When I look back at the books I had to read in high school, I realized that male authors dominated the list. In fact, I think there was only one assigned book—Wuthering Heights—that was by a woman. I know I read another one for an independent project, but the teacher did not assign that specific book, so it does not count.
Luckily, my university career was a bit more diverse! There was a mix of male and female authors. I am not sure what the final split was, unfortunately. I was going to try to make a list of all the books, but considering one of my majors was English, I read multiple books in most of my classes, which makes it hard to remember every one of them.
In any case, the lack of female authors in high school makes me sad, and so I thought that I would share a few of my favourite female authors. Some of them are actually quite influential in the realm of literature. Note that they are not in any particular order.
I think out of all of the ladies on this list, Tamora Pierce is perhaps the best at giving us heroines. The vast majority of her novels have a female character as the focus point. We have Alanna, who disguises her identity in order to become a knight. There is also Beka Cooper, who is essentially a watchperson for the city. Tris, Sandry, Daja, Keladry, and more also follow. All of her female main characters are strong. However, they are also varied in their personalities and flawed in their own ways. I think the flaws and the variety are the reasons why I love her heroines so much.
How could I not mention J.K. Rowling? She did an amazing thing for literature. She proved that children will read thicker books. She brought many children their childhoods and carried people through tough times. It just saddens me that she needed to invent the middle initial and be known as J.K. Rowling rather than Joanne Rowling, because many thought that young boys would not want to read a book written by a woman.
She is an absolute inspiration. At one point in her life, she was as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless. She had an infant daughter and she clawed her way up with the kindness of others and her writing. Now? She is quite rich, but has not let that get to her. I can tell from the things I read that she knows the value of a dollar. She also uses her visibility and wealth to do good around the world, particularly with her charity, Lumos.
I think Jodi Picoult is probably the Queen of Heart-wrenching Books. There is no question for me. Every book I have read of hers tugged at my heartstrings. Even if the book did not reduce me to tears, as some of hers have, I would still feel the weight of them.
I love how she takes controversial issues and weaves them in her stories. Her stories read real for me. I mean, I can lose myself in science fiction and fantasy of course, but I find that Jodi Picoult’s stories are so real-world that there is something special about them.
I know that My Sister’s Keeper is probably her most popular work, but it is not my personal favourite. While all of the ones she writes are good, My Sister’s Keeper included, I particularly enjoyed Handle With Care, The Pact, and Nineteen Minutes.
I felt as if I had to put Jane Austen on here. She wrote classic love stories and we are seeing her works adapted in many different ways. I do not know what the climate was really like for women during her lifetime, but given what I do know about the present day and certain points in history, I find it amazing that she wrote these books. I think she may have gotten her brother to publish them for her, though I have also heard she published as simply “A Lady,” but all the same she was doing what she needed to in order to have people see her work. I also appreciate that her heroines are different and are flawed people. No human is perfect, so why should literary characters be that way?
On this list, Jane Austen represents other female authors that far back in history, like the Brontë sisters, George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans under a pseudonym), and Louisa May Alcott. I wish they did not need to do what they did, but I am glad that their work is out there (even if I dislike Wuthering Heights a lot).
Of course, I cannot leave out the Canadian contingent here! It is my country, after all. I have put Margaret Atwood on this list because I have read a few of her books and she happens to be at Fan Expo Canada this weekend (although I do not get to meet her). Thus, she is prominent in my mind right now. What I have read of her work shows me that she has a unique take on things, and in the case of The Handmaid’s Tale, a potentially eerie way of predicting the future.
Like Margaret Atwood, Alice is from my gorgeous country of Canada. Her influence on Canadian literature and literature as a whole is enormous. How could it not be, considering she one a Nobel Prize for it? I think that Alice Munro is perhaps the master (mistress?) of the short story. Her command and style works wonders with this particular format.
I am curious. Who is the most influential female author in your life? Why? If they are not on this list, tell me which of their books I should read first (if they write more than one)! Are you going to try one of the authors on this list if you have not read their stuff already? I look forward to hearing form all of your in the comments section.