With 2019 on the verge of its end, a decade is coming to a close. Whether the political upheavals, social initiatives or economic ups and downs, everything adds to what the decade meant for us. What better way to look at the year going by, than through the lens of literature? Since women writers championed this year, churning out best-sellers and winning major literary prizes SheThePeople.TV reached out for recommendations for books written by women in 2019 through Facebook and Twitter. While we have compiled a list of books as recommended by people, the list is still open for recommendations. If you wish to add any book, do share it with us.
The Beautiful Place by Amanthi Harris
The Beautiful Place is a novel about leaving and losing home and making family. It is about being oppressed and angry and wanting a better life – but how is a better life to be defined? The plot of the novel centers around Padma, a young Sri Lankan woman who lives in Villa Hibiscus. The owner of the villa Gerhardt is an elderly Austrian who has adopted Padma from her father Sunny who later comes to claim his daughter back. All the characters in the book are seeking identity, family and a place to belong.
The Beautiful Place is a novel about leaving and losing home and making family. It is about being oppressed and angry and wanting a better life – but how is a better life to be defined?
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
Winner of the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize and shortlisted for 2019 Bookers Prize, the novel has been written in the stream of consciousness narrative style. The narration centres around the thought process and life of an Ohio housewife who contemplates her four kids, husbands, cats and chickens, her own regrets enmeshed in America’s ignoble past. It is a heart-rending indictment of America’s barbarity and a lament for the way we are blundering into an environmental disaster.
Booker Prize judge Joanna MacGregor said that Lucy Ellman has written a genre-defying novel, a torrent on modern life, as well as a hymn to loss and grief. The narrator reverberates with humour, wordplay and political rage.
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? It is this queer romantic union that occupies the plot of the novel. Set in the reality of 2016 in the US when a female Democrat was elected as the President, the novel shows a secret enemy-to-lovers romance brooding between the son of the President, Alex Claremont and the British Royalty Prince Harry. The romance begins with a fake friendship between Alex and Harry for the sake of positive relations between the US and Britain that turns into a secret romance. The book is the Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Debut and Best Romance of 2019.
Spring by Ali Smith
Spring by Ali Smith is the third addition to the best of the season quartet. 2016’s Autumn, 2017’s Winters and 2019’s Spring are closely connected with the current events. Named after the season which means new life or new life, “Spring” paradoxically shows the absence of hope and is darker and bleaker than its predecessors. “Autumn” starts with the EU referendum, while Spring is consumed with Brexit, refugee detention, social media and Trump. New Statesman America reviews, “Autumn, Winter and Spring are stories of the unlikely connections human beings can make and the cost exacted when those connections are broken. They are state of the nation novels which understand that the nation is you, is me, is all of us: the nation is our choices, our fears, our losses…”
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Tiffy and Leon share an apartment but they have never met. How will these roommates fall in love with each other when they have never seen each other?
“This book has been received as one of the best rom-com in the millennial setting. This charming debut features lovely characters being nice to one another. It’s a sweet romance that will win over readers once they discover it on the shelves.”―Library Journal
Step Up by Sailaja Manacha
Step Up is a transformative journey that provides women with the necessary tools to become powerful leaders. It is an ‘inner journey’ to reveal commonly held beliefs that women have of themselves and others, as well as patterns of behaviour and choices that form the lens through which they see the world. Being aware of this allows them to look at the world differently and make impactful changes in their professional lives.
Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angel Saini
Based on the interviews with experts, scientific consensus, Superior is a collection of essays on the author’s analysis that some fields of biology are still based on the racism theories of the 19th century.
“Angela Saini’s investigative and narrative talents shine in Superior, her compelling look at racial bases in science past and present. The result is both a crystal-clear understanding of why race science is so flawed and why science itself is so vulnerable to such deeply troubling fault lines in its approach to the world around us – and to ourselves,” Deborah Blum, author of The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.
