Shelf Life: Bestsellers, she wrote

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March is Women’s History Month, created to highlight the contributions of women in history and contemporary society, and Thursday is International Women’s Day, commemorating the women’s rights movement.

To celebrate and recognize female authors, here is a list of some of my favorites and their bestselling works:

Margaret Atwood, a Canadian author, has won more than 55 awards since her work was first published in the 1960s. She is most well known for her dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” (now a television series on Hulu), published in 1985 and set in the near-future where the United States government has been overthrown and replaced with a totalitarian military dictatorship.

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Other notable works include “Cat’s Eye,” about a controversial painter who reflects on her childhood and teenage years, and “Alias Grace,” the fictional account of the notorious 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery (now a television miniseries on Netflix).

Jodi Picoult has written over 20 novels, and I think I’ve read most of them. My favorite is 2008’s “Change of Heart,” where a death row inmate wants to donate his heart to the daughter of the woman whose husband and older daughter he is accused of murdering.

I would also highly recommend “Nineteen Minutes,” about a school shooting in New Hampshire, and her latest, “Small Great Things,” which deals with race and prejudice.

Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel “Room” was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, an international bestseller and one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read. Five-year-old Jack has only known life inside “Room,” where he and his mother are held captive. That’s all I’ll say so as to not spoil the plot, but definitely check it out as well as the 2015 film starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay.

Donoghue’s most recent novel is “The Lotterys Plus One,” a children’s book about an unruly family

Curtis Sittenfeld wrote the book that inspired me to become a librarian: “American Wife,” a fictionalized account of Laura Bush’s life (who was a librarian). She most recently published “Eligible,” a modern retelling of “Pride and Prejudice” set in Ohio, and is reportedly currently working on the story of what Hillary Rodham’s life might have been if she had turned down Bill Clinton’s marriage proposal.

A writer from Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has been on the receiving end of many awards, including a MacArthur Genius Grant and the National Book Critics Circle Award for “Americanah.” “Americanah” stretches out the story of a young Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, over many years and two continents, as she emigrates to the United States to attend university and loses touch with her high school sweetheart from back home, Obinze.

“Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions” was published last year, as a response to a letter from her childhood friend asking how to raise her daughter as a feminist.

There are so many amazing female authors that it was heard to narrow it down for this column. Other favorites of mine include Liane Moriarty, Christina Baker Kline, Ruth Ware, Mary Kubica, and Kimberly McCreight.

Who are yours?

Jen Pace Dickenson is the youth services librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs and other services, visit or call 828-894-8721.