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Books & Authors

Women Writing Women

Consider the following selection of books the tip of the iceberg when it comes to books written by women, about women. Featuring both long form writing and graphic novels, these stories feature women from multiple cultures and multiple stages of life. Whatever their background, these women characters as written by women authors, bring authenticity and unique points-of-view to their stories.

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
It is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to the city of her youth for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman--but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories.

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata
As a child, Natsuki doesn't fit into her family. Her parents favor her sister, and her best friend is a plush toy hedgehog named Piyyut who has explained to her that he has come from the planet Popinpobopia on a special quest to help her save the Earth. Each summer, Natsuki counts down the days until her family drives into the mountains of Nagano to visit her grandparents in their wooden house in the forest. One summer, her cousin Yuu confides to Natsuki that he is an extraterrestrial, and Natsuki starts to wonder if she might be an alien too. Later, as a married woman, Natsuki feels forced to fit in to a society she deems a "baby factory" but wonders if there is more to the world than the mundane reality everyone else seems to accept. The answers are out there, and Natsuki has the power to find them. Dreamlike, sometimes shocking, and always strange and wonderful, Earthlings asks what it means to be happy in a stifling world, and cements Sayaka Murata's status as a master chronicler of the outsider experience and our own uncanny universe.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Evelyn Couch is having trouble in her marriage, and no one seems to take her seriously. While in a nursing home visiting relatives, she meets Ninny Threadgoode, an outgoing old woman, who tells her the story of Idgie Threadgoode, a young woman in 1920's Alabama. Through Idgie's inspiring life, Evelyn learns to be more assertive and begins to rejuvenate her own life.

Halsey Street by Naima Coster
Penelope Grand has scrapped her failed career as an artist in Pittsburgh and moved back to Brooklyn to keep an eye on her ailing father. She's accepted that her future won't be what she'd dreamed, but now, as gentrification has completely reshaped her old neighborhood, even her past is unrecognizable. Old haunts have been razed, and wealthy white strangers have replaced every familiar face in Bed-Stuy. Even her mother, Mirella, has abandoned the family to reclaim her roots in the Dominican Republic.

In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado
The author's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.

My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Slasher meets satire, in this darkly comic novel set in Nigeria about a woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.

Passing by Nella Larsen
Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a racist white man unaware of her African American heritage, and has severed all ties to her past after deciding to "pass" as a white woman. Clare's childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, and is simultaneously allured and repelled by Clare's risky decision to engage in racial masquerade for personal and societal gain. After frequenting African American-centric gatherings together in Harlem, Clare's interest in Irene turns into a homoerotic longing for Irene's black identity that she abandoned and can never embrace again, and she is forced to grapple with her decision to pass for white in a way that is both tragic and telling.

Patsy: A Novel by Nicole Dennis-Benn
A Jamaican woman leaves her daughter behind to immigrate to New York, where the happier life she expected is difficult to find as an undocumented worker.

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Kali Fajardo-Anstine's magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit in the American West. Against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado--a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite--these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.

Skim by Mariko Tamaki
Skim (Kimberly Keiko Cameron) is a not-slim would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school. When her classmate Katie is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. The popular clique stars a club to boost school spirit, but Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression.

Sula by Toni Morrison
At the heart of Sula is a bond between two women, a friendship whose intensity first sustains, then injures. Sula and Nel are both black, both smart, and both poor. Through their girlhood years, they share everything. All this changes when Sula gets out of the Bottom, the hilltop neighborhood where there hides a fierce resentment at the invisible line that cannot be overstepped.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family's island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava's mother, the park's indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel
Settle in to this wittily illustrated soap opera of the lives, loves, and politics of Mo, Lois, Sydney, Sparrow, Ginger, Stuart, Clarice, and the rest of the cast of cult-fav characters. Most of them are lesbians, living in a midsize American city that may or may not be Minneapolis. Bechdel's brilliantly imagined countercultural band of friends--academics, social workers, bookstore clerks--fall in and out of love, negotiate friendships, raise children, switch careers, and cope with aging parents. Bechdel fuses high and low culture--from foreign policy to domestic routine, hot sex to postmodern theory--in a serial graphic narrative 'suitable for humanists of all persuasions.'

The Golden Notebook : A Novel by Doris Lessing
Anna is a writer, author of one very successful novel, who now keeps four notebooks. In one, with a black cover, she reviews the African experience of her earlier years. In a red one she records her political life, her disillusionment with communism. In a yellow one she writes a novel in which the heroine relives part of her own experience. And in a blue one she keeps a personal diary. Finally, in love with an American writer and threatened with insanity, Anna resolves to bring the threads of all four books together in a golden notebook. Lessing's best-known and most influential novel, The Golden Notebook retains its extraordinary power and relevance decades after its initial publication.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero : A Graphic Novel by Isabel Greenberg
Prepare to be dazzled once more by the overwhelming power of stories and see love prevail in the face of Terrible Adversity! You will read of betrayal, loyalty, madness, bad husbands, lovers both faithful and unfaithful, wise old crones, moons who come out of the sky, musical instruments that won't stay quiet, friends and brothers and fathers and mothers and, above all, many many sisters.

The Tenth Muse: A Novel by Catherine Chung
Determined to conquer the Riemann hypothesis despite cultural discrimination against women intellectuals, a genius mathematician uncovers a mysterious theorem's unexpected World War II link to her family.

 

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