“Superior is a thought-provoking combination of science, social history and modern politics.” reviews Financial Times
Girl in White Cotton by Avni Doshi
Antara has never understood her mother Tara’s decisions – walking out on her marriage to follow a guru. But when Tara starts losing her memory, Antara searches for a way to make peace with their shared past, a past that haunts them both. Ultimately, as Antara relived her past, she realises that she is not much different from Tara.
Girl in White Cotton is a journey into shifting memories, altering identities and the subjective nature of truth. Tracing the fragile line between familial devotion and deception, Avni Doshi’s mesmerising first novel will surprise and unsettle you.
No Regrets: The Guilt-Free Woman’s Guide To A Good Life by Kaveree Bamzai
From being a mother to lessons learned from our own mothers; managing money to marriage; coping with pain and anger to taking ownership of our health and growing old, Kaveree Bamzai, tells us how to live a guilt-free life, with a little help through advice from Naina Lal Kidwai, Arianna Huffington, Sudha Murty, Smriti Irani, Twinkle Khanna and Sania Mirza, among others. The book is all about how a woman can live a happy life without feeling guilty about it. Though categorised as a self-help book, it tells what not to do, what to remember and what to forget.
F-Rated by Nandita Dutta
What does it mean to be a woman filmmaker in India? The novel traces the lives of 11 filmmakers, Aparna Sen, Mira Nair, Farah Khan, Meghna Gulzar, Nandita Das, Shonali Bose, Tanuja Chandra, Anjali Menon, Reema Kagti, Kiran Rao and Alankrita Srivastava and determines their contribution to Indian Cinema.
The Forest of the Enchantments by Chitra Divakaruni:
The Ramayana, one of the world’s greatest epics, is also a tragic love story. In this brilliant retelling, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni places Sita at the centre of the novel: this is Sita’s version. A powerful comment on duty, betrayal, infidelity and honour, it is also about women’s struggle to retain autonomy in a world that privileges men, as Chitra proclaims that the book is a feminist interpretation of Indian religious tales.
“Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni turns the Ramayana around by telling it in the voice of Sita … this inversion is a gift – it presents us a with a way to know an already well-known story better and to love an already beloved story more”—Arshia Sattar, an Indian translator, facilitator, author, and director.
“Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni does justice to the women of Ramayana…The Forest of Enchantments is not just a retelling of a much-told epic, rather it is a book that tells it like it is —balanced and non-judgmental.” HuffPost
The Body Myth by Rheea Mukherjee
Mira is a teacher living alone in the heart of Suryam, a modern bustling in city India. She is drawn into the lives of a mysterious woman Sara, and her supportive husband Rahil, striking up intimate, volatile and fragile friendships with each of them that quickly become something more.
“Witty, melancholic, and dramatic by turns, Rheea Mukherjee’s The Body Myth is a touching love story about misfits searching for togetherness, even if that togetherness might not be healthy for all concerned… The Body Myth is a compelling tale, rich in emotional undercurrents and empathy for its unconventional characters,” Foreword Reviews.
Bombay Balchao by Jane Borges
Bombay Balchão is a tangled tale of ordinary lives – of a woman who loses her husband to a dockyard explosion and turns to a bootlegger, a teen romance that fails, a social misfit rescued by his addiction to crosswords. Ordinary, except when seen through their own eyes. Then, it’s a legend.
Set in Cavel, a tiny Catholic neighbourhood on Bombay’s D’Lima Street, this delightful debut novel is painted with many shades of history and memory, laughter and melancholy, sunshine and silver rain.
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
In the wake of her mother’s death, Shalini, a privileged young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir. But upon her arrival, Shalini is brought face to face with Kashmir’s history and politics.
“The Far Field is remarkable, a novel at once politically timely and morally timeless. Madhuri Vijay traces the fault lines of history, love, and obligation running through a fractured family and country. Few novels generate enough power to transform their characters, fewer still their readers. The Far Field does both,” says Anthony Marra, author of The Tzar of Love and Techno.
