It’s International Women’s Day! And I have some reading suggestions.
I know what you’re thinking: dude, nobody cares about your stupid opinion. I know! But I’m going to do it anyway.
Of course, there are certainly obvious books to read for International Women’s Day. Ain’t I a Woman, by bell hooks. Girls to the Front, by Sara Marcus. Cunt, by Inga Muscio. There are many amazing books on the topics of intersectional feminism. But I’m not going to write about those books. Feminism and feminist theory are very important, of course, but I don’t have the breadth of knowledge required to make a list of must-reads in that area. Instead, I’m going to write about really awesome, amazing books that happen to have awesome, amazing female authors.
Anything by C. V. Hunt
C. V. Hunt is, according to her website, “the author of several unpopular books.”
Hunt is also an entertaining, transgressive, hilarious author of dark fantasy and horror. Some of my favorites include Ritualistic Human Sacrifice and Misery and Death and Everything Depressing, both of which will make you laugh and cringe and wince.
You can pick up Hunt’s books in paperback, kindle, and even audiobook. If you’re into it, you can also pre-order her upcoming work, Home is Where the Horror Is.
Something in the Potato Room by Heather Cousins
Something in the Potato Room is a beautiful book, brilliantly written, about deeply unsettling subject matter. The line between fact and fantasy blurs and quivers in this gorgeous, liminal work. Relatable and harrowing with an exquisite sense of language, Something in the Potato Room reaches into the dark recesses of the human spirit to find the exact spot where decay blooms into life again. Or…something like that…
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Through the Woods is a collection of short faerie tales bundled up with striking illustrations and gorgeous graphic layout. Creepy, haunting, and even heart-warming, Through the Woods collects emotionally diverse and fascinating stories.
I can’t get these stories out of my head. Sometimes, out of nowhere, maybe on a subway platform or just walking down the street, I’ll get the lyrical lines of “Cold Hands” stuck in my head. They’re so good. So bloody good. Of course, this isn’t the only work Emily Carroll has been involved with and her site will give you an idea about the breadth of her other work.
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
Get in Trouble is another collection–this time of short stories. Kelly Link has been hailed as a bold and brilliant voice in contemporary fantasy and sci-fi–for good reason, too! These stories are intelligent, charming, and moving. Her excellent prose and storytelling skills really shine in this award-winning collection, and I personally had a fantastic time reading it. Link’s ability to examine tropes and genres in fresh and interesting ways is virtually unmatched. If you haven’t given Link’s works a read, yet, I highly recommend you do…and what better place to start than this cool collection of short stories?
The Listeners by Leni Zumas
If you’re looking for something a little more ‘literary,’ The Listeners is for you. Leni Zumas’ use of language shows an expert command of English and a willingness to commit to heightened and experimental styles. Zumas’ sentences are razor-edged and cunning. Though it uses references and metaphor from the genre world, The Listeners takes place very much in an unmagical reality. Dripping with meaty imagery, cut wide with sharp and razored prose, and bleeding with emotional turmoil, the book is a brutal crime scene of real-life. The plot is a bit weak, but the characters are deep deep deep and the language is to die for.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
It’s a thriller. A supernatural thriller? Who knows! Night Film plays with concepts of belief and faith, and makes extensive use of the subjective nature of ‘reality’ and ‘fact.’ The beauty of Marisha Pessl’s work is in the storytelling, her ability to play games with what is known and what is unknown, and how thin the line between. The charming, enrapturing characters help, too. A spiral of madness and a thriller well worth reading, I recommend picking up Night Film in any of its various forms immediately.
Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra
If you’re a fan of close-to-life fictionalized accounts, Gonzo Girl is fantastic. Pietra was an assistant to Hunter S. Thompson for, well, long enough, and her time in this role serves as the prime inspiration behind this wild, crazy ride. It follows a newbie editor out of NYC as she’s pulled into the orbit of a madman writer out in the middle of chaotic, drug-fueled nowhere.
Cheryl Della Pietra has also been a magazine editor and short story writer.
Gutshot by Amelia Gray
Amelia Gray is a lovely writer. Her stories are hilarious, personal, deep, cutting, jarring, and dark. Is that too many adjectives? Too bad! They’re all accurate. And Gutshot is an amazing collection of her work. More than once, I winced. Many times, I cackled. I didn’t cry at any point, but there were definitely very poignant moments. I highly recommend checking out her work, and particularly picking up this gem of a collection. Hey, if the New York Times says it’s “bizarre and darkly funny,” who am I to disagree?
Did You Get All That? Good.
I also left off several amazing female-oriented collections, such as Sisters of the Revolution (a collection of female-authored spec-fiction works) or She Walks in Shadows (a collection of female-authored Lovecraftian works). These collections showcase an incredible range and breadth of talented authors, and I don’t think I can finish this blog entry without mentioning them.
The Library Is Endless
I suppose that’s a good enough start. I still feel as if I’ve left out a virtual library of brilliant work, but that’s bound to happen with a list like this. Anyway, this has been a list of works by some of my favorite female authors, in no particular order, with no particular organization. Just off the top of my head.
I didn’t even get to do shout-outs to my favorite short story writers whose longer works I haven’t read yet. But maybe we’ll save that for another list.
In the meantime, I think I’ve put together a really nice starter-list for anyone seeking a good book.
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