Charlie Jane Anders Recommends 5 Books That Aren’t By Men
The author of “The City in the Middle of the Night” is here to help you read more women
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
As the co-founder of sci-fi and fantasy website io9—not to mention a Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author—Charlie Jane Anders knows her stuff when it comes to genre fiction. But for her Read More Women picks, the author of The City in the Middle of the Night is showing her range. Her list of recommended books by non-male authors ranges from magical alternate histories to feminist friendship epics to literary fiction from Nobel laureate.
Read More Women is Electric Literature’s series, presented in collaboration with MCD Books, in which we feature prominent authors, of any gender, recommending their favorite books by women and non-binary writers. Twice a month, you’ll hear about the five non-male authors who most delight, inspire, and influence your favorite writers.
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
All of Doris Lessing’s work is a huge touchstone for me, and I borrow from her shamelessly in my own writing. The Golden Notebook is the first book of hers I ever read, when I was a teenager, and it stuck with me, and it’s probably the best introduction to her work. Her sentences are so gorgeous and she had an amazing knack for capturing small details of interpersonal relations and people’s foibles with just a few well-chosen words. She’s indispensable.
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
This book rocked my world when I read it last year. The story of two girls in a small town in India who form a unique bond and then are separated by thousands of miles, this book kept me turning pages and obsessing about Poornima and Savitha. Rao doesn’t hold back on showing the brutality and misery of the global exploitation of poor women, but there are also moments of tenderness and joy throughout this epic but personal story.
Unquenchable Fire by Rachel Pollack
Rachel Pollack is a unique visionary talent, and this bizarre story set in an alternate America full of prophets and visions will stick with you. I’ve never read a book quite like this one, although it reminds me a bit of David Foster Wallace and Daniel Ortberg. In a world full of mysticism and weird miracles, an inexplicable pregnancy turns out to be the strangest and most surprising event of all. The texture of Pollack’s world is amazing and full of brilliance.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
This is another book that feels totally unique. A fantasy novel set in a post-apocalyptic world, this book follows a monster-fighter living in a Reservation that’s one of the few places left standing. The combination of a fallen United States and figures from Indigenous American folklore is so fresh and fascinating, and this book is both thrilling and astounding.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshni Chokshi
I just recently read this book and was blown away. Chokshi creates a gang of thieves in a Gilded Age Paris with magic, and throws them into a story of politics and ancient evil and battles against impossible odds. But it’s the relationships and chemistry among the main characters that will keep you following Chokshi’s characters through to the end.
Read More Women is presented in collaboration with MCD Books.