On Monday, I posted onto our Facebook page a link to an article by The Guardian which listed the 50 most influential books written by women. While I can agree that list is full of novels I have enjoyed reading in the past, not all have been influential in my life. Thus, here are the top 5 most influential books in my life by women (in no particular order):
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
This was one of the first novels I read as a kid. I was an avid reader; I’d hole myself up in my room for hours on end. When I found this novel, I was really excited and surprised that someone would write about fieldworkers and about a Mexican girl. Esperanza Rising tells the story of a rich Mexican girl who is forced to move from her life of luxury living in an Hacienda to the fields of California/Texas when her father dies, and the family (her and her mother) loses all their money to her evil uncle. I had to yet to discover House on Mango Street, so for me Esperanza was the first character I could ever relate to.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
I read this novel a couple of years ago in my American Women Writer’s course. The plot structure and Morrison’s use of first person made the book memorable to me, but what really impacted me was the novel’s commentary on beauty and race. The Bluest Eye reflects on how standards of beauty in this country can impact someone’s life, whether it is a young child or a grown man, and how a community’s response to these internalized standards can affect everyone. The Bluest Eye is truly a remarkable novel, and really made me reflect upon my own struggles with my identity and standards of beauty.
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
My first introduction to the genre of magical realism (now one of my favorite genres) was through this novel. Before Allende, I’d never read a novel by a non-American woman or a South American author. The House of the Spirits tells the story of Clara (hey, like me – also the first time I’d seen my name in a novel) and the Trueba family. The novel follows four generations of Truebas and their rise to power, and their resulting downfall during the Chilean revolution. Allende’s novels almost always have a female protagonist, her other works include Eva Luna and Daughter of Fortune.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I spent half of my life reading the Harry Potter series and watching each film. I received my first Harry Potter book on Christmas. The Harry Potter series tells the story of a young boy wizard who is thrown into the middle of an upcoming wizard war, it is a fantastical novel with trolls, dark wizards, moving trees, giant spiders, flying cars, and much more. It’s a bit sad that Joanne Rowling had to use her initials in order to get the series published. It was a large part of my childhood, and I can’t help but get nostalgic every now and then because it introduced me to a new world where I could escape and anything could happen.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I’ve read and re-read this novel at least three times. The story of Anne is inspiring, and her character is sassy and lively. This novel tells the story of Anne Shirley, an orphan who is sent to live on a farm, and her adventures on the island of Prince Edward. I remember often longing to find my “bosom friend” and my Gilbert Blythe (my first imaginary/fictional love).
I asked this on our Facebook page, but what are your top 5 most influential books by women?