Five Underrated Books by Female Authors

I will preface this article by admitting that a few of these women are well-known names in literature. However, this list is comprised of works that don’t get as much attention as they should. All of these books are short reads that you may even finish in a day, but they pack a lot in. 

  1. A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin 

I exercised great self-control by only including one short story collection, and this one is worth being #1. I will never understand why Lucia Berlin doesn’t receive the praise she deserves, and I will continue to recommend her work to anyone who asks (and those who don’t) for short story suggestions. The majority–if not all–of these stories are from a female point of view and are a simple, accessible musing on a darker topic. 

   2. Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys  

Jean’s most well-known book Wide Sargasso Sea is written from the point of view of the woman in Jane Eyre’s attic. Now, I’m not sure why readers chose that novel as their favorite, perhaps because of its connection with Charlotte Bronte, but it was nothing but a disappointment. If you have read Wide Sargasso Sea, please please do not judge Rhys as a writer off of that. Her best work lies in her lesser known novels and novellas, my personal favorite being Good Morning, Midnight. This tells of the dark, emotional turmoil of a young woman in Paris as she grapples with her past when imagining her non-existent future in smoky bars, wet streets, and coffee shops. 

   3. Alice Walker Banned by Alice Walker

You may know Alice Walker from her hands-down best book The Color Purple. She has written a number of other novels and short stories, many of which point the spotlight on taboo issues deeply ingrained in society. Banned is Walker’s written response to her work and that of other authors being banned in classrooms. There are always reports in the news of schools banning certain thought-provoking books, and this is a short piece on the issue if you’d like to know more about the debate on what should be taught in schools today.   

  4. South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion

Joan Didion is far from an underrated author, but South and West is the piece I appreciate most. This short piece consists of excerpts from two notebooks Didion kept on dialogue, various interviews with colorful characters, and observations. The first part covers her 1970 road trip through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The second part elaborates on reflections on the West where she grew up, specifically California and its characteristics. As the title states, this short book is a comparison of the South and West through Didion’s observant, journalistic eyes. 

  5. The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is most likely one of the greatest authors of all time, with books like Beloved, Paradise, and A Mercy. This piece is an additional commentary on many of the topics she frequently wrote about. Questions on race  identity are just a few of the issues packed into this short read. This can also be considered a brief literary analysis of various works by other authors whose themes overlap with her writing as well. Morrison’s points are drawn from profound experience and need to be heard by a larger audience. 

So here you go! Five books everyone needs to read ASAP. As always, happy reading!