18 Books By Female Authors Every Man Should Read (or Re-Read) in 2018

Read books by female authors.

Through high school, college, and friendly recommendations, it’s easy to fall into the trap of male-dominated literature filling your bookshelf. And why is that? One female writer conducted a study and found she was eight-times more likely to get published under a male name, which was part of the reason Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling abbreviated her name from “Joanne Kathleen.” This was suggested by her publisher, who wanted the book to appeal to both girls and boys.

While we are still confident a great novel is a great novel, regardless of gender, we wanted to call out the absolute must-read books by female authors that will wake you up to a whole new world of impactful, gut-wrenching, heart-pounding writing that you may have been unaware of or subconsciously predisposed to graze past.

From the iconoclast To Kill a Mockingbird to the Goosebumps teen mystery series, add these 18 books by female authors to your reading list:

The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
books every man should read by female authors the outsiders s e  hinton

I think there’s a bit of teenager Ponyboy Curtis in all of us. The boy grapples with the unfairness of tragedy and the rights and wrongs of a society he feels excluded from in this two-week glimpse into his life as a greaser. Running away with his best friend after a dangerous fight with a rival preppy gang, the Socs, Ponyboy is faced with even more heartache, while all along his hope is for peace. One of the best books we’ve ever (ever) read.

In a quote:

“Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold.”

Read It

And Still I Rise – Maya Angelou
books every man should read by female authors and still i rise a book of poems maya angelou

For anyone who has ever felt beaten down by prejudice, circumstance, people, jobs, or hardship, Maya Angelou’s third book of poetry will fill your blood with lead and makes you indomitable.

In a quote:

“You may write me down in history. With your bitter twisted lies. You may tread me in the very dirt. But still like dust I’ll rise.”

Read It

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
books every man should read by female authors pride  prejudice jane austen

Published in 1813 and penned when Austen was only 21-years-old, Pride and Prejudice is anything but a fluffy love story — it’s pure satire. With great mastery of emotional development, this book will cause you to find a soft spot for the plight of the Bennet sisters (daughters of a country gentleman), especially the headstrong Elizabeth, who struggles with understanding herself within a relationship dominated by rigid social class. You’ll also meet the first fuck boi in literary history: the aristocratic Mr. Darcy.

In a quote:

“Till this moment I never knew myself.”

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joan Didion
books every man should read by female authors slouching towards bethlehem

This book is stunning, honest, and gritty look at California in the ’60s, as told through a collection of essays from American journalist Joan Didion. Truman Capote praised Didion’s first nonfiction collection that looks specifically at the counter-culture around the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco and other California cities as pure art with some of the best prose ever written. A taste of one essay: a pre-school aged child is given LSD by her parents.

In a quote:

“Character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — is the source from which self-respect springs. Self-respect is something that our grandparents, whether or not they had it, knew all about. They had instilled in them, young, a certain discipline, the sense that one lives by doing things one does not particularly want to do, by putting fears and doubts to one side, by weighing immediate comforts against the possibility of larger, even intangible, comforts.”

 Read It

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
books every man should read by female authors the handmaid s tale margret atwood

Hulu hit it big by adapting this classic dystopian novel into an award-winning television series, but the book (as usual) trumps the screen rendition. Atwood creates a ghastly and captivating tale of the handmaid Offred, who has been forced into a servant caste and tasked with bearing children for elite couples after a totalitarian government takes power in New England. Atwood’s unique cadence of writing is like running down a hill unable to stop.

In a quote:

“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”

Read It

The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
books every man should read by female authors talented mr ripley patricia highsmith

In this psychological thriller, the young Tom Ripley, a small-time scam artist trying to survive in New York City, is tasked with bringing a shipping magnate’s son, Dickie, back home from his escapades in Italy. Ripley develops an infatuation with Dickie, eventually killing him and taking his identity. That’s all I’ll say, but if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know this novel is pure excitement in all the right ways.

In a quote:

“I’m going to enjoy what I’ve got as long as it lasts.”

Read It

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
books every man should read by female authors frankenstein mary shelley

A book that needs no introduction — Frankenstein might be one of the most recognizable and everlasting stories of all time. Victor Frankenstein, a promising young doctor, brings a monster back from the dead. Google what inspired her to write it … at age 18.

In a quote:

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

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Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
books every man should read by female authors song of solomon toni morrison

A story spanning 30-plus years and three generations, Toni Morrison’s brilliant rumination on cultural identity follows the life of Macon “Milkman” Dead, a young man alienated from himself and estranged from his roots. The journey that follows awakens Macon to the power of reconnecting with his past to gain personal power. The sing-song nature of Morrison’s writing makes the entire book roar.

In a quote:

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

Read It

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
books every man should read by female authors to kill a mockingbird harper lee

The one-and-only novel published by young female writer Harper Lee (until the anticipated prequel Go Set a Watchman was released in 2015), To Kill a Mockingbird has been called (and even voted in many surveys) the best novel of all time. Iconic lawyer Atticus Finch defends a black man accused of assaulting a white woman. Setting: the Deep South. Time: the Depression. Result: so much electric charge, sparks fly off the pages. This is a truly riveting story about the battle between good and evil.

