The Writing Life

…a literary journey

Tip of the Iceberg: Five Women Writers I’ve Just Discovered


I have read hundreds of books in my 55 years, but even better than that is the long list of ones I’ve yet to open. When I have the silly thought of what I’ll miss most when I’m no longer alive (the silliest of thoughts really, right? As if we’ll have time for that!), books are near the top of my list. The book I wrote, the book I’m writing and the books I will write are close to my heart, but it’s the thousands of books written by others which my eyes will never see that cause an indescribable heartache.

Social media often gets a bad rap for being a time waster; messages like Stop scrolling through other people’s lives and live your own are posted all over (another nonsensical item of note if you think about it), but readers and writers are one of the most well-developed online communities online, and sharing titles is a most wonderful result of that. Most books on the NYT Best-Seller lists are genre, which aren’t my usual fare, so I usually stick to authors I’ve read before or go down the list of Pulitzer Prize winners and runners up since those awards began (A great list to use!). I also used to spend hours in a bookstore walking the aisles, scanning titles into my Goodreads lists. Not an unpleasant afternoon, but when time is in short demand, turning to Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads etc. is a great alternative.

So, in the interest of sharing, here is a list of five female authors I’ve never read before, and am excited to have found them thru my wasted hours surfing the web!

Jhumpa Lahiri: A Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, I discovered her when surfing images of inspirational quotes by female authors. A few clicks later, and I’d added her first novel, The Namesake (2003) to my list to read.

Amy Hempel: A short story writer known for her minimalist style and neurotic, damaged narrators – right up my alley! And she teaches in my own backyard at the University of Florida. Not sure why I haven’t heard of her, but thank goodness, I have now. Added her collection, The Dog of the Marriage to my list.

Lionel Shriver: You may know her as the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, but I didn’t. She hit my radar from this comment I found online:

I’m often asked did something happen around the time I wrote Kevin. Did I have some revelation or transforming event? … There’s nothing special about Kevin. The other books are good too. It just tripped over an issue that was just ripe for exploration and by some miracle found its audience.”

As an author of one novel, which I self-published after not finding an agent and the second book currently at the end of its first draft, I love knowing that she only found real success with Kevin, her 8th novel (7th published), and her emphasis on the belief that finding an audience (and an agent or publisher) isn’t in direct relation to the story’s quality.

Clarice Lispector: She comes up on multiple sites of being a must-read. I’ve added Hour of the Star to my list as a first read. I was attracted to her from an opinion I read online, calling her “…one of the oddest and most individual writers I’ve read.” Sounds perfect to me! She lived 1920-1977, and I have a feeling I’m going to wonder why I didn’t know her before now.

Iris Murdoch: I’ve added her 1978 Booker Prize winner, The Sea, the Sea to my list, and I’m sure many will follow. Her first novel was published in 1954; her last in 1995. I can only imagine that a woman who wrote 26 novels has something to teach us all. Every comment I found on her, including her 1999 obituary in the New York Times leads me to wonder where she’s been all my life!

I hope you find a new favorite from this list, and thanks to all of you who have posted favorite writers on your websites and other social media sites!

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