What better way to mark International Women’s day than to highlight and celebrate the array of female authors turning up the male-dominated literary scene! It the women writers that we can relate to, who tell us that everything will be just fine. Our twenties can be a time of unnerving confusion and frankly, inner turmoil, and there’s no better feeling than knowing you are not alone. Spruce up your 2020’s reading list with these empowering female authors.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
This debut novel by Kiley Reid is so perfectly plot pointed and executed it reads more like a seasoned novelists work. It follows the main character, Emira, a black babysitter working for an affluent white family. It ranges wildly between themes of existentialism and general unhappiness and daily anxieties, to issues about a quarter-life crisis, racism, and race-related explorations. It often offers funny, sometimes depressing musings on motherhood, friendship, money woes, and love, through a coming-of-age lens. Reid has refreshed the trope of a quarter-life crisis, and reminds us all that sometimes not knowing what to do in life is scary, but that’s okay.
Notes to Self by Emilie Pine
This powerful half memoir half collection of essays has struck a chord with people of all ages, and all backgrounds. Imbued with eye-watering honesty, Pine weaves her life story through 6 different essays that encompass issues about family struggles, addiction, consent, inequality, infertility, and miscarriage. Now a successful professor at Trinity University in Dublin, Pines wild tales of her youth, her complicated upbringing, and the general uneasiness of being raised in conservative Ireland in the 80s and 90s ring loudly through each page. Reading this book reminds us that life is messy and slapdash, vast and sobering, but also filled exponentially with elevated joy. Mirrored by the backdrop of the ever-evolving Ireland, Pine reminds us that there is always, always, time to change.
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
If there’s anyone who can perfectly embody the millennial spirit of simultaneous ambition and crisis, its Dolly Alderton. Her memoir chronicles life from the days of MSNing boys right up to her thirtieth birthday, which she, like so many, faced with raging trepidation. This hilarious and relatable read portrays the familiar bump and roll rhythm of life and reminds us that there’s nothing wrong with simply being and going with the flow. We’re all susceptible to the same trials and tribulations as Alderton, from regrettable nights out to overspending and overeating. This rickety ride is sure to make you cringe, laugh and empathize contemporaneously.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
The millennial author Sally Rooney captures contemporary existentialism like no other. After all, isn’t existentialism one of the defining characteristics of our twenties? Normal People digests topics of class, money, inequality, conservatism while inherently questioning what it is to simply be normal. Does normality exist, and if so, why do so many strive for it? Watching the ever-changing relationship of Marianne and Connell, we learn that what is normal is to be in actuality confused, to feel lost and disconnected and that we need only seek happiness in whichever form it comes.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Who better to guide us through a quarter-life crisis than Carty-Williams vibrant millennial protagonist, Queenie. In reality, reading this revolutionary flick fills us with a lot of head shaking and disappointment at her unhealthy antics rather than pride or aspiration, and that’s the point. Nobody is perfect, especially not Queenie. Carty-William’s documentation of gentrification, mental deterioration, and sexual politics are not solely provocative, but a vital shake-up of narrative to create a welcoming platform of education and unity. We are all just trying to get through with our bit of baggage, and Queenie knows there is simply no right way to do that, but humor, honesty, and understanding are sure to get you far.
Promising Young Women by Caroline O’Donoghue
This book, which quietly circles the #MeToo movement, was surprisingly published at the same time as the Harvey Weinstein call out but written long before it. It shows us that the blurring of workplace relationships has been a known archetype for a very, very long time. Following the protagonist’s life working in the marketing world of London after a break up with a long-term boyfriend, O’Donoghue probes issues about relationships in our twenties, toxicity, and misogyny in the workplace. It exposes the unspoken mental and physical deterioration faced by women due to both workplace and emotional, relational labor, and also the yo-yo-ing of a quarter-life crisis. Dark, relatable, and borderline supernatural, this story urges us to be wary of the power dynamics that can get twisted at this vulnerable decade in both personal life and the workplace.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Honeyman’s peculiarly loveable protagonist Eleanor, reminds us that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved and that sometimes it’s joyful to be free of the social restrictions we’ve placed upon ourselves. Dealing with pressing themes of loneliness and inner pain, following this unconventional heroine’s journey is hilarious, cringe-worthy, and tear-jerking all in one. No matter what point of your life you’re at when you come across this nuanced read, you will find that you too have a little Eleanor Oliphant inside, and you are certainly not alone.