I came across a couple of posts the other day listing a recommended book by a female author for each month of the year. One list focused on Arabic literature at the Arabic Literature (in English) blog and another list focused on South Asian writers at southasiabookblog.
I got some great reading ideas from both of them and thought it would be fun to make my own list of recommendations. I’m not an expert the way the writers of those two posts are, but I made a list of some of my favorite books by female authors from around the world.
January: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (Japan). I fell in love with this quiet and lonely short novel when I listened to a friend read it aloud.
February: Far and Beyon’ by Unity Dow (Botswana). Unity Dow was Botswana’s first female high court judge, but she’s also a novelist, writing in this book about a family trying to balance traditional and modern culture.
March: Wild Swans by Jung Chang (China). This well-written history tells the story of much of the 20th century in China through the experiences Chang, her mother, and her grandmother.
April: The Country under my Skin by Gioconda Belli (Nicaragua). This is a fascinating memoir by a woman who was part of the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua.
May: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (U.S.A.). This is my favorite book by Kingsolver, though not necessarily her most renowned. Read The Bean Trees or The Poisonwood Bible if you prefer, but definitely check her out.
June: A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua and Barbuda). I initially read this book about the challenges of living on a small Caribbean tourist-destination island for a class. The class never ended up covering the book, but I was very glad I had read ahead.
July: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria). When I was reading this book about a family living through the Biafrian civil war in Nigeria, I was completely immersed in its world. The characters were so nuanced and human, I found myself thinking about them all of the time.
August: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (Serbia). This novel is about a young woman doctor in a Balkans country recovering from the recent wars. It sometimes went a bit too magical-realism for my tastes, but
September: The Circle of Karma by Kunzang Choden (Bhutan). The fictional story of an illiterate Bhutani woman from a small village who makes her way into the wider world.
October: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Catherine Boo (U.S.A./India). This non-fiction book about life in a Mumbai slum reads like a novel and stings like a bee.
November: In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (Dominican Republic). I read this historical novel as a teenager and I would credit it with beginning to make me more aware of the world beyond the U.S. and Europe. I listed it in November because the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is on November 25th, in honor of the Mirabal sisters (who fought against dictatorship in the Dominican Republic and who this book is about).
December: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (U.K.). I know, this is completely incongruous to the rest of the list. But I just couldn’t leave it out.
I also got thinking about many of the books by female authors I’m looking forward to reading and made a list of some of them too. I don’t have any plan to follow this as a schedule though. They are just books I’m excited about reading. Some of them are for the book-from-every-country project, others not.
January: The Mountain by Drusilla Modjeska (Australia/Papua New Guinea)
February: Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe by Doreen Baingana (Uganda)
March: Tutor of History by Manjushree Thapa (Nepal)
April: Story of Zahra by Hanan Al-Shaykh (Lebanon)
May: Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela (Sudan)
June: So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (Senegal)
July: Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang (China)
August: Absent by Betool Khedairi (Iraq)
September: Lunatic in my Head by Anjum Hasan (India)
November: The Color Master by Aimee Bender (U.S.A.)
December: Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Somalia/Netherlands)
I’d love to see more people make recommendation lists. Maybe ones for Latin American or African Literature? Or for a specific genres like science writing? Or just your own personal favorites,