The best novels with uncommon female voices (and a mysterious, mystical, or sci-fi twist)

Who am I?

My imagination knows little bounds. Yes, I was that weird kid who could entertain herself in the backyard with just a couple of sticks. I have since learned that language is what we use to build and make sense of our own realities. As a young woman, it is my hope to expand the feminine imagination – how we perceive femininity and the diversity of its voice. As a writer and human in general, my interest lies in how writing can care for human experience with honesty, humor, and empathy. And bonus points if something magical or mysterious happens along the way. 

I wrote...

Nowhere Where the Honeybees Live

By Caroline Wood,

Book cover of Nowhere Where the Honeybees Live

What is my book about?

Charlie doesn't sleep. She makes shadow puppets instead, so she doesn't dream of honeybees. Her summer plans are set: delivering tomatoes, taking walks with Fynn, and avoiding the room in her house that doesn't exist. Her plans come crashing down when clues about past mysteries return, and when her older brother, Elliot, goes snooping around the biggest mystery of all - their mom's disappearance. Scared of losing him, she'll force herself to follow his pursuit, even when they're pushed beyond Banks, Oregon and plunge somewhere dark, deep, and buried. Nowhere where there's sunlight. Nowhere where the honeybees live.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Turtles All the Way Down

Why did I love this book?

Green is a master at handling character-driven plots and complex interior spaces. Turtles All the Way Down is a spectacle of that skill, centralizing a teenage girl tangled up in some spiraling intrusive thoughts. This complicates typical YA things like dating, friendships, school, and some not-so-typical YA things like a case of a missing billionaire. Green’s mix of sobriety and hope for mental health is glacial water in a sweltering pressure for an immoral smile (especially from young women).

By John Green,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Turtles All the Way Down as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The critically acclaimed, instant #1 bestseller by John Green, author of The Anthropocene Reviewed and The Fault in Our Stars

"A tender story about learning to cope when the world feels out of control." -People

"A sometimes heartbreaking, always illuminating, glimpse into how it feels to live with mental illness." - NPR

John Green, the award-winning, international bestselling author of The Anthropocene Reviewed, returns with a story of shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

Aza Holmes never intended to pursue the disappearance of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there's a…

Book cover of Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Why did I love this book?

Another great handling of mental health, femininity, and adolescence is Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King. Her mother’s suicide has left the protagonist with some pretty big questions about her own nature and destiny. And when she gets the unprompted, magical power of seeing visions of both infinite past and future, things only get more complicated. Despite the ambitious bite of dark weight, the novel’s voice remains witty, casual, and auspicious. It’s a glimpse into the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship, especially when it's cut dismally short.

By A.S. King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Glory O'Brien's History of the Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Glory O'Brien is transformed by a power to see a person's infinite past and future, she's bombarded with visions of a terrifying world: a second civil war breaks out, and girls vanish daily. And even though Glory may not see a future for herself, she'll do anything to make sure this one doesn't come to pass.

Wide Sargasso Sea

By Jean Rhys,

Book cover of Wide Sargasso Sea

Why did I love this book?

Rhys reimagines Brontё’s classic Jane Eyre in a post-colonial, feminist light with this prequel. With this reimagination comes a deeper dive into Antoinette (aka Bertha) and her backstory. A metamorphosing sociopoliticial landscape makes the identity conflicts of her mixed-race more acute, and these paired with the pressures of pleasing her husband (Rochester) take a toll on her mental health. All the while, Rhys integrates elements of obeah spiritual practice to create an underlying, expanding enchantment in the novel. Wide Sargasso Sea deconstructs the “madwoman in the attic” trope and returns her humanity by giving her voice. We get something richer and realer than another hysterical, overemotional, unvalidated woman.

By Jean Rhys,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Wide Sargasso Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys's return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction's most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed…

Three Things about Elsie

By Joanna Cannon,

Book cover of Three Things about Elsie

Why did I love this book?

Cannon’s Three Things About Elsie is so funny, warm, and a downright pleasure to read. The novel follows an elderly woman in a retirement home, somewhat struggling with memory. When an unexpected and potentially-dangerous visitor arrives who she’s sure is from her past (despite everyone else telling her she’s crazy), she must untangle the timeline of her own life with her life-long best friend at her side. Cannon’s novel emphasizes the durability and care of female friendship while exploring the relationship between femininity and age in a balance of humor, sincerity, and mystery.

By Joanna Cannon,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Three Things about Elsie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep delivers a suspenseful and emotionally satisfying novel “infused with warmth and humor” (People) about a lifelong friendship, a devastating secret, and the small acts of kindness that bring people together.

There are three things you should know about Elsie. The first thing is that she’s my best friend. The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better. And the third thing…might take a bit more explaining.

Eighty-four-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to…

Klara and the Sun

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Book cover of Klara and the Sun

Why did I love this book?

Klara and the Sun is narrated from the perspective of a female AI in a close future. Explicitly, the novel tackles the responsibilities of loving someone and an unreachable core of “humanness.” But not-so-explicitly, its peculiar and endearing voice detaches the female identity from a biological body. It pushes the boundaries of femininity beyond visual signs and appearances. All the while, the protagonist is continually making sense of human nature, finding the worth of ourselves in the way we love who’s around us. The novel redefines not just what it is to be female, but what it is to be human.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Klara and the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The #1 Sunday Times Bestseller*
*Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021*
*A Barack Obama Summer Reading Pick*

'A delicate, haunting story' The Washington Post
'This is a novel for fans of Never Let Me Go . . . tender, touching and true.' The Times

'The Sun always has ways to reach us.'

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges…

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