Apr 132017

As part of Women’s History Month, a Cleveland, Ohio bookstore decided to turn all inventory of male-authored books spine IN, effectively “silencing” them for several days.

Fewer than 40% of the titles were written by women. Click To Tweet

The project took ten people more than two hours to complete and, when they were done, fewer than 40% of the titles remained visible: 3700 of 10000 bookstore titles were written by women.  It reminds me of a recent conversation about museums: that it’s far easier for women to get into a museum as an artist’s subject than as an artist. It also wasn’t too long ago I learned that a certain fairly accomplished dinosaur – oops I mean editor just “won’t read” fiction by women. Excuse me? It’s as if seeing women’s words on a page is going to cost him $.22 on the dollar?

Will seeing women's words on a page cost him $.22 on the dollar? Click To Tweet

I don’t often pay close attention to such things but I recently watched an author promote his new non-fiction offering with a blog post about “life-changing books.” He had a long list –without a single female author on it. For some reason, it got under my skin.

I can’t imagine my reading history without all the amazing female authors who have been a part of my life. I was a shy kid who read a lot. My imagination was captured by Astrid Lindgren’s feisty Pippi Longstocking and, as a sometimes farm girl, I was intrigued by Marguerite Henry’s powerful horses. And as I grew older? Who could fail to be moved by Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath?

And as an adult? I’m all over the place. I’m fortunate to be connected with a wonderful group of local writers. Terri Clements Dean writes non-fiction that highlights the way people learn and grow. Start with Traveling Stories. If you’re trying to sort something out? You might want to pick up the companion journal.

I can't imagine my reading history without amazing women authors. Click To Tweet

Books have brought me a number of wonderful women as mentors. Almost anything by Anne Lamott speaks to me, especially Bird by Bird. Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way helps me take the space I need to write.

And, when I think of remarkable non-fiction by women? Don’t miss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot or Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

With such an amazing array from which to choose, can you think of any reasonable reason that women are so under-represented on library and bookstore shelves?

Let’s speak up. Please use the comment space to shout out about your favorite female authors.


This post was originally part of a “Favorite Books” blog hop with some author-sister-friends. The links below are other posts on the topic.

 April 13, 2017  Posted by  Thinking, Writing and Reading  Add comments

  14 Responses to “Speak Up! Favorite Books by Women”

  1. We Were Liars by Emily Lockhart. This is a very good story written in a unique way. I think it may technically be considered young adult fiction but this old fart couldn’t put it down.

  2. You loved Pippi! Not surprised. I did too. Although dated, archaic, and painfully racist, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was a close companion of mine from my early reading days until puberty (and growing awareness) made it less so. But I loved that book! (I relate to the misfits, yo.)

    Thanks, great post, I’m gonna share it.

  3. Such an amazing post! I’ll be sharing this my woman’s network. The message is definitely one that needs to be spread! Thank you.

  4. Natalie Goldberg is my spirit sister! Julia Cameron, Anne Lamott, the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, the Queen of Mysteries, Dame Agatha Christie … all of them my forever friends!

  5. This is such an important post Andrea! I love all the authors you highlighted. Thank you so much!

    • That guy who “doesn’t read women” really got under my skin. I feel better now and am glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  6. Great post! Loved the message and all of your recommendations for inspiring women authors!

  7. Thank you for this post honoring women authors ❤️

  8. I do feel added motivation by your post to finish my own book and add to that 40%! My first “favorite” book was Madeline L’Engel’s “Wrinkle in Time.”

  9. Important observations. Thanks for sharing.

Care to share? I love to hear from you!

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