We love the #ReadWomen2014 movement, but we find that the female authors and their books recommended often fall into the category of literary fiction. And when it comes to other genres—business, say, or sci-fi—it’s always the same classic (or modern classic) names. To those who commented on our lack of romance writers: The point of this particular article is to highlight women in genres where readers might not know to find them. Romance, thankfully, does not have that problem. The passionate response in the comments and on Twitter, however, inspired us to write a piece about how Natalie got over her literary snobbery and learned to love romance. Thanks again for your feedback!
Check out our #ReadWomen2014 reading list, in which we recommend up-and-comers or established authors you might have missed, who carry on the torch from their female forebears in a variety of genres.
Who you should read: Kathleen Hale
Like Sara Shepard‘s Pretty Little Liars series, No One Can Have Youopens with the citizens of the small town of Friendship (yes, there are several great puns), Wisconsin, discovering the brutally murdered body of their homecoming queen, Ruth Fried. But while this Fargo-esque town is quick to put Ruth in the ground and pin her murder on an unlikely suspect, her best friend Kippy Bushman digs into Ruth’s journal and discovers that it was a much darker hometown secret that led to her demise. This is the kind of debut where you have to imagine that the author was just spending years and years honing this brilliant nugget until it was completely ready.
Who you know: Sheryl Sandberg
Every woman who counts Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In as her business bible shouldn’t be lulled into relying on one sole female font of wisdom. That’s where former Chief Information Officer of Southern Company Becky Blalock comes in. Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge complementsLean In in that it imparts many of the same encouragement—but for women on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder who lack the Ivy League education or other built-in connections. And, if you’d like to listen to a lady outside of the board room, consider Harvard professor Debora L. Spar, whose book Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest of Perfectiontakes on the “can women have it all?” debate.
Mysteries & Thrillers
While a good mystery tends to go hand-in-hand with a thriller, these two genres are so diverse it’s nearly impossible to cover them all. For fans of following a single detective, Agatha Award winner Margaret Maron writes two series: one about an NYPD homicide detective who chases down murders, while the other focuses on a North Carolina judge who finds herself drawn to trouble due to her own curiosity. If fantasy thrillers are more your speed, Alexandra Sokoloff’s Huntress series features an FBI special agent hunting down a female serial killer. Finally, those who love the drama and mystery Jodi Picoult always delivers will adore Carol Cassella’s deep and heartbreaking new release Gemini—a medical mystery following a doctor in her search to uncover the identity of a comatose Jane Doe.
Comics & Graphic Novels
Frankly, women are underrepresented in comics already, so we want to uphold the amazing work Alison Bechdel and Gail Simone have done for (respectively) the graphic memoir and some of DC’s best heroines. But for the moment, let’s talk about Marvel—specifically, their Marvel Now imprint. Despite their similar titles, there’s a huge difference between the two comics series we’re recommending: In 2013, Kelly Sue DeConnick took over the relaunch of Captain Marvel, which saw Carol Danvers taking the mantle. The reboot set off repercussions both within the Marvel canon and the comics world: Just as Carol Danvers inspired Muslim teenager Kamala Khan to become the new Ms. Marvel, G. Willow Wilson pens the new Ms. Marvel series that, after only two issues, has already racked up eager readers.
Sports & Recreation
Who you know: Laura Hillenbrand
It is a well perpetuated myth that women don’t know anything about sports. While the genre is still heavily male-dominated, authors like Laura Hillenbrand show that women do have a place in the sports world: Seabiscuit is one of the best-known book on horse racing. Author Caryn Rose has been talking baseball on her blog Metsgrrl for almost 10 years and now has put her passion for America’s pastime in a new novel, A Whole New Ballgame. The book follows a woman’s cross-country journey to visit America’s great baseball stadiums and shows a knowledge of the game to rival any male sports fan. In nonfiction, author Juliet Macur takes on the once-revered Lance Armstrong in her biography Cycle of Lies, in which she not only takes on the cheating controversy surrounding his Tour de France wins, but also explores the sport of cycling as a whole.
So you’ve read Frankenstein, Interview With the Vampire, and The Haunting of Hill House—what’s next? Before you pick up Stephen King, we’d recommend you check out Fran Friel and Sarah Monette. Both are featured on lists of female horror authors who deserve more attention, yet what they bring to the table is entirely unique. For vivid storytelling mixed with fantastical horrors, Monette’s short story collection Somewhere Beneath Those Waves will fulfill your craving for Carter-esque tales. For a reader who wants everyday tales with a sinister twist, Friel’s Bram Stoker-nominated novella Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales, featured in her collection of short stories, is sure to chill your bones.
Sci-Fi & Fantasy
If you haven’t picked up Ann Leckie’s (Nebula nominated!) living-spaceship sci-fi debut Ancillary Justice, you should get on it before her next (expected to be fantastic, of course) book comes out. And we can’t recommend enough N.K. Jemisin, who not only owns at speculative fiction with novels like The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but who has no problem calling out the sexism and racism in the genre. These women will make you think, perhaps in ways you haven’t dared to before.