25 Women to Read Before You Die

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Author Archive: "Michelle M"

What Dies in Summer

A modern day Huckleberry Finn with a twist of magical realism, Tom Wright's What Dies in Summer will leave you torn between page turning and savoring the luscious prose.

The Year of the Flood

Margaret Atwood's haunting companion to Oryx and Crake will leave you hungry for another book in this "speculative fiction" universe. Written in the alternating voices of young and initially naive Ren and nostalgic but wounded Toby, the novel explores themes of ecology, disaster, relationships, and religion in a world that feels eerily familiar. Unlike Oryx and Crake, this story is told solely from the perspective of women. Atwood's fascinating prose marvelously explores social issues and human nature.

The Death of Bees

This is a book surrounded by a lot of hype, but fortunately, it is also one that lives up to it. O'Donnell tells the story of two young sisters forced to grow up long before their actual childhood ends. Though each handles it differently, their alternating toughness and determined ignorance both paint a picture of bruised innocence and the irrevocable damage wreaked by circumstance. It is also the story of Lennie, an old man forced into exile and loneliness and damaged by circumstance in his own tragic way. Together these three characters tell a story of outsiders, all looking for a place to belong.

Each voice gives a unique perspective to the story, but only together can they tell it completely. The different narrative styles will keep you hooked as each short chapter bleeds into the next. O'Donnell masterfully blends voice and personality in her debut novel to create compelling and credible characters. She gives these outsiders a voice without exploiting them. She also tells a beautiful story filled with sorrow and humor and life that you won't want to miss.


An honest and interesting look at homeless youth and intersections of class, Anonymity tells the story of Lorelei and Emily, two young women struggling to come to terms with their backgrounds and find their place in the world. In alternating voices, the characters in this riveting book slowly reveal themselves to you — and are revealed through the eyes of those around them.

Poisons: From Hemlock to Botox and the Killer Bean of Calabar

Next time someone makes you mad, just pull out this book and start reading it. Then carefully arch your eyebrows over the cover and whisper "revenge is a dish best served cold." Or you could, you know, read it for the educational value. It's your call.

Kushiel’s Dart

So you've finished reading the fifth Game of Thrones book, and now what are you going to do? Wait five to seven years for the next book to come out? Turn to non-epic fiction? Don't be ridiculous! Instead, start reading Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series.

Filled with all the epic staples, Carey's trilogy will provide you with plenty of intriguing and satisfying reading material as you weather the long winter between Martin books (or any other uncompleted series you're in the midst of reading). Elements of Grecian epics, sensuality, religion, war, extreme travel, and monarchies are rounded out with fresh and captivating characters. You won't want to put down these books.

Wuthering Heights

If you have read any of the classics but you haven't read Wuthering Heights, you should probably amend that immediately. It's one of the only books I was required to read in high school that I actually enjoyed.

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister

This book reads like a dream, with moments of vivid detail punctuating a vague and unexplained narrative. Still, it is written in beautiful sentences that flow together perfectly. Though it never completely answers all your questions, the story is captivating and filled with lovely bits of the surreal. And like a dream, though it is unexplained, it is not unsatisfying.

Blue Asylum

On the surface, Kathy Hepinstall's Blue Asylum tells the story of a woman wrongly confined to an insane asylum for her independence and willfulness. Told in vivid and melodious prose, the novel slowly uncoils the truths of its characters lives and the hidden secrets that damage them. This story is captivating and satisfying in and of itself. On a deeper level, the novel examines the nature of insanity and the often-tragic irrationality of love. It looks at the motivations and consequences of human decisions, and questions how we should define morality. And, most importantly, it still manages to surprise readers.

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

Funny, familiar, and revealing, Jacob Tomsky's insider exposé on the hotel industry is an easy and entertaining read. Follow one man's journey through the hotel employment system, from valet to front desk to housekeeping, and learn how to work every angle of the system perfectly to your advantage. Balanced with humorous, dark, and downright ridiculous anecdotes, Heads in Beds will keep you hooked right up until you "check out" on the final page. And along the way, Tomsky will poignantly inform and remind you of what it really means to serve in and be served by the American service industry.

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