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WNBA/Washington 25th Anniversary Booklist

The Washington Chapter of the Women's National Book Association marked its 25th anniversary in 2003. In celebration, Chapter members recommended books authored by women and published within the past 25 years that they have found particularly memorable and enjoyable. 

Ansay, A. Manette. River Angel. The legend of an angel watching over a river frames this resonant novel about faith and its power to transform individuals and a community.

Bishop, Elizabeth. The Complete Poems, 1927-1979. Poetry that is by turns tender, hopeful, despairing, wise – but always clear-eyed about the beauty to be found in things mundane.

Brown, Rosellen. Tender Mercies. A searing novel about an accident – and its aftermath - that tests a marriage, damages a family, and alters lives.

Bundesen, Lynne. So the Woman Went Her Way. A journalist’s memoir of her spiritual coming-of-age, as she found inspiration and power through the women of the Bible.

Byatt, A. S. Possession. Overwhelming in the scope of its writing, this novel combines historical fiction, mystery, and poetry to tell a fabulous story.

Conway, Jill Ker, ed. In Her Own Words. An anthology of compelling memoirs in which women from Australia, New Zealand, and North America examine personal and social issues.

Conway, Jill Ker. The Road from Coorain. Vivid autobiography by the first woman president of Smith College, revealing her hard Australian childhood developing independence.

Ehrlich, Gretel. This Cold Heaven. Essayist and naturalist Ehrlich captures life on the Greenland icecap in this haunting book with elements of travel and history.

Frame, Janet. The Complete Autobiography. The beautifully written trilogy by an award-winning New Zealand novelist, describing her transition from mental patient to writer.

Geniesse, Jane. Passionate Nomad. A compelling biography of explorer and writer Freya Stark (1893-1993), who discovered lost cities and created an anti-Nazi intelligence system.

Gilbert, Sandra and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic. Exhilarating feminist literary criticism of 19th century women writers (particularly notable for having been published in 1979).

Gordimer, Nadine. July’s People. A white family in South Africa needs help from their former servant in this novel that examines interconnecting relationships as well as racism.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies. A wonderful collection of short stories by a brilliant new Indian writer.

Lamott, Anne. Operating Instructions. A comforting, funny, honest journal account of the author’s first year as a mom with her son Sam.

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird. Engaging, thoughtful musings on the business of living day to day - “bird by bird” - as well as witty, solid instructions for the business of writing.

Lively, Penelope. Moon Tiger. A dying writer, who is a former historian and war correspondent, relates history as seen through her own eyes in this poignant, intelligent novel.

McNees, Pat, ed. Dying. Subtitled “a book of comfort,” this treasury has been immeasurably helpful to others during times of trouble and sorrow.

Meyers, Carol, ed. Women in Scripture. A new dictionary of women in the Bible, this is well-researched, well-written, and free from denominational bias.

Michaels, Anne. Fugitive Pieces.This first novel by a Canadian poet deals with the power of memories, loss, and love (which sometimes helps and sometimes does not) and reads like poetry.

Minot, Susan. Monkeys. The ramifications of a mother’s death ripple through a large family in Minot’s critically acclaimed first novel.

Norris, Kathleen. Dakota. Norris draws on story, history, myth, prayer, and memoir in this spiritual geography, a meditative tribute to the great prairies of western Dakota.

Oliver, Mary. House of Light.Thoughtful, beautifully crafted poems primarily about scenes in nature and their power to stir the soul.

Reichl, Ruth. Tender at the Bone. From the New York Times restaurant critic, a wonderful memoir about food, growing up, writing, and finding one’s niche.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter books. Not just for kids, these monumentally popular books have opened pleasure reading to a world of readers; they are best enjoyed chronologically.

Rylant, Cynthia. The Ticky-Tacky Doll. A lyrical picture book that speaks to folks of all ages about love, loss, and the importance of finding and honoring the source of a child’s sorrow.

Simon, Kate. Bronx Primitive.A splendid memoir of an immigrant child growing up and coming of age in the Bronx.

Smiley, Jane. Horse Heaven. Pure pleasure from start to finish, this novel is Walter Farley for adults.

Strout, Elizabeth. Amy and Isabelle. A lovely, beautifully written exploration of the always-challenging mother-daughter relationship.

Taber, Sara Mansfield. Bread of Three Rivers.The author searches France for “the perfect French loaf” in this book that combines travel, history, and cookery.

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. This poetic story of four Chinese women and their daughters illustrates the powerful bonds within a culture and between generations.

Tyler, Anne. Back When We Were Grownups. The interior voyage of a woman who, at 53, thinks she’s in the “wrong life” strikes chords and gives readers a new sense of clarity.

Ulrich, Laurel. A Midwife’s Tale.The reconstructed diary of Maine midwife Martha Ballard from 1785 to 1812 provides women’s history in the best and fullest sense.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. A novel praised for its wonderful, strong female characters, one of whom finds joy in relationships with other women and her evolving sense of spirituality.

Welty, Eudora. One Writer’s Beginnings.Describing how her upbringing shaped her writing and observational skills, Welty persuades us that “serious daring starts from within.”

Winterson, Jeanette. Written on the Body. A seductive novel described as a tour de force of point of view written in what is often astonishingly beautiful prose.

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Last updated: 6/14/10