I had this grand plan to assemble a Feminist Fantasy League for real women (as in, women who actually exist.)
While compiling the list, I realized a good 90% of the women I admire are writers.
You know…oddly enough.
So I went with that.
If I could form a supergroup of writers I admire, that group would include:
Best work: Would You Rather? A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out
I relate so strongly to Heaney’s tales of awkwardness and anxiety. I stupid-loved her novel Dear Emma so, so much. Excuse me while I create an army of tall women who blog about fiction.
Best work: Bad Feminist
I think, “I will never be a good feminist,” on a semi-regular basis. Reading Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist was a freeing experience for me. In her bright pink paperback, Gay says,
I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.
While claiming not to be an example, Gay nevertheless sets one that I aim to follow. We are both trying our best.
Best work: Small Victories: Spotting Moments of Improbable Grace
I haven’t yet found a theologian I like more. Lamott captures the emotional journey of spirituality better than anyone I have ever read. Her confessional missives encourage me greatly.
Also, she is one of several writers I’ve read recently to tackle the question of God’s gender. Hallelujah, amen.
Best work: Committed: A Love Story
Come on, Liz. You were on my team years ago.
I don’t like to use words like “guru,” but if I HAD to pick a guru (or, if one prefers, a “creativity consultant”), Liz would be it.
Gilbert covers the emotional and the mystical in ways I wish more authors would attempt. I rankle against the philosophy of, “EVERYTHING MUST BE LOGICAL AND EMOTIONLESS!” (which is why I’m no longer a Presbyterian.) No, thank you. I am here to connect with God through creativity, not in spite of it.
Best (and ONLY) work: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
I remember reading this book YEARS ago and wishing I had written it.
It has a beautiful plot about second chances, grief, and ninjas, and the end includes the phrase “ninjas bopping their heads in time,” which for some reason made me cry.
I’m bummed Emily Horner never wrote a follow-up! This book deserves many, many rereads.
Best work: Something New
Knisley’s Something New is one of my go-to comfort reads. I love Knisley’s art and honesty.
While reading her quest to redefine wedding traditions, I scream-cried tears of joy.
Best work: Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood
I kind of love Mari Andrew. Her art soothes me.
I impulse-bought this book after my depression diagnosis but before I found a good medication. Glad to know I’m not the only person to experience a quarter-life crisis.
Also, Andrew has committed herself to the glasses aesthetic, which HELLO. PROPS.
Best work: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Taylor is an unabashed shipper and romance writer who renewed my interest in urban fantasy. I. LOVE. HER. PROSE.
Also, I envy her seemingly-awesome marriage. She and husband Jim Di Bartolo wrote Night of Cake and Puppets, a beautiful illustrated spin-off, together. That’s the dream.
Best work: Jane, Unlimited
While Cashore isn’t technically my first feminist fantasy author, she’s the one I reread most often. And I did just buy all of her books, making me somewhat of a superfan.
I hesitate to call Jane, Unlimited her best work, but that book stayed with me for a long time after I read it. I admire Cashore’s ambition and nonchalant support of sexual fluidity (“Let’s. Ship. EVERYONE.”)
While researching my thesis, I read an article she wrote about worldbuilding through intentional use of language. In her Graceling series, she created a world without religion by avoiding any and all religious terminology. I found out later she identifies as an ex-Catholic (emphasis on the “ex”).
Though she is more explicit with her feminist themes, Cashore finds creative, incidental ways to include her beliefs about sexuality and religion in her writing. I find that fascinating, probably because I lack subtlety.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Best work: We Should All Be Feminists
Adichie so concisely verbalizes nebulous beliefs I’ve held for years. It seems like every year she puts out a life-changing pocket-sized paperback. No big deal, she just killed the gender debate in 80 pages. As you were, sir.
Best work: Cress
DID YOU KNOW MEYER IS FROM TACOMA? AND I OWN ALL OF HER BOOKS?
Just know I rode that Lunar Chronicles train all the way to the end. I shipped voraciously; I ripped through 800-page novels; I argued plot points with friends.
Meyer repopularized the space adventure. I haven’t had this much fun since I first saw Star Wars.
Best work: A Sort of Fairy Tale
Listen, Malinda…you don’t have to be on my team. I haven’t been nice to you in the past.
Can I just say…I love your essays?
I think they’re so honest and interesting and your essay in Scratch really did feel like a fairy tale.
And you brought the house down in Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World.
And I think we need more bisexual superheros like you. Your marriage sounds, frankly, awesome. Bravo.
Best work: Everything Leads to You
I like everything LaCour writes. And only a TRUE WIZARD of the craft could make me not only ENJOY, but WEEP OVER, a David Levithan novel.
On a shallower note: I don’t know who designs her covers, but they are works of ART.
Best work: You Can’t Touch My Hair: and Other Things I Still Have to Explain
I admire comedians who can flit from humor to gravity without too much emotional whiplash. I loved Robinson’s letter to her biracial niece.
She has a new book out AND an upcoming lecture at Seattle Central College! I. CANNOT. WAIT.
Best Work: The Scorpio Races
As Claire recently reminded me, OCTOBER IS ALMOST UPON US. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS: TIME TO REREAD MY FAVORITE BOOK MURDER HORSES THAT LIVE IN THE SEA (AKA The Scorpio Races.)
Speaking of books I wish I’d written…
Stiefvater somehow covered both sibling relationships and slow-burn romance, two of my FAVORITE tropes. Oh, let’s not forgot the MURDER HORSES. WHAT A PERFECT PLOT DEVICE. UGH.
Best work: Ship It
“Man, this book is lame,” I thought. “No way am I going to finish it.”
Cut to me sobbing during protagonist Claire’s big speech. Uuuuggggh. Representation is IMPORTANT.
Lundin also writes for Riverdale, the best/worst show of the decade. SO MUCH TO RESPECT.
And like…style goals. No one pulls off the short-sleeved button-down better. NOT EVEN TAN FRANCE.