6 Books by Female Writers To Read This National Women's Month

From poets to fictionists, dive into the lush and exhilarating worlds of these talented women writers who’ve moved many readers through their words. 

With the Holy Week break fast approaching, it’s an opportune time for avid (and even casual) readers to prepare a list of books to read as they unwind. In the spirit of National Women’s Month, it may also be a great time to immerse oneself in more female voices. After all, the world has no shortage of talented women writers, both locally and internationally. 

READ ALSO: Empowering Cinema: 5 Must-Watch Movies This Women’s Month

So for those seeking some new titles for their to-be-read lists, look no further. We’ve prepared a list of six exceptional works from women writers both old and new, Filipino and foreign. It’s by no means a comprehensive selection, as there are many wonderful writers out there. However, it does cover fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, so there’s something for everyone: 


Beloved by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is one of the greatest American writers to have ever lived, and arguably, perhaps among the best writers in history. As an African-American woman, to achieve the level of success that she did—which includes winning the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature and 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction—is a testament to her talent amid the obstacles that minority groups experience. 

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Her novel Beloved is a great entry point to her oeuvre, as it’s the very novel that won her the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction to begin with, embodying the characteristics that make her work so relevant even today. The book’s story follows a Black family that’s haunted by a spirit—namely its matriarch, Sethe. The ghost reflects the bloodline’s years of generational trauma and oppression under slavery, opening a narrative that chronicles the past abuses its characters underwent, and their lasting effects in the present day. 

Though the book tackles dark subject matters, it never succumbs to hopelessness. It questions existing power structures while also embracing the strength and courage of its characters amid harrowing circumstances. 

Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung (translated by Anton Hur) 

Those who enjoy reading little by little might prefer a short story collection that offers different narratives for their choosing. In this case, Korean writer Bora Chung’s series of stories, Cursed Bunny, may be the perfect option for National Women’s Month. Chung’s book offers an interesting look at Korean life, especially from the perspective of female characters. 

“Grandfather used to say, ‘When we make our cursed fetishes, it’s important that they’re pretty.’”

Bora Chung, ”Cursed Bunny”

A shortlister for 2022’s International Booker Prize, Cursed Bunny contains 10 stories that touch on a variety of genres from horror to fantasy, but each one at once unsettling and illuminating in its own way. 

Some notable stories from the collection include “The Embodiment” (where a young woman is forced to search for a father after a mysterious pregnancy), “Cursed Bunny” (a tale of revenge through a rabbit-shaped lamp), “The Frozen Finger” (wherein a woman is stuck in a limbo-like loop and must confront her demons), and “Snare” (which takes on a haunting, folklore-like narrative). 


Tikim by Doreen G. Fernández

Every Filipino foodie ought to read Tikim by renowned food critic and writer Doreen Fernández at least once in their lives. The collection consists of short essays on various Philippine cuisines, including their origins and inextricable ties with the archipelago’s countless subcultures. 

“How many of our food memories are connected with our mothers? […] They not only decide on the food we eat but by cooking it, also decide on its particular nuances or register of taste. They not only decree how much of it we should eat, they also decide when and in what way, thereby determining the food patterns of our lives—and eventually of the race.”

Doreen Fernandez, Inside Information: A Tribute to Mothers”

One will certainly develop a newfound appreciation for even the simplest of meals in the country. It’s difficult to choose standouts, as every piece offers valuable information that really opens one’s eyes to the richness of Filipino cuisine. 

“Balut to Barbecue: Philippine Street Food” is an entertaining exploration of the wide assortment of tasty treats in the small corners of bustling cities. A fitting piece for National Women’s month would be “Inside Information: A Tribute to Mothers,” which highlights the integral role that mothers play in one’s everyday meals and culinary experiences. 

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado 

When most people think of memoirs, they likely default to the usual conventions within the category, where a writer looks back at past events to form a personal narrative about their life or a certain period within it. Yet Latina writer Carmen Maria Machado redefines and reinvigorates the form through her heart-wrenching book In the Dream House, which melds techniques from a variety of genres to weave a raw and powerful narrative on domestic abuse. 

“A reminder to remember: just because the sharpness of the sadness has faded does not mean that it was not, once, terrible. It means only that time and space, creatures of infinite girth and tenderness, have stepped between the two of you, and they are keeping you safe as they were once unable to.”

Carmen Maria Machado, “In the Dream House”

Machado’s book is made up of sections in varying themes, all rooted in the home she made with her romantic partner who’s also a woman. Often using elements from popular media and horror, as well as footnotes that don’t just serve as addendums, but also necessary layers of the writer’s story. Though Machado’s introspections stem from a personal place, they all interact with larger ideas about society and queer relationships. 


Meadowlands by Louise Glück

Fans of Greek mythology and literature will likely enjoy Louise Glück’s book-length poetry collection Meadowlands. Every poem works together to create an overarching story of a couple’s crumbling marriage, drawing parallels between them and Odysseus and Penelope from The Odyssey. 

“The beloved doesn’t/need to live. The beloved/lives in the head.”  

Louis Glück, “Ithaca”

The poems cover the tensions of family life, as well as the struggles that come with its intimacies. One can expect no less from Glück, who recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020, among other accolades like the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

As Meadowlands’ official description succinctly puts it, “Glück discovers in contemporary life the same quandary that lies at the heart of The Odessey: the ‘unanswerable affliction of the human heart: how to divide the world’s beauty into acceptable and unacceptable loves’” (from the book’s “Parable of the Hostages”). 

Dream Work by Mary Oliver 

Mary Oliver is one of America’s most widely-celebrated poets, due in large part to the accessibility of her poetry. Her works are often meditations about life, her craft of writing, and relationships, and have earned her numerous accolades over the years including a 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and a 1992 National Book Award

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,/the world offers itself to your imagination,/calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—/over and over announcing your place/in the family of things.”

Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”

One of her best poetry collections is 1986’s Dream Work, with 45 poems that reflect on an assortment of experiences, yet all delve into what it means to exist in the world through the lens of the natural world (something almost always present in her works)—from the triumphs of existence to the inherent fallibility of humanity. 

Oliver’s poems are cathartic, and offer much food for thought, making them good options for those who want to get into a more pensive mood during the Holy Week. Some of her most popular pieces are also in the collection, such as the life-affirming “Wild Geese” and “Sunrise.”

Banner photo from the Amazon website.

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