Books and Films
5 Great New Reads by Female Authors
By Lisa Hawthorne
Call me crazy, but I’ve always thought of the second half of the year as distinctly better for reading. There are a couple months left to read on the beach, if you like, and after that we get into the cozy seasons - when you can curl up with a pumpkin spice latte all fall and sit by the fire or in your most comfortable sweats during the holidays. While the spring and early summer can be hot and busy and buggy, there’s pretty much nothing but great conditions for reading from July onward, which is why now feels like a good time to highlight some of the best new reads from the last year or so. And in the meantime I’ll be highlighting some female authors!
1. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan Jennifer Egan is one of our truly great living authors, and while she’s best known for her 2011 novel “A Visit From The Goon Squad” - which won the Pulitzer Prize - “Manhattan Beach” is perhaps an equally interesting read. It’s drastically different from “A Visit From The Goon Squad,” but demonstrates Egan’s same ability to draw unique characters and find the special circumstances in ordinary realities. Egan is an eloquent, talented, and hard-working author who always pulls the most out of her stories, and “Manhattan Beach” is yet another example of her pure, undeniable talent. The story revolves around Anna Kerrigan, first as a girl and then grown up, and is equal parts a tale of history, growing up, family drama, and local mystery.
2. Stealing The Show by Joy Press A few years ago, a study on women’s representation on TV and in film confirmed that there was a pretty significant gender imbalance in entertainment. It was a discouraging time, and a very recent one, but in the time since dramatic changes have been made. While television and film could still be called a “man’s world,” women have caught up to a great extent, and that, in a way, is what this book is about. The book actually goes deeper, however, looking all the way back to the ‘80s and how, from that time to now, there has been a gradual uprising of women in TV, ultimately to the point that the industry changed. With a focus on the likes of Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, and more, it’s a fascinating nonfiction read for anyone who enjoys entertainment.
3. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo As you may have noticed, Wonder Woman has been everywhere since early in 2017. A new film based on the comic book hero was extremely well-received, and turned actress Gal Gadot into a household name and a feminist icon. This was followed up by talk of a sequel, an explosion of Wonder Woman Halloween costumes, and even a new video game online. Wonder Woman Gold is still highlighted on the list of new games presented by the popular slot developer WMS, meaning there are now untold numbers of people engaging with the character through gaming as well. And now, there’s a novel! “Wonder Woman: Warbringer” is an original Wonder Woman adventure, not connected to the film but capitalizing on its popularity, and it’s an entirely new and enjoyable way to enjoy the hero.
4. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi It’s always nice to be able to highlight a debut novelist, and Akwaeke Emezi could be a major new name in the literary world. This is a novel about a young Nigerian woman named Ada who comes to America for college and then has to deal with split personalities that are intensifying in numerous ways. These different personalities essentially become dueling narrators in what is ultimately a very original and powerful piece of writing. And if the subject matter might sound troubling or even sad, you might consider The New Yorker’s review, which noted that the book “explores the freedom of being multiple.” That is to say, there is - somehow - an uplifting tone to “Freshwater.”
5. Meaty by Samantha Irby We’re closing the list out with another work of nonfiction, and one of the funniest books to come out in some time by just about everyone’s estimation. “Meaty” is the second nonfiction comedy book by Samatha Irby, and probably her best work. It’s hard to say what it’s about, because it’s a series of largely unrelated essays ranging from relationship topics to Crohn’s Disease. But the core concept here is that this book is as likely to make you laugh as anything else that’s come out in some time.