The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaiswal
A female take on a travel adventure, the novel is a story of the British-born Punjabi Shergill sisters—Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina—who are not close to each other. On her deathbed, their mother voices one last wish: that her daughters will make a pilgrimage together to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to carry out her final rites. Arriving in India, these sisters will make unexpected discoveries about themselves, their mother, and their lives.
Powerful, emotionally evocative, and wonderfully atmospheric, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a charming and thoughtful story that illuminates the bonds of family, sisterhood, and heritage that tether us despite our differences. Funny and heartbreaking, it is a reminder of the truly important things we must treasure in our lives.
Invisible Women by C Criado Perez
Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.
Reviewed by Sunday Times as a rallying cry to fight back, and a brilliant expose according to The Guardian, the book has won Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2019, Readers’ Choice Books Are My Bag Award 2019, FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2019 and The Times Current Affairs Book of the Year 2019
Vetaal and Vikram: Riddles of the Undead by Gayathri Prabhu
This riddle can end in two ways: speech and defeat, or silence and death.’ Vetaal and Vikram is a playful retelling of one of India’s most celebrated cycle of stories. The Vetaal who is neither living nor dead is a consummate storyteller, and Vikram is a listener who can neither speak nor stay silent. Fantastical and delightful, this retelling dissolves the lines between speaker and listener, desire and duty, life and death.
Tawaifnama by Saba Dewan
This is a history, a multi-generational chronicle of one family of well-known tawaifs with roots in Banaras and Bhabua. Through their stories and self-histories, Saba Dewan explores the nuances that conventional narratives have erased, papered over or wilfully rewritten. Tawaifnama is the story of that process of change, nuanced and powerful microhistory set against the sweep of Indian history.
She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
In the tradition of great investigative journalism, She Said tells a thrilling story about the power of truth, with shocking new information from hidden sources. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, are the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters who broke the news of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and abuse of women when he still had the power as Hollywood’s most prominent producer. She Said is a book where they describe not only the whole investigation, the consequences of their reporting for the #MeToo movement, but the inspiring and affecting journeys of the women who spoke up—for the sake of other women, for future generations, and for themselves.
“An instant classic of investigative journalism…‘All the President’s Men’ for the Me Too era.” — Carlos Lozada, The Washington Post
In Search of Heer by Manjul Bajaj
Musically gifted Ranjha rejects the pursuit of wealth and power as the measure of a man’s worth, while Ranjha is an accomplished warrior. Heer and Ranjha are destined to meet and fall in love—the former chastised for her ‘manly’ pursuits and the latter ridiculed for his lack thereof. Told from multiple perspectives, set against the lush riverbanks and rugged countryside of West Punjab, this is a wise, passionate and lyrical retelling of one of the subcontinent’s most beloved epics.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob
Inspired by her viral BuzzFeed piece ’37 Difficult Questions from My Mixed-Raced Son’, Mira Jacob responds to her six-year-old, Zakir, who asks if the new president hates brown boys like him.
“Good Talk isn’t just Mira Jacob’s personal story: it also illuminates the increasingly fractured world we live in. By turns hilarious and heart-rending, it plunges fearlessly into the murky grey areas of race and family, of struggling to find common ground, of trying to talk to our children and help them make sense of it all,” says Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.
“Girl, Woman, Other is about struggle, but it is also about love, joy and imagination,”The Guardian.
Jade War (The Green Bone Saga) by Fonda Lee
In Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honour and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis. Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honour, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.
“This smart and action-filled fantasy, filled with vibrant characters, weaves intricate plot threads throughout, positioning many female characters front and centre…. Will leave readers breathless with anticipation.” ―Library Journal
Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah
An Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller, and a Goodreads Choice Award finalist. In this gorgeously stunning debut, a mysterious child teaches two strangers how to love and trust again.
