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ReadWomen2014: The MBRB Essentials list

A Reading list for this year!

From Julia Donaldson to Anita Desai to Catherynne Valente, there is a woman writer for you whatever you like to read

Books by Women We Love

It is difficult to narrow the breadth of women writing across the ages in just 52  books. We have left poetry and non fiction for another day, only skimmed the edges of short stories, ignored translations altogether, and allowed each author just one entry. But there are so many of our favourites that still didn’t make the list!

Take a look, tell us what absolute howlers we’ve made, what you would include instead, and how many have you read in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to share with your friends (male and female) who want something new (or old) for their reading lists!

Without further ado, here goes:

Children and Young Adult

1. Aditi and the One Eyed Monkey by Suniti Namjoshi
2. Beezus & Ramona by Beverley Cleary
3. Elephants Never Forget by Anuskha Ravishankar
4. First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
6. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
7. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson


The Essentials

8. A Room 0f One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
9. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O Connor
10. Devil’s Club by Georgette Heyer
11. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
13. Middlemarch by George Elliot
14. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
15. The Sea The Sea by Iris Murdoch
16. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
17. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Modern Literary Fiction

18. A Visit to the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
19. Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett
20. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
21. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
22. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
23. Hateship Friendship Courtship by Alice Munro
24. In her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
25. Possession by AS Byatt
26. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
27. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
28. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
29. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Mixed Art

Mystery and Thrillers

30. Into the Woods by Tana French
31. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne de Maurier
32. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
33. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
34. Simisola by Ruth Rendell
35. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
36. Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers

Science Fiction and Fantasy

37. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K le Guin
38. Children of Men by PD James
39. Escape by Manjula Padmanabhan
40. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
41. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
42. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
43.The Orphan’s Tale: In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente

Graphic Novels

44. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
45. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

 Subcontinental Writing

46. Fasting Feasting by Anita Desai
47. In the City by the Sea by Kamila Shamsie
48. Lunatic in My Head by Anjum Hasan
49. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
50. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Essential Feminism

51. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
52. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem


2 Comments on ReadWomen2014: The MBRB Essentials list

  1. I don’t mean to be picky here, but – Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” isn’t fiction. It’s an essay – so you have actually made a bow to non-fiction! (And it IS essential reading, no argument there.)

    • Amy, thanks for your comment! And you’re absolutely right. With just 52 books to choose we did sort of play around with the rules a bit. Which of Woolf’s fiction would you choose if you had to? I’d probably go with Orlando

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