In a quote:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Read It

Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
books every man should read by female authors ayn rand atlas shrugged

Getting through Ayn Rand’s 1,395-page Atlas Shrugged is a feat of strength on its own and deserving of a stiff drink. This masterpiece took 12 years to write and is better summarized by the theme, which in Rand’s words, “is the role of the mind in man’s existence.” Set in a dystopian future, this semi-science fiction novel is a statement on objectivism, the belief that reality exists without our perceptions and yet these perceptions are our direct contact with reality. (Just read it…)

In a quote:

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won.”

Read It

The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros

books every man should read by female authors the house on mango street

This is a coming-of-age story of Esperanza Cordero, a Latina girl growing up in inner-city Chicago. All at once hilarious and rough, the novel touches on the power of place in our definition of self, along with the desire to escape circumstances of our upbringing. Esperanza notes her environmental and cultural surroundings, where neighboring impoverished Puerto Ricans and Chicanos build their lives. In essence: a perspective previously lacking and very much essential.

In a quote:

“No, this isn’t my house I say and shake my head as if shaking could undo the year I’ve lived here. I don’t belong. I don’t ever want to come from here.”

Read It

Love Medicine – Louise Erdrich
books every man should read by female authors love medicine louise erdrich

In Erdrich’s Love Medicine, each chapter shares a new conversational narrative from a small group of Chippewa living on a North Dakota reservation. More than 60 years pass within the pages as we’re told the stories of men, women, and myth that defines the Chippewa experience, culture, and clan. These stories seem to creep into the very marrow of your bones as the descriptive landscape feels as real as looking through a window. The details in Erdrich’s writing will make you shake your head with disbelief and understanding.

In a quote:

“Your life feels different on you, once you greet death and understand your heart’s position. You wear your life like a garment from the mission bundle sale ever after — lightly because you realize you never paid nothing for it, cherishing because you know you won’t ever come by such a bargain again.”

Read It

Goosebumps

books every man should read by female authors goosebumps r l  stine

While R.L. Stine gets all the credit for freaking you out as a kid (OK, these books still wig us out) with horror stories about killer ventriloquist dolls and evil scarecrows, Goosebumps, it turns out, was also written and re-written by Stine’s wife, Jane Waldhorn. There are 62 total Goosebumps books — it’s one way to bond with your S.O.

In a quote:

“Make him stop!” Kris screamed at her sister. “I can’t!” Lindy cried in a trembling voice. Her face became pale, her eyes wide with fear. “I can’t make him stop, Kris! He — he’s speaking for himself!”

Read It

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
books every man should read by female authors the murder of roger ackroyd  a hercule poirot mystery agatha christie

Keeping with the dark, mystery theme, we suggest grabbing a book by the first lady of detective novels herself: Agatha Christie. In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Christie takes on the voice of Dr. James Sheppard, who is assisting in the investigation of a mysterious death of Ackroyd and his fiancé. Expect a keen wit and sneaky purpose for the POV. Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time, so pay some damn respect.

In a quote:

“Things are simple as a rule.”

Read It

Middlemarch – George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
books every man should read by female authors middlemarch penguin classics deluxe edition george eliot

Set against the fictitious town of Middlemarch, author Mary Ann Evans builds a morbid yet oddly modern and dense story about a marriage between two incompatible people that never gets better. During a time when Victorian female authors were pigeonholed into writing romance fantasy, Evans decided to write under the male name, George Eliot, and keep her un-happy ending. Real and really good.

In a quote:

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”

Read It

Ariel – Sylvia Plath
books every man should read by female authors ariel the restored edition sylvia plath

I’ll be bold and say, don’t bother with Ted Hughes (Sylvia Plath’s writer/poet husband). Plath is much better. Ariel is one of those few books that can be forever re-read and still felt fresh like a smack on the face. This 1965 poetry collection is dark, visceral, and brings to life the small corners of ordinary home life. Plus, you’ll never look at a “housewife” the same way again.

In a quote:

“I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty. How free it is, you have no idea how free.”

Read It

Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling

books every man should read by female authors harry potter box

Hah! You thought we’d forget this seven-book series that was probably the first 100-plus page book you ever read. For so many people, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter wizarding series got them into the joy of reading. (Remember that feeling when you just couldn’t put the new book down!?) HBO recently made all the movies available, so better yet, re-read all the books. They’ll make you laugh and cry as hard as your pre-pubescent, if not harder.

In a quote:

“You’re a wizard, Harry!”

Read It

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories – Flannery O’Connor
books every man should read by female authors a good is hard to find flannery o connor

No writer, I mean nobody, can capture the build-up, action, and wake of violence as the likes of Flannery O’Connor. You’ll tremble from her short story collection set to the backdrop of American Gothic, including the classic “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

In a quote:

“You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later you’re going to forget what it was you done and just be punished for it.”

Read It