My year of reading women: everything I read in 2016

During 2016, in response to Kamila Shamsie’s similar call to publishers, I committed myself to only reading books written by women. Although I wasn’t blogging last year, I did make a note of all the books I read, and I thought you may be curious to see my final list.

Since Shamsie’s argument centred on giving more female writers a platform, I thought it was only fair that I read as widely as possible. As such, I added two more rules to my challenge: I could only read one book from a single author during the year, and I couldn’t reread books I had picked up in the past. I did allow myself to read books by authors whose work I was already familiar with (e.g. Margaret Atwood), so long as the book that I ultimately chose was new to me.

By the end of 2016, I had read 46 books, along with another three which I did not finish. I plan to write a separate post to share my thoughts on these books, but for now, here’s the final list in all its glory:


My 2016 bookshelf:

1. The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
2. A God in Ruins* – Kate Atkinson
3. Telling Tales – Patience Agbabe
4. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
5. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
6. The Long Song – Andrea Levy
7. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
8. Loop of Jade – Sarah Howe
9. Our Endless Numbered Days* – Claire Fuller
10. The First Bad Man* – Miranda July
11. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
12. The Green Road* – Anne Enright
13. Kindred – Octavia Butler
14. Girl Waits With Gun – Amy Stewart
15. Ruby – Cynthia Bond
16. The Improbability of Love – Hannah Rothschild
2016_all17. Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling
18. The Comforters – Muriel Spark
19. Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta
20. Nelly Dean – Alison Case
21. Public Library* – Ali Smith
22. Nina is Not OK* – Shappi Khorsandi
23. Room – Emma Donoghue
24. And Still I Rise – Maya Angelou
25. The Night is Darkening Round Me – Emily Brontë
25. The Glorious Heresies – Lisa McInerney
27. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman* – Mary Wollstonecraft
28. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
29. The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader* – Ida B. Wells
30. Titanic – Bridget Minamore
31. The Muse – Jessie Burton
32. The Essex Serpent – Sarah Parry
33. Find Me – Laura Van Den Berg
34. Light Box – KJ Orr
35. Me Before You* – Jojo Moyes
36. Negroland – Margo Jefferson
37. NW* – Zadie Smith
38. Sweet Home – Carys Bray
39. Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
40. Multitudes – Lucy Caldwell (review)
41. Herland – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
42. My Name Is Leon* – Kit de Waal
43. The Power* – Naomi Alderman –
44. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
45. The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women Writers from the North of Ireland – ed. Sinéad Gleeson
46. Cockfosters – Helen Simpson

Did not finish:

1. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
2. The Swimming Pool* – Louise Candlish
3. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt



6 thoughts on “My year of reading women: everything I read in 2016

  1. My immediate response when coming across a list like this is to tick off all the ones I’ve read and ask myself why I haven’t read the others. I haven’t done an accurate count but I think it would probably work out as pretty much a 50/50 split as far as your list is concerned. I didn’t read the original Shamsie article, but I do love her work and am at the moment halfway through her latest, ‘Home Fire’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if it says something about the profile of female writers that the books we’ve read overlap so much – if, for instance, the pool of published female writers is small enough that we’re all likely to come across the same books so often?

    …Or perhaps we just have very similar reading tastes 🙂

    I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of Shamsie before I looked into her comments on book industry inequality. Home Fire is now on my TBR – are you enjoying it?


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