WSIRN Ep 130: Must-read books by women writers

Readers, did you know that since the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded 110 times since it was founded in 1901 — and that in all that time, only 14 female authors have been awarded the honor?

Today’s guests Kendra Winchester and Autumn Privett are intent on giving brilliant female authors their due. Every month, their podcast Reading Women shines a spotlight on a different genre or type of author – some of my favorite past themes include Women in Translation, Southern Literature, and Women of Color.

So what better way to celebrate female authors on What Should I Read Next than a little roundtable literary matchmaking? Autumn, Kendra, and I are chatting about reading women as little girls, our favorite recent books by female authors, and introducing each other to hidden gems we’ve never heard of before. You can bet we’re going to drop a whole lot of fabulous author names in this episode, so ready your TBR list.


What Should I Read Next #130: Must-read books by women writers with Kendra Winchester and Autumn Privett
Photo credit: Kimberly Murray

Tune in to Kendra and Autumn’s discussions on Reading Women podcast, and connect with them on Twitter and Instagram.


Books mentioned in this episode:
Some links are affiliate links. More details here.
If you’d like to support your local indie, check out

• Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
•  The Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O’Connor (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
• The Alanna The Lioness quartet, by Tamora Pierce (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O’Neill (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, by Patty Yumi Cottrell (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Jane Unlimited, by Kristin Cashore (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• In Other Words, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
The Neapolitan Novels, by Elena Ferrante (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Clothing of Books, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 The Big Green Tent, by Ludmila Ulitskaya (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories, by Lucia Berlin (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• This Must Be The Place, by Maggie O’Farrell (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 Jackaby, by William Ritter (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Idaho, by Emily Ruskovich (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Slouching Toward Bethlehem, by Joan Didion (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Weight of Him, by Ethel Rohan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• My Lady Jane, by Cynthia Hand (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Before We Visit the Goddess, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)

Readers, we’re starting to add events to the calendar for summer and fall 2018, and when we’re ready to go public our newsletter subscribers will be the first ones to know. Make sure you’re on the list so YOU stay in the know:

What writing women have had a big impact on your life? Tell us all about them in comments. 


Leave A Comment
  1. Rissie Lundberg says:

    Great episode! I keep hearing about “In Other Words” by Jhumpa Lahiri. I’ll have to find a copy soon. Also, I just picked up “A Gentleman in Moscow” from the library. I’ll be watching for that special structure!

  2. Kristin Clark says:

    I have been surprised that I have never heard Gail Tsukiyama’s work recommended on this podcast. She is one of my favorite authors. Samurai’s Garden is one of my top five books and I have also enjoyed her others. She is Asian American and writes about her culture both in the US and abroad. I have also really enjoyed Paula McLain’s books and am thrilled to see that she has a new one out. Another author who writes historical fiction that focuses on women is Nancy Horan.

  3. Hello Ladies,
    This was a wonderful episode. I’ve been reading lots of women writers for the last few years. I want to recommend some books by friends of mine who have supported my writing.

    The first author I want to recommend is Debrah Strait. She’s written four or five books. The first I’ve read is THE SWEET TRADE. It’s a novel that takes place in the 1600s in the Caribbean and centers around a group of young boys left orphaned when the Spanish destroy their village but it also has strong women characters as well. Another of her books is a series of family letters she wrote about Bisbee, AZ, her home town. The book is NOTES FROM BISBEE. I laughed out loud when I read the rough draft of the letters probably because I live near Bisbee and know what a quirky little city it is.

    Another author I love is Stacy Bennett. My favorite book of hers is a fantasy, QUEST OF THE DREAMWALKER. She’s written other books some related to this series.

    The last author is Cappy Love Hanson. Her book is LOVE LIFE, WITH PARROTS. It’s a lovely memoir.

  4. Susan says:

    This was a great episode! I listen to Kendra and Autumn’s podcast Reading Women and have gotten some great recommendations from them. I added quite a few to my TBR after listening today!
    Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my favorite authors! I loved Interpreter of Maladies and her other short story collection called Unaccustomed Earth.

  5. Ashley S. says:

    This is a memoir, so maybe not exactly what you’re looking for, but worth recommending because I loved it: “One Beautiful Dream” by Jennifer Fulwiler. It’s about her quest to pursue her dream of writing a book while raising a family, rather than putting her whole life on hold while she had small children (which is what is either recommended to women or at least implied). It’s empowering, hilarious, insightful, and entertaining.

  6. April M says:

    Loved Episode 130. Added way too much to my TBR list. Autumn/Kendra, you should put the “Mary Russell” series by Laurie King on your TBR list. A very strong female character to be enjoyed. Thank you Anne for always providing such wonderful podcasts.

  7. Marion says:

    I enjoyed this episode. As an avid male reader, I have started to make a better attempt on reading women novelists. I will definitely check out the Reading Women podcast. I agree about Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Excellent novel. I primarily read science-fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. However, I have become a Louise Penny fan thanks to Anne’s enthusiastic recommendation of her work. I have two recommendations for everyone.
    I read an interesting novel last year titled The Woman Behind The Waterfall by Leonora Meriel. It is about Ukrainian mother-daughter relationship and their connection to a waterfall near their village. The novel is well-written and has beautiful imagery that stayed in mind long after I finished reading it.

    My second recommendation is Camber of Culdi by Katherine Kurtz. I just finished reading this novel over the weekend. It is a part of Kurtz’s Deryni novels and is influenced by Medieval Britain. Katherine Kurtz has influenced writers like Guy Gavriel Kay and George R.R. Martin. After reading Camber of Culdi, I can see where Martin took a page of Kurtz’s playbook on how to treat characters. Good and bad characters suffer the consequences of their actions!

  8. Carrie says:

    Such a fun episode!

    One of my favorite authors is Barabara Kingsolver, who writes fabulous women characters… ‘Prodigal Summer’ is a great place to start.

    Also, as a Highly Sensitive Person, just wanted to point out that ‘The Lonely Hearts Hotel’ (recommended as an all-time fav by one of the guests) should come with a trigger warning (for child abuse, in particular).

    • Tats says:

      Let me complete the above. I loved the episode and added quite a few of the titles to my TBR list (not that I needed a longer list…).
      As you were speaking about women writers I am wondering if you have read anything by Karen Karbo. She mostly focusses on strong women and my absolute favorite is The Gospel According to Coco Chanel. You mentioned mainly fiction titles, but as the title suggests this is by no means a boring biography but a fun book about an incredible woman and how she turned around women fashion in a time when women had no say in anything. Have been recommending it right, left and center since I read it twice last year.

  9. Melanie says:

    I’m coming back to this post because I just finished Idaho and I need to express how much I HATED this book! Don’t worry this isn’t hate mail; I just feel so betrayed by this book and I want to talk about it with others who have read it!

    Anne – I’d love for you to do an entire episode of the podcast on polarizing books: the ones that people tend to either love or hate. Choose a handful of books and then have people leave voice messages or comments on why they love or hate that particular book, then read those on the podcast. (I have a weirdly specific reason for hating Jane Eyre that I’d love to contribute.)

    I think you’d have TONS of follow-up discussion in the comments!

    • Jess Ridgeway says:

      Totally loved this episode! I discovered Tamora Pierce sometime in middle or high school and absolutely fell in love. I devoured everything she’d ever written in a matter of weeks and was so inspired by the strong and feisty women she brought to life. Pierce was also the first author I met in person at a book signing and I totally nerded out. No one I talk to has ever heard of her, so I was so excited when she was mentioned in this episode!
      I’m also updating my TBR list with a ton of titles from this episode – thanks!

  10. Dana says:

    Like others have said, after this episode I added several titles to my TBR, and I have been trying not to do that. For a long time I kept it under 100, and now I am almost up to 200! I am most excited about This Must Be the Place and exploring some Russian authors.

    What was the book Anne mentioned that was written by three authors? I couldn’t figure it out from the show notes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.