVF, a treatment that’s much more accessible to some communities than it is to others. Boggs gracefully touches on her own brush with infertility, and by sharing stories of those in her support group, she shows that the experience of yearning for children is multifaceted, not so easily whittled down to a harsh stereotype.”


South and West by Joan Didion

“With an anthropologist’s detachment and precision, Didion took notes on the South that, while lyrical and often funny, do little to empathize with the region. Still, the writer reinforces the paradoxes of Southern warmth, and exposes contradictory beliefs about race and religion.”


Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

“The latest of Hogarth’s retellings of Shakespearean plays by eminent authors is a match made in dystopian heaven. (If such a thing could exist.)

Margaret Atwood, the author behind great ecological speculative fiction like the chilling MaddAddam trilogy, meets William Shakespeare’s most climate-obsessed drama: ‘The Tempest.’”

Willow Books

Deceit and Other Possibilities by Vanessa Hua

“Venturing across boundaries both tangible and imperceptible, legal and emotional, can carry tremendous weight in Deceit and Other Possibilities. Throughout Hua’s collection, written over the course of over 10 years, she tells the stories of people who have crossed borders despite all that they must leave behind in the process, or who choose to cross back despite all that they’ve gained in their new world.”


Land of Enchantment by Leigh Stein

“Stein’s memoir Land of Enchantment, published earlier this year, is about many things: abusive relationships, grief, chronic depression, adolescent alienation. Or maybe, to put it another way, it’s about one thing: how much of ourselves we store in each other.”

Melville House

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle

“In Sady Doyle’s sharp new book Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why, she examines the particular pleasure our society has taken, for centuries, in tearing down publicly visible women.”


The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride

“Not often does a novel so expertly seduce its readers into an alternate state of consciousness that it mimics an actual dream state, where everything solid is hazily just beyond reach. Eimear McBride, with her deployment of modernist technique reminiscent of James Joyce, elicits such a mental state throughout her new novel, The Lesser Bohemians ― really, it’s the only way to read it.”

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