The “What Would Virginia Woolf Do?” List Of Must-Read Books By Women

07/19/2017 02:06 pm ET

I run a Facebook group called “What Would Virginia Woolf Do?” (a twisted joke about one of my literary and feminist heroines) of super candid, super smart women over forty, and we’re all huge readers. The group started as a private forum for me and some girlfriends to bitch and moan about perimenopausal woes, but it has grown into so much more: a vibrant community where we “discuss, support, and share things that we may not care to share with the men and children in our lives.”

On March 8, 2017, in commemoration of International Women’s Day, a Woolfer posted a list put out by the New York Public Library of 365 published female authors from all around the globe to keep us inspired all year round. Their list is inspiring, but we were shocked by how many of our truly beloved favorite women writers were left off, so we created our own, and we think it’s so good, and so important, that it’s worth sharing:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Dorothy Allison, Bastard out of Carolina

Isabel Allende, House of Spirits

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

Jane Austen, Persuasion

Jane Austen, Lady Susan

Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

Lynda Barry, Cruddy

Jane Bowles, Two Serious Ladies

Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Charlotte Brontë, Villette

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Frances Burney, Evelina

Octavia Butler, Lilith's Brood

A.S. Byatt, The Children's Book

Ann Carson, The Autobiography of Red

Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus

Willa Cather, My Antonia

Jung Chang, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street

Laurie Colwin, Happy All the Time

Lydia Davis, Break It Down

Simone De Beauvoir, The Second Sex

Joan Didion, The White Album

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Margaret Drabble, The Waterfall

Margaret Drabble, The Millstone

Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Nora Ephron, Scribble Scribble

Jennifer Cody Epstein, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

Louise Erdrich, Love Medicine

Jenny Erpenbeck, The Old Child

Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

Elena Ferrante, The Neapolitan Novels

Melanie Finn, The Gloaming

Marilyn French, The Women's Room

Mary Gaitskill, Bad Behavior

Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban

Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm

Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies

Jean Hegland, Into the Forest

Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt

Alice Hoffman, White Horses

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle

P.D. James, Devices and Desires

Erica Jong, Fear of Flying

Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

Nicole Kraus, The History of Love

Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Doris Lessing, The Diary of a Good Neighbour

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier, My Cousin Rachel

Grace Metalious, Place

Mary McCarthy, The Group

Elizabeth McCracken, The Giants House

Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding

Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

Nancy Mitford, Love in a Cold Climate

Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love

L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Alice Munro, Collected Stories

Iris Murdoch, The Sacred and Profane Love Machine

Alissa Nutting, Tampa

Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde

Flannery O'Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge

Jenny Offill, Dept. Of Speculation

Mary Oliver, Upstream

Tillie Olsen, I Stand Here Ironing

Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle

Cynthia Ozick, The Pagan Rabbi

Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl

Grace Paley, Collected Stories

Gail Parent, The Best Laid Plans

Gail Parent, Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in NY

Ann Patchett, Bel Canto

Elena Poniatowska, Tlatelolco

Annie Proulx, The Shipping News

Mary Rakow, The Memory Room

Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter series

Lore Segal, Her First American

Marie Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Denzy Senna, Symtomatic

Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries

Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book

Mona Simpson, Anywhere But Here

May Sinclair, A Cure of Souls

Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres

Patti Smith, Just Kids

Zadie Smith, On Beauty

Murial Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

Barbara Trapido, Brother of the More Famous Jack

Joanna Trollope, Other People's Children

Joanna Trollope, The Rector's Wife

Ann Tyler, The Homesick Restaurant

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni

Vita Sackville-West, All Passion Spent

Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country

Isabel Wilkerson, Warmth of Other Suns

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

E.H. Young, Miss Mole

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