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My Favorite Female Writers

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In the most recent O Magazine, they asked readers about their favorite female contemporary writers. I felt inspired to do something similar so I created a list of my own favorites. Who are your favorites? Who do you admire and whose work do you keep in your bookshelves; by your bedside; in your car?

Here’s mine. Some of them are famous and others unknown but I think that that’s precisely why I love them all.

Jhumpa Lahiri: I fell in love with her work beginning in 2005 when an English professor assigned her book of short stories Interpreter of Maladies. It was a beautiful collection and I was hooked ever since. I don’t read a lot of short stories but I often find myself looking for hers in The New Yorker or elsewhere. I think that my favorite is the Namesake – read the book then watch the movie.

♥ Nikki Giovanni: Possibly my only favorite poet. In jr high I tried to love poems -I even went so far as to write some of my own, which turned out to be total trash. So I gave up not only on writing but reading it as well – I just didn’t get it and it didn’t get me. It wasn’t until Nikki Giovanni came to speak at my college that I discovered poetry again. When she read her poems they came to life and I began on a path of re-discovery. Poetry and I were finally speaking the same language.

♥ Erica Simone Turnipseed: {Love Noire and Hunger}: Her books got me through a very difficult time in my relationship and eventually got me through a painful break-up. Those nights I spent alone when I thought I was going crazy – she stayed up with me. It was me, her, and Noire.

♥ Amy Tan: I no longer have a favorite book of hers because I love them all. Other than Jane Austen, she is probably the one author who I have been reading the longest. A favorite cousin introduced me to her work and Amy Tan, in turn, introduced me to the world of Asian America. I didn’t know then where it would lead me  but I know now that she gave me my first glimpses into a parallel world. The first time I read The Joy Luck Club I cried.

♥ Maya Angelou: She is probably in everyone’s favorite list – and why not? She is absolutely amazing. I saw her speak at the University of Michigan – what a dynamite! Essence (April 2010) has a wonderful piece on her titled “A Poet’s Life in pictures.”

♥ Veronica Chambers: The Joy of Doing Things Badly got me through some tough times but she also saw me through some really good ones. In my most difficult moments she reminded me that everything would be OK. On the good days, she encouraged m to try new things and not be afraid. As a perfectionist of sorts, her book showed me bravery and encouragement even for the littlest things like singing karaoke in public and starting NYT crossword puzzles no matter how intimidating.

♥ Jane Austen: I can’t recall the first time I started reading her books – sometime in the 90s? – but I guess it doesn’t really matter. She took me to another world beyond the one I knew. She introduced me to a world of women in love and in confusion about the world around them. Now that I am older, I understand. I know what it is like to fall in love and get hurt and then to find hope in love all over again. Jane Austen will always be a classic to me.