“Though the novel appears to start as a fantasy, it evolves into a domestic drama with murder-mystery elements, all adding up to a satisfying read.” —Booklist
“Vanderah’s beautifully human story reminds us that sometimes we need to look beyond the treetops at the stars to let some light into our lives.” —New York Journal of Books
Also Read: Books that helped me find my feminism
The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona Valpy
From the bestselling author of The Beekeeper’s Promise comes a gripping story of three young women faced with impossible choices when their secret activities put them in grave danger. How will history – and their families – judge them? Brought together by loyalty, threatened by betrayal, can they survive history’s darkest era without being torn apart?
“The Dressmaker’s Gift is a beautifully written book with four interesting and inspiring women at its core. The historical detail is seamless and brings the experiences of the War to life in shocking detail, and the dangers these women were willing to face,” reviews Book Literati.
What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon
In this Historical fiction and Romance novel, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything. The main character Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time, the Ireland of 1921 at the verge of war.
“Amy Harmon brings a tragic and fascinating period of history to life with a poignant love story that plays out across time and oceans. Skillfully woven around vividly depicted historical events and figures, this is a page-turner, hard to put down until the end.” —Helen Bryan, international bestselling author of War Brides, The Sisterhood, and The Valley
The Heavens by Sandra Newman
Kate and Ben meet at a party and fall instantly, irrevocably in love. Around them, the city glows. It is the first year without a war anywhere. Kate falls asleep, knowing she is loved. London, 1593. Kate wakes as Emilia – The mistress of a nobleman. Afflicted by premonitions of a burnt and lifeless city, she sets out to save the world. A story of love and alternate universes, madness and time travel, the heavens is a dream bound up in a strange awakening; it is a novel of what we have lost, and what we might yet be able to save.
“An electrifying novel of love, creativity and madness…playful, tender and heartbreaking.” – The Guardian
“A daring piece of counter-historical speculative romance…with a surreal comic tone..intriguing.” – The Times
The Trick Mirror: The Reflection of Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
From the rise of the Internet to her own appearance on an early reality TV show; from her experiences of ecstasy – both religious and chemical – to her uneasy engagement with our culture’s endless drive towards ‘self-optimisation’; from the phenomenon of the successful American scammer to her generation’s obsession with extravagant weddings, Jia Tolentino writes with style, humour and a fierce clarity about these strangest of times. It is The Times Literary Non-Fiction Book of the Year.
Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan by Soniah Kamal
A fresh and delightful retelling of the Jane Austen Classic
“A funny, sometimes romantic, often a thought-provoking glimpse into Pakistani culture, one which adroitly illustrates the double standards women face when navigating sex, love, and marriage. This is a must-read for devout Austenites.”–Publishers Weekly
Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam by Yasmine Mohammed
In Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam, Canadian human rights activist Yasmine Mohammed speaks her truth as a woman born in the Western world yet raised in a fundamentalist Islamic home. With one foot in each world, Yasmine is far enough removed from both to see them objectively, yet close enough to see them honestly. Without telling anyone what to believe, Unveiled navigates the rhetoric and guides truth-seekers through media narratives, political correctness, and outright lies while encouraging readers to come to their own conclusions.
Strange: Stories by Shreya Sen-Handley
The stories in Shreya Sen-Handley’s Strange are about everyday people whose lives take unforeseen turns. Suddenly, they find themselves drawn inexorably into encounters and situations that weren’t part of their plan, but which result in the shocking revelation of buried parts of their psyches. This is a book that will have you engrossed as you try to guess what happens at the end of each story, and its characters will haunt you for a long time after you’ve turned the last page.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
New York Times bestselling and Alex, Nebula, and Hugo-Award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in this standalone fantasy.
“McGuire sets a high bar for alchemy-based stories in this new stand-alone, twisting themes of time and space as seen through the eyes of children. This singular work keeps readers thinking long after the final page.”―Library Journal.
Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV