15 Books you should add to your list this #InternationalWomensDay

By Kateri Kramer

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This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating balance. #BalanceForBetter because a balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world? Celebrate women’s writing. Recommend books written by women. Take action for equality in the publishing industry by supporting VIDA.

  1. Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi- GhanaA stunning debut novel that signals the beginning of a major career: a story of race, ancestry, and love that traces for seven generations the descendants of two sisters torn apart in eighteenth-century Ghana.

    Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to twentieth-century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi’s novel moves through histories and geographies and captures—with outstanding economy and force—the troubled spirit of our own nation. She has written a modern masterpiece.9781101971062_bf722

  2. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – NigeriaIn this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.9781101911761_09e90
  3. The Vegetarian by Han Kang- KoreaA spellbinding, unforgettable portrait of one woman’s metamorphosis following a single, life-altering choice

    Surely the dream isn’t all there is? We have to wake up at some point, don’t we?

    It all started with a grotesque nightmare. Yeong-hye and her husband had lived an ordinary life, but when splintering, graphic images start haunting her thoughts, she decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. As her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether. A disturbing yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern-day South Korea and also a story of shame, obsession, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.9780553448184_ecb95

  4. The Body Myth by Rheea Mukherjee- India (Rheea will be at BookBar on March 22)
    “Mukherjee’s novel encapsulates the heady breathlessness of falling in love.” —Publishers Weekly One of the Huffington Post’s Most Anticipated Books of 2019
    Mira is a teacher living in the heart of Suryam, a modern bustling in city India, and the only place in the world the fickle Rasagura fruit grows. Mira lives alone, and with only the French existentialists as companions, until the day she witnesses a beautiful woman having a seizure in the park. Mira runs to help her but is cautious, for she could have sworn the woman looked around to see if anyone was watching right before the seizure began.
    Mira is quickly drawn into the lives of this mysterious woman Sara, who suffers a myriad of unexplained illnesses, and her kind, intensely supportive husband Rahil, striking up intimate, volatile and fragile friendships with each of them that quickly become something more. A moving exploration of loss, Mukherjee delivers an intense and unexpected modern love story as Mira reconciles reality with desire.9781944700843_614d3
  5. The Testaments (forthcoming September) by Margaret Atwood- CanadaIn this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

    When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her—freedom, prison or death.

    With The Testaments, the wait is over.

    Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.419TWZk7luL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

  6. Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli – MexicoFrom the two-time NBCC Finalist, an emotionally resonant, fiercely imaginative new novel about a family whose road trip across America collides with an immigration crisis at the southwestern border—an indelible journey told with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity.

    A mother and father set out with their two children, a boy and a girl, driving from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home.

    Why Apaches? asks the ten-year-old son. Because they were the last of something, answers his father.

    In their car, they play games and sing along to music. But on the radio, there is news about an “immigration crisis”: thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States, but getting detained—or lost in the desert along the way.

    As the family drives—through Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas—we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own. A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, harrowing adventure—both in the desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations.

    Told through several compelling voices, blending texts, sounds, and images, Lost Children Archive is an astonishing feat of literary virtuosity. It is a richly engaging story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most. With urgency and empathy, it takes us deep into the lives of one remarkable family as it probes the nature of justice and equality today.9780525520610_64937

  7. Mouthful of Birds by Samantha Schweblin- ArgentinaA powerful, eerily unsettling story collection from a major international literary star.

    Unearthly and unexpected, the stories in Mouthful of Birds burrow their way into your psyche and don’t let go. Samanta Schweblin haunts and mesmerizes in this extraordinary, masterful collection.

    Schweblin’s stories have the feel of a sleepless night, where every shadow and bump in the dark take on huge implications, leaving your pulse racing, and the line between the real and the strange blur.9780399184628_f99ec

  8. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton- New ZealandThe bestselling, Man Booker Prize-winning novel hailed as “a true achievement. Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new. The pages fly.”–New York Times Book ReviewIt is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand’s booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.

    Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, THE LUMINARIES is at once a fiendishly clever ghost story, a gripping page-turner, and a thrilling novelistic achievement. It richly confirms that Eleanor Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international literary firmament.9780316074315_5de92

  9. The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton- AustraliaA love affair and a mysterious murder cast their shadows across generations in this multilayered and spellbinding novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the “deliciously compelling” (Liane Moriarty) The Lake House.

    My real name, no one remembers.
    The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

    In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

    Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

    Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

    Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love, and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.9781451649390_970c0

  10. Frantumaglia by Elena Ferrante – ItalyThis book invites readers into Elena Ferrante’s workshop. It offers a glimpse into the drawers of her writing desk, those drawers from which emerged her three early standalone novels and the four installments of My Brilliant Friend, known in English as the Neapolitan Quartet. Consisting of over 20 years of letters, essays, reflections, and interviews, it is a unique depiction of an author who embodies a consummate passion for writing.

    In these pages, Ferrante answers many of her readers’ questions. She addresses her choice to stand aside and let her books live autonomous lives. She discusses her thoughts and concerns as her novels are being adapted into films. She talks about the challenge of finding concise answers to interview questions. She explains the joys and the struggles of writing, the anguish of composing a story only to discover that that story isn’t good enough. She contemplates her relationship with psychoanalysis, with the cities she has lived in, with motherhood, with feminism, and with her childhood as a storehouse for memories, impressions, and fantasies. The result is a vibrant and intimate self-portrait of a writer at work.9781609452926_b25d0

  11. Swing Time by Zadie Smith – EnglandTwo brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either…

    Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.9781594203985_b8918

  12. The Source of Self Regard by Toni Morrison – United StatesThe Source of Self-Regard is brimming with all the elegance of mind and style, the literary prowess and moral compass that are Toni Morrison’s inimitable hallmark. It is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. In the writings and speeches included here, Morrison takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, “black matter(s),” and human rights. She looks at enduring matters of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature, and in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. And here too is piercing commentary on her own work (including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, and Paradise) and that of others, among them, painter and collagist Romare Bearden, author Toni Cade Bambara, and theater director Peter Sellars. In all, The Source of Self-Regard is a luminous and essential addition to Toni Morrison’s oeuvre.9781984883247_a3d52
  13. My Body is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta- United StatesIn My Body Is a Book of Rules, Elissa Washuta corrals the synaptic gymnastics of her teeming bipolar brain, interweaving pop culture with neurobiology and memories of sexual trauma to tell the story of her fight to calm her aching mind and slip beyond the tormenting cycles of memory.MyBodyIsaBookofRules
  14. A Problem from Hell by Samantha Power- United StatesA character-driven study of some of the darkest moments in our national history, when America failed to prevent or stop 20th-century campaigns to exterminate Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Iraqi Kurds, Bosnians, and Rwandans .

    Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning analysis of America’s repeated failure to stop genocides around the world

    In her Pulitzer Prize-winning examination of the last century of American history, Samantha Power asks the haunting question: Why do American leaders who vow “never again” repeatedly fail to stop genocide? Power, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, draws upon exclusive interviews with Washington’s top policymakers, thousands of declassified documents, and her own reporting from modern killing fields to provide the answer. “A Problem from Hell” shows how decent Americans inside and outside government refused to get involved despite chilling warnings, and tells the stories of the courageous Americans who risked their careers and lives in an effort to get the United States to act. A modern classic, “A Problem from Hell” has forever reshaped debates about American foreign policy.9780061120145_028fa

  15. The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston – United States

    In her award-winning book The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston created an entirely new form—an exhilarating blend of autobiography and mythology, of world and self, of hot rage and cool analysis. First published in 1976, it has become a classic in its innovative portrayal of multiple and intersecting identities—immigrant, female, Chinese, American.

    As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother’s “talk stories.” The fierce and wily women warriors of her mother’s tales clash jarringly with the harsh reality of female oppression out of which they come. Kingston’s sense of self emerges in the mystifying gaps in these stories, which she learns to fill with stories of her own. A warrior of words, she forges fractured myths and memories into an incandescent whole, achieving a new understanding of her family’s past and her own present.

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