Fall Reading List: Books By Women

by Elysian Magazine

Make room on your shelves because ELYSIAN’s new fall reading list is here! As we begin to face colder weather and shorter days, there’s nothing better to do than curl up on the sofa with a hot drink and a good book.

If you’re like me and have spent your quarantine days devouring novel after novel, then you’re probably itching for something new to read. Well, there is no need to fret! Many of the books featured on this list are newly published and cover a variety of genres. Better yet, they are all written by inspiring women who use their voices to shed light on commonly misunderstood people and communities.

Female authors know how to write about disenfranchised groups, considering their long history of gender discrimination, and now they have branched out to discuss race issues, wealth disparity, cultural discrimination, and bullying. Their words have the power to enchant you, haunt you, and enlighten you, all during one sitting. Whether you are reading a memoir, a novel, or a collection of poems, you are bound to learn something new. So, light your candles, throw on a cozy blanket, and get reading!

Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Isabel Wilkerson, explores the psychological roots of racism and bigotry in her new book Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents. Wilkerson looks beyond the basic categories of race and class and asks herself what causes an individual or group to believe they are better than others? She examines the artificial hierarchies that humans have socially constructed since the dawn of civilization, perfectly illustrating how this has led to the “American Caste System.”

What is Caste? Isabel Wilkerson defines it as “the infrastructure of our divisions.” It is an ancient concept — more like a disease — that bleeds into our consciousness and causes us to mistreat people we view as lesser than. Bright and original, Isabel Wilkerson blows us away with her intellect and in-depth analysis of human history. She takes us through the Jim Crow Era and Nazi Germany to demonstrate how the caste system is embedded within each of those societies, and why it is still prevalent today. If you are looking for a book that will give you an extensive background on systemic racism in America, especially given the recent Black Lives Matter protests, then you will want to add Caste to your fall reading list.

Isabel Wilkerson was the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for her coverage of the 1993 Midwestern floods and her profile of a ten-year-old boy who was responsible for his siblings. Her previous book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s First Migration, was a masterpiece that comprised fifteen years of research on the African American migration from the South, between 1915 and 1970. It’s fair to say that any book by Isabel Wilkerson will leave you with a new perspective. 

Death In Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

fall reading list

Death in Her Hands is a bone chilling read and a perfect book to dig into for the Halloween season. Ottessa Moshfegh tells the story of an elderly widow who finds a cryptic note while wandering through the woods one day. The note is pinned to the ground beneath a frame of stones, and states “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.”

Readers watch as the protagonist struggles to figure out who Magda was and how she met her fate. As brooding turns to obsession, and obsession turns to madness, the reader is left questioning whether the protagonist should be trusted at all. If you are looking for a mind-bending, hair-raising novel to put on your shelf this fall, this is the one for you!

Ottessa Moshfegh’s other notable works include her New York Times best-seller My Year of Rest and Relaxation and her award-winning break-out novella, McGlue. Her short stories have also appeared in literary magazines, such as Granta, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review, if you are interested in reading more of her beautifully haunted prose.

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

fall reading list

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 189 consecutive weeks, so if you haven’t added this book to your shelf yet, what are you waiting for?

This novel explores complex issues, such as systemic racism and cultural identity through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Carter Starr. In the beginning, Carter struggles to find balance between her poor home life and the fancy prep school she attends. But, when a police officer ends up fatally shooting Carter’s childhood best friend, Khalil, she is faced with a decision that could endanger her life and upend her community.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel is a powerful must-read for all young adults. Terrance Clark from Common Sense Media calls it “Wrenching, soul-stirring, funny, endearing, painful, and frustratingly familiar.” 

fall reading list

Angie Thomas is a unique author who has lived a life as interesting as her novels. As a former teen rapper born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, she earned a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University as well an unofficial degree in Hip-Hop. Her musical background comes through in her 2019 novel, On The Come Up — a story about a young female rapper striving towards her dreams and finding her identity.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Angie’s new novel, Concrete Rose, which centers around a young Black man’s transition from boyhood to manhood, set to be published in 2021.

Dear Girl by Aija Mayrock

fall reading list

Poet and author Aija Mayrock made her debut in the literary world at sixteen years old when she published her book The Survival Guide To Bullying. Her work has resonated with many young girls who have had to deal with cyber-bullying, body shaming, and other forms of harassment.

Now the young adult writer is back with a new collection of poems in her book, Dear Girl, which is about the journey from girlhood to womanhood. It is the perfect read for young women who need help navigating through this transitional time. Aija’s work is relatable yet eye-opening. She addresses sensitive issues such as racism and gender discrimination. Those who are fans of Rupi Kaur or Wilder Poetry must add Dear Girl to their fall reading list.

Aija Mayrock is currently a twenty-four year old writer, best selling author, and spoken-word performer. Her first book, The Survival Guide To Bullying, was self-published before it was acquired by Scholastic and published around the world. Aija has also spoken to over four million people nationwide about bullying and mental health. Her work has been featured in The View, Teen Vogue, Publisher’s Weekly, Seventeen Magazine, The Today Show, Variety and many other platforms.

Can You Smell The Rain? by Patricia Clearly Miller

fall reading list

Patricia Clearly Miller provides us with an eclectic collection of poems in her book Can You Smell The Rain? Her book poses the age-old question: who wants what and why can’t they have it? All the characters in her collection are confused, deluded people who yearn for love. They are sad, yet laughable, but most of all, painfully relatable. Patricia Miller portrays their stories with biting wit and satire that causes us to reflect on our own human frailty. If you are looking for something lyrical, romantic, and clever to read this fall, this is the book for you!

Can You Smell The Rain? is the first book Patricia Clearly Miller has published since her last novel, Starting A Swan Dive came out in 1993. In addition to being an author, Patricia Clearly Miller is an English professor at Rockhurst University in Kansas City. Her other works of poetry have appeared in Connecticut Review, Stand, New Letters, Cottonwood, I-70 Review, among other literary magazines. 

Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass by Lana Del Rey

Pop-star musical artist Lana Del Rey shocked Hollywood and left her fans in awe when she decided to publish a collection of her spoken-word poetry, Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass. Fans can buy physical copies of the book as well as the audio version to be read by the star herself!

Lana’s poetry style is much like her song-writing in which she focuses on her heartbreaks, spiritual connection (or lack thereof) to her surroundings, and her nostalgia for 1950’s California. It is a slightly newer side to the female pop-artists that her fans have not seen. In her work, she references female literary icons ranging from Sylvia Plath to Emily Dickinson. She also retains the sweet melancholy language and aesthetic that is found in her music.

Her poem, “What Happened When I Left You” begins with a beautifully crafted line that conjures up vivid imagery, reminiscent of her musical work: “Perfect petals punctuate the fabrics yellow blue / silver platters with strawberries strewn across the room.” If you are a fan of Lana Del Rey’s music or curious about her work, then this is the perfect book to add to your fall reading list. 

Extended Fall Reading List

The Searcher by Tana French

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Daddy by Emma Cline

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

fall reading list

Written by Katie Jensen

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